Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Lights Of Christmas

I just finished putting our Christmas lights on the outside of our home.  I use multi-colored lights inside and out. White lights are beautiful and elegant. But, I'm old-fashioned and multi-colored lights bring a feeling of nostalgia and Christmases of the past.

I began to think about Christmas lights and wondered when they were invented. I wasn't surprised to learn that electric Christmas lights were connected to Thomas Edison. During the season in 1880, Edison, who had invented the incandescent bulb the previous year, hung strings of lights outside his laboratory in New Jersey.  The first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was the creation of Edward H. Johnson, an associate of Edison.  He had Christmas tree light bulbs especially made for himself. He displayed his tree which was hand-wired with 80 red, white, and blue lights the size of walnuts. By 1990, businesses started stringing up Christmas lights in their windows. Lights were too expensive for the average person; so electric lights for Christmas trees did not become popular until 1930.

Now, that you have a history lesson, let me show you a few lights I've captured. I'm still learning how to take night and inside pictures with my camera. For the first two pictures inside, I propped the camera up and when I was outside, I used my tripod to prevent camera shake.

To achieve this first image, I put the camera on manual. I focused on my Christmas tree and then slightly unfocused, creating these little round circles.

You can also create what is know as "bokeh" by placing an object a few feet away from the background. This will cause the camera to focus on the object in the foreground and blur the background.

To get this unusual image of my Christmas tree lights, as I snapped the camera, I slightly twisted the camera. I like the way the lights seem to be in motion.

This image was a fun to capture. I was trying to make a heart-shape with the lights, by using a slow shutter speed as I moved the camera in the shape of a heart. It totally didn't work out. But, when I rotated the image I found these candy canes. You can see that my Christmas tree is upside down!  It's fun to experiment and play with the camera. You never know what'll you get!

Now let's move outside. I love the old-fashioned big lights in my bushes.

Here's a picture of my home. There are lights on the bushes and around the porch. The lights on the right are on a rock wall by the driveway. I guess I was taking these during the Blue Hour, because the sky is such a pretty blue.

I have a few other photos, with outside lights. My sister and I attended a living "walk through Bethlehem" this weekend. I was intrigued by the lanterns that were hung lighting the way.

The above photo is of the tanner's shop that we passed by. It was like a play that we were part of. The acting was well done and each scene was amazing. There were a few times that my sister and I even jumped when the Roman soldiers yelled for everyone to clear the streets! 

The journey ended with the Baby Jesus in the manger. That's a live donkey back there. There were also sheep and camels. This just reemphasized my desire to slow down and bring Christ back into our Christmas celebration.

Lastly, a couple of shots of our State Capitol.

I think this is my favorite; I like the trees in the foreground.

I've linked these Christmas lights to Kat Eye View Of The World and her Exploring With The Camera. She has many helpful hints on her blog to help you capture beautiful Christmas light photos.


  1. Beautiful photos. We have multi-coloured lights too! Love your experiments, I'm going to have a go at some of these and see what I end up with, it looks really fun!

  2. I can tell you love lights! Great post, I loved reading the history of how Christmas lights came to be. Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful images and stories in Exploring with a Camera. More fun to come tomorrow!

  3. Cathy - Your state capitol building looks amazing, all outlined in tiny white lights - love those arches and the dome. And the beautiful shape of the outside lantern with its golden glow. And all your experiments with different ways to capture the beauty of your lights. Wonderful!

  4. Very interesting post! I especially enjoyed your experiments with your tree lights. My late mother-in-law had some of those Santa head mugs, so that one brought back nostalgic memories of Christmasses past. The twisty lights made me a little dizzy and the "candy canes" were unique - I'd have never known your tree was upside down in that one if you hadn't said so!

  5. Wow - these are all so much fun. I love the lights, I am learning to photograph them myself this season, and it isn't easy. You have done a great job, and obviously having fun with them along the way!

  6. Those are beautiful. One of my intentions this Christmas is to go out and take some photos of the lights, and I am just trying to get to grips with my first dslr, never had an slr before this week!

  7. How stunning these photos are, love love the lights. It's what really makes it feel like Christmas in our home, inside and outside. Just a tree with lights only is so pretty. You had so much fun with your lights this week, those candy cane images are AMAZING!!

    How breathtaking is the Capitol all lit up like that, thank you for sharing so much in this post.


Thanks so much for stopping by!!