Saturday, December 29, 2012


We spent Christmas this year in Salt Lake City, visiting our son and his wife, as well as our daughter and her boyfriend, who flew in from Washington, D.C.  The LDS (Mormon) Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City, creates a stunning light display each holiday season at their Temple Square area.  Twice during our visit we spent time enjoying the light show, along with thousands of other sightseers.

I, of course, brought my camera to try to capture what I could of the show.  This posed a number of technical challenges.  First, the scene was generally low-light, so I needed to ramp up the ISO on my camera to compensate for the fact that all the shots were hand-held.  In addition, white balance was an issue.  I wanted to capture the colors as I was seeing them, but that is not necessarily what my camera was registering.  As a result, there was some variation in color balance, as I was frequently adjusting my white balance in an attempt to get the color "right."  Finally, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of other visitors, so "clean" shots were, in most cases, simply not possible.

First, there is the temple itself.  A very impressive building, it is bathed in light for the holiday display.  I could not capture the entire building in a single shot, but here are some shots of parts of the building.

This last shot has been modified.  Normally, when one photographs a building from ground level, the top is further away than the base, so the top of the building appears smaller and the sides of the building appear to be leaning in, as is most apparent in the second shot above.  However, I have a Lightroom application that allows me to compensate for that problem in perspective, as appears in this third shot.

And here are a couple more shots of the temple.

I understand that the gold figure on top of the temple represents the angel Moroni.

This tree was one of the few not covered with lights.  I liked how it is silhouetted against the temple.  The wrought iron fencing also helped the composition.

Although the temple served as the centerpiece for the show, the lights on the trees were simply spectacular. The challenge was to create an understandable composition.  Here are a couple of the general scene that I think illustrate the problem.

Colorful, but it is difficult to understand what is going on.  Here are a couple of shots in which I tried to show tree trunks and branches that were outlined by the lights.

This last shot gives some sense of how densely the lights were strung on the trees.  

One of the issues I ran into was that to my eyes, the lights appeared larger than pinpoints, whereas the camera was able to show the lights as being closer to point sources.  The result of this was that the lights in the photos don't appear as bright as they did to the eye.  In an attempt to compensate for this, in some photos I used the technique of intentionally putting the lights out of focus.

. . . perhaps too much out of focus.

And here is a shot that features tree branches that had been flooded with light.

Within a minute after I took this shot, the lights illuminating the branches were turned off, so I was happy that I got my shot before that happened.

There is a reflecting pool in front of the temple and for the holidays it features a nativity scene.  Here are a couple of shots of that scene, taken on different nights.

Note the difference in white balance between the two shots.  I like the second shot better, even though it seems a little too blue.  The dark area behind the scene in the first shot is simply the large crowd of visitors.  The second shot was taken Christmas night, when the crowds were significantly smaller.  And here is a shot taken with my back to the temple, showing the lights in the background.

There were statues for other elements in the overall nativity scene, including a shepherd and his sheep and a wise man on a camel.

Finally, here is a shot of the general scene.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.

1 comment:

  1. John, What a nice summary of pics from 2012. My favorite is stil the old farm house.