From the Cradle to the Grave

A couple days ago I shared the image of the Amish men pushing the large cart down the road after a funeral was over. Well this image was taken a few feet up the road as one of the visitors maneuvered his horse into position to hook up to the buggy. For all I know he could have been the preacher who conducted the service.

Now upon closer inspection you can see that up on the hill the kids attending the one room school are having the time of their lives during recess with a good old fashioned snowball fight. So in this one image you have both the playful children enjoying some innocent fun and a stones throw away, a funeral service is drawing to a close. The kids represent the cradle and the elderly man the grave. All I know is when I look at this image, I keep waiting for the horse to send a hoof into this guy!

Tracking into History

This is one of those nights that just about everyone hurries to get home before they become stranded on some drifted back road. Having a Jeep, 4wd and great snow tires takes a bit of the anxiety out of winter driving. The older I get the less I enjoy winter weather driving or maybe it’s just dealing with drivers who have no clue how to navigate. I was behind a guy heading toward a hill and as he gets ready to start up it, he decides that momentum is his enemy and slows to a crawl? Needless to say he got halfway up and had to back down. When I look back to my youthful days of driving I will never forget taking my girlfriend, who is now my wife to go shopping in a small snowstorm. I owned a brand new rear wheel drive Monte Carlo which was exactly like the one I show below and believe me it was cool back then but now it looks like a grandpa car to me. Back to the story, we did some shopping and got in to leave and to set the visual for you, the parking lot was ever so slightly inclined and at the top of this tiny incline was a stop sign before entering the highway. We got in a line of cars to exit and one by one they all drove up the snowy incline and off they went.

Well guess who did not make it in their rear wheel drive Monte Carlo?  I must have made ten attempts and had to reverse and try again over and over, all the while cars were blowing their horns to get moving. I was literally at number 10 on the anger/frustration scale when my “passenger” says “you are not going to make it,so turn around and go out the other exit”!   When I was young we would go out in the snow just to slide around the roads and one of my good friends who was a touch crazier than me invited me to go cruise around. We came by our high school, turned onto the road in front of it and he floors the gas pedal and we proceed to slide onto the sidewalk and take out a large light post.

So tracking into history simply means my truck tracks are the only ones leading in to this historic site located in my area. The three lamp posts have very white bulbs which are not the best for conveying that warm feeling but in this scene they really seem okay. For all I know this could be my car because I had those exact wheels,same color and it had a removable t-top and a stereo the neighbors claimed they could here me coming 3 blocks away.

The Peaks and Valleys

That title would be appropriate for my first photography book since it’s what it is like dealing with depression. I guess when you get right down to it, that is pretty much the story for everyone except the few that either never had a peak or those that never have a valley either. This image caught my eye because of the way the sun was lighting the peaks on the house and the barn. I took this image from the side of a main road where the speed limit is 55mph. Now to clarify when I say from the side, what I mean is five feet from the lane of travel and nowhere to get any farther. So in the 5 minutes I snapped a few shots, I had three tractor trailers blow by and numerous cars going well over 55. It’s all in a days work for the dedicated photographer.

The following story has nothing to do with this photo, but I remembered a crazy roadside incident I had many years ago. I had a concrete company ask me if I could get a few photos of a precast section of wall they installed along a major highway. I rode along in his truck which was outfitted with warning flashers and we pulled to the side of the road which seemed fairly safe. There was a concrete wall beside us about three feet high and maybe 10 inches wide on top, kinda like a balance beam width. I told him I was going to hop up on that wall so I could see over the traffic to the other side of the highway where their installation was. I was up their shooting for several minutes when my driver got out and walked around to see how it was going? He leaned on the wall and almost immediately put his arm behind me and said you might want to get down?  When I turned to look why, there was nothing but a straight drop down of at least 50 feet to the ground below. Needless to say my heart almost skipped a beat as I thought how I was so carefree balancing up there!  The thing that was so deceiving was there was a rock wall behind the barricade but there was a huge 10 foot gap in between of nothing. We will call that a peak since I lived to share that story.

