Photo Finish: Christmas Lights, Part 1

I think we can all agree 2020 has been a difficult year (to put it mildly). Even so, many people are celebrating their holidays and holy days this month. As a Christian, my holy festival is December 25 – January 6; Christmas Day through the Feast of the Epiphany.

Normally this blog would go on hiatus until after New Year’s. However, I want to do what little I can to lift my readers’ spirits. When one has little one can do, one should do the little they can.

Starting back in 1998, here’s a look at some of the Christmas and other holiday lights I’ve seen around the world in my travels.

Long before I was a professional photographer in the Navy, I started out as an administrative clerk at a squadron based in Rota, Spain. Rota strung “Feliz Navidad” up over one of the main roundabouts a few blocks outside the base. (Rota, Spain. Nathanael Miller, 24 December 1998)
Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, was resplendent during a trip I made to Okinawa while I was stationed on Guam in 2004. This tree was, in my opinion, the most elegant of all the airport’s remarkable decorations. I had to take this image quickly in order to catch my plane, so it was always a little fuzzy. (Osaka, Japan. Nathanael Miller, 1 December 2004)

I unexpectedly ran into an old friend at Kansai Airport during that layover in Osaka. Here I am with him. (Osaka, Japan. 1 December 2004)
The village of Tumon on Guam’s western coast created the most amazing displays while I was stationed on the island. Yes, that IS a snowman being depicted on a bed of soft sand…which looks remarkably like snow! ((Tumon, Guam. Nathanael Miller, 10 December 2005)
Guam is not shy about tailoring displays to reflect the Chamorro people’ heritage. Here you see a traditional Chamorro house along the water. The house (done in yellow lights) is sitting atop a foundation of latte stones (green lights). Latte Stones are two-part pillars of coral rock (a roughly triangular shaft supporting a hemispherical block upon which the house actually sat) which were used to elevate Chamorro houses off the ground. The more latte stones used in a house or structure’s construction, the more important and wealthy that family was. (Tumon, Guam. Nathanael Miller, 10 December 2005)
Moving on up to 2011, Virginia Beach lights up the city’s oceanfront boardwalk each year. This is a driving tour, so the car is pretty much always in motion, making photography difficult. It’s quite an experience, though! (Virginia Beach, Virginia. Nathanael Miller, 20 December 2011)
Christmas aboard an aircraft carrier is an experience, especially when Santa Claus takes over as the launch officer! Here, Santa is launching aircraft from the flight deck of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller, 18 December 2012 / RELEASED)
In my personal opinion, the greatest light show in the Virginia Tidewater region is the annual Dominion Garden of Lights. Sponsored by Dominion Power, the Norfolk Botanical Garden sets up a two-mile long course of holiday cheer. I used to volunteer as the garden’s photographer, and captured these images during the 19th annual Garden of Lights. (Norfolk, Virginia. Nathanael Miller, 4 December 2014)
A final look back at the 19th annual Dominion Garden of Lights at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Norfolk is a Navy town, and they always set up one display of an aircraft carrier and adorn it with the hull number of a real ship based at Naval Station Norfolk; in this case, USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) is depicted. I got this shot while volunteering as the garden’s photographer. (Norfolk, Virginia. Nathanael Miller, 4 December 2014)

Next week we’ll conclude this look at lights by taking a look and everything I’ve seen across North America. Holiday lights are an easy way to bring some cheer, and also make GREAT night photos! See y’all in a week for Christmas Lights, Part 2!

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