Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Night Lights

Merry Christmas everyone!

During this past month, I was presented with a lot of great night photography opportunities! It helped that we've been having some unseasonably warm nights, so I was able to have my hands out to take pictures for a while without them going numb. It seemed like people put out more Christmas lights and decorations this year too. Maybe those warmer days made them feel like being outside and putting up decorations. Whatever the case, I saw some nice, funny, and slightly creepy displays around town.

I'm going to start with something not at all creepy. You guys are all going to know what this place is from my last blog post and blog posts of years past. The historic Pabst Mansion:

This is the first time I've photographed it at night, because this is the first time I've been there this late. The Pabst Mansion was having a special night event where you could go in and see all the beautiful Victorian inspired decorations and the trees lit up. Unfortunately for me, they weren't allowing photography inside. Still, I was happy to get some shots of the beautiful, uplit exterior.

Do you see the windows as eyes? Sometimes they seem like eyes looking down at me.

Here's the entryway you might remember from the last post. Can't you imagine the house going with the story I pictured even more when you see it at night?

This room I took a picture of through the window was called the conservatory. That makes me think of Clue. After just learning what a conservatory actually is, I now know that this room probably served the function I always thought it should - as a greenhouse.

I love that uplit tree! You're looking at the old chapel here. A neat piece of trivia is that this building traveled to The World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. If you've read The Devil in the White City, you know about The Columbian Exposition. This building was there to showcase Pabst beer. The beer happened to win a blue ribbon there, hence the brand name of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. This building later became a chapel when the archdiocese owned the property.

You can get a glimpse of the stained glass windows here.

If you're interested, this is what the building looked like at the fair:

Pabst Brewing Company Pavilion

If you look at the display case built into the side of the building, you'll see the rows of beer bottles.  

Back to the mansion itself...

The roofline:

Me with a topiary on the porch:

Another beautifully lit holiday event was our annual trip to Miller Valley for the holiday lights show and beer tasting.

I know I've talked about this before, but I'll describe this event in case you've missed those posts. There's a block long light show that is set to music. So as different notes play, different parts of the display light up.

This looks like a fortress, doesn't it? It's actually the old Miller Inn.

Some of those old bottle glass windows:

The top of the old brewhouse. I love those colors together.

These are the Miller Caves where Frederick Miller stored his ice and kept his beer cool back in the day. There wasn't refrigeration back then, so you had to keep your ice/beer cold and insulated somewhere. In this case, that place was down below the earth in the man made "caves". It's astonishing to think about this early refrigeration working, given how hot Milwaukee summers can get.

There's the girl in the moon floating up above. The "ghost" of Frederick Miller will appear where the mural is back there. He's actually a projected video/light, but it's pretty cool! He welcomes you to the caves, brags up his brew, and then toasts everyone. I think it's cute, although I overheard a little girl saying to her friend that seeing him is scarier than what she saw in a haunted house this year.

Here I am in the tasting area by the bar. Note my girl in the moon t-shirt. :) You get to try three different beers. I remembered really liking the Redd's Apple Ale from last year and it was great again this time!

Of course we had the standby Miller Lite too.

Mom and me

Back outside we saw the giant beer bottle had been decorated with a string of lights.

You might remember The Rave from my Halloween Leftovers post. I saw it all lit up for Christmas on the ride to the Pabst Mansion. 

On an actually pretty spooky looking night, I took some photos of the light displays people had put up around town. Neat clouds, hey?

The clouds were moving with the wind so quickly across the moon that I felt more likely to see a vampire than Christmas lights. Although some of what you'll see actually fits with the spooky night theme!

There's a little shopping area near where I live and the shop windows provided a lot of cool photo ops. I like looking at store displays at night, especially if some of the items are antiques like this sleigh.

Inside the windows were some semi-Christmas themed displays.

I should really go in this place sometime in the daylight when it's open. It looks like they have some fancy antiques.

This is a simple but classy looking decorating idea - you could gather some branches from outside and place them in some fake snow or cotton and then place a string of twinkle lights underneath.

*Update* I picked up a string of white lights (50 cents at Dollar Tree's after Christmas sale!) and placed them under some fake snow. They're looking magical and glowy under a mini tree.

OK, here we're getting into the decorations that go with that spooky night's sky...

These carolers were probably once part of a store's window display. How old do you think they are? Maybe from the 1960s? Some similar ones were part of the Pabst Mansion's display actually.

It's interesting how nearly anything can have a different or off kind of vibe when uplit in green. It looks more like he's going to read you a ghost story by the light of a flashlight than sing you a Christmas carol.

I saw these same decorations today in the daylight and I think I actually prefer them lit up at night.

Some blinding green lights, even in the form of a photo.

Near this little shopping area is a very noticeable house. This woman really puts the effort into her decorating. Every holiday, her house is decked out to the hilt. Her Halloween decorations were a real treat this year, and what she does for Valentine's Day is always adorable. If you look closely, you'll see the Victorian gingerbread details she's added to her house. This is a much newer house than that, but those details make it look like a gingerbread house to me.

Here's a slightly closer view:

The angels and old time lights are up year-round. And to the side of her house was something I'd never seen before, a martini complete with olive made up of lights.

