Hunsecker’s Mill Covered Bridge

This is the Hunsecker’s Mill covered bridge in Lancaster county and it is the longest single span bridge in the county at 180 feet. It has always been painted in some drab shade of gray or brown as long as I can remember and because of that I never really got too excited about it. Most of our local bridges are red, one is white and then this. Here are a few facts, it was built in 1843 at the astronomical cost of $1,988 dollars, and got washed away and destroyed in 1972 by hurricane Agnes. In 1973 it was rebuilt at a cost of $321,302 dollars which is like 166 times more. It is quite common to hear car horns beep as they go through and I have heard it is for good luck or to let oncoming cars know you are in there. The fence was not always here but I like the addition of it as it leads the eye right into the bridge.

A Slight Miscalculation

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.

Fresh out of the Oven

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.

A Game of Cat & Mouse

I was coming down a local backroad yesterday and up ahead I noticed an Amish farm stand and there was a buzz of activity focused in one area beside the road. Luckily there was another business straight across the street where I could park unnoticed for a while. There were kids, teens, and adults all filling pots with soil that were then lined up in rows in a growing area. I may be wrong but I think they were the beginnings of fall mums because this same location has had a large crop of mums in this exact spot for several years. With that being said, I watched all the activity around the farm for photo ops and I noticed way back the lane there were some youngsters playing with this tricycle/cart setup. I was quite frustrated because they were about 75 yards away and my longest lens was still not able to reach them so I waited and hoped.

Before long they disappeared behind the barn but a few minutes later they reappeared on a lane that went around the barn in a U-shape. I watched as the came almost to the road and then rode away again and I thought well you missed your chance. I then drove to the opposite end of the lot and there was exactly one spot left and guess where it was located?  You got it, it was straight across the road from the lane they were playing in!  I watched as they came toward me and rode away and tried my best to look disinterested and on the third trip, I brought the camera up and got this image as they turned to go back. What was funny was how they were having such a good time as I snapped this image but I think it finally registered that I had a camera and then they became much more elusive. They would dart out and make funny faces and quickly retreat but they were having fun hiding and reappearing. I keep looking at the image trying to figure how three kids fit in that little trailer. It has been a long time since I took any Amish photos but shots like this remind me why I enjoy capturing moments in their lives.

Pigtails,Pumpkins and Perfect fall weather

It certainly is quite evident that my photography has taken a back seat to everything else in my life right now and my posting on here is practically non-existent, but I did capture this pair of Amish sisters helping get their roadside stand ready recently. Something I saw while waiting for this shot to come together reminded me how the Amish sometimes seem to have a different view of danger as it relates to their kids. When I first pulled off the road to decide what I might shoot, the mom, her teenage daughter and these two little ones were all working together trimming pumpkin stems and arranging things. The thing that really caught my eye was the girl with the pig tails was holding a knife with a blade that was almost a foot long? She was not just holding it, but crawling up and over piles of pumpkins with it in her hand and she would slip or trip several times and it was making me nervous just observing, but mom seemed just fine with it?

Splendid Colors

This morning includes one of those times I will remember for the missed opportunity. I decided to drive around Amish country looking for images and as I came down this road I was struck by this family heading toward me. There are actually 4 young ladies dressed in the most beautiful shade of aqua blue in this shot and mom in a contrasting pastel pink. I was at the end of a farm lane watching them come towards me and it was a one in a million view because all four little ones were walking side by side,but do you think I could raise the camera for a shot? They were all staring directly at me wondering why I was there and I just could not manage to snap a picture of them from the front, but this image of them after they passed is still kind of neat,so all was not lost.

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This Amish father and his five sons caught my eye as they headed home from heritage days. All the boys were dressed identical in blue and the view from the side was amazing but right after I snapped this shot at the stop sign,they turned right and I passed them to go further up the road to try for my dream shot of them. I went about a quarter-mile ahead,found an empty parking lot with bushes to kind of hide my truck a bit and focused in anticipation out my window. After two minutes I realized they went in the lane at the farm right after the stop sign so this image is all I got.

Heritage Days

One local community in Amish country holds what is called heritage days every year in the towns park and I usually drive around the area trying to get images of folks heading to the event. You would never know it by this image but it was getting very late and was very dark when I saw this scene coming together and it forced me to shoot at 2000 iso almost wide open. It is kinda noisy in a large version but still I loved the girls waving to the guys coming up the road as they headed to heritage days.

