Romance is in the Air!

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.

Christmas Eve Traveler

For those who enjoy my stories, I have a longer one for you from Christmas eve. First let me say I have a reputation among my family of being someone who might skip an occasional family holiday party to just go out shooting photos instead. That was the case Christmas eve when we were invited to the usual in-law gathering and I basically felt like being alone which happens this time of year with depression. I had stopped here earlier in the week on business and wondered to myself if I could get a nice image sometime? Well Christmas eve came and off I headed to this church. I waited till the service got going and the stained glass started to glow as the ambient light dropped. Everyone was inside for the candle light service and I was scurrying around outside trying to put a shimmer on the road and get the nativity to be visible. I ended up shining a light behind the star on the display and guided the shadow where I wanted it to appear on the grass.

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.

Almost Missed it!

I had someone reach out to me who enjoys my photos and they asked if I would be interested in shooting something on their property? I said absolutely and stopped by to peruse the options, of which there are numerous choices. The large wreath hanging on the barn has been put up for the holidays for many many years and adds a nice touch to an already picturesque barn. I was here last evening to try and come up with a game plan if we ended up getting snow overnight. We did indeed get several inches overnight and the bonus was it stopped before dawn, so blowing snow was not an issue. So I got here about an hour and a half before sunrise and decided on the angle and then waited for things to improve. Long story short, I shot the image I planned on and one or two others until I could not feel my toes and my fingers were screaming in pain. I gathered everything up, took one step and saw the lady pull in who originally contacted me. Within a minute or so, the fountain in this pond started up and what had been a frozen mess all morning with no hint of a reflection was slowly starting to reveal a mirror image! After it got clear she yelled do you want the fountain off? I replied just give me five minutes to get the shot. In what seemed like just a minute after the fountain turned off, you could see it refreezing quickly and the reflection was starting to disappear. I didn’t have the heart to ask her to turn it on again. After shooting for nearly two hours, this little chance event left me with what might be my favorite from the morning! On another note, My Mac computer seems to have bitten the dust and I am not able to post from home right now so be patient if my response time takes a day or two. The repair place says it is listed as obsolete by Apple, so even though it most likely is a simple part, they are not allowed to even try? I even offered to pay their $100 an hour fee to trouble shoot and they refused? This forced upgrade scheme is really a ripoff in my opinion.

Revive

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.

The Historic Ephrata Cloister

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.

The Light Reveals Itself

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.

Robert Fulton Birthplace

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!

Sing Me A Song

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.

Hauling the Harvest

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

The Funeral Home

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.

The Artistry of Iron

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.

Light Pierces the Darkness

This is the same Church I posted the other day and I incorporated the Cemetery Fence into the composition because the wet blacktop helped create separation. I really hope to shoot a similar angle with fresh snow covering the parking lot this Winter! This is one I just could not believe how the sun was in the perfect spot as we headed toward sunset. Now that I think about it, I actually drove here because the sky before sunset looked like it was going to be a winner. I was there an hour before sunset and was so excited about the sky, but with every minute that went by, the sky got clearer and clearer and then a few stray clouds appeared and that was good enough for me.

Synchronized Horses

I saw this old stone home with the colorful fall foliage around it and pulled over to get a shot, and as I was about to pack up I heard the familiar Lancaster County clip clop of a horse and buggy coming. Ended up with about four buggies going past but this one in particular stood out because not only was it being pulled by two horses but they were in what appears to be perfect synchronized strides? I have never seen anything quite like it before.

A Glorious Sunset

This Church is a new find for me and I really hope to get a beautiful winter sunset shot here. It is great in the sense it stands out from the sky behind it and the big old tree is a bonus. Hoping for a deep snow that does not get plowed right away. The sky on this evening was just perfect thanks to the clouds emanating out in all directions.

Autumn Light

Been quite a while since my last posting here and while I have been out shooting, I have been short in the enthusiasm department! This particular scene was one I went to shoot in overcast light and I had time constraints to factor in as well. After 20 minutes doing overcast shots, all of a sudden the sun came skimming right across the shot bringing it to life, and of course I had less than five minutes left to get what I could before the appointment I had. A neighbor was generous enough to leave me in their yard which helped make the road almost disappear in the shot.