A Country Christmas 2010

Hello and welome to My View for Wednesday, January 26, 2011.

Welcome to the My View. I hope all of you had a great start to the new year and are managing to stay warm during this very cold winter.

As I’ve been huddling in my fleece, trying to stay warm and, finally, putting away the last of the Christmas decorations, I keep thinking about one of my favorite parts of Christmas. You see, even though I’ve lived in a big city for most of my life, now that “most of my life” is in my grownup years, I’m very much a small town girl at heart. I love being in small towns, listening to the stories of people who’ve lived there all of their lives. I love driving down to north Florida each Christmas, driving down the backroads, not I-75, so that I can see the Christmas lights in the small towns that I pass through.

There is something so special about Christmas in small towns. I don’t know if this feeling comes from spending so much time at my grandparents farm when I was younger, or just that I feel people are friendlier in small towns. Folks in small towns depend on each other and seem to not be too busy to care for each other. There is just a feeling there that doesn’t seem to exist, or not as much, in a large, very busy city. Small town folks wave at each other when they pass each other on the highway — have you noticed that?

In a small town in north Florida, a few years ago, the people of the church that my brother attends, built a new church. The people built it — they built from a log cabin kit. Now, this is a very friendly small town church and everyone treats you like family after just a couple of visits. I remember the first Christmas Eve service that I attended in that church. I was moved to tears when we all lit our candles at the end of the service and sang “Silent Night”. The warmth of the candles reflecting off the warm wood of the logs and in the windows of this small church was other worldly, reflecting the warmth of the small town people who built the church with their hands.

This year, I managed to grab a couple of shots of the church before we went in for Christmas Eve service. And, this year, as everyone gathered in a huge circle out on the lawn for the lighting of the candles, “Silent Night” drifted over the sandy roads, oak trees laden with moss, deep springs and bogs, down the rivers and out to the bay from the voices of people who have lived all their lives in this community and embrace those places, and the people who live or visit there, with open arms.

As always, I very much appreciate your comments and critiques. They make me a better photographer, aid in my growth as a person and offer me new experiences.

Christmas Eve in the Country

Silent Night

Christmas Eve in the Country, north Florida
Christmas Eve, 2010

Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 16-35 f/2.8 lens at 70mm, ISO 800, f/8.0, 1.5 seconds, Bogen Neotec tripod

Thank you for visiting My View.

Please take a moment to visit the listings for the workshops that I’ve planned, so far, for 2011. I would love to see you on one!!

This entry was posted in Christmas, Florida, night photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Country Christmas 2010

  1. ned says:

    Great story…great pic! I feel the same way about small towns having grown up in one. Very unique experience! And I also prefer the back roads!

  2. psycchic1 says:

    Marti, I love your story about this image just as much as the image, itself! What a beautiful story!

    I love your exposure on this image. It’s just perfect. I’m curious, what lighting was used on the stairway and bottom foundation of the building? It’s lit, but I don’t see the lights? Perhaps behind you? Or did you paint with light or have other soft lights behind you? You don’t have to give away your secrets—but it’s given the image a lovely overall glow.

    I also love how you have somehow not overexposed the indoors as well. You can still see inside, through the front doors—which beckons the viewer to want to go inside! I feel like I’m looking at a dollhouse and want to peek in and experience the entire scene. Nice work and again–gorgeous exposure!

  3. wes says:

    I, too, grew up in a small southern Illinois town of about 8000 population, now 13,000, not much change. The feeling one gets is exactly as you have said. Your story is a feel good story with great emotion behind it and your image exemplifies your feelings of the place, the time and the building.


  4. martijeffers says:

    Hi Ned, Lisa and Wes — Thank you so very much for stopping by with your comments and questions. It means so much to me to have you here and to have your support. I’m so glad that you can relate to that “small town feeling”.

    Lisa, the lighting is just the ambient light from the lights on the church. I did use CS5 to combine three exposures for an HDR image, and then tweaked that a bit with the darker image and a mask so that the foreground was not as bright as the HDR combination made it. It was just a bit much for my view. I also toned down the edges of the trees, too, wanting to keep the eye on the church. The CS5 HDR combo did a great job of combining my three exposures for the inside of the church.

    Thank you so very much — y’all!! :)

  5. Sara says:

    I agree about small towns, Marti. Like Wes, I grew up in a town of about 8,000 in Illinois-until I was 12, anyway; it’s grown to over 20,000 now; not so small anymore. When I travel I love to go to small towns rather than big cities; it’s the people that make experiences most memorable, and I don’t mean to generalize, but they do seem to get friendlier as the towns get smaller. :-) I love the way drivers always wave to each other on Lopez Island, WA.
    I particularly like the naturalness of your HDR photo and the way you have captured the interior lighting so well!

  6. tonebytone says:

    Hi, Marti – I loved your story as much as I love the image. HDR certainly is a great tool for us for this type of exposure problem. The result is fantastic.

    I just wish you could have had some people seen entering the church – but that would have been hard to do with HDR, I presume.

    My dad grew up in a small town, so I remember what it was like when we got to visit – but now that town has seen such hard times that at least half the businesses have closed and there are no more restaurants! Since it’s the county seat, too, the powers that be quite a few years ago destroyed the lovely central square and park – that whole block is now one big county admin building!


  7. LakeLady says:

    First of all – I know this Church, it is beautiful. You have captured it so well in your image. Then to describe the story – I love singing and Silent Night is just a favorite – when it is sung outside it just seems to float up to heaven. – Becky

  8. martijeffers says:

    Hi Becky and Flo — Thank you both for being here. Becky, I thought you might know this one as it is so close to St. Marks. :) My brother sings in the choir there. If anyone else is interested, it is the Wakulla United Methodist Church on the Old Woodville Highway in Crawfordville, FL.

  9. ronk says:

    Hi Marti! Always nice to see your new photographs. Best. –Ron

Leave a Reply