It All Came Together!

I came across this farm scene after our last heavy snow and took a few handheld shots before I noticed the Amish farmer watching me from a small shed off camera. What made me notice him was every time I fired off a series of 5 shots, I would immediately notice a whistling sound that mimicked my shutter firing. I figured it was his way of showing me was not happy. After about ten minutes I notice him heading my way so I simply packed up and off I went. Then this evening I decided to see what sunset was like at this farm, so I pulled off the road and set up and again I see the farmer heading out.

Well it was starting to get better by the minute and I decided I was getting the shot with his approval or not. As he approaches he says “nice Jeep” and proceeds to have a nice conversation with me which was great. I told him I will give him a print, which brought a smile to his face. The long curving round things are plastic wrapped hay or grain for farm animals and normally I hate them, but with a coating of snow and their graceful leading lines, I found the whole scene rather appealing, especially with the beautiful sunset I was blessed to get.

A Time for Peaceful Reflection

Last nights snowstorm left the landscape covered in fresh powder and I thought the lamp posts were a nice contrast between warm and cold. This spot was untouched by any footprints and I was glad the rest of the world was at home hunkered down. The snow was blowing hard the whole time and although I was using an umbrella, it was very hard to keep snow off the lens.

Use a Little Sunblock!

These two photos were taken minutes apart but I wanted to show the difference between letting the sun blast you directly or what it looks like when you move to use something as a shield, in this case it was the chimney of the house. The sun was starting to move out of the smoke and was getting harder to look at by the minute, so I moved in 20 feet and voila the sun is now more manageable. My biggest gripe when the sun is included is the flare that starts showing up with different lenses. If you look at the driveway in the top shot, you can see a blob of glare that I don’t care for plus the flare hides detail.

The Extremes of Beauty

This was taken on a recent frosty morning and what caught my eye initially from a mile or so away was the way the smoke was rising to a certain height and then no farther? I thought there must be some sort of temperature deviation that was locking it in at a certain elevation but who knows. As I reached this spot and glanced over to see the subdued sun through the smoke, I pulled over and hit the ground running before the moment disappeared! I kept snapping various angles as things would fade into the mist and then reappear. I hope to post a couple other views coming up, but I can tell you this image is one I love the way everything came together.

The Old Factory Comes to Life

This is another shot I did on New Year’s Eve in Lititz, Pa.  It is the former production factory for Wilbur Chocolate which moved manufacturing locations and thankfully someone had the vision to revamp it into luxury condos. Just behind me is the Wilbur Chocolate retail store that still offers Wilbur Buds and other goodies. I already had two angles captured of this building and was ready to leave when the rain got heavier and started puddling and providing lots of reflective possibilities. The camera was fairly low which put it in the splashing rain zone which added to an already challenging shoot. The bottom photo is my attempt at creating a more painterly look like a painting on canvas. I have two more angles to share from here. One little bit of luck was the fact that I went back to shoot some more two days later and three quarters of the front had white tents set up for outdoor dining so I caught a break on that one.

A Ray of Sunshine

I think each version has its own merits but I am leaning toward the black and white version?  This was a very foggy morning and I knew there was a horse off in the distance that I hoped would come to the fence. He eventually did but never gave me a full profile and I was sure two more steps forward and I would have nailed it, but of course he turned his head down and to the right as he moved so this was the best I could get. The rays were even more distinct than they appear here and they were going out in all directions.

Getting a Little Dicey

Sometimes even I question my sanity when it comes to getting a shot I envision. Me and my buddy used to say we just like to hear the shutter click sometimes and this reminds me of an example of that. I was heading home from work and the sky was getting better by the minute so I started down back roads to see what I could find. So I see this wet section on the road ahead and for some reason I felt this is it and I just had to record this. I had to park about a hundred yards away and till I got here and set up, the sky was nothing by a dark mass. I was optimistic it would get better so I settled in for the duration.

