I visited a long time friend this past week who lives in Manheim,PA and when I drove through the town square I was struck by how charming it was so I decided I needed to come back and try and get a shot before everything got taken down. The bottom image was my first attempt and was taken the next evening after my visit and to be honest I thought this would be it. That all changed when I was heading out and looked back to see the top image in my rear view mirror. I knew it was supposed to continue raining all night and through the morning so I set the alarm for 5:30 am and headed over hoping that morning traffic would not make it impossible to get the shot. If you look at the top image, you can imagine what having one car parked in the foreground would do to the shot. All the reflections in the wet street would be blocked, so when I saw it was clear I quickly got set up and started shooting so I would have something at least. To my surprise no one parked in front and before long the black sky started to brighten as daybreak inched closer and the shot I envisioned came to life. I hate pitch black skies and if I had shot in the dark, you would not even see the trees that stand out against the blue sky. For the bottom image I used a polarizer to cut glare on the wet brick and because of that the reflection of the tree really popped against the backlit brick. Maybe next year I can get lucky and have a snowy version of the square. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year! Continue reading
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.
Well it is the time of year I simply love taking photos of all things Christmas related, and the coming weeks will feature scenes from a holiday tree event as well as scenes from Lititz ,Pa and shop windows there. This is the first shot featuring two bears riding in a very nice miniature sleigh as they head through some deep snow at the mansion tree event.
This is my second attempt at shooting this location,which is a local historical society.This time we got just enough snow to cover the grass so I went for the shot in case we get no more snow this year. I took my own luminaries along to add a little seasonal cheer.I drove by the location two hours before and nothing had been shoveled but when I returned the walkways were done but that was okay.Numerous cars slowed to look and several people walked by and asked what the special occasion was and I said just a photo shoot going on,and they all said how beautiful it was with the luminaries.Tomorrows post will feature a second shot I did after this one from up the sidewalk looking the opposite way.Special thanks goes to Cynthia for turning on lights inside for the shot.
This is the cemetery statue for Augusta Bitner who lived from 1884-1906. It is located in a cemetery right next to a city and I found the contrast between the still park and the lit buildings just outside the fence interesting and worth shooting. Rumors have it that she has been seen roaming the cemetery on the anniversary of her death.I found conflicting stories on her demise that range from typhus to falling down steps and dying after having an argument with her parents about her imminent wedding.All I know is she remained still the entire time I was there,which included a visit from two police cruisers checking out what I was up too. I showed them the photo on my tablet and after they asked me if she moved at all,off they went.
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.
Fall foliage across the eastern U.S. has been a major let down this year, but lately a few colorful trees have been popping up here and there. This lovely scene was one I initially wanted to shoot for just the fall trees on the property I am standing on,but as I looked for angles, I was drawn to this beautiful Victorian Bed and Breakfast across the street. There is actually a fairly heavily traveled road in front of the wall but the leaves in the elevated yard hide it perfectly. I waited till dusk till the home had lots of activity and illumination inside and then captured this image. The trees are in various stages of coloration and frame the shot perfectly. This bed and breakfast is located in the tiny hamlet of Bird in Hand in Lancaster county,PA and is called the Greystone Manor Inn. The property is beautifully landscaped and the wall on the left includes spectacular flowering baskets throughout the spring and summer.
This corner in mount auburn cemetery was covered in freshly fallen leaves,and the fence surrounding this plot featured ornate axes which stopped me in my tracks as I came upon it. Slightly foggy conditions and a fresh rain had everything saturated and glistening for a picture perfect moment. The cemetery uses street signs that have an appeal to them which adds to the unique feel you get here.
Mount Auburn cemetery is as much a cemetery as it is a garden and park and this view down one of the avenues reflects its beauty. Graceful old trees and plantings are done in a way that inspire the visitor to linger and enjoy the scenery. Mount Auburn is considered the pioneer in garden cemeteries and inspirational views are around every corner. Fall color begins to emerge in this image captured under my umbrella in a rainy moment.
