Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas Lights

We have just gotten through the holiday season, so I took advantage of the surroundings to snap a few pictures.  Guess this is a million different lights (instead of a big sunset).  Christmas lights offer there own challenges as well as there own rewards.  I will start off with one of the more interesting shots.  As always, click on a picture to get a larger version.

This is a picture of Parliment in Ottawa.  There are lights scattered around the entire city, but they do a nice job with the Parliment building (both with trees lit to the side, and the foliage in the front as well as the projectors onto the building.  They actually use this same concept to project other scenes onto the building (for other holidays).  It is a nice touch here, and well done.

One of the things we like to do for Christmas is go to Hershey park.  Yes, some of the rides are open, but they also have plenty of lights (they also have a drive through display, but we stayed too late at the park, and could not get there this year).  This is a picture of the light show.  These lights dance and change color to the music.  There are multiple places to watch the show (I am on one bridge, and you can go at the one in the distance, or one beyond that).  The candy kiss is sitting ontop of the Kissmus tree (a little corny, but you gotta give it to them).

This is a picture from the other side (so again not from the lower bridge in the middle, but the other side).  I wanted to show the opposite (no color).  There are little trees on the left (not lit when I snapped this) that also light up.  The lights can change quickly, so snapping alot of pictures is a must.  These come out nice and sharp because they are taken from a bridge with a strong rail.  When taking these pictures, it is likely you will not be carrying a tripod, so the best alternative is to hold the camera against something solid.  I did that for both of these Hershey pictures and they came out well.  Reducing camera shake is important in trying to get sharp pictures of the lights.

Another visit we like this time of year is Kozair's Christmas Village.  They have the most lights in one setting that I have ever seen.  Unlike Hershey, this is all lights (they do not have the rides Hershey does, the lights do not dance to the music, but they both do have a Santa).  This picture looks sharp as well.  I did not have anything to brace the camera against, so I had to hold still and depend on the anti shake in the SX210.  This worked out better here as there are more (and brighter) lights, so the exposure time was not as long as those up in Hershey (you can see from the shadows near the model buildings from the other lights). Not all the pictures came out this sharp though as some areas were a little darker.

This is a picture of a walkway at Kozair'sI sharpened it a bit, but you can still see it is not as sharp as the Hershey pictures.  The bigger point here is that the cardboard cutouts are very visible (so there is considerable light from all the lights (there are alot of lights)).  Note there are cutouts all around (these are peanuts, there are other christmas themed (many with the stories written on them) throughout the farm.  In locations like these, it is easy to get pictures with lots of lights.  The harder part is finding pictures that make sense (and not just lots of lights).  I tried to segment my shots to do that (Hershey was already worked out due to the bridges and the staged lights).  At Kozairs, I pictured buildings or areas and tried to capture surrounding lights (my pictures thatdid not have a real focus just looked distracted).

I added this picture to show the final hazard for taking Christmas Light pictures.  But first, notice all the smaller buildings in the background.  All lit up, some are small with displays inside of them.  Others are larger with shops inside (gifts, hot chocolate or Santa).  Also all the lights provide enough ambient light for the rocks to show up in the picture.  However having the focus point of the snow man and foreground added to the picture (if I just zoomed in on buildings and lights it would have looked chaotic). 

Now for the final hazard.  Notice all the ice near the waterfall in the foreground.  Baby its cold outside (I heard that somewhere).  So dress warm and enjoy the lights.