#PENInPractive #3 | Festive Photos


The latest in my #PENInPractice series is now live in the Olympus Magazine, or you can read below. All about getting creative this Christmas… 

Christmas is soon upon us! This is your chance to get creative with lights and festive themed images. One of my favourite things to do when shooting Christmas lights and Christmas trees is play around with the manual focus and defocus the shot to create beautiful, bokeh heavy pictures. Take your Pen off manual by clicking into the Super Control Panel (see here for how to do this) and change your S-AF or C-AF to MF. Or if you’re shooting with the nifty little 17mm 1.8 optic, simply pull the middle ring on the lens back and that will put you into manual. This will also change the setting on your Menu.

Festive1 Festive2

If you feel a little nervous using the manual focus, switch on Focus Peaking which will highlight your subject in white once it’s in focus. To do this, go to Menu, go to your cog icon and then go to Button/Dial. Here you can assign Peaking to whatever button or dial you like. I tend to have mine within in easy reach of my forefinger or thumb – this tends to be the magnify button on the top right of the camera. Decide your button, then scroll through the menu until you come to Peaking. Then press OK. To test it, hold down the button while you’re focusing and wait for the white highlights to appear as your subject clarifies.

Last Christmas I had quite a lot of fun shooting in Christmas markets at night. I’d adjusted my White Balance to Incandescent to compensate for the yellow light coming off the stalls and was holding my camera steady. The prime lenses are great for shooting at nighttime as their lower apertures can handle the low light really well. I was using the 45mm 1.8 and to that I had added the Macro Converter, a great little gadget which allows you to really get up super close to your subject – I’m talking centimetres! This is great for creating some lovely blur and really isolating details that have caught your eye – in my case, pretty Christmas candle holders.


I also created a little photo story of three images using the Layout option. This is the little Layout icon (three blocks) on your dial. Once in this, you can select from a number of different layouts. Choose your favourite, which will then appear on your screen. You then take the picture for each section by tapping the screen. You can even choose to Finish Later by pressing the Menu button. Otherwise, just take your shots and it will save the full layout for you.


Of course, I haven’t even begun to talk shooting beautiful snowy scenes, but one tip to avoid your pictures coming up overly blue is to see what White Balance setting looks best or set a custom White Balance. To do this click into WB, select Capture WB Info and press the little round Info button. The camera will then direct you to photograph a white sheet of paper – this can be whatever is plain and white in the environment you’re shooting in. Then make sure you say Yes to capture the info. Now you can take your picture!

I can’t wait to see all your festive photos – make sure to tag them #PENinPractice on Instagram and come follow me at @stylonylon.

All shots taken on the Olympus Pen E-PL7 and 45mm and 75mm lens (on special offer!). Also if you fancy winning a Pen in white check out the @olympusuk Instagram running just – be warned, there’s singing involved!