I just returned from a four-day trip to shoot fall foliage in new england and this is the first image I am sharing. The foliage was a disaster but my friend Morrie and I took a day to shoot in Mount Auburn cemetery in Massachusetts. The place did not disappoint and this image features the Bigelow Chapel,which is a centerpiece of the cemetery.Originally built in 1846 in a Gothic Revival style, Bigelow Chapel is a central structure illustrating the Mount Auburn Cemetery’s importance of linking a network of building landmarks to the landscape. The Chapel, constructed of Quincy granite, has served as a non sectarian chapel for funeral and memorial services. The building has had a full history of renovations, beginning with a complete dismantling and rebuilding just nine years following construction due to structural problems, a complete interior remodeling in 1923, and the addition of a crematory annex in 1970. The only regret I had was not being able to see the place lit inside to show off the stained glass. I light painted the scene with about ten pops of the flash. This cemetery is very large and well maintained,and while we were there a maintenance crew carefully raked the stone walkways free of debris,which surely must be done everyday in the fall. We were also told not to park on the grass at the road edge because they are very particular about keeping things perfect.
I passed this display on my travels and just had to return and shoot it. This is the result of many pops of my flash,and several ambient exposures. The main ball on the carriage is covered in plastic, which at first kind of made me wish it was off,but after dusk,the plastic helped with the glowing effect,so it all worked out. The owner told me this setup cost $17,000, and they are going to do tourist rides and weddings, using a real horse of course. It supposedly was in a popular TV series based in New York City. I am sure many cinderella’s will be drawn to take a ride.
Tried another location for the sleigh I borrowed recently, and this time I wanted to show the beauty of the sleigh from the back.This old farmhouse has been lovingly restored by the current owners, and I thought it created another scenic backdrop for the sleigh. A lovely sunset kicked off the photo shoot and then I proceeded to light paint the sleigh,buildings, and even skim some light across the snow to reveal texture. A street light behind me cast some terrible shadows across the snow,so by lighting the snow I overpowered the street light to help pull the shot off.The sleigh was one of the first areas I lit and thank goodness for that, because three separate times I had to pick up packages that got blown off in about 15 mph winds. Would love to have a good horse to pull me as I take a ride in this thing instead of just hauling it on a trailer.
I ran the sleigh photo idea by the owner a year ago and they were excited about it,but the day I shot this,I could not get a hold of them,so they were surprised to see the sleigh in their yard and me hard at work photographing it that evening as they came home from a brief vacation. All in all I am very happy with the result of this little escapade with the old sleigh. Now lets see whats in those packages.
Yet another scene from the Dickens gingerbread display. Take note of the smoke effect above the buildings,which is the result of thin metal rods that have spiral paper attached and during a long exposure,the spinning spirals blur ,creating the smokey chimneys. London bridge can be seen in the background.
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.
This little vignette is one from my series on store windows in the quaint town of Lititz,PA. Each year at Christmas the shops in town create unique window displays that I find appealing and this one with the old blocks, the bear, and the santa caught my eye. I lit the scene with a flash at various angles to highlight certain items. The shop is called days gone by,hence my title.
This is another room from my mansion Christmas shoot this year. This scene was done by a local doll club and they are always one of my favorites among the participants. The club did everything but supply the real Santa kneeling there and the packages on the left which I supplied. This shot was a little more difficult than I originally had counted on and a few complications made it a tough shot to finish. First I shot a series of exposures lighting different elements with my spotlight,then Santa came in to the scene and my friend Larry helped light him with a flash. Well everything went fine till I got home and realized Santa had leaned on the bed a few times between shots and it had moved,and I had bumped my tripod ever so gently at some point creating alignment issues.
Every piece I layered on top of the base shot had to be put on difference mode in Photoshop to make sure they were aligned correctly and it became more laborious than I had planned on. Despite all that,I am very pleased with the final result and Santa did an outstanding job,despite my making him kneel there for 15 minutes on a wood floor. He has a real beard,a great outfit and I think we created a very magical image. I met Santa during this event and he is part of the festivities each year,but I had to get him out of bed this morning because we shot this at five thirty in the morning as we waited for the light of dawn to illuminate the windows.
Another highly detailed confectionary creation from the Dickens village gingerbread. The main establishment is titled hark the Harrods and one can look at all the details in amazement at the amount of work the architectural firm puts into this Christmas creation. The paper spirals near the top actually spin creating the effect of smoke rising from the chimneys.
Every year a local architectural firm takes a week out of their busy schedule to create a unique gingerbread village of some sort. The display is always incredible,with each employee vying to claim first place. The edible display is always full of humor,intricate design and detail and covers an area approximately ten feet by eight feet.It has scenes inside the buildings,lights, and they are generous enough to allow the public to come view it on certain nights. My good friend Larry is the official photographer for this project and he is gracious enough to allow me to shoot on the night he does his shooting. This little vignette from one corner features a bakery,complete with hot cross buns in the window,queen victorias secret on the corner,baskets of scones and baguettes out front and a sweet old lady out front offering cookies. It has become a holiday treat I look forward to every year.Another combination of flashlight,spotlight,available light.
