6 TIPS FOR YOUR BEST EVER CHRISTMAS MARKET PICTURES
In town centres and public spaces across the country – and even the continent – Christmas markets are abound this December. Not only are they a superb place for a spot of shopping, a seasonal snack and a good festive time for all the family, they’re also a treasure trove of photographic opportunity. There are lights, colours and subjects galore, so make sure you take your camera with you next time you head down to your local Christmas market, and put these tips into practice!
1. Keep movement sharp with a high ISO
The days are short in December, so it’s more than likely you’ll be taking your shots in the dark. Combined with the hustle and bustle of busy markets, this can make keeping your detail sharp somewhat of a challenge. To prevent your shutter speed from becoming too slow and blurring movement in your pics, you need to use a fast ISO setting of around 2500 or higher. If your camera also has Image Stabilisation, make sure it’s enabled to help counteract any camera shake.
Shot by Robert Hájek taken on an OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 Mark II + OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO
Shot by Petra Wendt on an OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 + OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8
2. Isolate festive detail with a shallow depth-of-field
You’ll find plenty of gorgeous detail at any Christmas market. Whether it’s shiny baubles, glittery decorations or glistening treats, they all make superb subjects that capture the spirit of Christmas. To make these items pop out in the frame, it’s best to use a lens that allows you to use a really wide aperture – like the OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8 – to create a shallow depth-of-field with a lovely soft blur.
Shot by Ann Hung on an OLYMPUS OM-D
Shot by Flickr user Qiou87 on an OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5
3. Shoot from the hip for great candid portraits
Christmas markets are the perfect place to capture candid portraits as they are always packed with people. For truly natural results, it’s best to be pretty discreet, so your subject doesn’t react to the camera. To achieve this, try using your camera’s tilt-screen and composing from your waistline so you go unnoticed. Some cameras – like the OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 – have a touchscreen also that allows you to take a frame just by tapping the screen.
Shot by Neil Howard on an OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5
Shot by Erwin Vindl on an OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 + OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8
4. Apply Art Filters to capture the atmosphere
An easy way to inject extra atmosphere into your images is to shoot in black & white. Colour can sometimes be distracting, and so an absence of colour helps the viewer to concentrate on the subject and the atmosphere of an image – so try out the Art Filters available in your camera menu. It can feel more raw and more real, and adds a timeless and elegant feel to a photograph. To add more drama to your scene, try underexposing by adding -1.0 stop of exposure compensation.
Shot by Flickr user PRObev with an OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 + OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12‑50mm 1:3.5‑6.3 EZ
Shot by Flickr user Oliver on an OLYMPUS STYLUS XZ-2
5. Use a manual White Balance for warmer tones
The glow of Christmas lanterns and candles makes for a wonderfully warm light, which contrasts perfectly with the cooler winter sky. You can enhance these warm tones by setting the White Balance manually and emphasising the golden glow. Use Live View, as you adjust the Kelvin setting, to get the perfect White Balance.
Shot by Roland C. Vogt on an OLYMPUS E-P5 + OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm 1:1.8
Shot by Stephen Whalley on an OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5
6. Keep your camera steady and blur movement
With lots of fairground rides and rushing crowds, there’s lots of opportunity for capturing an artistic motion blur. You’ll need to use a slower shutter speed, to render any movement as pleasing streaks and smudges. To avoid risk of camera shake, you’ll also need to use a tripod, or carefully rest your camera on railings or a table top. Set a 2sec self-timer, so pressing the shutter button doesn’t jolt your shot!