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

ephrata-royers-pharmacy

ephrata-royers-sign

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.