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.

A mind boggling display.

 

 

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If you ever get the chance to visit the Mercer Museum in Doylestown,Pa,take it because it will blow your mind.This place is a time capsule featuring items from past times that were saved and displayed by a man on a mission who had a great vision to save history for future generations.It is several stories of thousands of items one may never see anywhere else.Shown in this photo on the lower left is an 1800 fire engine pumper that is just one small part of the collection and hangs by huge chains from the second story concrete walls. I had to hand hold everything,and bracing your camera for 1 second exposures can be a bit challenging.

Henry Mercer was a gentleman anthropologist. On a cruise up the Ruhr in early adulthood, Mercer was impressed by the eclipse of artisanal culture by industrial production, and resolved himself to preserving artifacts of pre-industrial life. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mercer collected pre-industrial tools and other implements of the past. He believed that the story of human progress and accomplishments was told by the tools and objects that people used and saw these time-honored crafts slowly disappearing from memory.

Mercer personally designed plans for a museum to house his collection, six stories tall and cast of poured-in-place concrete. Mercer’s museum was completed in 1916. In addition to tools, it displays furnishings of early Americana, carriages, stove plates, a gallows, antique fire engines, a whaleboat, and the Lenape Stone. The Spruance Library, which houses the Bucks County Historical Society’s archive of historical research materials, is located on its third floor.

 

Spring Palette

wisteria-gardenSpring is advancing rapidly and this most special time of year will soon fade away. I photographed this lovely garden scene that is located within an easy walk from my home and this was shot with winds in the 5-10 mph range, and for this type of work,that’s a little strong. The owners were not home,so I had to light everything from the sidewalk,and wish I had been able to get in different angles with my flash,but this turned out nicely despite that. The scene  was shot with a 70-200 mounted on a tripod and linked to my laptop. I used radio poppers to fire the wireless flash,and a wireless transmitter to fire the camera. I shot about 50 frames,lighting the plants as needed and then brought the pieces together for the result. The owner takes great pride in the property and has a wide variety of unique plants throughout the season. The Wisteria was my main objective,and its fragrant blooms were a delight to see and smell.

Steamroller Fun

 

 

This is another example of experimenting with deer spotlights on a subject. Admittedly,I still need more practice to master this technique,but each try proves to be fun. The top photo is no spot light and the bottom is the result of about twenty separate twenty-second exposures at f11 using the spotlight. I used a wireless remote to fire my camera and also use a laptop to review what I did on each exposure to keep track what was lit already and as a reference if I need to shine the light at a different angle for better effect. Doing that also keeps you from touching the camera and creating registration problems. My spotlight has a diffuser and a snoot to keep the camera from being able to see the light source as I stand in the scene. The steamroller has the name Fordson on its radiator grill.

Big Red

I was bored the other night,so I grabbed the gear for a light painting attempt. I am still not that good at this,but I have fun trying. This is the result of about 30 different exposures with flash. Looked on the net and the cost is around $350,000 for this machine if anyone wants one.

The Rolling Behemoth

Ever feel tiny and insignificant? Well that’s probably how the driver of this compact car felt as he hugged the curb and kept a little distance between himself and this rolling monstrosity. This huge Combine was on the move through several local towns recently as it made it way to the next cornfield for more harvesting, and it raised eyebrows more than once as it dominated the road. I shot this through my car window after I was lucky enough to get directly behind it. The only thing better than this would have been a smart car beside it,which would really look ridiculous.

Feed Mill Pelletizer

Once again I was trying my light painting technique in the old feed mill. This time I was photographing what I think is called a pelletizer, which makes feed pellets and the two images show the machine in a closed, and then open position.The bottom photo shows the machines main part,which has a series of holes that form the hardened pellets. The room was very warm so I assume some heat process is involved as well. To do the two images,I first completed the scene with it closed and then simply opened the door for the next part of the shoot. Then I brought that image on top of the first and blended them.