A few days ago I commented about wanting some more snow this year yet, and lo and behold we got a significant storm that left the region in a glorious coat of white. I shot more beautiful snow scenes in the last two days than all winter before that point. The night it snowed I was out shooting till almost ten at night in a landscape with literally no cars out and about, and then before and after work hoping to get as much captured before it melts. The scene shown here was yesterday morning when the temperature in my truck displayed -6 as I left at 5am to seek out images. The image above was shot later in the morning when it warmed slightly and this shot was captured as I was ready to give up for the morning.
I found this sweeping vista with the road curving into the distance and I had seen a lot of buggies heading to the seasons first mud sale, which is basically an auction held in the spring by various fire companies and the local Amish attend in large numbers. It is called a mud sale because the ground is usually a sloppy mess when they are held,so anyway back to the photo.I set up here with the hope a buggy would pass by and because this location is many miles from the sale I had no idea if a buggy would even be on this road? After 20 minutes of standing in the snow,I gave myself a three-minute countdown to leave and just as I did that I heard the clip clop sound in the distance. I basically looked through the lens and waited for the buggies arrival in the scene and was really excited when I saw the young lad being pulled behind on his wagon. He was probably going to be a runner at the sale and runners help the buyers haul their goodies to their cars which often times are a mile or more away from the sale site due to parking craziness in the country. He seemed to not mind the bitter cold ride and if you look closely you can see someone inside the buggy peeking out the back to either look at me or talk to him. Hopefully I can get to the new images to share before the tulips are blooming,so stay tuned.
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.
Actually it’s getting harder and harder to find farms that still use the old windmill,but this one stood out pretty prominently as I crested a hill and got this lovely view across the valley featuring numerous farms.The red barns illuminated by late day sun stood out as the focal point among the many farms.
Every winter I find myself thinking of different images that I would like to create or hopefully find somewhere to shoot. For years I had this dream of getting out after a heavy snowstorm and building some nice snowmen,dressing them in colorful accents and placing them in the perfect scene.Well this exact scenario came to fruition recently thanks to a family that decided to get out and spend some quality time together in the snow. My wife was headed to work one day and called me to say I needed to check out five well done snowmen she had seen, to which I said yeah right.Upon further consideration I thought I better at least look and see if her suggestion was worth a shot and to my surprise it was absolutely perfect.
Not only did this family of five create one snowman for each family member,but they added colorful accents,had them positioned nicely,and even kept the ground covered in snow so no ugly grass showed. Add to all that the fact that the house was glowing with warm illumination and the trees were adorned with snow and I had all the elements to make a picture perfect moment.When I pulled into the driveway and rang the doorbell,no one was home and I was only 30 minutes from needing to set up for the shot so I visited a few neighbors who kindly gave me a work number for the owner and thankfully he said go for it and he would be home in a little while.Its not everyday someone calls you to shoot a snowman photo,so I am sure he thought this seemed a bit strange.I lit the scene with my flashlight to bring out the details and make them stand out in the scene. Many thanks to mom,dad and the three girls for your ambition and creativity.
This spot is a recent find I made and one I hope to work more in the future. The snow was very textured,possibly from strong winds at some point.This is an Amish farm and I think the light in the house is from a propane or kerosene light lantern.This snow was extremely hard to traverse because it had a hard crust that you would break through and sink eight inches with each step. I also got zapped twice on the electric fence going in and leaving this field,which my friend thought was hilarious. When I stopped to ask about taking photos,I was greeted by a large dog that appeared friendly as I called him over,and then after I was 6 feet from the car,he started growling pretty good and seemed like he was ready to rip into my leg,and thankfully the owner came out and the dog calmed down.
This early morning image had all the earmarks of becoming a spectacular shot and although it turned out very nice,it could have been much better. the sky was just filled with clouds that would have lit up at sunrise but for some reason it kind of fizzled just when I was getting excited about the shot. I had to find the farmer in the barn as he was milking cows to ask if I could go on the land and he was more than happy to oblige. One funny thing that happened several times in the last week is me getting shocked as I climb over the electrified fences.Each time I gave them a cursory couple touches with the hand and each time nothing,until I start climbing or going under the fence and sure enough I get zapped. It kind of helps you get over the fence a little quicker.
I headed out to a local cemetery to try some light painting this past weekend and once again temperatures in the single digits tested my dedication to the craft. The sunset was nice and the colorful sky in this image is part light from sunset and the city nearby,which gave a neat effect. I used my nitecor flashlight to illuminate the chapel,trees,snow and tombstones. I always am on my toes when I am alone in places like this because I have seen homeless sleeping here,but not with the temperatures we have right now. I was also worried the gate might be closed when I went to leave but thankfully that was not the case.
We have been bouncing back and forth between temperatures than can reach 40 one day and then plummet to single digits the next,and while I like a good hard winter,it has been a little painful going out shooting lately. On this day I left the house at five in the morning and the temp was a whopping 1 degree,but as the morning progressed and winds picked up, the wind chill went to minus 18,and there were several times I could not feel my fingers as I controlled the camera from my tablet.I wore gloves with hand warmers,but changing camera settings is a bit tough with thick gloves,so they came off at times and that proved very painful and I could see my finger touch the tablet screen but could not feel it.Being near water did not particularly help keep me warm either but memories like that get etched in your brain for posterity and every time I look at this image,I will be transported back in time to feel all the cold again.
