Saturday, December 8, 2012

2012 galaxy of lights + bridge street christmas tree lighting

Every November we always have one week in our photo library that looks suspiciously more like Christmas than fall! Ever since we started walking through the Botanical Gardens Galaxy of Lights instead of driving we end up going well before Thanksgiving, and I definitely won't complain about the earlier scheduling since it means we have more time to spend looking at everything and really enjoy it.

I've blogged lots of photos from the Galaxy of Lights for the past two years, so I'm not including as many photos in this post as in the past, but I still love documenting what's new and what was my favorite each time.

DSC_2962.jpg

Basically, the local botanical garden that we maintain a membership to sets up some pretty amazing light displays every Christmas season. Starting Thanksgiving Day the display is open for to the public to drive through at night to see the sights, but for a few days before Thanksgiving they have nights just for members to walk through. I always tote the camera along, and it's fun to try to spot what's new (like the Alabama sign below) and also revisit some old favorites.

DSC_2961.jpg

Not all of the displays are Christmas themed- there are nature displays (it's a garden, after all!), scenes out of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and a few nods to local industry around here (meaning lots of rockets and general space-y stuff). Some displays are animated (and I'll admit that I shot way more iPhone video this year than last, meaning I took a lot fewer still shots), while others are lovely still-lifes.

DSC_2963.jpg

DSC_2965.jpg

DSC_2967.jpg

My favorite part of the walk, hands down, is this magical section filled with curtains of light strands. Like the big displays, some of these are animated while others burn steadily, and it's filled with lit up snowflakes and deer, too. This year they even set up a fake snow machine halfway through, which made me a happy, happy girl. I may or may not have turned around and walked through the whole thing again. Twice. Yes, I love it that much!

DSC_2984.jpg

This section is also a great place to experiment with bokeh and some of the more artistic effects you can get when you purposely unfocus your lens before snapping a shot. Note to self- play more with shaped bokeh next year!

DSC_2970.jpg

DSC_2978.jpg

DSC_2992.jpg

And every once in a while Darren even grabs the camera from me to take a few photos of his own. :)

DSC_2985.jpg

Galaxy of Lights is definitely one of my favorites of our yearly Christmas traditions!

DSC_3002.jpg

DSC_3005.jpg

DSC_3010.jpg

DSC_3012.jpg

DSC_3013.jpg

DSC_3014.jpg

DSC_3016.jpg

DSC_3017.jpg

Bridge Street, a local outdoor shopping center, also has their annual Christmas tree lighting around the same time as the Galaxy of Lights (this year we attended these events a mere four days apart!), and we usually try to go when I remember it (last year I totally forgot).

DSC_3047.jpg

This year Bridge Street got in on the fake snow action, too, which made for a pretty picture when the switch was flipped to turn on the big tree!

DSC_3048.jpg

DSC_3065.jpg

Darren commented this year (and I agree) that after the Galaxy of Lights, seeing the big tree get turned on is a little anticlimactic. He's right, of course, but he also knows that part of the reason I like going is that it's a great excuse to pick up some yummy ice cream at Maggie Moo's!

DSC_3066.jpg

DSC_3067.jpg

And I also turned it into a bit of a Christmas shopping trip since I needed a gift card to the Monaco Theater for someone, and the tree is right in their courtyard, in viewing distance of this lovely fountain, I might add!

DSC_3070.jpg

Mmmm, Christmas tree bokeh. :)

DSC_3086.jpg

And I love snowflakes, so I was quite happy to see these beauties projected onto the theater's entrance!

DSC_3089.jpg

DSC_3094.jpg

DSC_3102.jpg

The shop windows at Bridge Street are always so pretty when they're decked out for Christmas, but I'll wait a little longer before going back to photograph all of those- some of the stores hadn't quite finished their decorating yet when I was there, and I don't want to miss anything!