2019 Draws to a Close

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

Lititz Christmas Window1

 

I have been fairly active shooting scenes relating to Christmas in the town of Lititz, Pa but not as on the ball posting them, but hopefully this will be the start of sharing new images. This shot features the window of the Atlas general store which has a cool display of what appears to be rolled paper made into trees.

The Sutter

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Having the technical ability to capture lovely scenes such as this, is only part of what is needed to get the job done. Without cooperative owners,I never would be able to spread my artistic wings and pull a shot like this off. This is the lobby at the General Sutter in downtown Lititz ,Pa,and I was allowed to come in to try this shot.The restaurant was closed but the lobby was active so I set my tripod up in a spot somewhat out-of-the-way and crossed my fingers no one would bump my tripod or move any of the furniture. Halfway through the shoot,a gentleman sat down on the couch and said he wanted to watch me work, but after telling him he was in the shot,he high tailed it. Special thanks to owner Paul and his staff for helping me get this shot.

The Path Home

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Photography can be a very satisfying endeavor when you express your creativity and bring a subject to life such as this image.This was the last real snowstorm for this winter and I always liked this home for its unique charm so when I saw the faint form of the snow-covered steps as I drove by,it set the wheels in motion to ask if I could try a shot. The owner gladly obliged and I set off to light the scene as I envisioned it. This shot ranks right up there among my favorites for this winters shooting and compositionally everything works in harmony. There always seems to be a twist to my endeavors and after I knew I had captured the un-tracked snow,I headed up into the yard to begin lighting the house,when all of a sudden I hear a guy say in a rather gruff manner-who are you?, to which I shot back who are you?  He says it’s not my property and wants to know what am I doing in the yard?  I tell him I have permission and then his demeanor becomes a little more amenable. He tells me he is just looking out for his neighbors,which is understandable.

A Warm Seat Awaits

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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.

Illuminating History

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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.

Gingerbread Courtyard

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Every year the folks who work at RLPS Architects come together to create a spectacular gingerbread creation,and I have been lucky enough to be invited to shoot along with the main photographer who always documents this for them.Each year I walk in,I just stop and stare at all the details and funny little vignettes they come up with. This scene of a town square is just one small corner of the creation. The following paragraph is from their website and describes the display better. I did not do too good a job this year with my shots but it’s always fun trying.

Drawing from images of Scandinavia, employees and their families spent countless hours transforming various edible materials into picturesque cottages, unique shops and mining operations. The candy structures are positioned along a fishing pier made of pretzels and mountains forested by ice cream cone trees coated in sugar sprinkle foliage and icing snow. The raw building materials for these creations included over 70 pounds of Charms hard candy, 30 gallons of icing and more than 50 pounds of candy, pasta, crackers and cereals.

 

The Abbey in Cape May

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Headed to Cape May for a day to shoot the many Victorian homes that make the town such a popular destination year round.Even though there was no snow to be found,the town was still dressed in its Christmas best and was very neat to see. This place is located right in the downtown and is referred to as “The Abbey” and If Senator John McCreary were somehow to return to Cape May today, he wouldn’t have much trouble recognizing his summer residence. Standing proudly at the corner of Gurney Street and Columbia Avenue. A Scottish immigrant who made his fortune in coal, McCreary was one of many wealthy Philadelphians who chose to summer in Cape May. With the arrival of the railroad in 1863, Cape May became a popular resort for the upper classes. These visitors did not, however, stay in the huge hotels that Cape May was famous for at the time. Instead, they built huge wooden homes, “cottages” and “villas” where one family could retreat in privacy. I photographed the home from across the street and included an arrangement with a bow that was situated on a pillar at a church. I saw on the net that the average rental price at this home for a week in peak summer is $12,500, so I most likely will not be seeing the inside anytime soon. In contrast,I slept overnight in my truck there and was as cozy as most people in the fancy houses right next to me and I shot this at daybreak while everyone else was still sleeping.

Beautiful Shapes

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This home is another gem from the town of Lititz,Pa. It shows what real architectural style can look like and what is lacking in todays cookie cutter home construction.The wrap around porch is amazing, the dome is super sweet as is the peak on the left. Seeing the reflection in the wet road made me stop to get this shot on Christmas eve as I headed home from a family get together.

The Snow is Flying

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This mama bear and her two cubs are pretty cozy in the window at the Teddy Bear Emporium in downtown lititz. This image was a little challenging because I lit each snowflake individually and they were moving inside the closed store,so they were always bumping into the ones next to them causing problems while I was shooting.

