Light for Dark December I

Last winter, instead of going carousing with the rest of my classmates on the evening after our first quarter final exams in the Environmental Science program at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, I went to the Magic of Christmas light display at Butchart Gardens.

I love when it is possible to shoot Christmas lights soon after sunset on a clear day, when the sky turns cobalt blue.  It was a cloudy day when I visited Butchart Gardens, so the deep blue colour in the sky was more of a blue-grey and faded quickly.  When photographing Christmas lights with a dark  sky, the contrast between the lit and unlit areas is usually so great that the dark areas are completely black and featureless.  You can see this to some extent in the last photo, the classic view looking down on the Sunken Garden.  I don’t think this is a great photo by any means–it has some dark areas and strange lighting that I think would be confusing to someone who had never seen the view in a daylit photo.  For this reason, the rest of the images I chose to show here are generally in areas where a lot was going on so that most of the photo is well-lit.

I went around the gardens more or less backwards, starting in the Italian Garden.  Numerous creepy man-like decorations were popping up randomly and obnoxiously behind the Star Pond’s gazebo, sometimes within the time it took for my remote release to trigger the shutter.  It was only after going through the Sunken Garden, where most visitors start, and walking back to the central part of the park that I clued in that the six white, lighted geese in the natural area were part of the 12 Days of Christmas (‘oh, so those birds in the tree, and those rings in the pond…’).  Turns out the annoying “men” popping up and ruining my pictures were the 10 lords a-leaping!

It was strange to tour a Christmas light display without snow on the ground (an excellent reflector of lights) and in relatively balmy air (no numb toes and fingers), but I highly recommend the experience to anyone in the Victoria area during the Christmas season.


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