The Abbey in Cape May


Headed to Cape May for a day to shoot the many Victorian homes that make the town such a popular destination year round.Even though there was no snow to be found,the town was still dressed in its Christmas best and was very neat to see. This place is located right in the downtown and is referred to as “The Abbey” and If Senator John McCreary were somehow to return to Cape May today, he wouldn’t have much trouble recognizing his summer residence. Standing proudly at the corner of Gurney Street and Columbia Avenue. A Scottish immigrant who made his fortune in coal, McCreary was one of many wealthy Philadelphians who chose to summer in Cape May. With the arrival of the railroad in 1863, Cape May became a popular resort for the upper classes. These visitors did not, however, stay in the huge hotels that Cape May was famous for at the time. Instead, they built huge wooden homes, “cottages” and “villas” where one family could retreat in privacy. I photographed the home from across the street and included an arrangement with a bow that was situated on a pillar at a church. I saw on the net that the average rental price at this home for a week in peak summer is $12,500, so I most likely will not be seeing the inside anytime soon. In contrast,I slept overnight in my truck there and was as cozy as most people in the fancy houses right next to me and I shot this at daybreak while everyone else was still sleeping.

Beautiful Shapes


This home is another gem from the town of Lititz,Pa. It shows what real architectural style can look like and what is lacking in todays cookie cutter home construction.The wrap around porch is amazing, the dome is super sweet as is the peak on the left. Seeing the reflection in the wet road made me stop to get this shot on Christmas eve as I headed home from a family get together.

Christmas in the Wild


This is a Christmas display in the old spring house at Poole Forge.I was asked to shoot it as part of the record for the event.It was very tricky to light considering it is in a tiny little room in pitch black darkness and I could not move around the room.Everything was lit by shining light through a small window or by using an extension pole with a flash on it.

Wishing for Snow


I captured this winter image a few weeks ago in the only snow storm we have had this year so far. The weather men predicted a colder and snowier season but so far this has been a major let down. I am tired of rain and hope we get about a foot or two of snow at once so I can get out and enjoy the scenery again.

The Cats Meow

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This set of images features the home in the middle on the top photo,and caught my eye on another rainy night in Lititz ,PA. The shimmering streets had me looking for a great reflection and I had admired this home for years,so decided to give it a whirl. First I found a business across the street that had an overhang to keep the camera dry and then the real work began. First the street was empty except one car and guess where it was parked,and if you said right in front of the home you would be right.Well  I hoped for the best that the car would miraculously leave and began shooting my exposures,and about 5 minutes into the shoot a second car pulls in behind the first. I knew I had the portion of the photo captured with that second car missing so I only needed the first car to leave and thankfully the owners came home and as they were talking to me, I commented on the car and they said it is ours and we will gladly move it. I spoke to the neighbors on both sides and asked if a few strobe pops would be okay and they said sure,so I included a bit of their homes as well.The Moravian star in the attic window was the finishing touch.

It was night-time when I shot this,so I had to use a long exposure to get some sky to show up and I covered the lower part of the lens with my wallet during the exposure to keep flare from the lights to a minimum and once again doing even 15 second exposures proved frustrating because this is along a major highway through town and traffic is relentless,so I am rather proud to have accomplished a car less shot. The lower image is a closer view of their beautifully decorated porch and the three cats were moved to their perch at the edge of the porch because I could not see them from my vantage point and the one with the hat just cracked me up. The windows on the curved wall are actually original and curved as well,and thanks to a light mist,the porch had a wet layer that reflected the urn at the end.

A Victorian Christmas


Todays image comes thanks to the trusting folks who own this home and their willingness to let me shoot it. I went to this location because the homes exterior was included on a Christmas light trolley tour but when I got there it was loaded with cars all over the place so I had to go to plan b. I went to school eons ago with the owner and he invited me in to chat a bit,and while inside he showed me this parlor room. My creative juices immediately started flowing and I said I would love to shoot this sometime and oh by the way,how about right now? He said they were going out for supper but maybe in an hour I could try,but I mentioned I needed the window light to show before nightfall and he said well you can stay and we will leave. So while they were out,I captured this image.

