"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Christmas Is Coming! A Preview…

Christmas Is Coming! A Preview…

From “A Christmas Tree” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

Being now at home again, and alone … my thoughts are drawn back, by a fascination which I do not care to resist, to my own childhood. I begin to consider, what do we all remember best upon the branches of the Christmas Tree of our own young Christmas days, by which we climbed to real life.

Straight, in the middle of the room, cramped in the freedom of its growth by no encircling walls or soon-reached ceiling, a shadowy tree arises; and, looking up into the dreamy brightness of its top — for I observe, in this tree, the singular property that it appears to grow downward towards the earth — I look into my youngest Christmas recollections!”


Last year I put together a “days to Christmas” series of photography posts, and I’ve decided to do something similar this year, starting again with “Ten Days to Christmas” … which means I need to publish the first post in two — eeeks! only two! — days. I have zero ( zero! ) images ready at the moment, so I’ve got some work to do. Gonna need to crank up the shutter speeds!

On the weekend after Thanksgiving, I tugged the Lifelike Christmas Tree (calling it “artificial” is so outdated) from it’s off-season squeeze-place in a closet where it barely fits, which forces me to knee the door shut every other month of the year. I generally try to just avoid that particular closet. As I mentioned in a previous post, my tree has gone political this year — it’s now covered in blue lights to acknowledge Georgia flipping blue (again and again and again) in the presidential election.

Here’s the tree fresh out of the closet, after about three hours of twisting and shaping to get it de-scrunched. I’ve had this one for about five years, and while it does take a while to make shapely, it was a step up in convenience from its predecessor: an eight-foot, all-silk monster with branches that needed to be inserted individually into the trunk by color-code, then carefully shaped so the “needles” didn’t fall off. It usually took me a full day to finish it and then vacuum up all the silk bits that fell to the floor no matter how careful I was, so I feel like I gain five or six life-hours back every time I assemble this newer one.

Here we have the first attempt at topper attachment, with the angel a bit tipsy (too much egg nog?). Ladders and climbing were needed to correct the problem.

Here’s the angel righted and lit, with most of the tree lights installed. Actually they were all installed just before this; then me and the dog took a little break — and we came back to find some of the lights had leaped off the tree and engaged in a good bit of abusive self-entangling. What is it with Christmas lights anyway? They seem to have minds of their own, and no good comes from leaving them unattended.

And then we came to the end of day one. Here we have almost all of the lights installed, the point at which I often plop on the couch and wonder if maybe, just maybe, I should skip the rest of the tree decorations and leave it like this — just like you might see it in your favorite hardware store where they’re trying to get you to buy a pre-lit tree. I decided not to do that, of course; but the rest of the decorating took place over the next couple of days and will be part of the “days of Christmas series” coming up. I should also add that I managed to find room for three hundred more lights even after this, so the tree itself is now visible as a triangular blue glow, from space.

Below is a little preview of some of the photography work I’ll be doing for the upcoming series. I turned the foyer in my house into a MacGuyver-style photo-studio, hung this ornament from the center of a tripod, then positioned some lighting from below (three flashlights!). The walls in my foyer are green, so I developed this homegrown “green screen” technique to photograph ornaments that have open interior spaces like this one — so that I could remove all the green from the photo with Adobe Lightroom and make the ornament look like it was suspended on a black background.

I have managed to find a few colorful fall subjects, though autumn color has really just appeared in this unusually warm season over the past couple of weeks. Fall came so late I may need to create my own season — Christmaswinterfall — to have a good reason to include some of the fall photos with the Christmas ornament photos. I mean it’s true — isn’t it? — that richly-colored autumn leaves, in decent sunshine, are not that much different than Christmas lights, right?

Thanks for reading and taking a look!


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