This nativity is located on the square in the town of Lititz,PA, and a few years ago someone complained and the ACLU got involved trying to ban the display. Thankfully the land is owned by the Church and the ACLU and its misguided agenda were sent packing. Wishing all my loyal blog followers a Merry Christmas.
This lovely scene was one I captured last weekend as I drove home in some rather treacherous wintry conditions, but they were not bad enough to stop me from shooting this Currier and Ives picture postcard type scene. It was actually half snowing and sleeting the whole time and thankfully I had an umbrella clamped to my tripod to protect the camera somewhat. I have great memories of gathering with the family during the holidays and going to grandma and grandpa’s house to savor all the treats that only grandma seemed to be able to make. From sand tart cookies that melted in your mouth to glazed carrots that were a perennial favorite with the whole family,oh how we all long for the good old days. below are the beginning lyrics to two classic holiday tunes that you can sing to yourself as you imagine curling up by the fireplace in this classic home on a frigid night.
Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,
For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home.
or this lyric from the song sleigh ride
There’s a happy feeling
Nothing in the world can buy,
When they pass around the coffee
And the pumpkin pie,
It’ll nearly be like a picture print
By Currier and Ives,
These wonderful things are the things
We remember all through our lives!
Opportunities like this don’t come along very often because freezing rain on top of snow is not that commonplace. The glistening coating makes for a lovely canvas for light to reflect and shimmer across the surface. I had plans for a cool shot after sunset but the sun disappeared behind a cloud bank shortly after this image. A light snow also came last night which has ruined the chance for more images like this but I have no complaints because we finally are having a winter with snow again.
This scene is one I decided to shoot this past weekend after we had a light snow pass through the area. This neighborhood has some very nice older homes and some include architectural elements that appeal to me for photos. This scene is right along the road,so I could shoot it from the street. The old dilapidated shed with lanterns that have been dark for years beckoned me to add some light to bring them to life. I placed a flash behind the lanterns to light them and then lit the snow and shed to show the details.The bottom photo shows my starting point and the top my final result. The title refers to the three rabbit tracks heading toward the shed.
This snow scene was shot only a few hours later than my gazebo shot from yesterday. I literally went to bed just before midnight,tossed and turned as I thought about scenes to capture and climbed out of bed before 4am to head out looking. Again the full moon had the landscape lit up as evidenced by this shot taken around four thirty in the morning.A farm with silos glows in the distance as a bright star on top reflects in this peaceful stream.If you look closely,you can see stars in the night sky.
This image was taken after yesterdays shot as I headed home and noticed the local historical site was conducting lantern tours. It was shot around eight o’clock at night and had I been able to get there at dusk,it would be even nicer. Again,the full moon lit up the sky like I have never seen before and actually allowed me to get color in the sky after dark.The lanterns sit waiting to be picked up by tour participants who go building to building at the Ephrata Cloister learning about the past. A fresh snow earlier in the day made for a very special night for guests.The Cloister is one of Americas earliest religious settlements and was founded in 1732.
This winter scene came to be thanks to the generosity of the homeowner, the sleigh owner, and my crazy desire to live in the past. The red sleigh was loaned to me by a kind lady who I have done photos for,and the property was made available for my idea by a generous gentleman who entertains my wild photo ideas. The two photos represent my vision for the shot,with the top being the final shot and the bottom was my pre-planning stage to decide where to place it.
This property is an ideal backdrop for the sleigh and the building on the left was actually hand-built by the owner and his son several years ago. I put a light on a stand in that building to shine light out the window across the snow toward the sleigh and lit everything else with flash. From the light illuminating the sleigh to the shadows on the roof from the pine tree,I had to light every element. The old lantern was provided by the property owner as well,and the fancy gift packages and decoration on the sleigh was courtesy of my wife.
The tricky part in doing something like this is knowing exactly where you are going to place the sleigh,and if you look closely at the bottom shot you can see two yellow stakes at the runners leading edge,which were my target spots on the snowy night. I placed a stick in the ground to mark my shooting location and had to walk very slowly as I pulled the package laden sleigh into position.One of the annoying things I had to deal with on this night was the fact that it was still snowing as I started to get the sleigh off the trailer,so I had to keep a tarp over it and try and set packages in place on the sleigh with a tarp on top of it. Thank goodness the snow stopped just in time to let me finalize everything or else I would have had to scrap the shoot. I will definitely remember this night and the fun I had doing this shot.
This is another wonderfully decorated room in the home of the flower shop owner featured in my post of December 17th. This room was full of tasty treats during the get together and the live rose arrangement on the table was what initially caught my eye. I was allowed to come back a day later when the food was removed and captured what I consider to be a very elegant setting. The use of picture frames,mirrors and various design elements form a cohesive layout that appeals to the eye. This is the result of dozens of flash exposures,both inside and outside and I even flashed the hanging lamp from the top,so you could see the design cut in the tin. Such a cozy setting is certainly a home for the holidays.