This is yet another display from the historic mansion Christmas event. This display was created by a local bakery and the tree is adorned in fresh gingerbread ornaments that include snowflakes,trees and ginger bread men. There appeared to be other food items on the tree but I was not exactly sure what everything was.The left window sill features gingerbread houses and various other items round out the composition.The first exposure was done capturing the exterior light and then everything was lit by a hand-held deer spotlight in a very dark room. When you do this technique,you must be careful not to kick or bump anything as you light things or you get registration problems.
This was the only shot I did this year alone in the mansion,which can be a little spooky in the dark as you hear every sound in the old structure. Thankfully the strong smell of gingerbread filled the room and kept my mind from being distracted by noises. If only I would have had a big glass of milk,I might have been able to sample the bakery delights.
The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year,so I look forward to any opportunity that comes along to photograph Christmas related subjects.Homes adorned in festive decor always draw me in for a closer look and memories of times with family gathered together on a cold winters night leave lasting impressions. Wether it is enjoying grandmas cookies or seeing relatives again,Christmas is hard to beat for me. A simple photo like this one can trigger cherished memories from the past and reliving those glory days in one’s mind can be very special.
The scene above is done using a tripod and multiple exposures utilizing my spotlight. It is one of several rooms decorated in an old mansion,which allows visitors to come and enjoy the decorations which are done by volunteers from various groups and individuals in the community and runs for two weekends in early December.The organizers are gracious enough to give me a key and let me come in to shoot anything that catches my eye.This was shot this past saturday long before the sun rose,so we did not have to contend with light shining in the windows. More scenes will come as I work on them. My friend Larry has a shot on his blog from another room. He is listed on my artists I admire section at Lefeverphoto. He chose an extremely tough room and did a stellar job.
This figure kneels at the grave of someone named Pidgeon,who is buried in this magnificent Victorian era cemetery that is full of highly detailed statuary.The only info I could find was that the monument cost $2,350 dollars and shipped in october of 1898. It mentions eight stone cutters,a polisher,a statue cutter,and letter cutter. I shot this in infrared on a sunny day,which turns the foliage a dreamy white. I lit the statue shadow areas to show a bit more detail.
This is the mausoleum where Methodist bishop Matthew Simpson is buried.Though based in Philadelphia during the Civil War, Methodist Bishop Matthew Simpson (1811-1884) traveled the country during that time giving speeches in support of the Union, emancipation and President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was thankful for the Bishop’s support.After Lincoln was assassinated he delivered the eulogy at his burial in Springfield, Illinois. At that time few people traveled as widely as Bishop Simpson did and his reports on public opinion were a valuable resource to the President. The mausoleum reminds me a little bit of a miniature church to some degree.
This image is part reality,part imagination. The barn and lamp-post were part of this scene yesterday and they were coated in a light dusting of the seasons first snow. I have always enjoyed the paintings of Thomas Kinkade for their dream like quality and I also like the effect of warmth in a cold setting,so I added some warm light to the scene to invite the viewer into the scene and maybe take a peak in the window of the wood shop to see what the craftsman might be making. The gentleman who owns this barn made the unique doors,which if I recall correctly have a passage from the Bible carved in them. I noticed there are icicle lights on the roof line,but unfortunately they were not lit,so Hopefully we will get more good snows and I will remember to return.
This is another flash light painting exercise where I attempted to bring out the detail in the statue. The sun was shining through the tree,but was basically backlighting everything. I shot the first exposure with the silhouetted statue and sun,and then the sun moved behind the leaves and I started with the flash portion of the shoot.The off camera flash is mounted on a six foot pole for better positioning but the statue is pretty high,so it’s not the perfect lighting scenario.
They asked for so little,but gave so much.More than just friends.This is the epitaph that one pet owner had etched in stone in memory of a beloved cat and dog.I assume the pets are buried here just feet from magnificent mausoleums housing their owners. I was not particularly dazzled by the carving work on the cat,but it may be a hundred years old and simply be weathered. You never know what you might come across in these acres of granite.
This image of the three crosses caught my eye because they were under the canopy of this beautiful tree. This cemetery has numerous grand old trees,many of which I do not know their type.For those looking for photo tips,take note how I framed the tree without overlapping the branches and stones.Picking the right lens for any given situation allows you to visually pull off the shot you envision,and little details like that can be a huge advantage.Here are a few quotes relative to my image. From the Bible,
“And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).”