Now I come to the reality that I literally need to have my tripod at the edge of the road to get the color and reflection to show and with my tripod as low as it goes, the legs extend almost 2 feet out from the camera position. When I first set up, it was very light out and my genius plan was to stand right beside my tripod at the edge of the road so cars would give me a wide berth because it appeared I was ready to cross the street to the house. Everything is going great and everyone is going wide as they pass, but then I start to notice its getting darker and cars are seemingly getting closer. Right about then I hear this pickup truck thundering down the road in my direction and I stay put and he never so much as blinked an eye as he passed me about 2 feet or less. I was thinking the guy was trying to send a message, but then I looked at my attire and I had on dark blue jeans, a black sweatshirt and brown hat and I realized he never even knew I was there. The red streaks are his tail lights as he blew by me. The sky did in fact get better but I keep asking myself why so risky for this so-so image?

The Old and the New

This is another shot I took on Christmas Eve and it includes the Lititz Springs Park Christmas tree and the building on the right is the former Wilbur Chocolate plant that has been transformed into higher end condos and off on the left is a brand new condo under construction. Reflection courtesy of a big puddle.

Last Shot of the Day

The sun sinks low on the horizon offering one last touch of warm light amidst the cold blue landscape. I remember this evening well because it was out in farm country and a few farms occupied most of the area. As soon as I pulled to the side of the road near a farm lane, here comes a big tractor out the lane, so I moved my truck to be along the road in a ditch basically and sure enough the tractor turns around. So I think to myself that was bizarre and I begin to set up my tripod. There is a house just to the left of this shot and as I am snapping photos, I hear a gunshot, a slight pause then another, and finally after three shots it stopped. I have no idea if this was an attempt to intimidate me to leave or just another idiot shooting at something that moved? How about that catchy title folks?

The Lone Traveler

This image was taken during the areas only real snowstorm so far this Winter. It was one of those days where you are at work, the storm is already making travel dangerous and it is expected to dump 12-18 inches. You start to notice fewer and fewer cars driving by outside and thoughts of will I make it home begin to creep in. Finally the boss calls it and everyone prays they get home safely. I consider myself fairly well prepared if I get stuck and despite being worried about the ones that have no clue in the snow, I made my way home just fine. Then after sitting at home 5 minutes, I decided this might be one of those nights I might have the whole area to myself to photograph and so I loaded up and off I went.

It is hard to tell from this shot but the road to the right is actually a decently steep hill that can test your skill in weather like this. I parked on the opposite side and no sooner got out when this little tuner type car with tires as smooth as a bowling ball started up the hill. As soon as the incline started he was sitting still and he thought the faster he spins his tires, the better off he was?  He tried numerous times and he was making me nervous how he was fish tailing near my vehicle. To my amazement, he persisted with the pedal to the floor technique and inch by inch he conquered that hill!  Who knows what else he did to that car mechanically speaking that night.

This picture looks nice and calm but it was hard driving sleet straight into the camera while I shot this using an umbrella as a pitiful means of defense . I love nights like this when it seems the whole world is happily hiding inside while I am out taking in all the beauty of the storm!

My New Years Eve!

Since I lead a fairly mundane existence, I decided to head out and do a shot on New Years Eve. Traffic was fairly light but when you are doing exposures ranging from 2 to 8 seconds, that is plenty of time for cars to ruin many shots. This is the emptiest I think I have ever seen the main street and not a single car parked anywhere. I went to bed at 11pm, only to be woken at midnight by a barrage of gunfire that lasted till almost 12:30? It was so ridiculous that I moved my vehicle into the garage because all those projectiles are coming down somewhere!

