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Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Thousands of lights decorate moose statues in Stockholm on December 16, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP

People take pictures in front of a Christmas light installation in Nice, southeastern France, on December 16, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: VALERY HACHE / AFP

Cars pass under Christmas lights illuminating Gran Via in the centre of Madrid on December 16, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: DANI POZO / AFP

People enjoy Christmas show "Luminasia", the biggest figures light show in Latin America, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, on December 13, 2104.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: JULIO CESAR AGUILAR FUENTES / AFP

Thousands of lights decorate moose statues in Stockholm on December 16, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP

People enjoy Christmas show "Luminasia", the biggest figures light show in Latin America, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, on Dec. 13, 2104.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: JULIO CESAR AGUILAR FUENTES / AFP

A girl watches the giant lantern competition in San Fernando Pampanga, north of Manila, Philippines on Dec. 13, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: DENNIS M. SABANGAN / EPA

People enjoy the Christmas lights on the 700 block of 34th Street in the Hampden community of Baltimore, Maryland on Dec. 12, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP

Visitors to the National Zoo walk next to Christmas lights depicting a panda in Washington, DC on Dec. 8, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

A giant Christmas tree and a light show decorate the Grand Place in Brussel on Dec. 12, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

Christmas lights representing the national flags of different countries are displayed in the Via del Corso in Rome on Dec. 9, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

People walk past and take photographs next to a decorative light in the shape of a Christmas parcel at the Rossio square in Lisbon on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francisco Seco / Associated Press

Thousands of holiday lights glow during Christmas Magic at Rocky Ridge Park in Springettsbury Township, Pa. on Dec. 3, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chris Knight / York Daily Record

A man uses a smartphone to take pictures of light installation at a shopping mall for the Christmas season in Beijing, China on Dec. 7, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Andy Wong / Associated Press

Performers gather on stage from left, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Patti LaBelle, Fifth Harmony, Chely Wright, NE-YO, Nico & Vinz, The Tenors and Santa, during the finale of the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington on Dec. 4, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Christmas lights illuminate the Puerta del Sol in Vigo, northwestern Spain, on December 7, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP / Getty Images

Christmas lights are displayed along the Medellin river, in Medellin, Colombia on Dec. 1, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Benavides / Associated Press

A view of fireworks during the inauguration of a 279-foot-high floating Christmas tree at Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Nov. 29, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP / Getty Images

More than 1 million lights have been set up in Canberra's Central Business District, officially breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest LED image display on Nov. 29, 2014, in Canberra, Australia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Stefan Postles / Getty Images

A couple takes a photograph of themselves using a smartphone beneath light displays in Tokyo on Nov. 27, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

The Central Business District in Canberra, Australia, is covered in more than 1 million lights.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Stefan Postles / Getty Images

People look at illuminated trees at a preview for Enchanted Christmas at the Forestry Commission's National Arboretum at Westonbirt on Nov. 26, 2014, in Gloucestershire, England.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Matt Cardy / Getty Images

Miranda Jenatka, left, and Alex Little pose during the Christmas at Kew event in Kew Gardens in southwest London on Nov. 25, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: LEON NEAL / AFP / Getty Images

Spectators line up on the sidewalk while waiting for the parade of lights to begin in Dayton, Wash., on Nov. 28, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Lopez / Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Some of Canberra's 1 million lights are the perfect backdrop for a selfie on Nov. 29, 2014, in Canberra, Australia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Stefan Postles / Getty Images

LED trees line the banks of the Singapore River at Boat Quay on Nov. 28, 2014, in Singapore.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Suhaimi Abdullah / Getty Images AsiaPac

People admire illuminations featuring the theme of "Canyon d' Azur" (Blue Canyon) in Tokyo on Nov. 27, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / AFP

People look at Christmas illuminations and decorations in Tokyo on Nov. 27, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kiyoshi Ota

Santa Claus Land of Lights at the Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort during a Christmas celebration in Santa Claus, Ind., on Nov. 30.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Spencer County Visitors Bureau

A woman photographs her children as they visit a home in Paillencourt, northern France, to admire the Christmas lights on Dec. 23, 2013.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP

Christmas lights and Christmas trees are on display in front of the Monte-Carlo Casino in Monaco in 2013.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: VALERY HACHE / AFP

Christmas decorations are on display on a house in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: JUSTIN LANE / EPA

