Beauty by the Mill

This old mill is now a private residence and the home to the left of the flowering trees is very tastefully decorated with numerous nice touches and places you just want to sit and enjoy a tall glass of lemonade. I will be sharing a shot soon including the house which is visually just perfect sitting beside the old mill. The flowering trees are what caught my eye and with an old victorian home and a mill on either side, it was too hard to resist.

Silent Beauty

A normal bustling street is now devoid of people, an eerie calm surrounds you as you feel like the last person on earth. Similar scenes are playing out across the globe as we all deal with the coronavirus threat. The flowering trees with their heavenly scent take your mind off the fear swirling in your head for just a moment, then in the distance you hear someone sneeze and you make a bee line to your car and hit the gas to get out of town.

Fire and Ice festival

This is the only shot I did this year during the Fire and Ice festival held in Lititz, Pa.  My enthusiasm to go out shooting has been very subdued the last six months due to my medicine but on the upside the negative thoughts I was being bombarded with on a daily basis have become pretty quiet and I have been more social in general. So while I still do enjoy shooting, my creativity seems to get dialed down as well and while I wish I could post photos more often here, It can be a struggle to get motivated to go out, so my apologies for the infrequent shooting right now.

2019 Draws to a Close

I visited a long time friend this past week who lives in Manheim,PA and when I drove through the town square I was struck by how charming it was so I decided I needed to come back and try and get a shot before everything got taken down. The bottom image was my first attempt and was taken the next evening after my visit and to be honest I thought this would be it. That all changed when I was heading out and looked back to see the top image in my rear view mirror. I knew it was supposed to continue raining all night and through the morning so I set the alarm for 5:30 am and headed over hoping that morning traffic would not make it impossible to get the shot. If you look at the top image, you can imagine what having one car parked in the foreground would do to the shot. All the reflections in the wet street would be blocked, so when I saw it was clear I quickly got set up and started shooting so I would have something at least. To my surprise no one parked in front and before long the black sky started to brighten as daybreak inched closer and the shot I envisioned came to life. I hate pitch black skies and if I had shot in the dark, you would not even see the trees that stand out against the blue sky. For the bottom image I used a polarizer to cut glare on the wet brick and because of that the reflection of the tree really popped against the backlit brick. Maybe next year I can get lucky and have a snowy version of the square. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year! Continue reading

Lititz Christmas Window1

 

I have been fairly active shooting scenes relating to Christmas in the town of Lititz, Pa but not as on the ball posting them, but hopefully this will be the start of sharing new images. This shot features the window of the Atlas general store which has a cool display of what appears to be rolled paper made into trees.

Rainy Night Solitude

This is the old train station in Lititz, Pa which now serves as a visitors center. The large building in the back is the former Wilbur chocolate plant that closed and has been renovated into a very beautiful Restaurant, Hotel, select market shops and more. Little by little more rooms are lighting up as the project advances. This was a few days ago and I shot this in the middle of a steady blowing rain storm that was a real challenge to work in. One detail I like is the shadow that was cast toward the camera when I backlit the town clock. Because of the rain, I had very few people going into the park which made it nice to shoot.

Springs and Fall

I took this image in the Lititz Springs park and I am not exactly sure if this is the main spring or an area that holds the water from the springs, but you could see it flowing up from a few places in the area. This was taken with my 17-35 zoom at almost its widest view and I am backed up to a wall that goes around the springs from the steps on each side. This was taken on a night that was supposed to have bad storms and winds were maybe 20mph but it stayed dry while I shot. Thankfully the leaves surrounding the water were sheltered by the wall but out past the wall they were being blown all over the place. The green in the water was algae on rocks and I was surprised how well it showed up.

Nights like this are great for having the place all to yourself but I did have a crazy situation arise that  was a little sketchy. At one point across the park I could hear some teen girl swearing and it was about two or three minutes later I notice two black males around 17 to 20 years old sprinting from one end of the park to the other? It was getting much darker than my photo appears and I was taking all this activity in from the shadows wondering what was up?  All of a sudden they see me standing in this area and come running full speed till they are literally three feet in front of me. The one guy immediately starts demanding to know if I just slapped his baby girl?  I told them how long I had been there photographing and they said “some white dude just walked up and slapped his baby girl across the face” and the one was itching to whoop somebody and his most memorable comment to me was ” I believe I am about to get out of my character if I catch this dude”  They kept asking me if I saw anybody run my direction, and I said no, but the funny thing is, I did have one shot in my series that actually had a guy in it that looked similar to what they described.