All is Calm

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All was calm on this rainy night in Lititz ,PA as I looked for subjects reflecting in the glistening wet road. These old homes along the main street looked inviting with their christmas trees and lovely door decor. This town is such a neat place to walk at night and soak in the ambiance of a close-knit community.

A Night in Paris

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This image of the Bulls Head Tavern in Lititz ,Pa reminds me of paintings I have seen of Paris that show street scenes bathed in luscious light reflecting the warmth within on the rain-soaked streets. Painterly is the word that comes to mind and the contrast was pretty extreme so it’s a minor miracle I got something decent. Would have been better when the daylight was fading but thankfully it was still pouring and the reflections were great,even though I had to stay under my umbrella to shoot it. The bonus element in the scene that I like is the original 1963 london cab which one of the owners parks out front on many nights.

A Little Tomato Pie?

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This Christmas window is located at a restaurant called Tomato Pie in the town of Lititz,Pa. It was pouring the night I shot this,and the main reasons I chose this view was the fact I wanted to stay dry and the overhang provided cover. Notice the many different tomatoes scattered throughout the display. This shot required some compromise because if I raised the tripod,I would get car lights reflected in the glass and the building in the distance would get cut off, and I would have preferred to be more parallel but the rest of the scene would have suffered. This would have been a good night to have a warm cup of soup and a sandwich while you watch the dedicated photographer working outside.

New Kid on the Block

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This is another one of my Dreamy Christmas window photos from the town of Lititz,Pa. My title refers to the fact that this shop is new to the downtown area and has a wonderful selection of home decor and holiday items,and they offer a full compliment of interior design services.The owner graciously helped me out by adding the small tree and wreath as accents to my window shop image.This image required me to use a polarizer to help remove the reflections of passing cars in the window glass and I also used a piece of foam to block reflections that were impeding the view of the gorgeous stars in the corner.This building once housed a great camera store that I frequented many moons ago,and the new owners have given it a lovely new coat of paint and made a very inviting place for shoppers to frequent.

The Glorious Poinsettia Tree

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Residents in the small town of Lititz,Pa have many unique traditions that make the community special and one that I find particularly beautiful is the Lititz Moravian Church’s Annual poinsettia tree that is set up on thanksgiving weekend in preparation for the first Sunday of advent. The tree features one hundred poinsettias given in honor or remembrance of someone and stands approximately twelve feet high. The beautiful tree is only up a short period because it cannot be watered in the sanctuary.

I remembered this is the time of year the tree is assembled so I headed over to see if there was any chance I could have access to taking a photo and I was pleasantly surprised by the gracious reception shown by the Pastor to my request. I essentially was given full access to do something for an hour and these two shots are what I accomplished. The well-known Moravian star is hanging at the front but was real tough to incorporate in my composition and was unlit at the time,so I never thought about including it till I decided to light it with my spotlight,but by then I was locked into my composition. The entire sanctuary was dark for my shots and I wished the lights could have been turned on but I forgot to ask about that,so I made due with my spotlight to do everything you see here.Even the lantern in the top photo on the upper left was lit using my spotlight ,and I think it looks like a real candle in there.I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to capture something so beautiful. Maybe someday those who view this image will get the chance to see this display in person.

It’s Ewebiquitous

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Well it’s that time of year when I like to check out and photograph the unique shop windows in the quaint town of Lititz,Pa. This year the first one to catch my eye was the newly opened fiber arts destination with the catchy name of Ewebiquitous. I usually like to shoot horizontals but this one worked out in a vertical and features the exterior decorated window box and the sheep dressed in knitted Christmas stockings looking out the window. The owner had closed the shop for the day but graciously allowed me to come inside to light the yarn with some flash to highlight the colors.

Winter Zen Moment

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This image features a local farm-house and a gazebo the owners have positioned across the street to relax in. I waited till dusk to capture the glow of the gazebo lights against the cold of the night. I used my flashlight to bring out the stairway path in the snow  as well as the snow texture in the foreground. I once again used my camranger wi-fi device with my tablet  to fire the camera and review the images,all the while from a camera that was close to a hundred yards away. I could not dream of pulling a shot like this off without that device. It does have a slightly slower transfer rate to the tablet at this distance,but that’s still pretty impressive.

I Had A Dream

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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.

Tree Farm

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This lovely farm sells Christmas trees and they were generous enough to allow me and a friend to capture a few images.We arrived under heavy cloud cover but within a few minutes the sky started to open and I captured this shot as the first rays of sun illuminated the house and barn but still left the trees in shadow.

