Keep Your Eyes Open

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I went to an event last friday evening thinking I was going to get to photograph the most stunning Russian sleigh I have ever seen, but it turned out they put it inside to protect it,which makes sense,so a shot was not possible. Anyway,I left there kind of dejected about it and on the way home I passed this little scene and decided to do a shot here. Well I knocked and asked if they minded and they were fine with it,so I asked them to turn on some interior lights and they obliged. After getting so far with  it,I wished the church lights were on,and so I knocked again and it turns out it was the youth pastor living here and he offered to make my wish come true. The only thing he could not do was get the large stained glass window lit,so in frustration I shined my bright flashlight on it and amazingly got it to show its color. I would not have guessed it would work but thank goodness I tried.

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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.

Giving Thanks

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This set of images were taken in the small town of Lititz,Pa in the area known as the Moravian Church Square. It is a gorgeous section of town that includes numerous old buildings and is  right along the main street. This year I spotted a dazzling yellow Ginko tree on a friday night and took a shot or two before it got dark.I called a friend to tell him he might want to check it out,and he did just that on the next day.I called him to ask if he got anything and he said all of the leaves were off,to which I laughed and said there is no way all the leaves fell off overnight. He insisted it was true so on Sunday morning I headed over at sunrise to see,and lo and behold  he was telling the truth. I was busy getting more photos in the pre-dawn light when the caretaker strolled by and said he was lighting the church and hoped that would not be a problem,to which I said go for it. The added illumination inside took the stunning scene to a whole other level in my opinion,and I was very thankful not only for the beauty before me but the ability to appreciate it and capture it. I joked with the care taker about the leaves not being cleaned up because he is a very efficient worker and keeps the property well maintained and he said the parishioners love to walk down the golden path as they arrive for Sunday worship so he leaves them lay an extra day.

A Glorious Morning

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Our region received another wonderful snowstorm recently,dumping around fourteen inches of fresh powder across the landscape. This is the kind of storm that finds me driving around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to capture the beauty, before the usual winds that follow these storms wipe the slate clean. I headed out before sunrise knowing I had to get my shots before heading to work,so I had extra pressure on me to deliver. This particular shot was a pleasant surprise as I drove through a small town and noticed the heavy layer on the bushes by the church. I actually had to park on the street because plows had everything blocked shut from the night before and to top it off I no sooner got my tripod out and noticed the neighbor was starting to snow blow his property.Even though I was obviously shooting this gorgeous scene,he chose to come right down the drive toward me and blew snow right onto the bushes in my shot,totally ruining the scene. Perhaps he was jealous that I was out enjoying myself and he had to work on snow removal,but thankfully I was quick enough to compose and capture before that point. One problem is how the church is situated up on the hill,which forced me to use lens correction to help with keystoning and there were a million wires and wire shadows across the church which I painstakingly removed. Color or Black and White,I find both appealing.

A Cold Sunday Walk

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I photographed this snow-covered scene yesterday on a back road in Amish country and it includes numerous buggies and a few walkers as they head to church at one of the farms up the road. There is actually four buggies rounding the bend but they are hard to see in the distance. I really liked the youngster bundled in the green blanket and his sister wearing the bright yellow scarf. It was 16 degrees when I snapped this image,which was made possible by using my camranger from inside my warm truck to fire the tripod mounted camera on my vehicle roof. I had no intention of going out at sunrise because freezing rain was forecast,but as I looked out my bedroom at 5am,I could see stars,so I headed out.Clouds quickly moved in to ruin sunrise and this was shot at iso 1000,which I hate to do,but it was necessary to get a 500th second shutter speed. Was really pleased I Made the effort.

Light in the Storm

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This is an exterior shot I did at the church I posted yesterday. I actually drove many miles in a raging snowstorm to shoot on this particular evening and it was quite an undertaking shooting in heavy blowing snow. I used an umbrella as best as I could but the camera was rather wet till I finished. Driving home was a nightmare and even seeing the road was pretty tricky at times. Still nothing ventured,nothing gained.

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.