A few interesting tidbits include the painting in the right corner of Santa Claus is something the owners mother painted and I added that to the shot on the easel,and when I started this shot,there was a music box on the table but it was hard to tell what is was so when the owner returned, I mentioned that I wished there was something more interesting on the table and he said he had this neat old german clock and a photo of his parents as well that might work.Those two items look much better than the original box,and normally I would not try to change anything mid-shoot,but this worked perfectly.

The place takes you back in time to an era of great pride in workmanship and just looking around the room you see neat things like the music box,the old pump organ,grandfather clock and so on. Thanks to the trust and willingness to let me have some fun,I got this neat photo taken from the pages of the past.

Christmas Eve Memories


I was out last night for a bit and photographed this tree in the park in Lititz,Pa. the fog made for an atmospheric treat and by using my flashlight behind the tree,I was able to get these nice rays of light shining out. The town is so appealing and while I was shooting this in the still of the night, suddenly from the town square came the “Little Drummer Boy” playing on the speakers echoing throughout the landscape. Another example of one of many neat things that makes this place so special.

The Toboggan


Christmas is fast approaching and it’s the perfect time to break out the old toboggan for some fun on the slopes. The tree on the right features colorful nature subjects such as a peacock,bluejay,cardinal and butterflies. Moonlight shines in through the window as snow blows outside on this cold winters night.

Trio Of Trees


Three unique trees await the arrival of guests to the Poole Forge Christmas event.Local groups and individuals bring a tree and decorate it for this unique holiday event held bi-annually at the historic old property and money raised goes towards upkeep and improvements to the site.The tree on the right was particularly tricky for me because it was comprised of glass dishes that needed some backlight to reveal their beauty. Different pieces of glass bowls and dishes are glued to each other to form ornate decorations.

Dance The Night Away


This is one of the displays set up at a Christmas tree event at a historic property.The local doll club always does an outstanding job in arranging these antique dolls for their display and this was no easy feat moving around this scene to light it without bumping anything,which would ruin my shoot if that happened. I think this won first place by the attendees who voted for their favorite.

A Christmas Classic

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This is the time of year when the Grinch makes his appearance and he seems to be hanging around this bookstore in downtown Lititz. The top view shows the store during hours of operation and the bottom image shows someone lurking inside the closed store behind the locked door. I thoroughly enjoy the movie “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” featuring Jim Carey and its elaborate costumes,makeup and props,and the town these images were shot in actually had an elementary school that has done this movie and everyone gets dressed up as their favorite character and it was always a blast to see.

The Light Show


Normally I would not shoot Christmas lights without snow on the ground but the local merchants association held a jingle bell trolley tour that went around town to see some cool light displays and they asked me to shoot the winning home. This home has l.e.d. lighting set to music and features over 20,000 lights that can shine in any color in the visible spectrum.The owner spent countless hours synchronizing the music to the lights and the effort was enjoyed by countless passersby.

Done From Scratch


This old building is located in a nearby town and includes this business called Scratch. Everything is made from scratch,including cupcakes,decadent ganaches and countless other tasty treats. the snow was flying the night I shot this and I could have used a nice cup of hot chocolate and a few cupcakes.

Starry Night


I wanted to title this home for the holidays, but I used that already on another photo. This is another example of me seeing something as I was driving and I just decided to stop and ask if I could shoot photos. Thankfully the owners were gracious enough to let me give it a whirl. Folks seem to like to hear of my escapades,so I will provide some interesting facts about this shot.Initially I was impressed with the fresh fruit arrangement that hangs over the entrance and the fruit that was in the planters by the door and window boxes,but I knew I wanted to jazz things up and I had a few items at home to bring for the shoot.

So just before the sun set I showed up with my box of luminaries, a few wrapped packages and a sprinkling can.After setting up my tripod and choosing the angle I wanted,I began placing the luminaries along the walkway,added the packages and grabbed the sprinkling can.I know you are wondering where it is in the photo,but its purpose was merely to make the sidewalk wet so it would shimmer with the glowing luminaries.My luminaries are white bags but they are inside plastic photo bags so they stay dry.A light snow the day before had provided a dusting on the bushes which definitely helped with my composition. As I was getting ready to make the sidewalk wet,I realized there was no faucet that would fill my can so I went to the next door neighbor and got the go ahead to use their faucet,and without them,the walk would have been dry.

