This local pharmacy has been an anchor in the local business community for years and since I was doing a little photo series on shops in the town, I felt it was a definite choice for photographing. I went inside to see if they would like a shot done and I asked if I could add some garland above the one sign to give it a little more seasonal feel? They said certainly,and I set out to capture the top image on a very nice December evening. I really wanted to do a shot of the entrance as well because it has this neat old curved metal sign that been there since the 1930s and has eye-catching orange lighting behind it. The employees were all very helpful and I was told the sign could be set to stay illuminated all night so it was ready to shoot at dawn the next morning and they would also leave a few inside lights on as well to look like they were open, and as we were talking the pharmacist said yeah the weather looks like it will cooperate as well. I went to bed thinking how I was going to do the shot and when I woke to my alarm at 530am, it was pouring outside. I knew it was going to be a treat trying to get this in the pouring rain and the following describes the ordeal.
I brought an 8 ft ladder, and on the top of it I thread a steel pipe that goes up another 6 feet and then I mount my camera anywhere I want along the 6ft pipe. I recently bought some inexpensive plastic camera bags that are made specifically to protect your camera and lens while shooting in the rain and that is how I started the shoot but I noticed the image on my tablet had rain drops on it and realized the rain was blowing onto the front of my lens, so I now had to strap my umbrella to the steel post as well to keep the front dry.Now the thing about this whole angle you don’t realize, is that there is only ten feet from the pharmacy door to the street behind me and my ladder is literally sitting on the very edge of the curb as far as it can go. So my camera is about 12 feet off the ground with an umbrella strapped tight above it and on top of that I must climb the ladder,try to compose and focus at that height and not fall to the ground,all in the pouring rain. This was shot with my widest angle,which is a 17mm and it was just able to get the composition with the decorated street light and the sign. It is a minor miracle this even turned out because even with the umbrella,it was still getting rain on the lens occasionally which meant I had to climb the ladder,dry the lens off and pray that I did not shift anything while doing all of that.To my surprise all images were in register from the shoot.I love rain and the reflections it provides but I still have not come up with a foolproof rain shooting strategy. The sign also posed serious challenges because it picks up every reflection of light,color etc and the blue light from early morning was what I liked in the end. I tried lighting the letters with my flash but I found out chrome doesn’t play nice with flash and there were very few angles that the added flash looked decent on,so in the end I just waited till the ambient light matched the sign light and was as balanced as possible.
This is a small town nearby and I shot it on a sunday evening to get the traffic free road. I lit everything with wireless flash.The building across the street was an old hardware store for decades and now has been lovingly taken over by a family that decorates all three floors windows for passersby to enjoy. It is no longer a hardware store though.
This is the third image from the mansion Christmas tree event.It features the local doll club display which is always a favorite of mine. A friend always said they creep him out,but I always get a feeling of nostalgia when I see the scene the club creates.You have to see this in person to see the level of detail they put into the layout.I lit this scene entirely with my deer spotlight with a diffuser on it.
One interesting note on this image is I am given a key to get in this place to shoot and I always come around 5 am when it is dark so I can set up my gear and start shooting before the window light overpowers the shot. I arrived this saturday and decided to use the restroom first,which is located down the hall from the doll display. As I rounded the corner here, I saw the huge live tree with all its decorations laying on its side on the floor and all the decorations were scattered everywhere. There is a running joke here about ghosts in the mansion and I have heard a few strange sounds over the years but nothing to make me high tail it,and yet that’s the first thing that crossed my mind. I knew they turn off all the trees before closing up so everything was in order the night before.
I thought to myself there is no way on this earth they are going to believe this tree just fell over on its own and I thought they will think I did it and they will never let me in again. I called the lady who runs everything and she was extremely nice about it and asked if I would stay and help her right the thing. Well as it turns out, we stood the tree up in the stand and I started turning the bolts in the base and the bolt in the front kept turning forever until I realized it was totally stripped. All I can say is thank goodness I could show her that,and more amazing was the fact that the tree fell in the very best possible direction,missing the entire gingerbread area and only lightly hitting the two dolls on the left. I returned the following morning to shoot the now fixed doll display and would you believe the bathroom light and fan were running as I got to the back of the mansion. It was a little weird but it’s just one of those stories from the mansion.
This was a spur of the moment shot I decided to do on a miserable rainy night this week. It features a beautiful mural done by a local artist on the local VFW building. I lit the house on the corner with flash to get the cool reflection in the wet road.This is another road that is hard to capture without traffic getting in the shot.
I got a call from someone I know who always has something nice to say about my work and she had a request to capture a shot of her hometown main street Christmas decorations. I knew the street was super busy most of the time and the street lights are very bright,so they tend to become way too bright before the rest of the scene settles in. I told her I would think about it, and then because I tend to be the type of person that likes to get things done, I went the same night and tried to find an angle. I picked an angle up the hill behind me and twenty minutes into the shot,I noticed this better angle and so I started over here. This image is comprised of maybe 8 to 12 individual shots to get everything right. One shot was just of the sky and the bright lights at the right exposure and then I shot a series of images capturing most of the street without cars and their headlights in each area of the street. The hardest piece was the area on the near left that is a post office and it had two cars parked there for nearly 45 minutes. They finally left and I could capture that area without ugly vehicles there. I had an umbrella on a pole over the tripod the whole time but it was a very raw and wet night,but in reality I was glad I made the effort and it turned out to be a great photo thanks to the shimmering road and the festive lights.
Well it is the time of year I simply love taking photos of all things Christmas related, and the coming weeks will feature scenes from a holiday tree event as well as scenes from Lititz ,Pa and shop windows there. This is the first shot featuring two bears riding in a very nice miniature sleigh as they head through some deep snow at the mansion tree event.
I went to an event last friday evening thinking I was going to get to photograph the most stunning Russian sleigh I have ever seen, but it turned out they put it inside to protect it,which makes sense,so a shot was not possible. Anyway,I left there kind of dejected about it and on the way home I passed this little scene and decided to do a shot here. Well I knocked and asked if they minded and they were fine with it,so I asked them to turn on some interior lights and they obliged. After getting so far with it,I wished the church lights were on,and so I knocked again and it turns out it was the youth pastor living here and he offered to make my wish come true. The only thing he could not do was get the large stained glass window lit,so in frustration I shined my bright flashlight on it and amazingly got it to show its color. I would not have guessed it would work but thank goodness I tried.
This old ivy covered tree caught my eye as I drove by, so I came back in the evening, asked permission to go in the yard and then lit it with my flash.The owner was an elderly lady and she could not figure out why anyone would want to photograph the tree? I am pleased with the result I got with a few pops of the flash,and I thought the contrast of the green ivy and fall foliage made a nice scene.