Christmas Tree Photography with your DSLR (A Tutorial)

Christmas Tree Photo Tips via




how to take photos of your christmas tree at night via

There is nothing worse than a Christmas tree photo taken with your FLASH, yuck! I have been dreaming of this photo since last year. Elle and her dog Kai in front of the tree, as we see it in real life. After a a little practice, I finally achieved it! This photo make me so happy.

This photo was taken with a Canon Rebel XSI and 50mm 1.4 lens. The only editing I did was sharpen it up and increase the contrast just a bit.  My settings for the above photo were:


ISO:  1600 (which is as high as my camera will go)
Aperture: f/2.5 (if your camera doesn’t go that low, set it for as low as it will go)
Shutter Speed: 1/50 (After I took this photo I actually  lowered my shutter speed to 1/30 which I liked even more, but at that point I couldn’t keep the dog in the photo. Next year!)

I used a tripod to keep the camera still. If you don’t have a tripod you can use the back of a couch, table, chair, get creative if you have to! You will need the camera to be very still to avoid blurry photos. You will also need still models. I told Elle to show the dog an ornament and say there’s a cookie in there and then snapped away. You don’t necessarily need posed photos, you could give your child some books to read or toys to play with under the tree.

You will want to take your photo at night and turn all of the lights in the house off so only the tree is glowing.


Now on to the camera settings. You will be working in Manual Mode:

Christmas Tree Photo Tips via

Christmas Tree Photo Tips via

Christmas Tree Photo Tips via


Christmas Tree Photo Tips via

Now focus on your subject and snap away! You might need to play around with your settings, and with photography practice makes perfect so practice, practice, practice!


*Be sure to refer to you camera manual if you need help adjusting shutter speed, iso and aperture on your dslr.


  1. says

    Lovely photo ! We have a Christmas photo with the tree every year , i have to check out this trick.I looks amazing. Thank you for sharing :)

  2. Maryann says

    Oh, wow. That is one of the LOVELIEST Christmas tree photos that I have ever seen!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. says

    Amazing! I would be soooooooo happy to have that camera… :( I’ll keep on trying with mine… If I’m optimistic my pictures will be 10% of wonderful of yours.

  4. Ashley says

    I cant wait to try this! I hope it works. My camera only goes up to 800 ISO, hopefully it will work. Thanks for the tip

  5. says

    Thank you so much!  I’ve not been successful during my previous attempts at capturing the holiday & Christmas tree lights. So, I very much needed this. 
    My only question would be:  What if we don’t have as fast a lens, as a 1.4? My only 2 lenses, right now, are just kit lenses….my 18-55mm, 3.5-5.6 & my 55-200mm, 4-5.6. 
    Thank you so much, again, for an awesome article 

  6. Jessica says

    superglueing my 2 year olds bottom to the ground is in humane right?? lol, thanks for the great tutorial!

  7. Lindsey says

    Okay, you know what, I really like your caption shots….and the one about ignoring the meter was good to know!!! I’ve been making it balanced every time I try! Thank you!

  8. Jessica Sanderson says

    Love ur tutorial! I actually used a high powered flash light for a couple of sec. on my tree topper for it would b lit too! It wasn’t showing up as bright as the lights. It took two or three tries but got one I liked in the end!

  9. Lindsay says

    Thank you for this tutorial. I actually tried this and the tree was brighter but not THIS bright and also I couldn’t get my son in front of it to be brighter. What lens did you use? I used my 50mm lens. Did you switch to manual focus or just use the M setting?

  10. Margaret says

    I have great camera with much higher ISOand all it give me is a grainy photo …..
    tried meny times …and still can not make a really good picture ….
    on your photo you had to have aditional light thats for sure !

    • says

      No additional lights, just a high iso, low shutter speed and on a tripod. All the lights in the house need to be off too. You really don’t need to go over 1600 iso. You are going to get some grain regardless. Keep playing with your settings :-)

  11. Adriel says

    I’ve tried this and got some good pictures, but don’t have enough light on my subject. I have a Canon Rebel t2i, and I can only go to a f4.5, it won’t let me go any lower :S I’d love to have the longer shutter to allow more light in, I don’t know. You have any tips?

    • says

      The aperture is not as important as the iso and shutter speed. Keeping playing with those. Your subject is going to be darker, but if you don’t like the look of it you could try and do some post processing on the photo that will help get rid of some of those shadows.

  12. martin says

    first of all, love your beautiful photo. have tried with the settings you provided on my e-510, but the photos were underexposed. with the lens i have i can only go down to an aperture setting of 3.5 so i had to reduce the shutter speed to compensate down to about 1/5. then, so the colours looked more natural i set the white balance to about 3200, the results were perfect. only problem with such a low shutter speed however is that a tripod was required to avoid blur.

    • says

      Hi Martin! Every camera is different so you just have to play around with the iso and shutter speed. Yes, you will need a tripod or use the back of chair or couch to avoid the blur :-)

  13. Heather says

    Would you recommend changing the settings if taking pics of a chocolate lab? Everything comes out fine except her! I tried slowing down the shutter speed but even though she was copperating that didn’t really help


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