Date Of Visit: Dec, 23, 2020 (display is up until Jan. 3, 2021)
Location: Frank Newhall Look Park, 300 North Main St, Florence (Northampton), MA
Cost: Free (donations are appreciated)
Parking: There are roughly 50 parking spots at the entrance and several areas to park at along the trail
Universally Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Highlights: lighted holiday sculptures
Summary: 23 lighted sculptures dot the grounds of Look Park
The pandemic hasn’t stopped the holiday cheer at Look Park in Florence (a village in Northampton) MA. Twenty three lighted displays as well as a few lighted bridges and gazebos brighten up the landscape at Look Park. This socially distant event can be seen from your vehicle. Or, you can walk around the park and view the displays up close. However, it is very dark at night. So do use caution. If you did miss the display before the holiday don’t fret. The display will be up until January 3.
Summary: An illuminated art installation on Boston’s Seaport District lit up the otherwise bleak winter sky.
Decorative lights during the winter are no big deal, particularly during the holiday season. But one decorative light display stood out. The light display, named “Entres Les Rangs” consisted of hundreds of sticks with reflectors that lit up intermittently.
Entre les rangs, which translates to “between the rows” in English, first debuted in Montreal. It was such a hit, the display was taken over the border all the way to Boston. It has also been displayed in Georgetown, MA and London, England.
Different sequences of blue, pink and purple lights lit up the installation. The reflectors were actually being lit up by bigger lights that you may see in some of the photos which changed the colors of the reflectors.
I was hoping to photograph the display while it was snowing or just after a snow storm. But, uncharacteristically for winter in Boston, there wasn’t much snow in Boston while the display was installed, especially on the days I was available to photograph the installation. This is just one of the things that can go wrong when you’re trying to get that “perfect photo.” But it’s not always possible to control the weather. In fact, it’s pretty darn hard to do this. Another time I went to photograph the display one of the sets of lights wasn’t working. I (and I imagine a small army of visitors) emailed the DCR who was in charge of the upkeep of the display and a few days later it was up and running. Such is the life of a WordPress photographer.
It is unclear if this or any other display will be in the area next winter. But, if they are I will be sure to photograph it. Hopefully it will snow this time!
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As part of the 10 year anniversary of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, the workers at the Greenway Conservancy planned a very colorful event. Thirty dancers frolicked along the Greenway while seven different colored lights illuminated the fountains. New lights were installed specially for this celebration.
The event began with a pretty water display. Normally, the lights at the Greenway are white. But, for the first time, colored lights were installed at the Greenway for this special event. This event was held twice earlier in October. But those events weer held during the daytime without colored lights. I thought a night time display would be much more interesting.
After a few words from the creator of the event, Peter DiMuro of Public Displays Of Motion, there was a pretty fountain display.
Interpretive dancers began moving along the grassy greenway.
The highlight (no pun intended) of the event, was when the dancers made it to the brightly colored fountains.
The dancers, aged 14 to 75, were equipped with umbrellas while they danced along the fountains. They creatively used the umbrellas and light to make some very pretty colors.
There’s no word on whether the Greenway will conduct another display like this. But, if they do I will be there, umbrella in hand.
This one was particularly challenging to photograph. I used a higher than usual ISO (between 300 and 1,000) with a fast shutter speed (500 and higher) to capture the water as it shot up in the air and the dancers. While I did have a flash I used it sparingly. For one, I think the flash was frowned upon giving the fact the darkness mixed with the light from the fountains made the event so pretty. I also think it wasn’t necessary, especially since I could use PhotoShop to bring out the colors. I was also able to hide mistakes by utilizing the darkness ( :
Shoots like this are hard since you want to use a fast shutter speed to capture motion, yet you often want to use a slower shutter speed in low light situations. So, I compensated with a higher than usual ISO to capture as much light as possibly. While it varied throughout the shoot, I generally used a lower F stop (around 4.0).
Summary: A light display that also features short “films” on a loop. This exhibit is no longer on display.
The upside to the cold, dark winter nights are the exhibits, particularly illuminated exhibits, that are scattered throughout the city. Lights and fun, interactive exhibits seem to bring a little more cheer to what may seem like long, cold, never ending winters. This is the concept of the Bright Lights For Winter Nights season long festivities.
