Photograph by Dennis Ramos, National Geographic Your Shot
It seems that Mother Nature was in a collaborative mood, helping Your Shot member Dennis Ramos snap an unusual shot of Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, Florida.
“I was walking with my wife,” he writes, “when we noticed this one duck [fly] to the top of the young tree. As we were taking shots, I noticed this cloud very slowly [move] into my camera frame.”
A long-exposure photographer, Ramos was prepared to capture the moment. “I always have my neutral-density filter in my camera bag,” he explains. “I set up my tripod and [dialed] in a 90-second exposure—just enough to blur the water and still have the cloud above without too much motion blur”.
Ramos’s shot was recently featured in the Daily Dozen.
The early Roman celebration of Saturnalia, designed to appease agricultural gods who determined the fate of their crops, included the use of evergreen boughs to decorate homes.
The Druids, Celts and Vikings also used them during their winter solstice ceremonies to signify hope during the seasonal dead zone.So how did the practice morph from humble branches to majestic trees?
Some credit 16th Century Germany for that shift. That’s when small evergreen trees were decorated with candies, apples and berries and used in church plays.
Suddenly, the pagan ritual got a Christian makeover, and the uses of larger and grander trees during the winter season spread across Europe. By comparison, Americans got in on the practice relatively late. It’s believed that the first Christmas trees appeared in German American communities in the early 1800s.
But by and large, 19th century Americans still viewed the holidays as pagan until Britain’s Queen Victoria and her family were sketched standing near a brightly festooned Christmas arrangement in 1846.
Soon after, members of the American elite competed to earn credit for the most lavish displays of holiday splendor.
From there, it was game on for American Christmas.
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine getting through a December without encountering at least one form of iconic Christmas image, regardless of your geographic location.