In Search of Next Year’s Christmas Card

Yes, you read that right. Christmas is barely past and I’ve turned my thoughts to next year already. Truth be known I started thinking about next year’s card as soon as I cracked open the boxes of decorations. You see the images I use for my Christmas Cards are always taken in the previous season. If I waited, I’d never get the new cards made and in the mail on time.

So far this year I just haven’t gotten a picture that gives me a “WOW” factor.

I heard that the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA was including photos with Santa’s Reindeer as part of their Zoo Lights celebration and that caught my attention.


I debated with myself if it was worth a trip because I’d have to drive through Boston at night to get there. The price of admission wasn’t too much, only $7.00 and tickets could be ordered on line.

I debated all December but didn’t break down until yesterday. I made a last minute decision, printed a ticket and headed out.

It was unseasonably warm and I thought that being a Saturday maybe, just maybe, the traffic wouldn’t be too bad. Wrong. 🙁  Traffic through Boston does not take the weekend off.

Once there I was told the parking lot was filled to capacity but to cruise around and maybe I’d get lucky. At least the parking was free and eventually I did find a space. I noted the location by the wolf at the end of aisle.

zoo lights 002 copy

Santa’s Castle was gorgeous but it was roped off and apparently closed. Santa must be resting up from his long ride.

zoo lights 005 copy

I couldn’t get over the people trying to see the animals in the dark. Silly people. After asking a few people I finally got directed to the Reindeer Encounter. A $5.00 donation was requested for the opportunity to take your picture with your own camera with the Reindeer. A bench was in front of the reindeer (caribou) enclosure and two handlers stood in the enclosure with the animal.

I waited in the long line. The way it snaked around did not let me get a good look at the lighting until it was my turn. I made some quick guesswork on camera settings, paid my $5.00 and stepped into the lights. The handlers got the animal to raise his head and I snapped away.

After my moment I retreated to another bench to check the result. The ones with the faster shutter speed were too dark

zoo lights 018 copy

and the ones when I switched to aperture priority were properly exposed but the shutter speed was too slow and I got camera shake.

zoo lights 021 copy

With nothing usable I put the camera on the tripod and got back on line to try again. The line had grown and was now huge, snaking around the enclosure. As I debated if I really wanted to stand in line that long there was a break in the brush around the enclosure. The reindeer was lying down now and looked like it was about to go to sleep.

zoo lights 023 copy

I pushed into the little break and shot off a series of quick photos. I didn’t get what I wanted but maybe I’ll have better luck next year. The search for next year’s card photo continues…


Posted in animals, attraction, Holidays, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , .