Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas at the Capitol, Pierre

In Pierre, two things signal the coming of winter and the holiday season - geese in Capitol Lake and "Christmas at the Capitol." Last week I noticed the sound of honking over the lake, so the other must be right around the corner. South Dakota's state capitol building gets fully decked out for the holidays and you'll be hard-pressed to find something more photogenic than several hundred Christmas trees.

With holiday decor, the outside of the capitol looks beautiful...

....but it's the interior of the capitol that shines, literally.

A lighting ceremony fires up the thousands of sparkling trees during the week of Thanksgiving so that the entire month of December becomes "Christmas at the Capitol."
This year's ceremony will be held the evening of Tuesday, November 25. Governor Mike and First Lady Jean Rounds are scheduled to be on hand, along with singers, musicians and Santa.

The capitol rotunda includes balcony vantage points on three floors, so photographers have many choices in finding a favorite angle to shoot the trees from.

Typically, the main room lights are dimmed and windows darkened to enhance the effect of the Christmas lights. Therefore, a tripod is a must so you can use slower shutter speeds to capture all the beauty. My suggestion is to not attempt to photograph the capitol on a weekend when it is usually very busy. I recommend an early evening during the week, when you will have much more room to maneuver a tripod without being in other visitors' or capitol employees' way.

Also, be aware that the main ambient light that is present in the capitol is very warm tungsten, so it may take some adjusting of the white balance settings on your camera to not have extremely yellow images. I don't mind some of the warmth, so have left a bit of the yellow cast in most of my photos here.

I'm hoping for some beautiful snowfalls this winter to capture with the flocks of geese and the capitol dome in the background. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I'll have some pictures of that to show off.


Sherry said...


Chad Coppess said...

Thanks Sherry!

Anonymous said...

Those are all really pretty pictures. It makes me think of warm, happy, Christmas time, memories. (:

Chad Coppess said...

Thanks Diane, glad you like them.