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Sometimes using a flash doesn't let the warmth of the holiday season show through in pictures. Use natural light whenever possible or turn on a lot of lights in the room so a flash won't be needed.

Perfecting those holiday photos

Family Red Wing,Minnesota 55066
Republican Eagle
Perfecting those holiday photos
Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

With the baby crying, the kids looking anywhere but at the actual camera and Uncle Al undoubtedly giving someone bunny ears, it can be difficult to get good pictures when families come together for the holidays.

Aside from getting 10 different people's attention, there are a lot of other factors to consider in order to end up with photos to be proud of. The Red Wing Photography Club offers a few tips and reminders that can make those extra bits and pieces easier to handle -- so the only source of stress is Uncle Al.

Lighting, lighting, lighting

The whole group could be looking right at the camera for the first time ever, but without proper lighting, that once-in-a-blue-moon moment might be washed out or too dark to see.

Since a camera's flash doesn't always give photos the warmest look, Red Wing Photography Club president Cyndie Mackowick has other ways to help.

"It is always best to use natural lighting such as indirect light from a window or door," she said.

Putting the subject right in front of a window or door, however, will create a blinding flare and wash out the picture. When natural light is unavailable, Mackowick said to turn on all lights in the room.

"And if needed, use a flash for fill in light."

Consider the whole picture

As much as the subject is important, so is paying attention to what's making up the background.

"The Christmas tree branch growing out of Aunt Martha's head is not so flattering," Mackowick joked.

Neither is the twins fighting over a dollhouse when the photo is supposed to bring focus to grandpa and grandma. Be aware of the surroundings and don't be afraid to get close to the subject.

Explore the settings

Unless it was just too difficult for someone to say goodbye to film, it's safe to assume a majority of amateur photographers are in possession of a digital camera -- which comes with a variety of settings.

"Don't hesitate to play with your camera's different modes," Mackowick said.

She suggests increasing the shutter speed and experimenting with the "motion" or "sport" mode to produce better results when shooting moving objects.

There is also an "automatic" option that will allow the camera to control the settings depending on each situation.

"This mode will give you nice results in many shooting conditions," Mackowick said.

Still, when options like "portrait," "landscape" and "night" are available, she recommends playing around to see what's best.

Think outside the frame

This is where creativity comes in handy. Mackowick suggests seeing things from a different perspective.

For example, stand on a chair to get to a higher elevation and take a picture of everyone enjoying Christmas dinner around the dining room table.

"Taking a photo looking down at family members will give a more flattering image than an image taken from a low point of view," Mackowick said.

However, lower can sometimes be better, she added.

"With children and pets, get down to their level."

Also, keep in mind there's more to photograph than just people. The holiday season can also be remembered with pictures of ornaments and other decorations

Capture the moment

@Normal1: Sometimes the camera is just pulled out to take group pictures of the family or other posed shots, but keeping it nearby at all times can be the most successful way to really capture the day.

The look on Junior's face when he breaks out his new remote control truck or the way Susie falls asleep in her highchair with her forehead resting on a mound of mashed potatoes can often make up the cutest shots that most people want to remember.

"Be on the lookout for those little surprises," Mackowick said.

And one final tidbit to remember -- spare batteries. The camera is nothing without them and if the first set dies it will be awfully hard to capture moments throughout the remainder of Christmas.

"You never know when something will happen," Mackowick said.