As we inch closer to spring the weather can be a bit sporadic in nature. In the last two weeks we had a snow bomb cyclone that dropped several inches of snow, then two days later it’s 60 degrees and all melted, and just before all that we had some really thick fog that provided some photo ops such as this shot that witnesses the sun finally piercing through.
I managed to get myself motivated to go out for an hour or so after the dreaded bomb cyclone came through yesterday. This secluded home looks like it would be a great place to spend the day sitting by the fireplace just looking out at the beauty.
Apologies for taking so long to post my Christmas shots from Lititz but here is the first. The top image is my main shot but then I started wondering if I could get any people involved? It’s funny how things come together and the couple in silhouette was going by and I asked if there was any chance they would volunteer? The young lady replied “oh my word, I stalked your house to buy a photo years ago”! We laughed, they posed and it all worked out.
Almost the entire time I was shooting which was about an hour, I kept hearing firetrucks screaming down the road in the distance and figured something huge was going down, so I packed up to go find this huge fire! Turns out Santa was cruising the town on the Fire Truck which made me wonder why they aren’t at home with their families on Christmas eve, then a little voice whispered “and what about you”?
If you made it this far, keep going, it is the main part of the story. As I was heading home on the highway, in the distance I could see a vehicle with very faint 4 way flashers on the side of the road. There were dozens and dozens of cars whizzing by all seemingly oblivious to the vehicle and I too drove by to my exit about two miles away. It was then I wondered who the person was and what might happen to them, so I decided to get back on the highway and eventually cross where the Police usually sit. I managed to get back on as cars were going at least 70mph non stop and I finally got to the car with my high beams on it. Before we go any further I am fully aware of what possibilities are out there when stopping, so I do the best evaluation I can because my family needs me too. I got out, saw the plate was from Arizona and then I walked up to the window and it was an African American woman who appeared to be quite concerned about her situation.
I introduced myself, asked if she was really from Arizona, and she replied “we just moved to Maryland recently”. I am no mechanic but I asked how she ended up on the side of the road and her comment was “I think my engine blew up” I said open the hood, maybe its something obvious and folks, imagine opening your hood and then taking two buckets of the driest dirt you can find and just toss it in there because that is what it looked like and she said “all cars in Arizona look like that”? The car would not turn over, and there wasn’t a hint of oil on the dipstick, so I figured maybe her assessment was correct? By the way she said she was sitting there over an hour with not a single soul stopping? I told her since I have a rubber push bumper on my Jeep I could carefully push her the two miles to a Sheetz were she would be safe till she figured out her next move. She told me she had been at a mall shopping, had no clue where she currently was and no idea how she was getting home.
Wow, we are almost done! A few final tidbits. I told her to put it in neutral, and once I get you going to just coast and I will assist if needed. I specifically told her when you get to the exit ramp, if there is room to safely pull over,please do so! Ladies and gentleman, when we got to the ramp she was picking up speed and I was beeping for her to pull over? she stopped right under the red light and as I walk up, her eyes are like golf balls and she says “I had no brakes or power steering” This little detail got forgotten in all the mess but thank goodness she managed. I pushed her into Sheetz and you could see her relief. We said our goodbye and I headed home but all I could think was she is two hours from home on Christmas eve and most likely will sleep in her car overnight? I sat at home for a while asking myself why I didn’t offer her to stay at our place? It can get complicated when you have a wife and daughter to keep safe so I waited till they got home to ask. I got a solid “absolutely not” from the wife and our teenage daughter emphatically stated she is not having a complete stranger watch her open Christmas presents in the morning! Stopping is not for everyone, but I hope if my family ever needs help, there will be someone willing to help another human being! I never knew how it ended but two mechanic friends told me her alternator probably died and the car just shut off and I even had a jump box with me but never thought to try it.
Well I realize we are past Christmas now but I have some local town scenes that I photographed this year to share. This is a display window in a store called Revive in a nearby town. I think I shot this Christmas night and was probably the only photographer in the county that wasn’t home relaxing with family. From my experience I can say there is no other time during the year when it feels like the whole world is at home and enjoying peace.
Trees in varying stages of fall color transition frame this cool country property.
This is known as the Schoolhouse at the Historic Ephrata Cloister and it is the site of the earliest settlers in our area. The two things that stick out in my mind about the place are they used wooden blocks as pillows, and the second is my hair raising experience while shooting here one late night. I was in the main area of the site snapping photos under a full moon around 10 at night. No wind, no one around, and the wooden screen door just around the corner from me slams!!! A chill went up my neck but I decided to look and of course no logical explanation to be had. I didn’t hang around for any more “activity”. I did remove some obnoxious power lines that were a total eyesore.
For shots like this I will often try to position myself where part of the subject is used to block a portion of the sun. The reason for this is because with the full sun shining into your lens, you have to deal with a lot of image degrading flare. The next time you take a photo where you have a dark subject on the bottom half of your shot and bright sky on the top half, take your free hand and shade the shot so you block the sky and watch how the lower part of your shot will often look much more detailed with more contrast. You are simply blocking the light that is bouncing around and hurting your image. That’s one reason lens hoods are beneficial, yet all the time I see folks with the lens hood on their lens but placed backwards because it fits in their bag better.
This is Moravian Square in Lititz, PA and with a little accent flash I was able to make the yellow leaves pop. My goal was to add some light that enhanced the shot but still looked natural. I was very pleased with my result.