Reflecting on History

We have been having more than our fair share of rain this year and thankfully I had a little glimmer of enthusiasm to go shoot something in the rain this week. To look at this scene, one would think it is along a quiet street but it’s not and I shot this at what was most likely the busiest time of the day. I had quite a few 2 to 8 second exposures that were ruined by cars whipping by, but there were a few rare moments when it was clear. If you look close you can see a road going between the two buildings and while I was over in that section lighting the large pine tree and the building, I was standing on the road and had to jump on the sidewalk more than once when a car would come turning off the main road in a hurry. One thing for photographers wanting to try shots like this is you must blast the subject with too much light if you want to get a decent reflection in the rainy street because even though the building is overexposed, the reflection is perfect. You simply shoot a separate exposure for the building with your flash dialed down. Also my camera was sitting just in front of my truck on a tripod with an umbrella over it and cars flying by three feet away so that had me a little worried.

Bundle Up

I will be sharing my images from the town of Lititz,Pa over the next week or two and they are all done using flash and light painting techniques. I go for a somewhat nostalgic feel and my hallmark effect is the cool versus the warm. This shot features a yarn shop that had a sheep in the window and a tree with knitted hats and scarves.

The Pharmacy

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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.

The Hunters lair

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This is the second image I shot at the mansion tree event. I originally was not really interested in shooting this room,but I decided to see what I could do and am rather happy how it turned out. A good place to snuggle up on a cold winter night while you dream of hunting.

Sleigh Ride Friends

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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.

The Skilled Craftsman

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Lancaster county has countless skilled craftsmen that still take pride in their work. From woodworkers who build custom furniture, to master leather craftsmen who supply the local community with leather goods, to those who work with various metal products,a rich heritage of doing things by hand still exists today. I recently was in search of a piece of copper for a project and a friend directed me to a small shop he knew of out in the countryside. I pulled in the driveway of the address I was given and the small building in front of me gave no hint of what I was about to see. As I walked in the dark unlit interior, I was immediately drawn to a beautiful copper train that was being built one piece at a time for a customer. The level of detail was amazing and spoke to the skill of the metalsmith who was building it. After a brief conversation, I decided to ask if he would consider allowing me to come back one evening and photograph it? The answer was sure,but he told me the train was being picked up that night and an immediate feeling of missing a chance to record something special came over me. He did tell me he was making another two trains for this customer and maybe in the future,I could try a shot? We got each others phone numbers and I headed off thinking about the missed opportunity, but to my amazement, the phone rang that evening and he told me it would be here for another day, and if I wanted to come back,he would be there all evening.  I immediately said yes and gathered my gear to head over. All the way there, I worried I was not going to come up with a way to capture the train because it is actually a weathervane and has a tube and support attached and it does not just sit on a table. The owner was very patient with me and was more than happy to move things around to get the right setup for the shot. My final composition shown above included the recently finished copper train, with the very first copper train that has been treated with a patina to give it an aged look in the background. I wish I could recognize the man who built this train, but in the interest of privacy ,all you need to know is that he is just one of Lancaster counties many skilled craftsmen.There is no electricity here or fancy tools, just talent and hard work and I was certainly impressed.

The Sutter

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Having the technical ability to capture lovely scenes such as this, is only part of what is needed to get the job done. Without cooperative owners,I never would be able to spread my artistic wings and pull a shot like this off. This is the lobby at the General Sutter in downtown Lititz ,Pa,and I was allowed to come in to try this shot.The restaurant was closed but the lobby was active so I set my tripod up in a spot somewhat out-of-the-way and crossed my fingers no one would bump my tripod or move any of the furniture. Halfway through the shoot,a gentleman sat down on the couch and said he wanted to watch me work, but after telling him he was in the shot,he high tailed it. Special thanks to owner Paul and his staff for helping me get this shot.

The Distlefink

 

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A distlefink is a stylized goldfinch and it appears in Pennsylvania dutch folk art.It represents happiness and good fortune to the Pennsylvania german people.It is a common theme on hex signs and fraktur.The word distlefink literally means thistle finch. I shot this large version which welcomes visitors to the Berks county history museum from both sides. It is in desperate need of a repaint but it still made a fun subject to light paint.The biggest problem I had was avoiding three groundhogs that made their home under the bush and kept coming out after dark, but a little blast from my flash and they would high tail it for a little bit.If you look real hard at the top photo,in the lower right corner you can barely see one of the groundhogs in the grass and I only just saw it was there as I was working on this post.

 

 

 

Ford 801 Tractor

 

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My image today features a Ford 801 tractor and even though the owner told me the model year,I still forgot. The story behind this image is as follows. I was driving to a photo shoot and passed this tractor along the road with a for sale sign on it,and the quick glance I got convinced me to return in the evening to ask if I could shoot it.Well I came back past the location an hour later and the tractor was gone,so I assumed the owner put it away.I showed up that evening and rang the doorbell to ask and the owner about taking a photo and he said it was sold and already gone,but the gentleman who bought it should be coming by the house any minute to sign the check. I decided to wait and five minutes later the new owner pulled in and after speaking to me briefly, he offered to let me come see it at its new home to possibly get a shot. The new owner had it in front of his garage which included an old gas pump,and although the old owner had a rustic barn I had hoped to include, I decided to see what I could do in this new setting.

