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.
Well I found out a tiny bit more about this machine since yesterdays post. It supposedly is built around a real Tucker SnoCat from years ago,actually moves and was a prop in the movie The Last Airbender. I never saw the movie but my wife claims to have seen it,and yet most of what I find on the net shows an animated movie and she claims it was a regular movie. Anyway it is supposedly a part of the fire nation military in that movie, and if you want to buy it, I can hook you up with the owner who is currently asking $13,000. This image was shot in infrared to add a little extra drama. It would make a cool lawn decoration if you had a huge estate. The owner told me he has more neat stuff of a similar nature if I want to check them out sometime,which I hope will happen.
Captured this Amish youth heading down the road on a tractor and upon closer examination,you can see he is hauling his transportation with him on the back. The two-wheeled scooter is the transportation of choice for Amish youth,as bikes are frowned upon. Last year I spoke to an Amish guy who I noticed coming up a hill at a rather fast pace,and it puzzled me how he was doing it? Turns out he had an electric motor added and it was all hidden on the frame. It intrigued me enough to think about buying one since he said it ran about $400 for everything. Well in the year since he got his,price went up to near a $1000 so I will stick with the bike for now.
This scene is one I have seen played out countless times over the years, but only recently did I decide to capture it. I never gave it much thought till I stopped and evaluated my image, and it is not too hard to imagine that this could potentially turn ugly if the puller in front slipped, and the pusher did not stop soon enough. Maybe its the way he is leaning to go up hill that made me pause,but she can’t be more than 4 feet in front,but she still has ten toes,so they have a system.
Personally I am getting more frustrated every day with the direction I see our country headed,but maybe old age is just making me more irritable.Here is one example in contrast to the Amish. Our local elementary school has now decided that they are removing all the swings sets because they are a liability issue. For over 200 years,children have been able to handle this dangerous item, but now we must protect them from this danger. Life is meant to be lived and taking responsibility for our choices and the results of those choices is all part of it.I say If you want to mow your grass in bare feet, have at it,because its your decision. these siblings really are going toe to toe in their chores together as they get a firm lesson in team work.
This digger could take a serious bite out of almost anything it dug its teeth into. I lit this in overcast conditions with a flash and the bucket alone was lit with one series of eight flashes on multiple exposure on my camera. I set the shutter speed to the highest allowable on my camera at a 250th of a second and set the camera to record 8 exposures on one frame. Eight shots were just on the edge of possibilities because each ambient exposure built up on the frame as I shot,so you have to watch for overexposure when you do that many on one frame. My usual technique is to overlay separate frames,but multiple exposure allows flash to build up on the frame with each blast,so you effectively can make your weak flash more powerful.I wish they used this thing to give you a scoop of mulch for landscaping,although my trailer tires would explode when it dumped the bucket.
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.
Have you ever seen so many cobwebs,you thought you were on the set of some science fiction thriller? Well this was the case as both myself and a fellow photographer spent an evening shooting in a local feed mill. I walked around looking for a shot and came across this corner of the mill that seemed lost in time. It’s no wonder spiders have laid claim to this place as flies were a real nuisance while we shot. I light painted this with an off camera flash trying to bring out the webs and dust and dirt as best I could. At least no mice ran by me on this visit. I have no idea what the machine does but it must not get used very often.
This image was taken at the feed mill that I had photographed and featured on my blog a few days ago. I met Brad the owner, and he graciously allowed both myself and fellow photographer Larry the chance to look around inside. After the mill shut down for the day, we broke out our gear and we each selected an area to light paint. Admittedly it has been a while since I gave this technique a try, so I struggled a bit as I worked to light the room with my spotlight. The mill is a real labyrinth of metal and wood, and left me wondering how such a place is designed. The inside also included numerous cats roaming about, which surprised me with all the machines at work, but after I had witnessed a cat catch a mouse three feet in front of me, it all became clear very quickly. The area I chose included the old scale with the two feed bags on it, along with another scale facing the opposite direction with the number 122 on it. The blue light is coming from window light that was shining in at dusk. We usually work in the dark, but time constraints had us shooting earlier.
