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.
I was driving looking for photos recently when I came down a hill and saw some Amish buggies heading out from a farm on the road I was ready to turn onto. I had heard that Tuesdays are a traditional wedding day and this was in fact a Tuesday so I thought this will a happy occasion. So I drive by carefully and just as I approach the main entrance, this crew of Amish young men come barreling out the lane onto the road pushing this giant wagon that they use to haul chairs, benches and what not to various farm gatherings. I had to stop for them and then a little voice said there is a photo op right in front of you! Since I was stuck there I put it in park and opened my door to get a good angle and I took several quick bursts as they moved down the road.
So I was almost done when I heard a voice 30 feet behind me say, ”okay lets move it on now”? I usually stand my ground when someone thinks they are going to force me to listen to their orders but this guy was different and asked in a nice friendly tone. I gave him a puzzled look and he informs me there was a funeral here today? I said I thought it was a wedding and he said I thought that might be the case. I said sorry and made a hasty departure. He must have been a driver who hauls Amish around in a van because he said he never saw anything like this before. Anyway I still like the image I captured on this snowy winter day and the men were laughing as they were pushing the cart so that didn’t exactly help in my decision to shoot.
I had been looking for snow scenes recently and was traversing the back roads thinking how nice it would be to see a sleigh and to my surprise a few minutes later one came up the road. The bottom photo was my first glimpse of the sleigh and to the left of the tree is a farm lane the sleigh is about to take which leads to a country store. I was fairly confident he was heading there so I slowly made my way up the lane to the store and the middle picture shows the young lad finishing up tying the horse. For some reason at this point I decided to stop shooting and set the camera back in my bag. I glance back over and the kid is now lifting a whole rack with fresh bread from the back of the sleigh. He took the bread into the store before I could even try to get a shot. So I thought to myself he will probably be coming back out the lane shortly and I could try to get a shot again. So I parked on the road and sure enough it was only a few minutes and here he comes but he noticed me up the road and all of a sudden you would have thought he was running the Kentucky Derby as he exited the lane onto the main road! I am almost certain this horse has all four hooves off the ground.
This is among one the first Amish images I have taken since the abduction of Linda Stoltzfoos and this location might be 3 miles from her home. This heartbreaking event left its mark on many, including me and I feel for the family and their loss. I feel like I have been blessed to be able to capture the Amish in a variety of ways and have gotten a small glimpse into the way they live. Hopefully I will regain my passion for capturing our county and them after this event fades a bit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
This is another image that I shot this year as Christmas was rapidly approaching. It was absolutely pouring this cold and raw evening, yet I did my best to suck it up and get the shot. I thought this might make a nice shot but until I got parked, I was a block away so I carried only what I felt was necessary. That included my camera, tripod, tablet, umbrella, flash. Not included was an umbrella for me, gloves, because it would be ten minutes at most, or my rain jacket. I start setting up and I am delighted the two parking spaces straight in front are clear. So I get my tripod set, umbrella attached to tripod, I mount the camera and start my tablet up and out of the corner of my eye I see a car pull in to the left spot to which I thought “well no stores or restaurants are open so this will be short. I shot a few exposures every few minutes as it got darker and before you know it I was approaching the one hour mark waiting on this car to leave. My hat, the hood over the hat, my jeans and who knows what else were soaked and my hands were starting to really ache. Not too long before I was calling it a night, this dude comes back to the car and 30 seconds later I was heading to my car.
I don’t know when its considered frostbite, but I turned my heat on to warm up and my hands were aching so bad as they slowly warmed up. I remember hearing how intensely painful extreme frostbite is. To think a block away I several sets of gloves sitting ready and I could not move and risk my tripod walking away.
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?
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!
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!
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.
Another shop window all decked out in seasonal decor in downtown Lititz, Pa. A week after I shot this, the shops all got Christmas trees with lights placed at their entrances which would have jazzed this up.
Each year I gravitate to Lititz, Pa to shoot some of the quaint shop windows. This year decorating was not as good as some years thanks to Covid and its effects on store owners. Here is one shop that always does a nice job.
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 http://www.lauracookielady.com
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 few minutes sooner to spot this would have helped but I managed to get parked, set up my gear and get the shot just as the warm glow on the barns quickly faded out of sight. This would be nice in snow as well.
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.
Two different results of the same subject, one kind of cheery, one kind of ominous. They put fences and gates around cemeteries because people are just dying to get in. Something interesting I noticed about the photos is when you scroll from the color to the grayscale, the angle of the fence looks totally different but it is the same image. an optical illusion I guess?