Why on earth did we use Mapquest?

I was out in search of landscape photos when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. When you are in the heart of Amish country, you expect cows,sheep,horses and so on, but camels?  Not only did I see half a dozen of these creatures in a farm field, but they were eating thistles. Have you ever grabbed a thistle plant?  These creatures were gobbling these thorny plants up like they were the most enjoyable delicacy they have ever come across,even though there are fields of delicious sweet corn right behind them. The one on the left can be seen with a thistle plant sticking out of his mouth. I guess when you are used to getting baked by desert sun on a daily basis, eating a thorny thistle is a walk in the park. Temperatures around here are going to hit 90 in the next few days, so they should feel very comfortable. Hopefully they will get to try sweet corn with melted butter and salt before too long.

Mechanized Marvels

I was out looking for scenes of local farm activity and came across this crew doing custom harvesting. The farm owner graciously allowed me to wander around shooting various angles of these mechanized marvels that help make short work of what seems like daunting tasks at times. The crews are hired independently to come in and do the work, which saves the farmer having to buy extremely expensive equipment and is a win-win situation for everyone. The first shot was taken from the roof of my truck and was taken while the harvester off loaded his collecting bin into the waiting tractor,and the second shot is from ground level. Thanks to Groffdale custom harvesting for taking a few minutes to let me get the shots. While watching them work the fields, I saw numerous rabbits bolt, and amazingly enough a fox as well. I need to check my files,but I think he was out of the frame when He made a dash for it.

I did actually get the fox leaving the wheat field. He is a tiny speck on the photo,but here he is.

Arriving for Church

This is a quick snapshot from the road of an Amish family arriving together for Church at a farm in their district. I do not know how they decide which farm they are going to each week, but they do alternate. Sometimes you see buggies headed in every direction on a sunday, so it’s all a mystery to me.

All or nothing

This is an old roller mill that I came across while wandering the back roads this past weekend. I started the afternoon off heading to play volleyball but I took my camera gear along in case no one showed. Well no one showed, so I cruised around and came across this locale. I was all excited as Amish buggies, open carts etc were all around the area. I pull in here and realize my tripod is 15 miles away at home.So I head home disgusted with myself and decide to return in the evening. Four hours later I come back and set my gear up on my truck roof to get a better view and I wait almost an hour till these three buggies come by. After they passed, I sat there till dark and not one more buggy came by. If I could somehow get up another 8 ft or so, you could see the entire covered bridge,which is just in sight on the edge of the right side. This evening was a real feast or famine night for shooting, and since I am not the most patient individual, it was driving me crazy missing other opportunities. The late evening light was skimming in nicely, so maybe the delay was worth it. the thumbnail shows my roof setup and laptop inside and it all depends how much height I need, and in this case just a little.

Enchanted Storytime

As promised, here is another view from the Watt mansion property.All one needs is a soft pillow and cushion,  a favorite book, a bit of imagination, and your all set to get lost in your own enchanted fairy tale world. I added some flash to accent the ivy covered tree and bench.

Old World Charm

My photo for today features a home that has been lovingly restored by current owners Steve and Kathy, and they have done an outstanding job both inside and out. The exterior features a gorgeous wrap around porch that has been painted in subtle shades of green and burgundy, and is a great place to sit and enjoy fresh lemonade while relaxing on one of several rocking chairs. The stunning hydrangea in shades of blue and lavender provide a visual feast for the eyes and were the reason I stopped to photograph this spot. I light painted much of the scene to help show the details,and despite picking the worst breezy night to try this, I managed to get most of the plants still. According to online resources, hydrangea color is affected primarily by the presence or absence of aluminum compounds in the flowers. Adjusting soil ph will yield blue to pink possibilities.

Heritage days celebration

This is not something you see in Amish country very often, but this past weekend was heritage days in a small town named Intercourse. How the town came to be named as such is not exactly known, but there are several possible suggestions if one searches the net. The Fireworks display ended a day long celebration of the areas heritage, and featured live music,volleyball,good food and much more. This image was captured from a vista across the fields with about a 200mm lens and my first or base image was captured while it was still light enough to see the farms,and then after it was pitch black, I recorded the fireworks explosions from the same tripod mounted angle, and then simply brought those layers on top of the first, and put them on lighten mode, which allows the fireworks to show up against my blue sky instead of black nothingness. When I first set up, there was an Amish family having a picnic across the street, I asked what time the fireworks launch, and he says sometime between 9 and midnight. Did not expect the bit of humor but with fireworks you never quite know.

I never do this, but I am adding the two smaller pictures of some kids getting a wagon ride. Not sure if the Amish guy is a neighbor or what,but the riders were dressed in regular clothing. they might have been going to heritage days up the road. neither shot is super sharp, which irritates me.Hope they dont have to stop fast, because they are all bare foot.