Wrap Them Up

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Another Christmas has come and gone and my wife was busy tearing the tree down last week and I noticed this assortment stacked in a basket waiting to be wrapped up. We had two trees this year and these were from the cool tree. Our other tree has lots of red and gold glass ornaments which are my favorites,but the blues look nice too.I lit these in a dark room with a small flashlight from various angles.

Inspirational Architecture

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This church sanctuary is perhaps the most elaborate undertaking I have ever decided to capture photographically. I first drove past the church on a trip and I was so impressed with the exterior,I decided to inquire if I could possibly see the inside and make an attempt to capture its grandeur? The church secretary coordinated my visit to allow ample time to shoot uninterrupted one afternoon and with the help of my good friend Morrie, I was able to pull it off. When people say it’s a small world,I now believe it because halfway through the shoot,the Rector comes in to say hi and I told him where I was from,and after some more conversation we both realize he was the pastor who had officiated my wedding almost twenty-five years ago.

This has to be the most beautiful church I have ever been in and the details are just amazing. From the arched walls to the wood ceiling to the stained glass and lights,everything reminds you of a time when things were built with great pride and workmanship and I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to capture it. The church is St Luke’s in Lebanon,Pa and for those interested in photography,I lit it using available light along with a tiny monster flashlight from Nitecor that really puts out the light in a small package. The light helped me bring out the roof detail among other areas in deep shadow.I also used my newly purchased wi-fi device called the camranger,which hooks to your camera and sends wireless images to a tablet,so I can now walk around lighting things while seeing the result right on my tablet in my hand and never needing to go look at the shot on the camera or laptop. You can change shutter speed and practically everything else on your camera remotely.

I was wrapping up the photo session and several times during the shoot I mentioned how I wish we could light the candles that were set up for Christmas,and literally a minute before I was ready to tear down the tripod, the organist comes in and nonchalantly says would you like the candles lit? I said absolutely and that extra touch just added to the shot.

The Historic Smithton

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Todays photo of the day features the Historic Smithton Inn located in Ephrata ,Pa. Innkeepers Dave and Rebecca Gallagher have painstakingly restored this beautiful property and it now functions as a highly rated B&B welcoming guests from all over the world who are visiting quaint Lancaster County. This year marked the 250th anniversary of the inn and the owners have hosted many events over the past year,which have benefitted many charities. Of all the folks I have worked with doing photos,Rebecca has been one of the most appreciative,which makes my efforts easier. I probably spent close to three hours bringing this image to completion and it included dozens of images.

The middle image is the starting point with no light added and the top image is after adding light from various angles. If you notice,the lamps were not lit when I got there,so I used a spotlight to light them and the ground below them.Most other areas were lit by flash.Take special note of the unique three-dimensional design on the wall shown up close in the bottom photo. I have no idea how that was done,but it is very unique.

The Chocolatiers Imagination

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Lititz Pa earned the distinct honor of being named Americas Coolest Small Town this year, and there are a variety of reasons for this accolade. From the small town charm, to the businesses that are an integral part of the community, to the residents that take pride in their town, lititz is one unique place that beckons visitors to return over and over.One of the attractions that draws visitors to Lititz is Wilbur Chocolate,which is famous for Wilbur Buds as well as countless other confectionary delights. The amazing display shown above is thanks to the creative genius of Chocolatier Kathy Blankenbiller of Wilbur Chocolate. Kathy spent countless hours making this masterpiece of nursery rhyme characters for the annual Lititz Chocolate Walk held on Columbus day weekend. It is currently on display in the Wilbur chocolate store,and is showcased against a backdrop of antique chocolate making items.

Kathy says the entire thing is edible and includes modeling chocolate,royal icing,licorice,Rice Krispie treats and more,and depicts at least 13 nursery rhymes plus a few jokes thrown in.I saw the dazzling display when visiting the store and inquired if I might record the masterpiece and the fine folks at Wilbur were very accommodating in allowing me to undertake this project.I cant wait to see what next years creation might be,but you can bet with attention to detail like this piece exhibits,it will be inspiring.

Merry Christmas

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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.

The Lane Home

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This snow-covered stone wall frames the lane leading in to this rural home. I looked out my bedroom window in the early pre-dawn light and had an inclination the sunrise would be good,so I bundled up and headed out in search of a scene to capture. I passed this place,hit the brakes and backed up to capture the gorgeous light on the landscape.