National Gingerbread House Competition {and low-light photography tips}

This past Monday I went to the National Gingerbread House Competition exhibit at Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, NC. This was an event I had watched on satellite at my in-laws the past few years and this year I was determined to make it up there to see the works-of-art myself.

I cannot tell you how amazing these creations are! The work and detail the creators put in them blows my mind! There were all different kinds of houses, anything that could be the “home” of something. For instance, one of my favorites was the Faberge egg. The Grand Prize winner made set of Matruska dolls – what creativity!!

My absolute favorite of the exhibit was the Noah’s Ark gingerbread house (pictured above). It was so beautifully done and with amazing attention to detail. It was not one of the top three, but it was in the top 10 finalists.

Two of my other favorites, a beach-teki hut scene and the house from UP! (both shown in collage below) where not even made by adults!! The UP! house was the 1st place winner for the teen competition and the beach hut gingerbread house was the 1st place winner in the youth category.

If you are within a two-hour drive of Asheville, NC, I highly recommend taking a day trip to the Grove Park Inn and seeing these gorgeous gingerbread houses. The exhibit will be there until the beginning of January and it is free to view from Monday-Thursday. If you cannot make it, visit The National Gingerbread House Competition’s Facebook fan page, where they have pictures of the top entries.


Now for a bit of photography talk:

The light in the hotel was not great, verging on terrible. I had my 60mm f2.8 lens on which limited me a bit in terms of shooting in low light because I could only go to f2.8.  Also, it was a longer focal length, which hindered me sometimes because of close quarters when trying to back up and get a full shot on a house.

It was VERY dark in there and I had to keep my ISO at 1600 most of the time. Even with the ISO pushed high, my shutter speed was often too low, but I held as still as I could. I was shooting through smudged Plexi glass, which sometimes caused a glare. I did my best. 😉

If you are planning a trip somewhere that has low light and you want to capture pictures, below are some helpful tips for shooting in low light.

Tips for in-the-field, low-light photography:

  1. Use a prime lens like 50mm f.18 or 35mm 1.8 and open your aperture as far as you can.
  2. Increase your ISO has high as you can without ruining the image with noise. My D90 can get away with 1600 and even 2000, and I later rescue the images from noise with Noiseware in Photoshop Elements.
  3. Use a external flash and bounce the light off the ceiling or wall. I have a Nikon SB-600 speed flash, but left it at home. Need to get a bigger camera bag. 😉
  4. Use your on-camera flash (if no external flash) and use a coffee filter and rubber band to filter the light.
About Amanda

I am passionate about helping others learn how to use their DSLR cameras and editing programs. More information about me can be found at my About page, or by visiting my personal blog.


  1. The pictures are amazing especially when you consider they were behind glass!

    Thank you for the low light tips. I have a Nikon D60 and I struggle to take decent pictures in low light situations.

  2. A coffee filter and a rubber band!! Genius!

  3. please do tell…what is noiseware?? i’m a d80 and can’t push my iso past 400 without ruining a shot!

  4. Is the noiseware built into PSE or do you have to add it as a filter? Great shots BTW! I love the Grove Park Inn – what a beautiful place to visit!

  5. Love it Amanda! and those gingerbread houses are amazing!!

  6. Thanks for those tips!!!

  7. amazing, as always . . . made my mouth water : ) All the photos are beautiful & you know how much I appreciate all your tips on lighting! franks <3

  8. Hey Amanda,

    Just wonder if you’d ever seen the Better Bounce card?
    A friend told me several years ago about his BBC, when he showed how to make one out of cardstock. She used them for in her portrait photographer.

  9. Great tips for low-light shots. I needed these!

    And those houses are gorgeous! Great shots.

  10. niat holder says:

    Your photos are composed well and much better than many I’ve bee seeing. Thanksfor you inside tips.


  1. […] Craftberry BushINCREDIBLE photos from a Gingerbread Competition {and low light photography tips} at Everyday Elements OnlineBake up some Christmas Tree Cupcakes with Shania from The Family KitchenLOVE this idea of a […]

  2. […] Pictures from a trip to the National Gingerbread House Competition … National Gingerbread House Competition {and low-light photography tips}. December 9, 2010 17 Comments … […]

Speak Your Mind