Yet another scene from the Dickens gingerbread display this year. The ice spins with the skaters on top and to see the myriad of cords and plugs under this display,you would think you are watching Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. The town is full of street lights,and various items needing power.This was taken with a 17mm in pretty close to show the tiny skaters better.
The other day I posted an image from my Canadian Rockies photo trip a few years back, and I got to reminiscing about the experience I had at Moraine Lake, which is shown here. As usual I like to travel in the fall, because I thoroughly enjoy the early mornings with frost and the fresh air this time of year, and I always wait till the bitter end to make any sort of reservation. This trip I decided I would stay at the moraine lake lodge with my wife for several days to take in the mountain grandeur, but I was quickly told we were not staying there after hearing it was almost 400 dollars a night. I stood my ground and we stayed one single night in a room with a fireplace looking out at this lake. To me it was worth every penny,as I woke to head out before dawn to shoot under a lovely sunrise.
Let me explain a bit about my one and only trip to a place where you can be the main course on the menu at any moment. When we arrived, there were two nice sized bears in the parking lot roaming around, which gave me reason to ponder my usual early morning escapades. Signs were everywhere to travel in groups of 4 or more, and make lots of noise. Upon checking in, I said I wanted to hike the 30 minutes or so to this lookout to shoot sunrise, and the girl at the desk said you have two options. First was simply sleep in, and the second was to carry a bottle of pepper spray that was about the size of a small fire extinguisher. I opted for the spray, headed out at dark in the morning and was totally alone for at least an hour. I made so much noise going up that trail, hand on the trigger just in case, and a few prayers said along the way. I kept thinking all they will find is my gear, a chewed up pepper spray bottle, and a bear taking a nap. It really was nerve-racking, but the view up here was unbelievable. I have never seen such aqua/turquoise color in water ever. The angle of the rising sun was less than ideal,but it was sweet nonetheless.
The following day we stayed at a B&B in Banff, and the owner showed us his scrapbook of a mountain lion he shot under his porch. The thing was being held under its front legs and was taller than this guy,who was pretty darn tall. Its kind of humorous, because I started seeing signs for mountain lion activity in places we hiked and I would extend my Gitzo tripod legs all the way out,thinking I would whack this thing if it got any bright ideas. Someone said if they are stalking you, you would never know it till they pounce. Nothing gives you a better sense of being alive than to know you are not the king of the mountains and you better tread cautiously.
Yesterday we got a light dusting of snow and once again it was nothing to get excited about. For some reason I woke up a little early this morning, and took a peek out the front window, and I saw a nice pastel sky with an near full moon getting lower to the horizon. I hurriedly threw on some clothes, while my mind raced to think of any possible locations to shoot. Nothing came to me, so I just drove around and ended up with these two so-so images. Hopefully some significant snowstorms are still coming this year yet, so I can get some real snow scenes.The windows in the house are illuminated by the rapidly approaching sunrise behind me.
I was hoping to sleep in this morning, but I woke up early thinking about several photo projects I am planning, so I bundled up and headed out for a potential sunrise. Temperatures were right at 20 degrees,which is not that cold, but when the sunrise is a bust, it seems colder as you wish you were home in a warm bed instead. After conceding the sunrise was not happening, I headed home and suddenly the rays broke through the clouds and side lit the plowed snow along this country road. It only lasted a minute or two, but I had my gear on the seat and captured the fleeting moment.
Yesterday I was sure the winter weather was going to come up short,but this morning we woke to nearly six inches of fresh snow. I spent most of my day inside doing light painting on a couple new subjects, but still found time for a quick winter shot. This is located at the same place I posted two days ago. The graceful curves of this wrought iron gate caught my eye as fresh snow accented the lovely lines.
Tonight you could feel the cold raw air on your neck as a wintry mix moved into our area. Freezing rain, snow and everything in between are possible,but unfortunately it sounds like it will be just a small storm. For those who enjoy taking photos, it’s the kind of storm that leaves you wishing for a good old-fashioned nor’easter that drops inch after inch all night long, and as you lay in your warm bed listening to the wind howl, you anxiously await first light and the glorious landscape. Tomorrow I am shooting a few antique items using light painting, so unless the storm surprises me, I plan to be inside most of the day. This image was taken last year about the same time as everything was covered by freezing rain, and I found myself rushing around to catch the endless possibilities that were melting before my eyes. Author Bill Watterson once said “getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery” and that sums things up pretty well.
Although we still have not had any significant snowfall this year, I thought I would share an image I took exactly one year ago during the same week. I mention in my about me section that photographs can trigger many memories, and I remember this day like it was yesterday. A fast-moving storm coated the region in fresh snowfall just in time for weekend shooting, and as I drove around looking for images, I found this church and cemetery ready to greet the new day. Winds of 25mph plus were howling as the front moved through and even using hand warmers left me in a good deal of pain from the wind chill. I composed this image this way to direct your eye through the scene, going from the stones to the church to finally the sunlit clouds. Despite the brutal cold, I enjoy feeling the wind, snow and cold hit me, verses sleeping in a warm bed and watching the world go by. As they say, no pain, no gain.