Arboretum Winter Light Show

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Friday night I went with a friend to see the Bruce Monroe Winter Light Show at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The photo above is an intentionally soft and slightly unfocused view of a field of tiny lights amongst trees behind the Arboretum visitor center.

It was interesting and unique but I was disappointed with the show. Most of the light features shown on the website advertising the light show were not part of the display at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. They were from other light shows Bruce Monroe created elsewhere. I expected to see something like the photographs on the website at the Arboretum but I saw neither the size nor scope of the featured shots on the website.

These lights among the sugar maple trees looked like lit up clothes-pins. They were clipped onto the maple sugaring sap collection tubes that are strung among the trees.

While the round light structures shown above look quite bright in the photograph, to the human eye, they look much duller. I underexposed by a full stop to get this photo taken during the twilight between sunset and full dark.

This is what the cylinders looked like without the full stop underexposure and even when the skies turned fully dark, they still did not look nearly as bright to my eye as they appear in photographs.

The photos I enjoyed making the most Friday night weren’t even of the light show. I love how bare trees look against the twilight sky. This big old oak tree is one of my favorite trees at the Landscape Arboretum.

Here’s a photograph of the pale post-sunset colors reflected in the eastern sky behind black silhouetted tree branches. I love the intricacy, curves and angles of all the tiny branches and twigs of these trees silhouetted against the sky.

I liked some things about the light show. The sounds that were part of some of the exhibits were unique and creative. Even though the lights on this maple syrup sap lines looked like brightly colored clothes-pins, the sounds that went with this light feature were reminiscent of a huge gathering of tropical birds.

There was a large area of tiny lights under the trees that should have been quite stunning. But because most of the snow had melted and the fiber optic cables connecting them were strewn all around them, they ended up looking very messy in most areas. In this shot I was intentionally going for a soft look hide the messy cables. I love how the tree limbs look slightly menacing and spooky above the lights.

Here is a shot with the messy cables showing. I didn’t find this attractive or interesting.

The music playing in the colored cylinders was lovely but the cylinders themselves didn’t really impress me. They did not look nearly as bright to the human eye as they do in this photograph (I did not enhance or push up the saturation on these shots, though I did under-expose by a full stop).

This is what the tiny lights looked like up close in an area that still had snow on the ground. They were pretty but didn’t evoke any emotion or awe in me. When the skies got darker, I found that the tiny lights suggested the idea of tiny fairies floating under the trees. But I had to use my imagination and ignore all of the cables and power boxes scattered about.

I had the most fun, making soft out-of-focus shots of the lights among the trees.

An out-of-focus shot of the light cylinders. I loved the surprising bohah that showed up in this shot.

Full dark with an exposure 1 full stop under-exposed.

The interior of the Arboretum Visitor Center light features

I’m glad I went to see the winter light show, even though it did not meet my expectations. The weather was mild and it was a lovely evening to wander among the trees.

May you walk in beauty.

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