In Memory

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Well I decided to make a trip down to Nickel Mines tonight and do a little personal tribute to remember the little girls who were lost. Upon arrival I noticed the five white roses someone had left on the post at the site and after I snapped that image,I went up the road to capture a beautiful sunset that was very nice,especially after nothing but rain for days,and the bottom photo is me releasing five sky lanterns at the site. The lanterns climbed gently into the sky and burned bright for a nice long time,and I was glad I went.

A Day Like No Other

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Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Nickel Mines tragedy here in Lancaster county and it is something that still cuts me to the core today as I pass by the site often while out taking photos.This image is one of my favorite cemetery images that I have taken and captures just how many are feeling today. I have come to know the coroner who had to visit this scene of untold tragedy and her journey to find a sense of normalcy has been a long one but thankfully she has gotten help and is coping with what she saw that day. Today say a prayer for those touched by this tragedy from the police and emergency personnel who responded to the family’s who lost five precious little ones.

The Whole Crew

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If I didn’t know better,I would think this father wanted me to take a picture of his boys working in the field. I was a good distance away at the side of the road and as they got closer,dad loaded all the boys on the horses and kept coming forward and he actually has a smile in this shot. Hard to say if the scenario I described was real or imagined but it sure seemed to be the case. Still I really like the unique image I got here.

Summer Bouquet

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I came upon these Amish girls scooting along a country road and noticed there was a patch of flowers ahead,so I made my way up the road and waited till they passed that spot.The dresses were colorful and so were the scooters and the whole scene was very summer like. My only regret is that I did not turn and get a shot of them approaching because you could have seen the little girl in front of the oldest girl as they rode the scooter together.

Star Light,Star Bright

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This Lancaster county homestead is a real gem, complete with a star on the barn and candle light in each window. I was on my way to shoot a sunrise when I passed this spot and saw the reflection in the stream.Needless to say this became my sunrise shot, and the full moon was an added bonus as it headed for the horizon.I wish the moon would have shown up in the reflection but when it did,the moon in the sky was behind the house,which was a bit puzzling to me.I had to sink my tripod into a muddy stream bank to get the low angle but it was worth the effort.

Seen It All

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Just when I think I have seen just about every crazy sight in Amish country, along comes someone doing something even more interesting than the last. This road is a well-traveled thoroughfare with cars coming at a pretty regular pace,so imagine my surprise when I am coming up the road and I see what appears to be an Amish man moving a large shed with a tow motor? He was along the side of the road but he was having difficulty and kept getting off the tow motor and walking to the other end,which I could not see. I pulled over to watch because it seemed like it was a disaster in the making, and at one point he got it going again and was now in the lane of travel. All of a sudden it starts to rotate and suddenly I see a second tow motor on the other end. Imagine trying to move something where you can’t see the other end, or what the other guy is doing. They had no walkie talkies,no yelling,no nothing but fly by the seat of your pants and cross your fingers.The photo shows them blocking both lanes and amazingly no one came during the time they were doing this manuever. They got it into a narrow driveway on the first try which really amazed me.I was waiting for the whole shed to roll over and block the entire road, but they pulled it off.

Obstacle Course

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A group of Amish spectators watch an old steam engine competition at the Rough and Tumble reunion. This event featured the tractor team navigating an obstacle course,and just a few feet ahead they stopped and blind folded the driver and the guy sitting on the back got off and connected ropes to the drivers arms and controlled the tractor direction by tugging on the ropes much like controlling a horse.

Mud Sale Delivery Crew

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Amish boys bring their wagons to the mud sales and offer assistance to buyers who need to get purchases to their cars from the auction site.The popularity of the mud sales means parking is hard to come by and walking a half mile or more is not unheard of. For me,I get there around 530 in the morning,get the best parking available and then sleep till the sun comes up. The boys make a few dollars off each patron and the english as they are referred too, love to have the boys help, and for many it is their closest interaction with the Amish. Each worker tries to stand out, and customizing their wagons with signs is all part of the fun as shown in the middle image.The bottom photo shows how muddy it usually is and shows the boys hauling practically anything.