Looking to get the best photographs of your family and friends this holiday season? Well, the key to success is simply to relax and let it happen. "Take it easy" doesn't just refer to the automatic operations of your camera; it also has to do with your method of operation.
First, realize you have huge advantages when your family is your subject: you've got access and familiarity. And if your family is used to seeing you prowling around holiday gatherings with your camera, you're way ahead of the game. They're likely to ignore you—and that's exactly what you want in order to capture photos of the folks just being themselves.
You'll get the best pictures when people are doing what they're into doing: dinner preparations, gift wrapping, chatting, table setting. It's not just the Thanksgiving dinner that's photogenic; it's also the team spirit that went into its preparation. During the holidays, it's not just the giving of the gifts, but their wrapping the night before; and, of course the decorating, too.
In all cases, go with the flow; fit in, don't disrupt. You're bringing photography to the action, not stopping that action to take a picture. If you find yourself saying, "Hold it...stay there...just a second...smile," chances are you're missing the best moments.
If timing is nearly everything, location is most of the rest. You know where the family's favorite places are: kitchen, family room, living room, backyard. Be there. And even if you're not planning on a picture, try to keep the camera at hand; you never know when a great moment's going to happen. "Hold it, I'll get the camera" is another sure sign you missed the shot.
While you shouldn't be the director of photographic events, there's nothing wrong with having a subtle plan—like this one, told to us by a writer friend.
"A few blocks away from the house where my family gathers for Thanksgiving there's a beautiful park. So what I did was put my camera and a football I'd brought along on the coffee table in the living room. It took a few minutes for them to be noticed, and then eight or ten of us were out the door and down to the park for about a half hour of no-rules football...and lots of pictures. It worked because I knew them—knew what they'd do when they saw the football. We had a great time playing, and we passed the camera around and got some really nice shots."
It's about timing, and location—and it's about the gear. The best news is that cameras today are slick-handling wonders that are made to capture precious moments with precision and automatic ease.
So, it's about timing, and location—and it's about the gear. The best news is that cameras today are slick-handling wonders that are made to capture precious moments with precision and automatic ease.
Which doesn't mean you don't have to bring something to the table; and that something is just a little bit of preparation. Whatever camera you choose, know it. Know how to quickly set it up for the pictures you want to take; know the menus, the programs, the choices. It won't take long—today's digital marvels are designed to be practically intuitive—and your familiarity with the camera will guarantee there won't be any "hold on...just a sec..." instances when a moment that might have been captured becomes only a memory. Be smooth; it'll pay off.
Bring some techniques and ideas, too. For instance, when you're shooting kids, don't just stand there—get down to their level for the best images. And once and a while, hand the camera over to them, and let them show you what they see.
A COOLPIX compact digital camera is convenient, capable and remarkably sophisticated, with features that will make your holiday picture taking a whole lot easier. COOLPIX Scene Modes make it easy to get well-lit, sharp images in a variety of situations. They include Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Night Portrait, Food and Night Landscape—all perfect for holiday photos.
The Nikon 1 advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses are the ideal camera for the picture taker who wants the flexibility of interchangeable lenses and the form factor of a compact camera. New features such as Motion Snapshot make capturing moments fun, and along with still images and Full HD video capture, let you tell the complete story of your celebration. The ultra compact J1 and V1 cameras and 1 NIKKOR lenses are small enough to take with you everywhere.
Digital SLRs are incredibly versatile, offering point-and-shoot ease along with two big advantages: infinitesimal shutter-lag (the delay between the moment the shutter is pressed and the picture is taken) and the ability to use interchangeable lenses. In difficult low-light conditions, the high ISO sensitivity of several D-SLR models turns those situations into stunning photographs—and when flash is necessary, digital SLRs provide powerful, fully automatic performance from either built-in Speedlights or accessory units.
Without doubt, a key factor in selecting a digital SLR is the incredible range of available lenses, and your choice of lens is going to be the key factor in your holiday photos. We'd suggest a long ranger—a zoom that starts at a wide angle that'll give you an inclusive view of the kitchen or the family room and then will reach out to a telephoto view that'll capture a quick portrait of someone in that room. Fortunately, there are several lenses in that category, including 18-135mm, 18-200mm and 24-120mm zooms. And if the lens you choose features a VR (Vibration Reduction) designation, that's even better, as it means the lens offers image stabilization to banish blur for clearer, sharper pictures.
If you're choosing a new camera for your holiday shooting, check out several models. Evaluate them for their comfort, the accessibility of their controls and the ease of making program, exposure and autofocus settings. Equally important is careful consideration of the range of the camera's zoom lens. Spending a little extra time getting the right camera will pay off in priceless pictures.
Be sure to visit your local Nikon authorized dealer to see the latest equipment and test-drive your next Nikon.
5 quick tips for great holiday photos
Getting great candids of family is easy. Since they know you, they'll be themselves in front of the camera, letting you capture wonderful moments.
Shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot everything, from the preparations to gatherings and parties, kids opening their gifts and even the decorations.
Get down on the level of the little ones. Natural photos of kids are often taken from their vantage point, near the ground.
Close-up shots make for creative images. Zoom in tight or use the macro setting (or a macro lens if you have one) to turn a bowl of ornaments or candy into an abstract creation.
Shoot video too. Most Nikon digital cameras have an HD or Full HD video mode. To create a full story of your holiday events, shoot stills and videos. Nikon 1 users can take Motion Snapshots too.