I briefly met the lady who lives in this house once and she completely matches it. She's very spirited, colorful, cheerful, and decorated.

In a different area of town, someone with a very large field type backyard had put a life-size Santa out on a piece of furniture. He was just out there in the middle of this space at night. It's the kind of thing where you take a second look to see if it's an actual person. One good clue that this wasn't a real man was that his torso and legs were facing opposite directions. I figure some kids messed with him. Still, his arm slowly waved back and forth.

In a yard near the twisted Santa was another Santa display. This one looks much more wholesome...

...until you get closer!

Downtown Milwaukee provided lots of neat night shots this year. I was happy with how this one of the city hall turned out.

Nicely, there was no traffic at the moment I took this so you can get a nice, clean view of the street.

Isn't that a neat decoration hanging above the street? If you look closer, it looks like a chandelier.

This old building now holds a stylish restaurant called Elsa's. I went to Elsa's one time and had some dessert that was outstanding. It's the kind of dessert you remember, because it probably had a week's worth of calories in it. A rich butter rum  cake drizzled in caramel and paired with three scoops of Häagen-Dazs. Mmm...

I love how they had it lit for Christmas with those green lights and tiny spots of red.

The gold roof accents always looked exotic to me.

Across from Elsa's is a park called Cathedral Square. It's called Cathedral Square because of the church it's built in front of. Each year as far back as I remember they've decorated the park with little trees and light displays. Cool purple lights, hey?

Here I am with a little deer.

There's the cathedral. (The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist)

My mom with Santa.

I love how this one turned out! It was a real happy accident with the way those lights formed a border around the bottom. This might be my favorite photo from the park.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I'd be interested to see any light photos you took or any of your Christmas displays.


  1. Merry Christmas Justine! Looks like there's days of stuff to explore there! I like the restaurant all lite-up green - that's spooky! The weather looks nice. Next stop New Years!

    1. Matt ~ Merry Christmas to you too! :) Oh yeah. This was a really busy December for me, much more than usual. I had some neat daytime photos of other places I explored that I thought of posting, but then I decided to stick with the night pics. Oh yeah, I thought Elsa's looked awesome lit up like that! It looks cool on a regular day, but that green was outstanding! The weather was nice, to the point that's shocking around here. We haven't had any snow all month and I think it got to 50 degrees today. Yup, next stop is New Years! Hopefully, I'll be rested up by then. :)

  2. Merry Christmas Justine.

    It's always nice to go out on Christmas Eve to look for lights.

    1. Mantan ~ Merry Christmas to you too! Although, it seems like I should be wishing you a Happy New Year at this point. :)

      Yeah, I enjoy going out looking for Christmas lights. It's especially nice if you can have some Christmas music playing in the car as you drive around. This year was a little different because I was actually outside walking around taking pictures instead of staying in the car. That goes to show how much more comfortable the weather was this year.

      If you have any Christmas light photos from this year, I'd love to see them!

  3. Great Shots. I don't know why many places don't allow video and photography. I see it as free promotion. some stores I think are afraid others will steal they're ideas.
    Great work though! Trish

    1. DJ Trish ~ Thank you! :) Exactly. I see it as free promotion too. The only reason I could think up in this case is that maybe they wanted to sell postcards showing photos of the house? So you'd maybe be more likely to buy a postcard if you hadn't already taken a photo of that same room. Otherwise, I have no idea.

      Yeah, I've heard that about some stores. That they think that people taking photos inside might be looking for ideas for products or displays. Like rival sellers. I've noticed that at craft fairs too. Although, now with people taking photos and video all the time on their phones, it could be pretty hard to stop!

  4. Merry Christmas! We usually go to the neighboring city where each building along Main Street is covered in different colored lights. The daughter got called into work the night we planned to go, so luckily they're still on thru 1/3 so we can still go. I'll be sure to take 10000000 pics or so!

    1. Lisa ~ Merry Christmas to you too! :) That's good that you'll have another chance to go check out the lights. That sounds like a pretty cool photo op. Are these old buildings? Some of the older buildings provide some neat ways to showcase the lights. Yeah, I can relate to taking that many photos! I feel like I did. :) It took me a while to sort out what I did have for this blog post.

  5. I absolutely LOVE the photos of the mansion! That would be a killer place to host a Halloween party.

    And I love the Miller High Life girl hanging above everyone - believe it or not, she's on my list of Halloween costumes I want to wear eventually...just have to find the right theme or party to wear it to!

  6. Miranda ~ Thank you! :) You know, I don't think The Pabst Mansion does anything for Halloween. At least, if they do, I don't know about it. It really would make the perfect setting for a Halloween event. You should see the dining room! It's amazing. I really wish I could have taken a photo of that to share. I'm imagining a sit down dinner for Halloween there. Wow.

    I am so surprised to hear about your costume idea! The Girl in the Moon isn't a character I would think of anyone outside Milwaukee choosing for a Halloween costume. But then, you do visit Wisconsin regularly. :) That would be a really fun costume to wear. Have you been on the Miller tour? Or are you just familiar with her from the beer labels? Well, I guess you could always wear that costume for Oktoberfest!