17 tips for getting your best Christmas photos yet

15. Low light? Grab a tripod and capture long exposures

If you’re not too inspired by darker, gloomy days, consider waiting until the evening for some long-exposure fun. Of course, if you have a relatively strong ND filter, you may be able to achieve these kinds of shutter speeds during the day, too.

Given how quickly it can get dark over the winter months you should plan to be ready before the conditions are ripe for shooting, with your camera set up on a sturdy tripod. A physical remote release or a smartphone app that allows you to control your camera, or even just good knowledge of your camera's self-timer settings, will also help you to release the shutter without physical contact at the point of exposure. 

If you’re shooting in particularly dark conditions away from busy areas, think about whether a torch would be useful to help you to see non-illuminated parts of your camera or inside your kit bag. Failing that, see if you can set your phone's flash to shine continuously.

If your camera offers a top-plate LCD it’s likely to also provide a small light that can be used to illuminate this when it’s dark, so use this if you feel it might help. 

16. Shooting snow? Adjust your metering and exposure compensation

Image: Paul Viant, Getty Images

Image: Paul Viant, Getty Images

The sight of snow can be enough to make many photographers reach for their cameras, but it’s a scene which can easily fool your camera into underexposing and making images darker than they ought to be. With snow, this can turn a sea of white into a dull grey.

There are a number of ways around this, and the one you should use probably depends on exactly what you’re shooting. You can, for example, dial in some positive exposure compensation (+1/3EV or +2/3EV) so that every image ends up with this applied. 

You can also change your metering mode, although, again, this depends on what you’re shooting. For general snowy scenes you may be better off just sticking to the default evaluative/matrix pattern and using exposure compensation, but for subjects that dominate the scene you may be better off centre-weighted metering pattern, which should ensure your subject ends up well exposed.

You may also want to shoot Raw images so that you can adjust your images with precision later, and you can do this in conjunction with all of the above options.

17. Drab colours? Consider black and white

Overcast conditions may not give colours a chance to shine as much as they would when it’s sunny, so consider switching to black and white or sepia options instead. 

Caught in a rain shower? Reflections from wet surfaces create more contrast in the scene, so seek out puddles, interesting pavements and naturally reflective surfaces that may have got wet for particularly powerful mono results.

Read more: 10 tips for taking better images with your smartphone