A Tale of Two Nights

This tastefully decorated farmstead is something I have been trying to shoot for 3 years now and this year we finally got snow for a few days to add some appeal. I have two images from two different days here and I will elaborate why. I spoke to the owner the night it snowed and she was very welcoming in letting me roam around. I had surveyed the options and made note that the icy pond was frozen and non reflective and the owner told me it was so beautiful a week ago without the ice.

Well I made the best of my first visit and got a couple snow shots but the weather forecast the next day was to turn warmer, include heavy rain and strong winds so I knew I was coming back in the hope the rain would bring back some reflection. This evening tested my resolve as it was pouring the entire time, yet I was holding the umbrella at almost a 45 degree angle because the rain was blowing sideways. As my escapade progressed I was walking around the pond with my tripod and camera over my shoulder when I started walking by a pine tree that put me on the ground thanks to a wire support I never saw!  Camera never hit the ground but it was close. So it gets dark now and I head to my truck to pack up, I see another shot reflecting in the driveway and off I go to set up. By now the wind was really starting to blow so I decided to set my heavy tripod as low as possible with the legs spread almost straight out.

So I mount the camera, simply lean an umbrella against the tripod with nothing locking it fast. I take my tablet and walk 40 feet to use it to fire the camera while I light the house!  So it goes like this, hit the button, flash fires,image loads to tablet and you see what you just took, all while far from the camera. At about 10 frames in I look at the tablet and instead of seeing the farmhouse image, I see nothing but a set of squiggly lines?  After my initial bewilderment, I looked over at my camera and see my tripod and camera had completely blown upside down thanks to the umbrella! Never in a million years did I imagine that was possible but the good news is,when it flipped it landed on the strong bracket my camera is attached too and nothing was damaged. So as you can see the rain did bring back a reflection even though the snow had all melted.

Gnometastic Cookies

I have been out shooting Christmas scenes this month but unfortunately I have been experiencing episodes of being depressed, which rears its ugly head this time of year in particular and due to that, I have not bothered to share anything. So before we are into spring, I felt I would get them on here.

This store window is in a nearby town and the gnomes caught my eye. The store is owned by Laura the Cookie Lady who won food networks Christmas Cookie Challenge last year along with the ten thousand dollar prize. She does amazing things and her tasty decorative creations sell out quickly. Check out her work at

A Spectacle of Clouds

I was out driving in the country recently and took notice of some different looking cloud formations. I found the old tree on the left and the clouds looked great with it. I go up the road to turn around and till I parked and walked out to the tree, the whole dynamic had changed just like that. So as I walk back to my car I see a buggy coming and I thought go for a silhouette shot because it is all sky behind the buggy. Well it turned  out not to be quite all sky, so the silhouette isn’t perfect but I did get lucky with the sun being partly blocked by clouds allowing it to be seen instead of some blown out white blob.

A Return to Fall

Finally getting to some of my fall images and will share as space permits. This one is from a historic site nearby. A Polarizing filter really made the blue sky pop against the yellow leaves. A Polarizer does not add color per se but blocks certain wavelengths of light while allowing others to pass and used at the correct angle to the sun, it will take a pale blue sky and transform it to deep blue.

Grab some Popcorn, it’s Storytime2

The other night I elaborated on my interaction with the gentleman who overreacted to me ringing his doorbell, and tonight we bring it full circle with yet another installment of “The Photography Chronicles”.  I was headed to work the very next day after the Church debacle when I spotted this pretty Ginkgo tree beside this home that reminded me of homes in New England. I skipped lunch this day and hopped in my truck for a quick attempt to get something before storms took everything down. As you may have already guessed, yes I once again walked up to the door and rang the bell!  As I approached the door I could hear several people talking just inside but as soon as I pushed the doorbell, nothing but crickets?  So I thought well I at least tried and despite not being able to walk on their driveway, I was still shooting this pretty scene from the street! I shot one or two angles and glancing down the street I notice a cop car coming up the road?  I think routine patrol most certainly and as he passes I wave and he continues on, until he gets to the end of the street and turns around! He pulls up and asks what I am doing, I explain shooting fall foliage and he says someone with a security camera called in. As we were talking I looked at the name on his badge and a little light bulb went off from the Church photo fiasco the night prior. I said were you on duty last night, and no kidding, he says are you Donald Reese?  I said yes you called my house last night and now you show up again?  We both found it slightly amusing that two homes with cameras felt the need to bother police for something so innocent but I understand stuff does go on that needs checked out. All I can say is thank goodness the leaves are down so I wont be tempted to shoot more fall foliage.