The long road home

Some of the images that I capture in my photographic endeavors excite me more than others, and this image is one of those. This location is about twenty miles or more from my home, so I must commit a certain amount of time and effort to go there and then hope something happens while I am there. I have been there many times and never seem to get any local activity on the road, partly because it’s a big hill, and secondly because there are many connecting roads that are easier to navigate , so many people simply bypass this hill. I decided to go this past sunday, and I arrived shortly after sunrise to pick my angle and wait. Almost an hour went by with no traffic of any kind passing by, and just as I was considering leaving I saw the closest two buggies coming out from the farm in the distance. I sat in my truck waiting for the buggies to be in the best spot and then simply activated my wireless remote to fire the camera. Because the hill is so steep and long, a third buggy had slowly been catching up in the distance. To capture this image, I mounted my tripod with camera attached on my truck roof, hooked my laptop to it to remotely adjust camera settings as needed from my driver’s seat and then used my wireless remote to fire the camera. Pre-focusing on a spot in the foreground allowed the closest buggy to be sharp as it reached my predetermined spot. Between the red barns,the winding road and the buggies, I am very pleased with my end result on this shot. If you notice the first buggy is going around me on the right because the horse was not happy about my rooftop tripod, but the next horse went right by my truck without hesitation. An Amish man told me once that horses don’t like anything higher than themselves, but for the life of me I cannot understand why trees or buildings or even large trucks don’t seem to bother them. My tripod was even set up at its shortest height with no leg extension, so maybe I should try a blanket over it to camouflage it? This would make an awesome sledding hill in winter,so lets hope the local Amish kids are feeling adventurous.

The tree lined lane

This tree-lined lane is the entrance to a lovely property located along a rural road in Eastern Pennsylvania. The property has an iron gate at the entrance, but I got lucky, as the owner noticed I had stopped to look at it while he was mowing. He pulled up and asked if I wanted to walk in through the gate and shoot a few photos in exchange for a print. Obviously I jumped at the offer and hope to revisit it in the fall or winter perhaps. I could see an old classic car or perhaps a horse-drawn carriage coming up the lane.

Hey Alvin, seen any seeds?

Had the pleasure of photographing a local home being featured on a garden tour and on the way out I noticed these active little chipmunks feeding on sunflower seeds. The one on the left kept shoving more in his cheeks as the one on the right kept looking for seeds. It got to the point where I almost had to burst out laughing as the little guy had his mouth so full, that I could almost hear him say, no I didn’t see any seeds around here, as seeds trickled out in the process.

The Car Port

This is the side entrance to the Watt mansion. Late evening light streaming in from the right illuminates the splendid property, complete with ivy climbing the walls. An ornate car port provides a perfect place for guests or family to arrive and unload vehicles while being sheltered from the elements. They don’t build them like this anymore.

From Rags to Riches.

A little while back I posted an image of a home called the Watt mansion, which was built by The founder of Watt and Shand back in the late 1800s. This home is still for sale, and the current asking price is one million two hundred thousand, down from the original four million starting price. What you see here is not the home,but the carriage house in the back of the property. I contacted the realtor for permission to shoot, and he gladly obliged. I light painted this with a Sunpak 622 flash controlled by radio poppers and my friend yelling some feedback to me on my flash output as he sat in a lawn chair watching the laptop images appear from the camera. This home is a steal at its current price and is a gorgeous property, and I will be sharing numerous shots from here over the next weeks.

The story behind the title is kind of funny, so here it is. The evening I shot this image, my friend and I were packing up our gear across the street in the late evening light and I noticed a man walking up the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. He seemed to be lugging some items and I jokingly said he was probably looking for a place to sleep. I headed home for the night and went to bed  around 11pm, and tossed and turned most of the night as I thought about all the beauty the property had, so at 430am I headed back in to do more light painting. I set up tripod, laptop etc and began to shine my spotlight on the back of this carriage house, and out of the dark archway comes the gentleman from the night before. He was very polite, asked if I was the owner, and told me he wanted a job as a security guard on the property. I told him I did not care if he was sleeping there, and told him he should go back to bed so the security lights would stay off, to which he obliged. To see a homeless man sleeping in such an amazing place left me wondering how he got where he is in life, and what he thought about his sleeping quarters. In all reality ,it was a rather good choice of places to find safety and solitude for the night. I think the upstairs of the carriage house is over 2000 square feet alone and the real estate taxes each year are supposedly $36,000 on the property. What a dream location, and as you can see from the thumbnail image showing the starting shot, adding some flash can really bring the shot to life.

Great blue heron

Went for a bike ride through a local park recently and noticed this heron by the pond. I slowly walked to within forty feet and thought to myself, maybe I should ride home and get my 500 mm, so that’s what I did and amazingly he was still there 25 minutes later. Started out getting a long distance record shot and progressively inched closer till he allowed this tight shot.

Synchronized Driving

I photographed this crew this week harvesting what I think is wheat, but I could be way off. They have to work in close proximity to one another and their driving was spot on. This was taken with an 80-400 zoom and I could actually see them in the cab talking on two-way radios,most likely about the guy taking their photo. At one point,there were three tractors lined up to catch the crop, but they never went across the field with more than the two shown here.

Infrared tree reflection

This was taken recently at a local park. I Shot the top image using a Nikon D70 with an infrared filter supplied from lifepixel. The camera can only shoot infrared,but it does a good job with infrared.The bottom image was taken with a Nikon D200 and a color infrared filter from the same company. It is called false color infrared and to be honest I am not sure why the color reproduces as it does.