This is a somewhat humorous post featuring a home in my area that goes a little crazy with inflatables at Christmas. These are full of air morning and night and there are more than 50 of these flanking the entire length of his property and possibly the neighbors. I can’t imagine the cost of all of them or what the electric bill is to run all the air pumps,but it certainly is a treat for youngsters who get to see the spectacle.night time is special when they are illuminated. Right below my photo is a you tube link to a video I made from one end to the other,so enjoy.
This early winter scene was made possible by a large puddle on the road,allowing for a reflection of sorts.This was hand-held and had to be shot rather quickly because of cars zipping along the road.I did not feel like having either myself or my camera take a bath,so I got as close to the water as possible and snapped. Nothing spectacular,but not bad considering. Warm temperatures helped to put a little fog in the air as skies cleared.
Yet another scene from the Dickens gingerbread display. Take note of the smoke effect above the buildings,which is the result of thin metal rods that have spiral paper attached and during a long exposure,the spinning spirals blur ,creating the smokey chimneys. London bridge can be seen in the background.
This scene features a lovely farm-house that I have admired for years,and it has always been landscaped and decorated so nicely during the summer months. My Christmas eve included a family get together, and a brief snowstorm earlier in the evening had everything coated in a heavy layer of snow. As we drove home,my mind raced to think of places that I might capture that night and I could only hope someone would be home and allow me to try. All the lights were on here as I drove by at 10pm,so I stopped and knocked and the owners were more than happy to let me do my thing. This scene was actually more attractive than what I captured,but several things complicated the shot. The greatest problem I had was a dusk to dawn light on a barn that cast the most sickly green color temperature over everything,and despite shooting raw and having the ability to adjust color temperature to the file,the green cast throws everything else off as you correct it.Anyway,I added some flash to gain control over the green but it was a persistent issue nonetheless. Another issue was the fact I was shooting after dark,so contrast was terrible,and If I get another chance,I will shoot at the preferred time at dusk,so I get detail in the sky and things are much more balanced.The family dog also came meandering through the snow after I had four frames shot,and thankfully I had the pristine snow captured already. I was glad I went out this night because most of the snow had melted or blown off by morning.
I photographed this local covered bridge on Christmas morning before anyone was out of bed. I had to drive about fifteen miles to get there and saw only one other car on the road the whole way there. Sure I am crazy for getting out of bed that early,but the local covered bridge society decorated the bridge with lighted wreaths and I wanted to get a record of it before they get taken down,and this was the first snow we have had of any significance,although it wasnt nearly enough.
This is our nativity set we purchased from Costco a few years ago, and every year I say I am going to get around to photograph it. Well I finally set time aside to light paint the various pieces against the backdrop of our picture window as dusk set in. I am not one to combine different photos,so the window of our living room had to do as the background. The Wise men are about ten inches tall, are hand painted,and feature luxurious clothing,intricate accessories and nice facial features and the rest of the pieces are equally amazing as well. I cannot remember what we paid,but I think it was around seventy-five dollars,which I recall thinking was unbelievable for how nice they were.The Manger light is battery operated and the base was some old weathered wood I had. I am very happy with my result,but I know I have a tendency to over light everything and would get a better light painting effect if I left more areas in shadow. As an example,the figures on the left and right might look more realistic if the lantern light only lit the clothing facing the manger,but I like the clothing so much,I lit the outer sections too.To everyone who follows my blog ,May you all have a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.
This is another wonderfully decorated room in the home of the flower shop owner featured in my post of December 17th. This room was full of tasty treats during the get together and the live rose arrangement on the table was what initially caught my eye. I was allowed to come back a day later when the food was removed and captured what I consider to be a very elegant setting. The use of picture frames,mirrors and various design elements form a cohesive layout that appeals to the eye. This is the result of dozens of flash exposures,both inside and outside and I even flashed the hanging lamp from the top,so you could see the design cut in the tin. Such a cozy setting is certainly a home for the holidays.
This is another light painting session in the town of Lititz,and features the Tomato Pie restaurant. Rain started moving in mid morning on a recent sunday and I decided to take advantage of the resulting reflectivity on the road and shoot this scene.This normally busy road is fairly quiet on a sunday,which I needed to be without cars. My camera got fairly wet during this session and walking back to the camera every so often to check results was a nuisance, but when you are alone,that’s what you do. My camera was across the street about fifty yards away,and I used a wireless remote to fire the camera and radio poppers to fire my flash,which I carry on a pole to light whatever I want,which was pretty much everything from the sign, to the buildings and tree. Shooting in subdued light allows the flash to overpower the ambient and give you the lighted parts you need. By the way,I have never had Tomato Pie,but I hear it is quite delicious at this establishment, but I think I will stick with apple pie myself.