Pardon my brevity with today’s post, but I was hammered with two migraines in one day today, which is very rare for me, so as I type this, I pretty much feel like this machine is sitting on my head. Sometimes when the weather changes, These things can hit me for whatever reason. So hopefully I did not post this shot before, and my apologies if I did.
I usually go with one image a day, but I thought Since these two shots are of the same subject, yet look totally different, it might be interesting to see color vs black and white, First, let me say the color shot actually makes no sense to the trained eye of a machinist, but to a layman like myself, it looked perfect. The set of bits on the right were sitting a short distance from this machine, so I decided they must be used on that machine and I proceeded to place them there. I was pretty far into the shot when the owner walked by, and told me they have no relation to each other, but I was already committed at that point. The black and white was the first image I shot using old oil cans, but for some reason it did not work in color, so I abandoned the cans for the bits. Either way, I like both shots almost equally,but I really like the textures in the black and white.
Today I visited a local florist that is planning to open an antique shop in the near future, and he graciously allowed me to look through his collection for possible photo subjects. I saw the old scale first and then selected several items to add some balance and color to the shot. I have no idea where some of my ideas come from, but I decided fruit would look neat on the scale, so I zipped over to a nearby produce stand and picked up a selection of limes,lemons and apples. For budding photographers taking notes, I light painted this shot using my small flashlight, and because the room had numerous windows, I used a 3 stop neutral density filter on the lens, which allowed me to shoot exposures around 8 seconds each. The window directly behind the shot was covered by black fabric till the very end, and then the exposure for the window portion was simply painted in on lighten mode in layers in Photoshop. Thanks to Kerry for giving me free reign in the shop.
Many of you may have deduced by now that I have been thoroughly enjoying my visits to the old machine shop, and each trip is an opportunity to practice my light painting techniques in the hopes of getting better. This past trip had me trying to come up with some earth shattering image, which wasted an hour of time till I finally decided to shoot this detail shot of end mills and tool holders that were on a shelf. I added the cool oil can and rustic old cutting oil can to spice up the shot. I settled on the tighter shot because I wanted my shots to have some diversity to them. The background is just a wood panel that was part of the shelf unit, and I lit it with a flashlight.
I spent the morning sunday shooting with my friend larry who is light painting master, and we each did our best to do something unique at our local historical society. I chose an old sewing machine, and friends Margi and Dan loaned me several antique sewing items to help bring the shot to life. I used small pen flashlights and my big spotlight to accent the pieces, and the shot took me nearly an hour and a half to do. The best I could figure was this sewing machine is one made by the man who got the first patent for a lock stitch design in 1846, and his name was Elias Howe. Mr Howe had to defend his patent in court from 1849-1854, because he found that Isaac Singer, and Walter Hunt had been selling a facsimile of his machine and lockstitch design. He eventually won the case and won considerable royalties from singer. I can imagine the many hands that worked diligently on this machine in the late 1800s and early 1900s, creating garments and necessities for the family. My grandmother was a great quilter and I remember her working countless hours on her old sewing machine doing patches,and a few times over the years she would relay the stories of how a needle had gone straight through her finger and nail while sewing.
This is another machine shop undertaking, and once again the layers of color and texture drew me to photograph it. The best I could make out was that it is a turret lathe, but don’t hold me to that. I checked in the folder I save my files in and I had shot eleven separate files to light this as shown. Many times I will shoot triple that amount so I don’t miss any piece of the puzzle. As I have mentioned before, a sturdy tripod, a basic laptop and a few flashlights are all you need.
Todays image is one of several from my shoot at the machine shop yesterday. This place has so much history and character in every nook and cranny, that I become overwhelmed at times trying to decide which subject to shoot. I chose what I believe to be a drill press for a shot at dusk because it was positioned right at the windows where the sunset colored the evening sky outside. The patina of oil,dirt,metal shavings and everything else provided the perfect canvas to light paint. Lee who owns the shop graciously allowed myself and a friend several hours of uninterrupted shooting, which was really appreciated. I picked the title because we started shooting around 4pm and finished at 9pm, and a worker from the day shift was still running a mill in the back room to catch up on several jobs for clients as we were heading home to bed. You couldn’t ask for a more accommodating crew than the guys who help us shoot there.