Five Quick Tips for Better Holiday Photos

By now, you've either gotten your first snowfall of the season, or local shops have at least sprayed some fake snow in their windows to simulate the effect. Either way, there's no doubt that the holiday season is here, and you should be readying your camera for action. If it's chilly where you live, be sure to read about how to --and read on for five tips on how to get the best holiday photos this year.

As you're taking pictures of guests dressed in their festive Christmas sweaters, don't forget about the lighting, which might be tricky--especially if you're shooting a late-afternoon dinner with sunlight streaming through the window, various room lights, and perhaps even some candles all competing for your camera sensor's attention.

Trust the camera, and your photos might have an ugly color cast. Your best bet is to set the white balance manually by taking a reading off a white sheet of paper before you start shooting. Check your camera's user guide for details on how to do this. And remember to reset the white balance back to automatic when you're done.

Anyone who has ever tried taking a group photo at the dinner table, around the Christmas tree, or at the Festivus pole knows that you have to take a half dozen photos to get one that's barely acceptable. This year, you have a new tool: Windows Live Photo Gallery's Photo Fuse feature, which is part of Windows Live Essentials. (Read "" for more about the Windows Live update.)