This little scene features the porch at the Lititz historical society. The antique mail cart sits on the porch during the holiday season and society members fill it with wrapped packages and greens. I added multiple flash pops to various area to highlight things and the Moravian star was lit by flash with a snoot on it to avoid shadows on the ceiling.It might look better if it was actually turned on,but its the best I could do at five thirty in the morning. I liked the warm interior and the cool blue of dawn. I have no idea how old this cart is,but it must go way back in time.
Yet another scene from the Dickens gingerbread display this year. The ice spins with the skaters on top and to see the myriad of cords and plugs under this display,you would think you are watching Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. The town is full of street lights,and various items needing power.This was taken with a 17mm in pretty close to show the tiny skaters better.
I am not quite sure why I enjoy photographing store windows at Christmas so much,but I do know that I like to challenge myself and see what I can come up with. This store in Lititz,Pa is called the Tigers Eye and always has very classy window decor. The cool evening light contrasting with the warm interior light drew me to shoot this image.
This is an exterior view of the old farm-house were yesterdays music room was photographed. After I wrapped up picture-taking inside,I rushed outside to try and get this luminary shot before it was too dark to balance everything. I lit the fence,Christmas wreath, and ivy with flash as daylight quickly faded. The property was all aglow with dozens of luminaries lighting the way for arriving guests.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of being welcomed into this home to photograph this room just prior to a large get together. The owner has an amazing flower shop next to the home and while I was there recently,he invited me in to his home for a brief tour and I immediately fell in love with his sense of style and decorating tastes. I asked if I could photograph what I refer to as the music room some time ,and he said sure and that I could do it on the night of the party if I wanted. Well I photographed this right at the edge of when I needed the light to be low enough outside and when the guests were starting to arrive,but I pulled it off. He then invited my wife and I to stay and eat and enjoy ourselves,and needless to say it was a night to remember.
If you notice the large harp in the room,that was there thanks to me telling the host about this young lady Who had played at our home a few years ago,and she is not only an amazing harpist,but she sings like an angel to boot. I parked myself in the corner chair and let the music resonate around me in this glorious setting. From the Baby Grand piano to the antique stained glass to the gorgeous tree, everything came together in this one moment in time. Hopefully I can post a few more vignettes from the property soon, and to our gracious host,may I extend our heartfelt thank you for such a wonderful night.
Lititz Pennsylvania is but one small town in Lancaster county, but when it comes to faith, traditions, family values,and a sense of community, Lititz stands heads above most communities in the region.Family run stores dot the main street and each one brings a unique touch to the community and every event the town puts on,residents come out to support in grand fashion.
The town is dotted with churches,and among the most scenic is the Lititz Moravian church,which dates back to the mid 1750s and is a place of unique beauty. Every year,the congregation creates a 12 foot high poinsettia tree in the main sanctuary to honor or remember someone special. I happened to be in the church square last sunday photographing at sunrise and one kind lady asked if I wanted to take a peak inside.The handbell choir was practicing early and I had always wanted to photograph the tree,so I accepted the offer.
I went in,quickly set up my tripod and shot a quick series,adding some flash to the tree,the pews, and I also went outside and lit the stained glass with a flash as well. I had wanted to get permission for years but never made the effort,and as I came to find out that morning,the tree was coming down after the sunday service,so it really was the perfect moment to get this image.Each Christmas season the church has several Christmas vigils where attendees get a lighted candle ,sing songs,and these dates are quickly filled. Also note the Moravian star hanging above the pulpit.
This little vignette is one from my series on store windows in the quaint town of Lititz,PA. Each year at Christmas the shops in town create unique window displays that I find appealing and this one with the old blocks, the bear, and the santa caught my eye. I lit the scene with a flash at various angles to highlight certain items. The shop is called days gone by,hence my title.
This is another room from my mansion Christmas shoot this year. This scene was done by a local doll club and they are always one of my favorites among the participants. The club did everything but supply the real Santa kneeling there and the packages on the left which I supplied. This shot was a little more difficult than I originally had counted on and a few complications made it a tough shot to finish. First I shot a series of exposures lighting different elements with my spotlight,then Santa came in to the scene and my friend Larry helped light him with a flash. Well everything went fine till I got home and realized Santa had leaned on the bed a few times between shots and it had moved,and I had bumped my tripod ever so gently at some point creating alignment issues.
Every piece I layered on top of the base shot had to be put on difference mode in Photoshop to make sure they were aligned correctly and it became more laborious than I had planned on. Despite all that,I am very pleased with the final result and Santa did an outstanding job,despite my making him kneel there for 15 minutes on a wood floor. He has a real beard,a great outfit and I think we created a very magical image. I met Santa during this event and he is part of the festivities each year,but I had to get him out of bed this morning because we shot this at five thirty in the morning as we waited for the light of dawn to illuminate the windows.
Another highly detailed confectionary creation from the Dickens village gingerbread. The main establishment is titled hark the Harrods and one can look at all the details in amazement at the amount of work the architectural firm puts into this Christmas creation. The paper spirals near the top actually spin creating the effect of smoke rising from the chimneys.