After I shot this,I drove up the road to shoot another house that had fruit,and commented to the owner that I just came from a house that also had amazing fruit arrangements,to which he said the owners of this house had seen his displays on a home tour and he had helped her get started with this holiday tradition,so the old saying,it’s a small world really is true. I lit everything with either my flash or my spotlight,including the star on the chimney.I am not sure what style of home this is,but I have always found it appealing. Close your eyes as you feel the cold night air rush by your face as you ride in the old red sleigh and listen to the sleigh bells jingle as you arrive for a gathering with family and friends. The luminaries light your way as you carry an armful of packages and the smell of the Christmas meal greets your senses as the door opens to welcome you home. Now go cue up Perry Como’s version of No place like home for the holidays,and your all set.

Banking on My Patience


My photo today will be a bit long-winded but for those who enjoy my ramblings both literary and photographically,this will be perfect.I began this evening photographing Christmas displays ten miles away and was on my way home at 8pm when I called my wife to say I would be home in 15 minutes. As I drove home in the rain,I began to take note of lights reflecting on the road and as I drove by this Bank and its Community Christmas tree all lit up, I knew I had to try to capture it.

I found a store across the street with an awning that provided cover from the rain,set up my tripod and began to figure out how I was going to light the place and deal with several issues that I needed to overcome. The biggest issue I had was one lone car parked right in the middle of the shot, but I figured it was a night all but one store was closed and the person would leave soon. Well I began capturing the scene and lighting the building and then a second car pulls in, and I started to get a little frustrated.

The second car had a girl in it and she proceeded to play games on her phone for 20 minutes till some guys showed up,one of which owned the other car,and I was sure they were all leaving after they got in both cars.Well guess what,they all sat there doing who knows what for at least ten minutes until the one car left. Ten minutes later,it returns and you guessed it,more sitting there doing nothing.Now you must understand the street around me on both sides has absolutely zero cars in any space so these two in the middle of my shot were a tad frustrating.

At one point I checked in with my wife and said it might be late because I was determined to outlast these nitwits and get my shot.So at exactly twenty minutes before ten, the one car leaves and just the girl remains playing on her phone again,so I decide I am going over and offer her five dollars to just move the car already and as I ask how long till she is heading out,she answers, in a minute,so I keep my money and I think, finally. Well guess what,twenty minutes later she is still sitting there. While waiting I had some dude ask for a dollar,which I obliged and then two nights later the same guy asks again,to which I said hit the road this time.I also almost got hit right in the middle of the road because I was over by the bank and was watching a guy heading toward my camera across the street and started walking while focusing on the guy in case I had to give chase and all of a sudden I hear tires screeching and the car bumper is about two feet from me.Needless to say the woman was a little irked at my lack of concentration on the road traffic.

Well in the end all the cars left,and I was soaked but I captured the shot I had imagined was possible. After shooting multiple frames of lighting, it was literally the last 10 shots that really brought the image to its optimum. I had a couple of spots on the road that showed very little reflection or color and I figured out by blasting the buildings up high with flash that the light would reflect on those areas and that’s were the beautiful blue on the road emanated from.The final time to get this shot was exactly two hours and I think the odds of being able to duplicate this shot anytime soon are rather slim,and you can usually bank on my patience getting a great image.

Back in Time


This lovely older home has lots of little architectural details and is decorated for the Christmas season,so when I saw it reflecting on the wet roadway,I just had to stop and try a shot.There is a traffic signal that hangs right in the middle of this photo that I felt compelled to clone out so you could truly focus on the beauty of the home and not some ugly light. the street lights are so bright and are very tricky to incorporate in the shot but I made them work.This is actually a retirement home for a limited number of seniors and is quite a cozy place.

The Snow is Flying


This mama bear and her two cubs are pretty cozy in the window at the Teddy Bear Emporium in downtown lititz. This image was a little challenging because I lit each snowflake individually and they were moving inside the closed store,so they were always bumping into the ones next to them causing problems while I was shooting.

All is Calm


All was calm on this rainy night in Lititz ,PA as I looked for subjects reflecting in the glistening wet road. These old homes along the main street looked inviting with their christmas trees and lovely door decor. This town is such a neat place to walk at night and soak in the ambiance of a close-knit community.

