One of the main benefits during the holiday season is the succession of parties and events that bring friends and family together, the perfect opportunity to laugh, dance, relax and get together. Whether you are going to a small gathering with friends or a sumptuous Christmas celebration with the whole family, it is important that you know how to photograph the festivities and fun in a creative way to create unforgettable memories. Thanks to these tips and techniques, you will obtain superb photos of festivities that will be appreciated and shared by all.

Choose the camera settings that are best suited for an indoor party

During the holidays, the brightness is often low and the subjects moving. It is therefore important to make sure that your camera is properly configured for shooting in this type of environment.

You do not need to use the flash, but you must make sure that your shutter speed is fast enough to manage the movement. Select a shutter speed of about 1/160 s or 1/250 s or more, and make sure the aperture is large enough (lower number f). To help you, you can also set the ISO sensitivity to moderate or high, such as ISO 3200 or ISO 6400.

Choose the right orientation of your flash

If you use the flash, make sure it is configured to highlight your subjects. If you use a Speedlite flash, instead of directing it directly at what you are trying to capture, direct it towards the ceiling so that light reflects on your subjects. This will not only produce more natural lighting, but also make your subjects more comfortable.

The Speedlite 470EX-AI is the world’s first intelligent automatic indirect flash. It takes care of choosing the ideal indirect angle for you by analyzing your environment and automatically tilting the flash head to the exact point on the wall or ceiling, so you can focus solely on the shot.

If your camera is equipped with Wi-Fi and you can get an external flash with wireless functionality, or if you do not use a wireless connection but have an external TTL shoe adapter, you can place your flash on the side and trigger it remotely.

Spread the light of your flash

To achieve exceptional results with your flash, you can also use a diffusion cap or a small light box. This will propagate and soften the flash output to obtain more natural portraits while freezing the action.

Try spontaneous photography

Even if the images posed have their place, you will have to take spontaneous shots if you want to capture natural expressions of joy during celebrations.

A longer lens, such as the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, will help you frame more distant subjects and take pictures without it being too obvious that you are pointing your camera at a particular person. For the same reason, you should turn off the AF assist lamp on your camera.

Rather than using your camera’s flash when shooting spontaneously, it is better to use a large aperture and a moderate to high ISO sensitivity for a perfect focus on your subjects.

You do not need to use the flash, but you must make sure that your shutter speed is fast enough to manage the movement.

From the best camera settings to how to include your friends and family in the shot, we explain how to photograph the joy and magic of fireworks.

Learn how to capture a sumptuous bokeh effect

Whether it’s a cascade of garlands on a Christmas tree or a simple candle, the holiday season is full of pretty lights that can turn into beautiful circles of light in the background of your photos, with the right configuration. The Japanese word “bokeh” is used to describe the aesthetic qualities of these blurred backgrounds.

Background blurred areas can be large and abstract in appearance, or smaller and more clearly defined. You can even be creative and give your background blur a fir, heart or star shape. Watch the video below to find out how.

The effect is easily achieved when your lens is set to the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or f/2, which allows you to be very selective about where you focus and place your subject on a blurry background. You can also obtain pleasant cloudy lights with smaller openings such as f/5.6. Enhance the effect by increasing the distance between your subject and the background, or get closer to your subject.

Reduce the shutter speed to capture motion blur

While faster shutter speeds will help you capture moving subjects clearly, another approach is to use a slower shutter speed to create movement in a scene with static subjects.

Select a shutter speed of about 1/10 s or 1/20 s if you shoot freehand and make sure that a static (or relatively static) subject is clearly visible in the scene. This is useful if your lens has an image stabilizer, as it will help you keep your images sharp at slower shutter speeds. Some cameras have an integrated image stabilizer, in which case the camera’s image stabilizer will work with any lens.

If you use a tripod, you will be able to use much slower shutter speeds to achieve this effect. Trigger the shutter using the wired or wireless remote shutter release, the Canon Camera Connect application or the self-timer mode.