Newtown the Beautiful. Part 3 of 4

After I had left the diner the previous day, I quickly drove up the road towards Main Street to try and grab a photo of the general store. It has a classic New England look to it and I thought it would be perfect for this series. I first noticed it on Saturday morning on my way to Mill Pond. It was still dark out but I really liked how the inside looked all lit up. Just like when I passed the diner, I made a note to return.

This time, after leaving the diner, I had a feeling there would be too much light to get the image I wanted. I was wrong though. Very wrong. There wasn’t any light at all. In the store anyway. In fact, all the lights that made me want to capture it were off. I was in vacation mode and forgot that it was Sunday. Closed for Business. Back home I went with my 5 photos of the diner and plans to return the next morning, Christmas Eve.



Many thoughts raced through my head as I drove up I-84 for the third morning in a row. Most of them of the families in Newtown, but also for the others who wouldn’t be getting a chance to enjoy this holiday season. For those still dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. For those that have had to fight this economy more than the rest of us. And those that are, well, just dealing. It is that merry time of year after all.

But then my thinking began to shift. I thought about what I was doing; why I was awake at 6 in the morning scraping off my frozen car, trekking out to take these photos. I was doing it because it was what I could. Given my skills, this was the best I could come up with. I finally realized that what I was doing was enough. Up until that point, I think I was searching for something more. Some unattainable answer for all of this and it was driving me crazy. The reality is that people came together in the days following the tragedy. Not all people of course. There will always be a few misguided individuals that try and take advantage of any situation no matter who suffers, but they are the minority. The rest of us however, are doing what we can. That was enough to give me hope as I exited for Newtown/Sandy Hook one more time.


Day 3 – Newtown General Store

I remember the first time I took photos of a building like this under a dark sky. It was well past sunset in Woodbury, CT, about 15 years ago and I was looking for anything to photograph that night. I drove by an antique store that was closed for the night but the front window had two very bright lights which showcased some cool looking old items. This was back in the film days, so there wasn’t the instant feedback of knowing whether you nailed the exposure just by looking at the back of the camera. To make sure I got the shot right, I took two, 48 exposure, rolls of film that night. I really wanted that shot!

Taking the knowledge I learned from many nights and early mornings just like that one helped me for the quick 3 photos I took of the store here. Similar to the day before, I was feeling uncomfortable pulling my tripod out in Newtown, but there was no way to get the photo I wanted without it. Yes, I could have cranked up the ISO, but that would have made the photo grainy. The higher end SLRs have amazing quality at higher ISOs, and my mid level one does pretty well, but when looking for the highest quality, go with your camera’s lowest setting. That means a tripod is a must in low light because the shutter stays open for a long time. Everyone has a length of time they can handhold the camera for without getting blurry photos. There are many variables that change that length, but for me, it is not very long. I drink lots of coffee and anyone who has seen my handwriting will tell you it looks like chicken scratch. That is not a good sign of a steady hand.

So, guilt creeping back in, I changed the settings in the car. I jumped out, crossed the street to get a good angle, mounted the camera and three clicks later I was back in the car.

Newtown General Store

I drove passed the memorial again on my way home, and for the first time, I did it with a little hope on that Christmas Eve morning. Hope that the lives lost in this small New England town will not be lost or forgotten, but will act as the catalyst for change. Because we are doing what we can to help make it that way.

Tomorrow, I say goodbye to Newtown in part 4

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