I try to be respectful when situations like this arise and I know police work is a balancing act, but I have seen a photographer friend of mine on a couple occasions tell a cop its basically none of his business what he is photographing in a public area. One time we were on a back road snapping sheep/lambs in a small shelter just beside the road and a cop pulls up and asks what we were doing. My buddy gave a response that I don’t know word for word but it was basically to the affect that its none of his business what we are doing taking photos of sheep, to which he shrugged his shoulders and drove off.

Grab some Popcorn, it’s Storytime

Folks say they enjoy reading about my photography escapades so here is one that happened to me recently involving this scene that I took notice of earlier in the day. First thing is the end of this story includes the most unbelievable bit of timing I have ever had!   This particular day I noticed this gorgeous tree by the church and knew I needed to be elevated because I was looking uphill quite a bit. I park, walk up to a house across the street that has a yard that would fit the bill. I rang the bell to ask if they would allow me to stand in their yard and no response from inside, which I assumed meant everyone is at work?  No Problem, the work day ends and I head out to shoot this spot and of course I stop to inquire at the house because all the lights are now on.

I rang the doorbell once and because the TV seemed loud I gently knocked on the wooden door as well? No response whatsoever, so I move to plan b which is to put my tall tripod on my truck roof and get my elevation that way. I am busy across the street lighting things when I see a guy who appears to be writing down my license plate?  After he does that he starts heading my way and the first words out of his mouth are “why have you been pounding on my door all day”?  I said if you call ringing your doorbell twice, pounding, we might have a difference of opinion. I explained wanting to get permission to stand in the yard, and my tripod was on my roof in plain sight for him to see and he says “well I called the cops twice already tonight” I said “for what” and he goes off about his daughter was home and she was terrified!

I calmly explained all I wanted was permission and he cooled off and said I could now stand in his yard if I wanted. Like that was an option after all the overblown action he took. So I get home later that night and my daughter asks, were you taking pictures on some guys porch? She said the cops called to talk to me? So the next day comes, I check Facebook and notice there are several people contacting me on messenger? They say I need to check this Facebook page that has security cameras from around town because this guy posted me ringing his bell to see if anyone knows this guy that he thinks is breaking into his house?

Okay now I am ready to take some sort of action because this idiot is making claims that could affect my reputation. Recapping, I rang his doorbell twice, knocked and was holding my camera the second time I stopped, all of which he reviewed on his porch camera and he still does not have the common sense to process what he sees? Lucky for him he had the brains to take the video down in a timely fashion. It seems people are getting more ridiculous every day and logical thinking is non-existent!

If by chance you stayed along this far, here is the unbelievable timing part of this story. There was one lone white car parked to the right uphill from the one lamp post, and I think I was there almost an hour and a half shooting and waiting for the cars owner to hopefully show up and get it out of the shot. Couple neighbors walked by and said it did not look familiar to them so I waited another 10 minutes till I had an appointment. Are you ready for it? I walk across the street to my truck, not a soul in sight, I reach up to grab the tripod legs to get the camera down off the roof and within 5 seconds of me moving that tripod, I hear the car horn beep and the doors unlock ?  It was a mailman who just got off of work and within 30 seconds that car was just a bad dream to me. All I could do was laugh how utterly unbelievable this unfolded. Oh and yes I did end up Photoshopping that car out of the shot!