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Christmas Zoomed Arch Dec15

Christmas Lights! A Few Images From the Jackson Town Square

A Night on the Square

On Friday following Thanksgiving, the Town of Jackson officials turn on the lights at the Town Square. All four Elk antler arches are beautifully wrapped with LED lights, along with most of the spruce and cottonwood trees. The lights certainly give the town a festive atmosphere. Merchants around the Square decorate their store fronts to add to the scene. Last night, I drove to the Square and set up my gear. I took quite a few shots—including using a few techniques you might find fun and useful for lights in your area.  If you make it to Jackson Hole, you can take your own!

Christmas Plain Antler Arch Dec15

Antler Arch on the Southeast Corner: Last year, the Town used blue LED lights. This year, they used the amber version on all lights but the one colored tree. Last night, I used my Nikon D800 and a Nikon 70-200mm lens. I’ve used the 24-70mm lens on most other trips. This one was shot with a clear glass filter on the front of the lens.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 2.5 seconds at F/10, Auto Focus, 70mm,

Christmas Zoomed Arch Dec15

Warp Speed: For this image, I was shooting with a 5 second exposure. The camera and lens were on a sturdy tripod, of course. I pressed the shutter and let it expose for roughly 4 seconds and then zoomed the lens for the last second. For this effect, I was zoomed out to 70mm, then twisted the barrel of the lens to zoom in slightly. You can experiment with this technique. If you start zooming right off the bat, you’ll not have much recognizable. Note: I centered this image over the moose antlers under the arch so all of the rays would radiate from that spot. I’d likely crop some of the street out of this image for a final print.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 5 seconds at F/11, Auto Focus, 70mm then to 140mm +/-.

Christmas Spun Arch Dec15

Spun Arch: One of the reasons I used the Nikon 70-200mm lens last night was to do this effect. It is essentially the same as the previous image, but I loosened the knob on the barrel of the lens so I could spin it during part of the exposure. As before, I was stationary for the first 3 seconds of so, then spun the body around the lens collar during the last second. It takes a little experimentation to find the sweet spot for the amount and speed of the spin.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 4 seconds at F/10, Auto Focus, 70mm .

Christmas Streaks and Arch Dec15

Streaks and Me: Being Sunday night, there wasn’t a lot of traffic. I was able to set up my tripod on one side of the street and become part of my own photo by triggering the camera with a RFN-4s remote. I took this shot quite a few times, sometimes still, and sometimes moving slightly to create some blur. In this shot, I waited until a car was passing through the scene, causing the long red streaks.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 2 seconds at F/10, Auto Focus, 135mm.

Christmas Antlers Crossed Dec15

Cross Filter with Antlers and Lights: For this shot and the rest of the images from last night, I replaced my clear protective filter with a cross filter.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 2 seconds at F/10, Auto Focus, 175mm.

Christmas Antlers Spun Dec15

Spun Antlers: This is the same technique as seen in the larger image above. I exposed the scene for a second to bake in some details, then spun the camera during the last of the exposure.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 2 seconds at F/10, Auto Focus, 70mm.

Christmas Antler Arch Dec15

Northwest Arch and Me: I changed to the other corner, then took this image with me walking through the arch (using the remote trigger) and the star filter. The brightest lights make the longest cross effects. I kept this scene slightly underexposed to make each bulb show up. Adding exposure can turn the lights into a single blob of light.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 1/3 second at F/2.8, Auto Focus, 86mm.

Christmas Park Bench Dec15

Park Bench: Nothing special here. It just caught my eye! I might consider taking a flashlight with me some other night and play with a little additional light painting. I shot this with the aperture set to wide open, causing most of the lines in the seat to blur quickly. If I had one, I’d also like to do night shots like these with a Tilt-Shift lens.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 2 seconds at F/2.8, Auto Focus, 170mm.

Christmas Colored Lights Dec15

Colored Lights with Cross Filter: I don’t know the significance of this one tree in the Town Square. It is the only one decorated with colored lights. The cross filter can be rotated to change the angle of the rays. Again, a Tilt-Shift lens could be fun. I could focus on one plane or row of lights, and then blur out lights in front or in back. Maybe someday!

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 1/2 second at F/2.8, Auto Focus, 200mm.

Christmas Colored Light Blured Dec15

Out of Focus Lights: For all of the previous images, I went ahead and let the camera auto focus on one of the lights. For this image, I put the lens into Manual Focus and adjusted it until most of the lights went out of focus. A little of the star effect was still visible. I took this shot quite a few times at varying amounts of blurry focus. All were interesting.

Shooting Info: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens on a Gitzo 1348 Tripod, Arca Swiss Z-1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, Aperture Priority, .4 second at F/2.8, Manual Focus, 200mm.

2008 Christmas Lights

2008 Christmas Lights: I was out last light at 8:30 PM. At this time of the year, the night sky is very dark. My preferred time for the Christmas lights is just as it is starts getting dark. The sky will show up as a beautiful hue of dark blue as seen in this 2008 photo.

Another Night on the Square:

I went back to the Square on December 19th for a few more quick shots. This time, I used a D800 and a 24-70mm lens on all of the images below except the last one.

Web Southwest Arch Dec19

Southwest Arch: This one was taken from inside the Square looking out. I made it to the Square a little later than I had hoped, but you can see the blue in the sky. Tonight, I was adjusting both the ISO and Aperture to help stop action, or slow it down some as seen in this image. There are many different light sources around the square including the street light throwing out all of the orange light onto the snow.

Web TownSquare Dec19

Northeast Arch: At this time of the evening, roughly 5:30 pm, every parking space is filled and there is a lot of traffic. I shot this one looking towards the Southwest. When taking the shots at this time of the evening, I can keep some deep blue in the sky to help define the trees. Fifteen minutes later, and the sky would be black.

Web Arch And Family Dec19

Family at the Arch: There’s a remnant of the dark sky in this one, but by this point, I was shooting more for the arches and activity around them.

Web Passing Under the Arch Dec19

Passing Under the Arch: This is probably my favorite shot of the night. Someone with the purple headlights parked illegally at the arch, shining their lights in front of the arch as they went inside a store for a few minutes. It light painted the foreground snow perfectly as the group of people walked under the arch. The young girl reached out to touch one of the antlers.

Web Arch Looking Up Dec19

Looking Up: I stopped at the truck and switched to the 14-24mm super wide angle lens for a few shots. It is definitely a different look for the Arches.

The images on this page are intended to give you some creative spark and encourage you to experiment with the holiday lights in your area. Cheers! Mike Jackson

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Comments (2)

  1. Lowell Schechter

    Hi Mike
    really love the way you shot this . We have been to Jackson Hole and its such a nice little town. We spent time around the antler arch and the nice lights. Also spent time in the local stores.

  2. Justin Bowen

    It just makes me SICK how good you are with a camera and I can’t take a decent pic!!!! lol

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