All That’s Sugar is Gold

Vermont Sugar House

Holiday lights grace a sugarhouse in Putnamville, VT ©Kurt Budliger Photography

Well the past week has brought the mountains where I live in central Vermont about 20+ inches of snow.  Winter was a little late in arriving this year but it seems to be kicking into full swing now, and just in time for the Holiday Season.  This image was made last year around this time but was several years in the making.  My neighbor down the road lights up his sugarhouse every year for the holidays.  He usually leaves the lights up for a month or so and it certainly is a very festive scene.

The shot I envisioned required a few elements to line up for the result you see here.  First, I wanted to shoot the scene after a fresh snowfall, important because the trees would be prettier and reflect more of the twilight blue and warm holiday lights when covered in white snow as opposed to being bare.  Second, I needed to shoot the sugarhouse during twilight which occurs about 20-30 minutes after sunset and preferably on a clear day.  Twilight provides just enough darkness so the holiday lights look really nice  and preserves just enough light in the scene to make out important details of the maple sugarhouse and its surroundings.  The other benefit to shooting this scene, or any other architectural subject with lights at this hour is the magical blue light produced by a clear sky at twilight; whether you include the sky or the blue is reflected into the shadows as is the case here.  The cool blue tones from twilight compliment the warm light cast from the holiday lights.

After a couple of years of passing this scene almost daily hoping for the right conditions, everything came together perfectly last year; fresh snow earlier in the day followed by clearing skies just in time for twilight and voila!   If you haven’t before, try photographing holiday lights in your neck of the woods this year.  Just remember, plan your shot for twilight, turn off your flash and use a tripod because your exposures will no doubt be measure in seconds.


~ by kurtbudliger on December 15, 2009.

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