I absolutely love those shots of Christmas lights that are just big orbs of colored lights. I was so jealous one Christmas when my brother used my camera to get that shot, wondering how he knew how to be so cool.
So last winter, I finally decided to be as cool as him. And now I’ll let you in on the secret!

First, run to the store and buy a Nikon D3. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

**cue elevator music**

Just kidding. Use whatever camera you already have. Different cameras and different lenses will give you slightly different final looks, but they’ll all do this. It’s just a matter of learning how!
Though you might not want to use your kids’ little Fisher-Price camera. Just in case you were tempted to try that one.

The key to this is focusing in a different place than at the Christmas tree.
(Remember those magic eye pictures that were popular ages and ages ago? where the key to seeing it, supposedly, was that your focus isn’t directly on the picture? (I say “supposedly” because I only ever got one picture to “work” for me.) Yeah. That’s what you’re doing here.)

For Point-and-Shoot cameras:
Focus on something as close as you can. Whatever the closest possible thing is. Then push the shutter down halfway, reframe your camera to be looking at the Christmas lights, and shoot!
You can also put your camera on “macro” mode and shoot the lights. It works pretty well too!
(there really should be a sample here, and I even took it, but I’ve managed to lose it, and my daughter’s camera doesn’t work anymore so I can’t get one now. So pretend, okay? Or go get one and send it to me showing that it works!)

For SLRs:
There are two ways to do this. You could either do it the same way as for point-and-shoots, or you can shoot this in manual focus. But don’t worry, it’s virtually fool-proof.
Simply set your camera on manual focus, focus as close as you can, and then shoot the lights!