This image of a store display in the small town of Lititz Pa is just one more challenge I set for myself taking photos. I love the various scenes you see around Christmas time in this town and window decorating contests keep shop owners busy at this time of year. The challenge was to capture something half decent,while having to do everything from the sidewalk outside and while the store was closed and dark. Reflections everywhere on the glass from street lamps,traffic and other businesses was my first challenge and trying to light things was my second challenge.
The clocks were lit by flash at various angles through the windows,all the while blocking reflections bouncing toward the camera. A wide-angle used up close allowed me to compose the shot and achieve some balance and allowed me to see several clocks in the store.This was shot at five thirty in the morning so I had time to experiment without bothering anyone.The one thing I wish were different is the dark area in the bottom middle. There were various items piled on the table,which did not look good lit,so I left them in shadow.
Every year a local architectural firm takes a week out of their busy schedule to create a unique gingerbread village of some sort. The display is always incredible,with each employee vying to claim first place. The edible display is always full of humor,intricate design and detail and covers an area approximately ten feet by eight feet.It has scenes inside the buildings,lights, and they are generous enough to allow the public to come view it on certain nights. My good friend Larry is the official photographer for this project and he is gracious enough to allow me to shoot on the night he does his shooting. This little vignette from one corner features a bakery,complete with hot cross buns in the window,queen victorias secret on the corner,baskets of scones and baguettes out front and a sweet old lady out front offering cookies. It has become a holiday treat I look forward to every year.Another combination of flashlight,spotlight,available light.
This is yet another display from the historic mansion Christmas event. This display was created by a local bakery and the tree is adorned in fresh gingerbread ornaments that include snowflakes,trees and ginger bread men. There appeared to be other food items on the tree but I was not exactly sure what everything was.The left window sill features gingerbread houses and various other items round out the composition.The first exposure was done capturing the exterior light and then everything was lit by a hand-held deer spotlight in a very dark room. When you do this technique,you must be careful not to kick or bump anything as you light things or you get registration problems.
This was the only shot I did this year alone in the mansion,which can be a little spooky in the dark as you hear every sound in the old structure. Thankfully the strong smell of gingerbread filled the room and kept my mind from being distracted by noises. If only I would have had a big glass of milk,I might have been able to sample the bakery delights.
This image was one I did last night in my living room. I was in the mood to shoot something,so after noticing our exterior Christmas lights were shining on the curtains,I decided to light paint one of my wife’s flower arrangements. First,let me say we do not have two lamps sitting at our front window,but I decided to bring the second one in for balance. My wife recently bought the lamps from a friend who was moving and they fit nicely in our decor. Normally we like traditional white Christmas lights,but for some reason I decided some blue lights on our bushes would be interesting,but I am not really sold on them yet,but they add a cool look to this shot.
My first exposure was for the window light,which was ten seconds and during that time I turned the lamps on briefly for about 2 seconds. After that I used my spotlight to selectively light the goose,flowers and curtains and the hanging angel ornament.
This is another Christmas display in one of the rooms at the old mansion I mentioned the other day. This display was done by the folks from the Hans Herr House,which is the oldest homestead in Lancaster County and is a registered historic landmark. It is a more natural setting,with no lights on the tree,and basic food related items that harken back to a simpler time. I lit the entire scene with a small hand-held flash with a snoot to direct the light in very small areas. The figure is very life-like kneeling at the tree and helps balance out the composition.
The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year,so I look forward to any opportunity that comes along to photograph Christmas related subjects.Homes adorned in festive decor always draw me in for a closer look and memories of times with family gathered together on a cold winters night leave lasting impressions. Wether it is enjoying grandmas cookies or seeing relatives again,Christmas is hard to beat for me. A simple photo like this one can trigger cherished memories from the past and reliving those glory days in one’s mind can be very special.
The scene above is done using a tripod and multiple exposures utilizing my spotlight. It is one of several rooms decorated in an old mansion,which allows visitors to come and enjoy the decorations which are done by volunteers from various groups and individuals in the community and runs for two weekends in early December.The organizers are gracious enough to give me a key and let me come in to shoot anything that catches my eye.This was shot this past saturday long before the sun rose,so we did not have to contend with light shining in the windows. More scenes will come as I work on them. My friend Larry has a shot on his blog from another room. He is listed on my artists I admire section at Lefeverphoto. He chose an extremely tough room and did a stellar job.
This figure kneels at the grave of someone named Pidgeon,who is buried in this magnificent Victorian era cemetery that is full of highly detailed statuary.The only info I could find was that the monument cost $2,350 dollars and shipped in october of 1898. It mentions eight stone cutters,a polisher,a statue cutter,and letter cutter. I shot this in infrared on a sunny day,which turns the foliage a dreamy white. I lit the statue shadow areas to show a bit more detail.