Every year, one of the county parks hosts Christmas Magic — a half-mile trail of Christmas lights, music, food and entertainment — from the Friday after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. I’d known about the event since last November, when I was offered the York Dispatch internship, looked up the paper’s front page and saw a Christmas Magic photo. So I was excited to be assigned to make pictures there this year for The Daily Record.
Unfortunately, photographing Christmas lights in a functional, easy-to-read-on-newsprint way is a lot more difficult than I had remembered.
Unlike other holiday light displays, Christmas Magic features predominantly figurines — whose figures can be hard to capture in a camera. I quickly figured out that the trick is to use a wide lens in those rare cases when you can distinguish the shapes formed by the lights, and to use a long lens for people photos so all the lights in the background are out of focus.
But it’s not even that simple. People don’t stop to admire the light displays at Christmas Magic. They keep moving along the trail. And if it’s dark and the lights are all spread out enough (which they were)… well, you gotta be fast if you want to catch a candid, genuine “people” moment.
It was tough. I had to walk the trail twice before I felt confident I had enough pictures. But it all worked out.