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.

From Sunrise to Sunset

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This is one of those scenes that makes me want to go back over and over again because of the unique situation and the possibilities it presents. I started the day many miles away trying for a sunrise shot and when that fizzled out,I just started driving and looking and this scene caught my eye as I drove by. The sun was just starting to illuminate the farm in the bottom photo at sunrise and the ice was reflecting the color nicely. We recently had heavy rain and snow melt which filled this farm field that is usually dry. After thinking about the image all day I decided  to return for a go at sunset.

The top image was captured at sunset as I stood in freezing water in my hip waders for almost 30-45 minutes. My friend was along and he bailed after 15 minutes but I knew what I wanted and that required waiting.The reason I had to wait is because I love when buildings are lit inside and have the lived in feel,and the lights from the windows would not start to record till it was pretty dark. I learned on this shoot that even if your eye can’t detect there are lights on,your camera can,and as I was shooting this the two brightest windows were clearly lit but as I stood in the water I kept thinking I wish they would turn more room lights on. well as my exposures started to get into the 30 to 60 second range,I started seeing there were actually lights on in other rooms but it took the long exposures to pick them up. As I finished in the dark and had to walk through the foot deep water, I kept thinking I hope there are not any huge holes I can’t see that are more like three feet deep.

Each image has its own unique qualities from the frozen reflection to the melted one later in the day,and although I really like both images, I would pick the sunset one with the lights on as my favorite. The sky light up to the left of the top image as sunset was unfolding and the color this night was unbelievable but it was way out of my frame and I was already committed to this image,so I just stood there in awe of the display.

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.

Cross Your Heart

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Another ice sculpture from the Lititz fire and ice festival this past weekend. This particular one was located in front of the post office and despite my complaining over the brutal temperatures,the upside was there was no one else out to get in my way while I did the photo. Brutal cold just makes the whole process more complicated,from batteries that die too quickly to tripods that are harder to operate to fingers that hurt so bad you almost want to scream,but you push on because you love the experience. I guarantee every time I see this image, I will instantly remember the whole experience including the bitter cold.

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.

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.