This is the birthplace of inventor Robert Fulton(1765–1815). Fulton is best known for the development of commercially viable Steamboats as a means of transportation. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964. There were no lights on in the house but a few blasts of my flash through the windows and voila you now have an inhabited house!
Sorry to share images of Fall when we are heading into Winter but this shot from Lititz Springs Park was full of rich color reflecting in the calm waters that exit through the Ivy covered stone walls.
This hand painted piano was part of a county program to provide musical opportunities for those just out walking in town. In all my trips to this town, I had never seen anyone playing it? That was until the night I took this photo and after I finished it got dark and I decided to walk around town a little while before returning to my vehicle. As I approached the area I could hear a very talented young lady playing a few songs for her friend/audience of one. I hopped in my truck, rolled the window down and listened to her play three more songs before her concert was over. It was a trifecta of art that night, with me getting an artistic photo, the young girl who painted it being mentioned and the musical artistry that filled the night air.
This field of sunflowers was a mile from my house and the great thing about them was they were shorter than they had been other years. A short little step stool added another 2 feet to my height and that provided this stunning view toward the sunset.
Another quaint fall image I captured in downtown Lititz,Pa this autumn. A local business owner got permission to park his classic old truck in the park with fall decor and allowed families to get pictures in it. For me the trucks contents were lacking a contrasting color so I literally gathered up all the purple mums we had at home and hauled them here to jazz things up. Mine are the five purple and two of the yellow
I was asked to shoot some scenes in a local community and driving around I came across this amazing architectural gem. It is a funeral home and the owners were generous enough to allow me to see what I could capture. I added lighting across the bushes and landscaping and illuminated a portion of the yard. The two upper window areas are really neat features.
I shot this sidewalk display in downtown Lititz during fall. I shined my flashlight at the metal witch so her shadow would fill dead space behind her and add some drama.
I often wonder how people a hundred years ago created things with such precision and only basic tools to make the item? I have always enjoyed the graceful flowing curves found in wrought iron fences, gates etc and this one at the entrance to a cemetery looked gorgeous with the autumn color behind it and the sun peaking through. If only you could have seen the position I was in to capture this, because there is literally a tree the same size as the one shown behind me and I am jammed up against it sitting on my legs two feet from the fence. I used my widest angle lens to barely fit the two swirling shapes. After five minutes in that position I could barely stand up reminding me how much of an old geezer I am becoming. As I was ready to finish up I got the brilliant idea to close the gate for another view! Only problem was the gate on both sides had long ago been encapsulated into the base of the trees and it’s days of closing were long passed.
A few handmade quilts air out on a local porch,
This Mennonite family is a little cramped in this pint-sized wagon being pulled by this pony. The pony is quite capable of pulling this load and was cruising along at a comfortable pace.
An Amish clothes line provides a colorful backdrop to the families flower garden.
Amish family siblings set out along a back road in Lancaster County wearing a lovely shade of purple. I really have no idea why they dress alike or how they decide on the colors but I cannot recall ever seeing a family wearing different colors while out as a family. Maybe it basically is to conform and not be so worldly by expressing to much individuality?
Sometimes I can see the weather starting to bring all the pieces together for a dramatic sunset and this evening was one such instance. I noticed some cool clouds covering most of the sky except toward the horizon where it was a mix of clear and some cloud streaks. This scenario is what you look for in the hopes the setting sun lights the whole cloudy sky dramatically. Now to the tunnel vision, I set my tripod up in a field way to the right of this image viewpoint and was looking directly at the setting sun behind the farm. Things were getting better and better and I was fixated on the developing shot before me when all of a sudden I noticed the grass being illuminated by the sun and the sky was looking nice as well. I left my tripod set up and ran to get a second camera to capture this fleeting moment which reminds me of a painting. I did get my shot from the original spot and it is nice, but the sunset never really reached its full potential and that’s how it goes sometimes.
This image was taken a few weeks ago at a local funeral home. The intense blue planters went well with the burgeoning tulips. My only wish is that the planters had plants in them but it was early in the season
This local field was just popping with this purple flower which might be a weed but I am not sure. At certain angles it would appear almost without color but with right angle of sun and a low perspective, this section was just beautiful and very colorful. There is a main road just to the right but it seemed barely a single soul even glanced at the natural spectacle.
I found this field of mustard the other weekend and the first shots I did were looking the opposite direction during daytime. I knew a Supermoon was coming in the next few days so I used an app called the photographers ephemeris that shows you any location you enter and where Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise and Moonset will happen within that location. I entered the address here and it showed the moon rising right behind the barns. I was eager to arrive and get my shot composed before the moon began to appear. Now even though you have a good idea where it will appear, I find it hard to get an exact pinpoint location on site instead of looking at the app. I started out much farther to the left and kept waiting and waiting and finally walked along the fence to see if it was possibly rising behind the barn and sure enough, that was the case. One very important factor in getting these shots is the balance between when the sun is setting and the moon is rising. On this evening the moon was rising about 15 minutes before the sun was setting and this helps greatly by allowing the ambient light to be extremely close to the bright moon. By doing this exact shot the next day, you would be looking at the moon rising under pitch black skies a couple hours later. The other thing I see are gigantic moons in scenes that are obviously not where the moon was. The only way to make the moon look very large in relation to the subject naturally is to find a subject at a great distance from the camera and by using a strong telephoto you can compress things and make the moon look huge in the background.