As a new-ish photographer, I like to share my experiences and observations with other photogs. In this vein, I wanted to share my night time photography experiences.
One obstacle I have learned to overcome or at least improve in is night time photography. I have noted through my experiences that night time photographs is much more pretty than any daytime photographs, except for the golden hour of course.
I used to hate night time photography. Sunset and post sunset light used to mean it was time to pack up and go home. Through experience, lessons from books and videos and classes, I have learned to not only appreciate night time photography, I actually prefer it. In fact, in a recent discussion about photography I have described daytime photography, particularly mid day photography, as being like taking half a photo. Displays, buildings and even nature all take on a different look when they are lit up at night. It’s almost like photographing a completely different image. I love it, even if it means having to lug around my tripod. I still struggle with it at times. More often than not my struggles actually stem from the tripod itself. At times, the tripod breaks, I forgot to tighten a screw on the tripod or some other issue arises. Perhaps you can relate to my struggles. But, unless it’s a very low light situation or very late at night, I rarely have to use the tripod. In fact, because of all of the lighting fixtures at the Loop, I didn’t have to use the tripod to photograph The Loop. The biggest tip I can give about low light photography is to not be afraid to boost the ISO (I always thought this was a no-no until recently). You can always “fix” it in post production with your noise reduction tool if you use Lightroom.
Now, back to the display, one of the first exhibits of the Bright Lights Winter Nights display was The Loop. Comprised of six illuminated, moving cylinders which play music and animations, the Loop is an interactive exhibit that allows you to watch film strip like shows. While sitting in the loop exhibits, the person sitting can pull a handlebar which moves the images and creates an animated story. Music and flickering lights complement the images.
The timed lights on the loops change in color and brightness of the loops. The loops are very pretty, particularly during the dusk and the low light times of day. In fact, if you only saw the lights you may mistake them as simply pretty lights. The decorative lights on the trees and hang on the strings in the background help to accentuate the beauty of the illuminated loops.
The images inside of the loop are said to be based on fairy tales. When used correctly, the images play out a story that look seamless.
Dogs are welcome to view the exhibits. Jack, a 12 year old Wheaton Terrier, and his mom stopped by to check out the Loop.
Below are two videos the Loop display. The first video is a walk through of the exhibit. The second video is a video of the images that show as you pull the handlebar on the loop. It’ was very cold, naturally it is Boston during winter, so there weren’t many people there to film the loop as I used. So, I managed this on my own. Using one hand to hold the camera and one hand to use the handlebar was no easy task. But, I tried my best. I hope you enjoy.
Location: Hancock-Adams Common, 1305 Hancock St, Quincy, MA
Hours: Dusk until dawn
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Parking: 1 and 2 hour street parking is available. There is also a parking garage located at 1250 Hancock St
Highlights: holiday lights on display at the Hancock-Adams, Quincy, MA
The newly constructed Hancock-Adams Common (it was dedicated in Sep. of this year) is home to one of the most festive holiday displays.
The Hancock-Adams Common, named after two of the more prominent residents of Quincy (technically John Hancock was born in what was then known as Braintree but it was later incorporated into what is now known as Quincy). At the north end of the display is John Adams
John Hancock is located at the south part of the display, closer to Quincy Center (or as it is now being called The New Quincy Center)
The center piece of the display is the 60 foot tree.
But the Santa, nutcracker and snowman are all a very close second.
Speaking of Santa, these two Santa Clauses took some time away from the North Pole to check out the display.
Thousands of lights illuminate the common.
The trees reflection so pretty in the gazing ball at City Hall.
The 174 year old Quincy City Hall was also dressed up for the holidays.
The Christmas light display is dog friendly. Al, a 2 year old English Bulldog posed in front of the tree for me.
Plymouth, MA, is beautiful enough on its own. But, Plymouth during the holiday season is simply magical.
As part of their holiday season in Plymouth, MA, Plymouth 400, an organization which promotes the celebration of the upcoming 400th anniversary of the Plymouth Rock landing which will occur in 2020, helped illuminate Plymouth.
