To get that nice 'twinkle' effect on bright lights, such as Christmas lights, street lamps or the sun shining through a branch, you can either buy a special filter or just increase your aperture!
Being a photographer in the midst of real life can be challenging.
When I don't have my camera, I take mental 'photo' notes and snap images in my mind, like Pam and Jim did in the wedding episode of The Office.
When I do have my camera, I try to take a few good pictures, but am generally needed to do other things, so my attention is pulled in different directions and I don't do anything particularly well. Jack (or in my case, Jann) of all trades, master of none.
I thought about this last night after we decorated our Christmas tree. As both an artist and mother, I want to capture special moments like these. As only a photographer, I want the lighting, focus, emotion to be perfect and there are a lot of technical things you must focus on to make that happen. As only a mother, I just want to decorate a tree with my son and family. It is really difficult to balance both and while i did get 1 or 2 i liked, the images overall weren't stellar (technically speaking).
So, when I realized I just wouldn't get that perfect, special image, I put the camera down and just had a special time decorating the tree with my son.