A Night in Paris


This image of the Bulls Head Tavern in Lititz ,Pa reminds me of paintings I have seen of Paris that show street scenes bathed in luscious light reflecting the warmth within on the rain-soaked streets. Painterly is the word that comes to mind and the contrast was pretty extreme so it’s a minor miracle I got something decent. Would have been better when the daylight was fading but thankfully it was still pouring and the reflections were great,even though I had to stay under my umbrella to shoot it. The bonus element in the scene that I like is the original 1963 london cab which one of the owners parks out front on many nights.

A Little Tomato Pie?


This Christmas window is located at a restaurant called Tomato Pie in the town of Lititz,Pa. It was pouring the night I shot this,and the main reasons I chose this view was the fact I wanted to stay dry and the overhang provided cover. Notice the many different tomatoes scattered throughout the display. This shot required some compromise because if I raised the tripod,I would get car lights reflected in the glass and the building in the distance would get cut off, and I would have preferred to be more parallel but the rest of the scene would have suffered. This would have been a good night to have a warm cup of soup and a sandwich while you watch the dedicated photographer working outside.

New Kid on the Block


This is another one of my Dreamy Christmas window photos from the town of Lititz,Pa. My title refers to the fact that this shop is new to the downtown area and has a wonderful selection of home decor and holiday items,and they offer a full compliment of interior design services.The owner graciously helped me out by adding the small tree and wreath as accents to my window shop image.This image required me to use a polarizer to help remove the reflections of passing cars in the window glass and I also used a piece of foam to block reflections that were impeding the view of the gorgeous stars in the corner.This building once housed a great camera store that I frequented many moons ago,and the new owners have given it a lovely new coat of paint and made a very inviting place for shoppers to frequent.

The Glorious Poinsettia Tree

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Residents in the small town of Lititz,Pa have many unique traditions that make the community special and one that I find particularly beautiful is the Lititz Moravian Church’s Annual poinsettia tree that is set up on thanksgiving weekend in preparation for the first Sunday of advent. The tree features one hundred poinsettias given in honor or remembrance of someone and stands approximately twelve feet high. The beautiful tree is only up a short period because it cannot be watered in the sanctuary.

I remembered this is the time of year the tree is assembled so I headed over to see if there was any chance I could have access to taking a photo and I was pleasantly surprised by the gracious reception shown by the Pastor to my request. I essentially was given full access to do something for an hour and these two shots are what I accomplished. The well-known Moravian star is hanging at the front but was real tough to incorporate in my composition and was unlit at the time,so I never thought about including it till I decided to light it with my spotlight,but by then I was locked into my composition. The entire sanctuary was dark for my shots and I wished the lights could have been turned on but I forgot to ask about that,so I made due with my spotlight to do everything you see here.Even the lantern in the top photo on the upper left was lit using my spotlight ,and I think it looks like a real candle in there.I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to capture something so beautiful. Maybe someday those who view this image will get the chance to see this display in person.

Streets of Gold


This rainy evening found me photographing shops in Lititz and to say it was a little frustrating shooting in a constant downpour is an understatement. I started shooting across the street under the overhang because I wanted to stay dry and also capture the Tomato Pie restaurant window display,and as I was finishing that shot,I wandered out into the street and saw this amazing reflection and just had to try and record it. Now there are a few things to understand and one of them is the fact that this is a busy main road and its rush hour,and my exposure times were anywhere from 8 seconds to 20 seconds. The cars were lined up in both directions and were non stop so imagine trying to find eight solid seconds of no traffic passing. Well I had exactly four shots out of about forty that were car free and thank goodness I had the shot captured and the fact that I had to stand there with an umbrella for almost 45 minutes to get this is a testament to either my dedication or stupidity.

Something that happened while I was shooting this caught my eye and it was a pickup truck that stopped in the alley beside the building and I noticed the driver got out in a hurry and seemed like he was after something. I quickly saw he was actually trying to save a duck that was trying in vain to get across the busy road and this man actually stopped traffic in both directions and guided the creature across the road to the park. this lucky duck almost got hit three different times till the guy stopped the cars and got him on his way,to which I yelled nice job.