Visitors are silhouetted with decorated lights on trees, to celebrate the upcoming Christmas and New Year at Garden of Morning Calm in Gapyeong, South Korea.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press

Christmas decorations are on display on a house in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: JUSTIN LANE / EPA

Visitors take a picture of Christmas illuminations, lit by 280,000 LED lights, at Tokyo Midtown business and commercial complex in Tokyo

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Koji Sasahara / Associated Press

Residents of Matraville decorate their homes with lights in celebration of Christmas in Sydney, Australia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

A group of people gather around the Christmas lights of the project 'Bright Christmas' at the Iberoamerica park in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Orlando BarrÌa / EFA

People are silhouetted as they look at light-emitting diode (LED) illuminations in Tokyo, Japan.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

TOPSHOTS People enjoy Christmas illuminations featuring the theme of "Christmas in the sea" in Tokyo's Shiodome.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

Christmas lights glow at Piazza Duomo in Como, Italy.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Christmas lights outline towers at the Country Club Plaza shopping center as the sun sets in Kansas City.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Charlie Riedel / AP

Chinese shoppers walk beside Christmas decorated trees in Beijing.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: MARK RALSTON / AFP

Fireworks explode over a floating Christmas tree in Lagoa lake at the annual holiday tree lighting event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Victor R. Caivano / Associated Press

Visitors looking at lights in a giant Christmas tree outside the Ion Orchard shopping mall in Singapore.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: HOW HWEE YOUNG / EPA

More than 450,000 Christmas Lights illuminates the House of Family Vogt in Buecken, Germany.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: David Hecker / Getty Images Europe

People walk past a street with traditional Christmas lights that were inaugurated in downtown Lisbon, Portugal.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: MARIO CRUZ / EPA

The photograph taken with slow shutter speed shows a boy playing among the lights of a giant Christmas tree outside the Ion Orchard shopping mall in Singapore.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: HOW HWEE YOUNG / EPA

The world's tallest 'candle' is illuminated in Schlitz, Germany.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: UWE ZUCCHI / EPA

A general view of the Orchard Road Christmas light-up on in Singapore.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Suhaimi Abdullah / Getty Images

Christmas lights on Regent Street in London.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: ANDY RAIN / EPA

Christmas decorations light up the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christophe Ena / Associated Press

A Christmas Fantasy Parade travels past crowds lining both sides of Main Street U.S.A. in Anaheim.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

A man rides on a stand up paddle in front of an 85 meter-high Christmas tree at Cantagalo park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP

People are drawn to a giant Christmas ball in Rossio Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jose Sena Goulao / EPA

The lights in the Christmas tree on the central square are switched on during the traditional candle-evening, while behind the windows of the houses and the town hall around the square hundreds of candles burn. Gouda is well known for its candle factory.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN / EPA

A young couple walk through a tunnel of LED lights during a Christmas illumination event at the Tokyo Dome City Attractions amusement park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Franck Robichon / EPA

Two women take pictures of themselves as they walk among holiday illuminations.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: KIMIMASA MAYAMA / EPA

Two girls are mesmerized by Christmas lights.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: LUIS EDUARDO NORIEGA / EPA

An abstract light-installation Christmas tree illuminates the Grand Place.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Geert Vanden Wijngaert / Associated Press

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree makes a splashy appearance every year.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kathy Willens / Associated Press

Fireworks explode above a Christmas tree that appears to float.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Silvia Izquierdo / Associated Press

Illuminated trees decorate the Garden of Morning Calm.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press

The London Eye looks particularly festive at this time of year.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: LEON NEAL / AFP / Getty Images

A man looks at Frank Hudak's home, known as the "Christmas House," which is decorated with approximately 65,000 lights using about four miles of wiring.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP

People walk among illuminations along the Medellin river.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: RAUL ARBOLEDA / AFP

Strollers walk beneath illuminated stars.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP / Getty Images

Ever-transforming LED lights create a magical environment in the Shiodome.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

Christmas illuminations and vehicle lights decorate the Champs-Elysees.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images Europe

A sales assistant adjusts lights on display at the Ideal Home Christmas Show.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images Europe

London 2012 Olympic athletes officially illuminated the Christmas lights on Regent Street.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

Spectators watch the 104th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade from docks lining Newport Harbor.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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Christmas lights gallery and holiday photo tips

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[Updated December 1, 2014]  Last year I picked up some great tips from photographer Derrick Story’s podcast, The Digital Story. Unfortunately, I listened to it after the holiday and couldn’t take advantage of his suggestions, until now.