I liked the rich warm red color of the tractor and decided to let the cool evening light dominate the scene to contrast with the warm subject.I shot flash across the garage doors for a spotlight effect and let the gas pump light shine its warm light onto the ground. I like the result I got but still wish the old rustic barn would have been in the shot.

B-25 ”Panchito”

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This is a shot I did at sunrise at the Lancaster Airports community days this past weekend. In the foreground is the Delaware Museum foundations B-25 Panchito and in the distance is the C-123-K Thunder Pig. I used multiple flash pops to light the plane in the pre-dawn light until the sun came up. These shiny planes are a real challenge to light and it was good practice for me.

Air show Sunset

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Our local airport hosted community days this past weekend and there were a variety of aircraft on display.Thanks to the generosity of staff there,I was allowed access after closing to light paint several planes. I believe This plane is a Stinson Reliant v-77 Gullwing and was the last plane I was able to shoot at sunset.There was a lot of vendor junk in the background so I had to crop tighter than I would like to eliminate those items.

Wheels of Progress

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I must admit I do not know exactly how this contraption works but I believe it is a threshing machine used to separate grains from the stalk. It was being demonstrated at the threshermans reunion this past week.I shot this with flash at dusk when everyone was watching other events. Old machinery can be quite amazing in its intricate design and construction.

Steaming Out Of The Past

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I spent two hours this week at the Rough and Tumble historical associations threshermen’s reunion in Lancaster county,Pa. This event features all kinds of old steam engines and rusty iron machinery from the past. To see these incredible machines in operation is something to witness and their whistles are a whole other story,and after standing right beside one when the whistle blew,I can tell you it is something you wont soon forget. These two beauties were lined up at dusk and even though I came upon them later than I would like,there was still enough color in the sky to try a shot. The engine in front is a 1913 Frick Eclipse steam tractor owned by Jim Wright and the one behind is a 1912 Aultman Taylor steam tractor owned by Gary and Russel Bingaman. 

A Warm Seat Awaits

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Actually a warm seat awaits across the street at the Tomato Pie Cafe in downtown Lititz ,Pa. I photographed this ice sculpture yesterday and thanks to a stretch of bitter weather, it is still hanging around from last weekends fire and ice festival. The cafe recently added sunday hours and judging by all the footprints in the snow,it seems half the town was headed there. I light painted the scene to add some texture to the snow on an otherwise overcast and flat light morning. I would have preferred fresh untouched snow but folks must have been out and about saturday night leaving all the tracks so it works for a cool shot. This was the first day temperatures climbed to the freezing mark and seemed downright balmy while I shot this.

Keep The Lights On

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This is the second image from the historical society property. It was dark at this point so I had to use a long exposure of between 30 and 60 seconds to get the sky to show some color. The texture in the snow is from being shoveled but it still looked decent. the lamp-post had to be lit with my spotlight because it does not seem to work. This former residence is now part of the historical society property and now houses all the research data and information for those researching the history of the area.Of special note is the large clock on the right side of the image,which once stood a few blocks away at a bank until it closed and has now been situated here as yet another piece of history to enjoy.

Illuminating History

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This is my second attempt at shooting this location,which is a local historical society.This time we got just enough snow to cover the grass so I went for the shot in case we get no more snow this year. I took my own luminaries along to add a little seasonal cheer.I drove by the location two hours before and nothing had been shoveled but when I returned the walkways were done but that was okay.Numerous cars slowed to look and several people walked by and asked what the special occasion was and I said just a photo shoot going on,and they all said how beautiful it was with the luminaries.Tomorrows post will feature a second shot I did after this one from up the sidewalk looking the opposite way.Special thanks goes to Cynthia for turning on lights inside for the shot.

Gingerbread Courtyard

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Every year the folks who work at RLPS Architects come together to create a spectacular gingerbread creation,and I have been lucky enough to be invited to shoot along with the main photographer who always documents this for them.Each year I walk in,I just stop and stare at all the details and funny little vignettes they come up with. This scene of a town square is just one small corner of the creation. The following paragraph is from their website and describes the display better. I did not do too good a job this year with my shots but it’s always fun trying.

Drawing from images of Scandinavia, employees and their families spent countless hours transforming various edible materials into picturesque cottages, unique shops and mining operations. The candy structures are positioned along a fishing pier made of pretzels and mountains forested by ice cream cone trees coated in sugar sprinkle foliage and icing snow. The raw building materials for these creations included over 70 pounds of Charms hard candy, 30 gallons of icing and more than 50 pounds of candy, pasta, crackers and cereals.

 

The Abbey in Cape May

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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.