Chandelier Assist

I cannot definitively say this is a racoon hugging a tree stump but its my best guess. This sculpture was part of the Ice Festival in Lititz and I knew as it got darker the light from the Chandelier was going to help bring some internal color out. Another cool sculpture of ice to celebrate Winter activities.

The Old Factory Comes to Life

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.

The Nightmare Car

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.

A Return to Fall

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.

Grab some Popcorn, it’s Storytime

Folks say they enjoy reading about my photography escapades so here is one that happened to me recently involving this scene that I took notice of earlier in the day. First thing is the end of this story includes the most unbelievable bit of timing I have ever had!   This particular day I noticed this gorgeous tree by the church and knew I needed to be elevated because I was looking uphill quite a bit. I park, walk up to a house across the street that has a yard that would fit the bill. I rang the bell to ask if they would allow me to stand in their yard and no response from inside, which I assumed meant everyone is at work?  No Problem, the work day ends and I head out to shoot this spot and of course I stop to inquire at the house because all the lights are now on.

I rang the doorbell once and because the TV seemed loud I gently knocked on the wooden door as well? No response whatsoever, so I move to plan b which is to put my tall tripod on my truck roof and get my elevation that way. I am busy across the street lighting things when I see a guy who appears to be writing down my license plate?  After he does that he starts heading my way and the first words out of his mouth are “why have you been pounding on my door all day”?  I said if you call ringing your doorbell twice, pounding, we might have a difference of opinion. I explained wanting to get permission to stand in the yard, and my tripod was on my roof in plain sight for him to see and he says “well I called the cops twice already tonight” I said “for what” and he goes off about his daughter was home and she was terrified!

I calmly explained all I wanted was permission and he cooled off and said I could now stand in his yard if I wanted. Like that was an option after all the overblown action he took. So I get home later that night and my daughter asks, were you taking pictures on some guys porch? She said the cops called to talk to me? So the next day comes, I check Facebook and notice there are several people contacting me on messenger? They say I need to check this Facebook page that has security cameras from around town because this guy posted me ringing his bell to see if anyone knows this guy that he thinks is breaking into his house?

Okay now I am ready to take some sort of action because this idiot is making claims that could affect my reputation. Recapping, I rang his doorbell twice, knocked and was holding my camera the second time I stopped, all of which he reviewed on his porch camera and he still does not have the common sense to process what he sees? Lucky for him he had the brains to take the video down in a timely fashion. It seems people are getting more ridiculous every day and logical thinking is non-existent!

If by chance you stayed along this far, here is the unbelievable timing part of this story. There was one lone white car parked to the right uphill from the one lamp post, and I think I was there almost an hour and a half shooting and waiting for the cars owner to hopefully show up and get it out of the shot. Couple neighbors walked by and said it did not look familiar to them so I waited another 10 minutes till I had an appointment. Are you ready for it? I walk across the street to my truck, not a soul in sight, I reach up to grab the tripod legs to get the camera down off the roof and within 5 seconds of me moving that tripod, I hear the car horn beep and the doors unlock ?  It was a mailman who just got off of work and within 30 seconds that car was just a bad dream to me. All I could do was laugh how utterly unbelievable this unfolded. Oh and yes I did end up Photoshopping that car out of the shot!

The Bakery

This is Zig’s bakery in Lititz, Pa and the area I found myself as the skies started lighting up. I have never been here before so I ran around aimlessly trying to find an angle and the only small puddle in the lot was what I settled on. To complicate matters my tripod only goes as low as a foot or so, so I was forced to set my camera on the ground and put a water bottle and towel under the lens to get the angle right. The lower photo shows the sky after it had peaked but was still very beautiful. We have had several amazing sunsets in the last week, and this was the only one I had my camera along to capture.

Lititz Historical Museum

I enjoy taking photos in the quaint town of Lititz, PA and happened to be shooting another scene across the street when I noticed folks going inside the local Historical society? Turns out they were having a board meeting and the normally dark interior was now all lit inside with warm light. There are so many aspects to this scene that all go together to make a pleasing result..

A Local Park

Admittedly this is not one of my favorite buildings but it is situated in a local park and it houses an American Indian museum. The grounds around it have had some nice touches added in the last year and the color was not too bad so I gave it a whirl. The color wont be around too much longer so enjoy this image before you are shoveling snow in a few weeks.

Beauty by the Mill

This old mill is now a private residence and the home to the left of the flowering trees is very tastefully decorated with numerous nice touches and places you just want to sit and enjoy a tall glass of lemonade. I will be sharing a shot soon including the house which is visually just perfect sitting beside the old mill. The flowering trees are what caught my eye and with an old victorian home and a mill on either side, it was too hard to resist.

Fire and Ice festival

This is the only shot I did this year during the Fire and Ice festival held in Lititz, Pa.  My enthusiasm to go out shooting has been very subdued the last six months due to my medicine but on the upside the negative thoughts I was being bombarded with on a daily basis have become pretty quiet and I have been more social in general. So while I still do enjoy shooting, my creativity seems to get dialed down as well and while I wish I could post photos more often here, It can be a struggle to get motivated to go out, so my apologies for the infrequent shooting right now.