Derrick has sent along his holiday photography tips. Don’t forget to use his idea of getting a group shot, I’ve already used it this season while my wife had a group of friends over to the house to bake Christmas cookies.

Here are a few of Derrick’s ideas for improving your photos:

Think portraits as well as activities - Yes, it’s fun to photograph Uncle Bill opening his present, but get a portrait too. In the coming years, those informal, environmental candids will become more valuable.

Reduce flash exposure - Most cameras emit too much flash indoors. Go to Flash Exposure Compensation and set it to -2/3 or even -1. Then increase your ISO to 400 or 800 to reduce dependency on the flash.

Get a group shot – Yes, everyone will moan and groan. But group shots tell a big story in just a single frame. It’s worth your while to set one up.

Photograph food and decorations – Be sure to capture the food table before everyone digs in. Keep an eye out for decorations and place settings.

Share your images – The more people in the family that you share pictures with, the better the chances they will survive the decades. Believe it or not, sending email attachments are often the most effective because the recipients don’t have to do anything to receive them.

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[Updated December 2013] The Christmas season is the most colorful time of year, given the variety of decorative lighting on display throughout the world. In addition to this gallery of worldwide images, I’m including a few of my tips for taking photographs of Christmas lights, offered in some of my previous photo columns. Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

mall-tree

Creativity – Holiday lights offer a great opportunity to try a little creative technique. Panning at a long exposure is one of my favorites.

Break the rules – Once in a while it’s just fun to break the rules and be creative with your camera, especially during the holiday season. With so many twinkling lights aglow in every direction, it’s a snap to use them to your advantage and try something a little different.

Cellphone camera – It’s crazy, but sometimes I seem to get better results with my iPhone without any exposure controls than I do with my Canon 7D DSLR. I wish I had an answer for this, but I don’t. What could be better? You don’t need an expensive camera and there are lights everywhere this time of year. You can even try out any of those creative photography apps you bought. Remember, there are no rules!

Panning – You need to use the sports photography technique of panning.  Panning is a technique in which you start moving the camera in a direction before you click the exposure. Practice is important. Start moving the camera, click and keep moving the camera. Don’t stop when you press the shutter. It’s not difficult, but it sort of goes against the normal hold-it-steady technique.

Twirl – Most advanced cellphone cameras will give you the long exposure you will need. It’s up to you as to direction: straight, curves or twirls. Just keep experimenting.

DSLR – If you have a DSLR or compact camera with manual exposure controls, you might start at ISO 400 1/2 second exposure at f5.6. Results will vary depending on the brightness and color of the sides, so it’s important to experiment. Having the display screen on the back of the camera for instant results makes checking your results a snap.

Flashlight – This is probably my most important helper. Even though there are plenty of Christmas lights against the night sky, your camera just doesn’t come backlit, nor do any of the dials you may need to set, for that matter. Even though your camera might have a bright LCD screen, there are plenty of other dials, buttons and switches that are not illuminated. Trust me, cameras are not getting any easier.

Jacket – Don’t forget this and even an extra sweater as you set out on this excursion. You’ll be standing around waiting for the perfect shot, getting colder and colder. You may consider gloves depending on your location. This is supposed to be fun, so keeping yourself warm is important. A thermos with hot chocolate or coffee is a nice addition to the adventure.

bluelights

Tripod – If you have a tripod for your camera, be sure to use it here. There are plenty of lights out there, but they seem to be getting dimmer, not brighter. The new low-power consumption LED lights seem to need longer exposures. I started by setting my camera at IS0 400; 1/2 second and  f/4. Depending on your lens, you may need to drop down to a full second. It is possible to get some good results as you hold your camera steady, but if you want sharp and consistent photographs, I recommend a tripod.

Remote cable release – Using a remote cord to fire the shutter really helps to keep the camera steady.  Without it you really need to be careful as you release the shutter with a soft touch to eliminate any camera shake. Unless your tripod is very steady and your camera is locked down tight, this can be a tall order.

Experiment – Once I’m out I always like to experiment with my cellphone camera. It amazes me how good the pictures look. My iPhone adds the feature of touching the back of the screen to change the exposure. It usually picks the brightest lights to darken the overall exposure.

Photos: iPhone photographs – Christmas tree at South Coast Plaza and lights in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Robert Lachman

robert.lachman@latimes.com

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Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachman

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