Take Better Photos: How To Capture Those Special New Year’s Eve Moments

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New Year’s Eve holds so much anticipation and excitement and it’s imperative you let it shine through in your photos! But how can you capture moments that look a little more special than the usual party photos? Check out this list of what to look for as you ring in the new year. 

1. The glitz and the glamour.

Shimmers and sparkles seem to be a theme for New Year’s Eve. Take detail shots of glitzy dresses and sparkling champagne glasses, but keep your eye out for other opportunities to capture the magic too.

Image: Tres Sugar

Confetti or glitter: If there’s glitter or confetti around, sprinkle some into a friend’s hand and have her blow it at the camera lens right as you take the picture. Use a low aperture for this shot, such as f/2.8 or f3.5, and focus on the subject’s face. The glitter will show up as soft, colorful spots in the photo.

Image: Blog ni ako

Sparklers: If you’re outside, get some sparklers going and play with the light trails. The slower your shutter speed, the more of the light trail you’ll be able to capture. Just be sure to use a tripod or set your camera on a steady surface. Start out with these settings:

  • Shutter speed: 5 seconds (Or longer depending on how much you’re tracing)

  • Aperture: f/5.6 (You can go lower to let in more light if needed)

  • ISO: 100

Have each person trace a swirl of their choice or assign specific numbers to spell out the year!


Image: Swen Dowideit

2. Fireworks. 

If a fireworks show is part of the occasion, take that opportunity to get some colorful photos.

  • Bump up your aperture to f/8 or f/16 and keep your ISO low to account for the brightness.
  • Select a slow shutter speed to capture the explosion.
  • You can experiment with specific shutter speeds or switch your camera to bulb mode. That allows you to press and hold the button so your shutter stays open as long as you like.
  • Try mixing up your fireworks shots by getting low to capture the black silhouettes of people against the brightly lit sky.


Image: JRB Studios

3. The toast. This one is nice because it can be done at any time throughout the evening. Have everyone grab their champagne glasses and gather around, raising them into the air for a toast. If you don’t have a tripod or a friendly stranger to snap the photo, look for a chair or table that’s the right height so you can use your self timer and hop in the picture too!

4. The old year passing. What will your last picture of 2013 be? Give it some thought before the occasion. Is there someone you want to include in the photo? Consider your plans for the holiday and whether there will be a specific feature of the party/dinner/trip that you want to use to sum up the night. Maybe you want to have your friend write down a favorite memory from the year and hold it up for a photo, or have everyone point to the clock as it approaches midnight.

Image: Tracy Autem

5. The new year arriving. Of course, you’ll want to give some thought to your first picture of the New Year as well. The celebration and cheers that occur right after the 10-second countdown are a great option, but don’t miss out on the fun just to get a good picture. Instead, countdown right along with your friends, do some cheering yourself, steal a kiss from your sweetie, and then take some shots.

Don’t worry, everyone will still be celebrating long after midnight arrives. You don’t want to miss out on ringing in the New Year because you were too focused on looking through your lens!

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Leah is a freelance writer, photo junkie, and avid traveler. When she's not chipping away at a story, you can find her exploring the outdoors or planning her next adventure. Read about them on her blog, Relentless Adventure.

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