Photo Tips

Christmas Tree Photo Tutorial!

Me Ra Koh

Ready for another Christmas Tree Photo Tutorial for capturing ornaments, lights and white balancing?!

Carey from Barefoot Memories shares some of her favorite photography tips on Christmas photos!

Christmas trees are beautiful.
Christmas trees are gorgeous.
So why is it so hard to get a great picture of something so pretty!?!

Using the tools you’ve got in your hand, you can accomplish stunning images.
You just have to use techniques and settings that you would probably not use otherwise.

Let’s jump into to my Christmas Trees Photo Tutorial!

  • 1. Use a VERY slow shutter speed and a high ISO. For my shot I used a shutter speed of 2sec, set my camera to TV mode and let the camera choose the aperture. I remember one photography expert telling me that ISO is like grit on sandpaper. The higher the ISO, the higher the “GRIT”, like high-grit sandpaper, and there are more “nooks and crannies” to absorb in more light in dark situations.
  • 2. You don’t have to have a tripod, just find a sturdy surface near where you want to shoot. For my shot, I had to move some ornaments into a good position. I lost my tripod bracket for my camera, so I ended up using my piano bench.
  • 3. Use your camera’s TIMER! Just the movement of pushing the shutter button will move your camera & blur your shot. Use the timer, then you’re not pushing the shutter button as the shot is being taken.
  • 4. Ignore the blinking numbers on your camera. If you have a DSLR, the metering settings will probably blink like the twinkling lights on your Christmas tree — warning you that your shot is under or over-exposed. You know better than your camera in this case.
  • 5. TRIAL AND ERROR. Take a lot of shots, checking the back of your camera. Is it brighter than you want? Set the camera to a little bit quicker shutter speed. Is it too dark? Open the shutter for a longer time for the next shot.
  • 6. Use the AF-points (auto-focus) points on your camera. Your camera will be hunting for focus all night if you have it set to full auto-focus in such a dark setting. On my shot, I wanted the bear in focus, but it’s way over to the left. I set the camera to look at the furthest left AF point instead of the center AF point that I usually use. Lock the camera into a certain AF point so the camera knows where to look for focus.
  • 7. Shoot RAW if you can. Shooting in a RAW mode will allow you to not “lock in” your white balance settings. White balance settings are only embedded into an image when the picture is saved out to jpg. If you can shoot RAW, do so, then you can choose the white balance that looks best on your monitor. I use Adobe Camera Raw to set my white balance, but many photographers use Canon Digital Photo Pro, the software that comes with Canon DSLR cameras. For most Christmas tree shots, I end up lowering the color temperature of my white balance because Canon tends to create indoor images on the “warm” side, so I cool them down. If you can’t shoot RAW, choose auto white balance or a tungsten white balance setting so your camera knows that you are shooting a setting with a more “yellow” light than daylight or florescent.
    (And for all you Lightroom lovers, yes, Lightroom does have WB adjustments which emulate WB adjustments on jpgs.)

Christmas Tree Photo Tutorial when using Lightroom and White Balance

8. Experiment with different focal lengths. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to compose my image, so I took a bunch of shots with my 24-70 lens. I took some wide @24mm, and I zoomed way in for some at 70mm. I decided I liked this one best, the one I shot at 57mm. It shows my bear, given to my by my godfather when I was a child, my son’s “Baby’s first Christmas” ornament, our annual family crystal ornament, along with some beautiful light sparkle & pine greenery.

This Christmas Tree photo tutorial is great if you struggle with White Balance. Love Me Ra Koh's posts!

Try these Christmas Tree Photo Tips and then share your favorite photo on Me Ra’s Facebook Page!

See the different results White Balance can give your Christmas Tree with Me Ra’s post!

Merry Christmas!









  1. Myssie says:

    All wonderful tip! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I will be doing some experimenting!

  2. Love the “Tips” posts – keep them coming.

  3. Thanks Carey, Me Ra and Brian-you too! I had an afternoon to put allot of your tips to the test and had a blast. I think I got carried away as I moved from ornaments on the tree, to the manger scene and last but not least a bottle of wine shimmering infront of the fire. It was a wonderful way to spend the day, I learned a ton and was thrilled with the results. I really appriciate all that you share. Scroll down my blog and take a peek. Thanks again, you all are awesome!

  4. chickadee says:

    love your site. you’ve got some great information here. i’ll be back to learn.

  5. alldoneup says:

    Thanks so much for the tips, I just bought a Nikon so any advice helps. =D

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  12. we will be buying more christmas ornaments these christmas because we like to decorate more .-“

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