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

Rainy Night Solitude

This is the old train station in Lititz, Pa which now serves as a visitors center. The large building in the back is the former Wilbur chocolate plant that closed and has been renovated into a very beautiful Restaurant, Hotel, select market shops and more. Little by little more rooms are lighting up as the project advances. This was a few days ago and I shot this in the middle of a steady blowing rain storm that was a real challenge to work in. One detail I like is the shadow that was cast toward the camera when I backlit the town clock. Because of the rain, I had very few people going into the park which made it nice to shoot.

Springs and Fall

I took this image in the Lititz Springs park and I am not exactly sure if this is the main spring or an area that holds the water from the springs, but you could see it flowing up from a few places in the area. This was taken with my 17-35 zoom at almost its widest view and I am backed up to a wall that goes around the springs from the steps on each side. This was taken on a night that was supposed to have bad storms and winds were maybe 20mph but it stayed dry while I shot. Thankfully the leaves surrounding the water were sheltered by the wall but out past the wall they were being blown all over the place. The green in the water was algae on rocks and I was surprised how well it showed up.

Nights like this are great for having the place all to yourself but I did have a crazy situation arise that  was a little sketchy. At one point across the park I could hear some teen girl swearing and it was about two or three minutes later I notice two black males around 17 to 20 years old sprinting from one end of the park to the other? It was getting much darker than my photo appears and I was taking all this activity in from the shadows wondering what was up?  All of a sudden they see me standing in this area and come running full speed till they are literally three feet in front of me. The one guy immediately starts demanding to know if I just slapped his baby girl?  I told them how long I had been there photographing and they said “some white dude just walked up and slapped his baby girl across the face” and the one was itching to whoop somebody and his most memorable comment to me was ” I believe I am about to get out of my character if I catch this dude”  They kept asking me if I saw anybody run my direction, and I said no, but the funny thing is, I did have one shot in my series that actually had a guy in it that looked similar to what they described.

Reflecting on History

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.

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.

First Light

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This old ivy covered tree caught my eye as I drove by, so I came back in the evening, asked permission to go in the yard and then lit it with my flash.The owner was an elderly lady and she could not figure out why anyone would want to photograph the tree? I am pleased with the result I got with a few pops of the flash,and I thought the contrast of the green ivy and fall foliage made a nice scene.

Home for Fall

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This is the same place I posted the other day,but this was shot at dusk for a more alive feel. To shoot this image I started with a base exposure before it got dark,then I started to light the various aspects of the shot with flash. This home used to be a neutral tone and the owner had asked me to try another shot since he had painted it this more intense hue.I finally decided to give it another go after I saw the carpet of leaves surrounding the place. At one point the lady of the house came out and I mentioned that turning some lights on would give it a much more inviting feel and much to my surprise she went and turned on every room light,which looked awesome.One complication I had to deal with was the doggone street lights came on halfway into the shoot and totally complicated things but I pulled it off despite that.

The Skilled Craftsman

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Lancaster county has countless skilled craftsmen that still take pride in their work. From woodworkers who build custom furniture, to master leather craftsmen who supply the local community with leather goods, to those who work with various metal products,a rich heritage of doing things by hand still exists today. I recently was in search of a piece of copper for a project and a friend directed me to a small shop he knew of out in the countryside. I pulled in the driveway of the address I was given and the small building in front of me gave no hint of what I was about to see. As I walked in the dark unlit interior, I was immediately drawn to a beautiful copper train that was being built one piece at a time for a customer. The level of detail was amazing and spoke to the skill of the metalsmith who was building it. After a brief conversation, I decided to ask if he would consider allowing me to come back one evening and photograph it? The answer was sure,but he told me the train was being picked up that night and an immediate feeling of missing a chance to record something special came over me. He did tell me he was making another two trains for this customer and maybe in the future,I could try a shot? We got each others phone numbers and I headed off thinking about the missed opportunity, but to my amazement, the phone rang that evening and he told me it would be here for another day, and if I wanted to come back,he would be there all evening.  I immediately said yes and gathered my gear to head over. All the way there, I worried I was not going to come up with a way to capture the train because it is actually a weathervane and has a tube and support attached and it does not just sit on a table. The owner was very patient with me and was more than happy to move things around to get the right setup for the shot. My final composition shown above included the recently finished copper train, with the very first copper train that has been treated with a patina to give it an aged look in the background. I wish I could recognize the man who built this train, but in the interest of privacy ,all you need to know is that he is just one of Lancaster counties many skilled craftsmen.There is no electricity here or fancy tools, just talent and hard work and I was certainly impressed.

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.

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.

B-25 ”Panchito”

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This is a shot I did at sunrise at the Lancaster Airports community days this past weekend. In the foreground is the Delaware Museum foundations B-25 Panchito and in the distance is the C-123-K Thunder Pig. I used multiple flash pops to light the plane in the pre-dawn light until the sun came up. These shiny planes are a real challenge to light and it was good practice for me.

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.