Christmas Lighting Ceremony in Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth Christmas Lights

Christmas lights in Leavenworth, WA

We went to the lighting ceremony in Leavenworth, WA this past weekend to see the lighting ceremony.  After the ceremony it started to snow and the city got a beautiful coating of snow so I decided to try and capture the moment.  The idea was to use a long exposure to get the sense of movement or motion in the photo.

The Equipment:

  • Tripod
  • Canon 5D Mark II Camera
  • Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS Lens

The Set Up:

  1. I knew I wanted to capture the feeling of movement in the scene, so it would require a long exposure.  Depending on the look you want and how fast the objects are moving, you shutter speed will vary.  I knew I wanted to keep the noise to a minimum, so I used a very low ISO as well.  I usually shoot in Aperture Priority (Av) mode, so I found myself just switching the aperture to achieve the desired shutter speed I wanted, but it would have been fine to use Shutter Priority (Tv) mode as well.
  2. The settings for this photo ended up being the following: ISO 50 (ISO expansion needs to be enabled in the menu settings), focal length set to 24mm, f stop was f/10, and the exposure was 6.0 seconds.
  3. I almost always shoot in raw+jpeg because the raw file is better for editing, and white balance is tough to nail on night exposures with street lighting.
  4. Ideally I would have used a remote shutter release for long exposures to minimize potential camera shake, but it was cold and I was in a hurry so what I did was enabled mirror lockup from the menu settings and used the 2 second self timer function.

The Post Processing:

  1. The first thing I did was rotate the image a little.  When I captured the image, it wasn’t quite straight so I had to rotate the image -3.33 degrees.
  2. I bumped up the exposure +.29
  3. As I mentioned before, the white balance is tough to get on night scenes with street lights, and the auto white balance was off a bit.  I decreased the Temperature -617K to a final Temperature of 2833K
  4. In the Tone Curve, I increased the “Lights” value to +26
  5. For the blog post, I exported to resize the long edge to 550 pixels with sharpening set for “screen” and amount set to “high”.
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