The festivities began with a celebration of some of the residents of Plymouth, MA and the surrounding area and some entertainment at the Hedges House on Water Street. The entertainment consisted of interpretive dance, an acapella rendition of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” and a celebration of a family in Massachusetts who helped start a charity which helps buy cellphone minutes for soldiers overseas (Cellphones For Soldiers).
After the Plymouth 400 celebration, the city was aglow with holiday decorations (both Thanksgiving and Christmas).
I was a little disappointed at the lack of decorations and some of the decorations weren’t lit by the time we got there. In fact, some of the better decorations were not on Main and Court Streets but off Water Street like these decorations at CabbyShack and The Tavern On The Wharf.
It is not a long walk to get from Court Street and Main Street. Just walk straight on either street (Main Street becomes Court St and vice versa). I was able to take a few photos of the holiday decorations on Main and Court Streets. It still was enough to get me into the holiday spirit, although it pales in comparison to some of the other displays in New England. At the same time, the scaled down decorations somehow gave it a more “small town” and tasteful feel to it which is also nice. Let’s face it, some places can overdo it with the lights and decorations.
The decorations are still up and a few more have more than likely been added. Plus, there is the annual Kiwanis Christmas Tree Lighting Friday, December 2 from 5:30 to 8 which will really get the city’s holiday season in gear.
I did see a cute dog at the Plymouth 400 celebration. Tully, a 3 and a half month old Labrador, was in the holiday spirit!
Every year during the holidays, I make my annual trip to Yankee Candle Village in Deerfield, MA.
The flagship shop of New England, the Yankee Candle Village is known for his decorative and at times eccentric displays. But, during the holidays they go the extra mile.
From the moment you walk onto the property, the Yankee Candle Village welcomes you with holiday cheer and some unique decorations.
Inside the store, there is an assortment of holiday decorations and not just holiday decorations. Wizard of Oz statues, model cars and other displays can be found throughout the shop.
There are Christmas trees galore. Every where you look it seems there is a tree decorated in a unique way.
There are also Christmas village light up displays located in one room. They also have a Halloween village set up.
There is also a stream with koi fish
Try as we might, we could not find Santa. He wasn’t at his regular place
He wasn’t at his desk either
Finally, I found him in the shopping area
There is also an area where customers can make their own candles with the colors and scents they choose. They can also have a candle made in the form of their hands whether it be a fist, peace sign or index finger extended (no middle fingers allowed)
There is also a fountain in the shopping area and a mechanized band that plays for the children. It looks kinda creepy to me, though.
As I left the shop and day turned into night, the lights from the trees and decorations outside lit up the area. It was raining pretty hard so some of the images produced spots that almost look like snow. Sadly, it was only raindrops. There will not be any snow on Christmas for us this year.
There are also many automated attractions at the shop. For instance, in the front of the store there is a toy train that runs along the wall.
Every 4 minutes, it “snows” at the Snowplace Factory in the North Pole of the store.
To get a full appreciation of the light display, I am including a short video showing off all the lights outside the store.
The only thing missing from the holiday display at Boston Common is a fresh layer of snowy ground covering.
I’m still getting the hang of my long time nemesis: night time photography. So, some photos are a bit grainy or blurry.
The Menorah was lit today (Sunday) as Hanukkah began today. It was not lit during my visit Friday night.
Boston Common has become a family friendly spot for people of all ages to enjoy. The Tadpole Playground is a fairly new addition to the Common.
The Frog Pond is iced over during the winter for skaters young and old, and of various skating ability.
the zamboni’s coming right at us!
More pretty decorations and lights
There’s not a shortage of things to get even the Scroogiest folks in the holiday spirit.
The Prudential Tower is visible from the Boston Common. Each day in December they are lighting the top of the tower in the colors associated with a different charitable cause, as part of their 31 nights of lights. The night I went they were recognizing the Catching Joy organization. Lucky for us, the charity’s logo has a variety of colors in their name. My photo is a little blurry but I am posting a video of the tower’s lights changing colors below.
The State House, located just behind the Boston Common, is also decorated for the holiday.
Lilly and Cameron (left to right) were both in the holiday spirit
To get a better sense of the fun that can be had at Boston Common, especially this time of the year, click on the videos below. Someone interrupted my video recording to ask for directions in the first video ( :