VW Classics

vwdub There was a small VW show not too far from home yesterday so I decided to venture out for an hour or so and check things out. I was immediately drawn to these cool VW classics,with their sleek lines,cool colors and unique design. If I had hit the lottery, I might just buy one because they really are the epitome of cool and laid back, but after talking to two owners, I realized there won’t be any sitting in my driveway anytime soon. I asked what would something like this sell for? I silently guessed maybe $40,000, and was quickly flabbergasted when one owner told me $125,000,and the other said $150,000 for theirs. I would have the thing roped off if it was mine,and the one owner told me they have had kids climb all over it at shows till they quickly tell the parents what its worth. they really do make a statement with their sweet style and design. Some had safari windows that are basically a flip out front windshield, which I was told were a necessity in south America where many of these originally were located. The safari window allowed air to blow through because it was like an oven inside.

Feeling Lucky?


This was just a quick grab shot on my new england trip,and the owner came out while I was snapping the shot. He proceeded to tell me it was an Irish Victorian home and had hundreds of four-leaf clovers everywhere in the construction. From door panels to fireplace inlays and everywhere you could imagine,there were four-leaf clovers. Done in infrared,it takes on a bit of a spooky appearance to me.


Milmore Sphynx

mount-auburn-cemetery4This sphinx is a bit out-of-place in a cemetery but it still is quite impressive and I shot this image in infrared. This is Martin Milmore’s Sphinx commissioned by Jacob Bigelow in commemoration of the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery. It sits facing the Bigelow chapel in mount auburn cemetery and was carved at this site from a single block of granite from Maine, it was completed in July 1872.

The inscription on the monument:
American Union preserved
African slavery destroyed
by the uprising of a great people
by the blood of fallen heroes

The Last Airbender


Well I found out a tiny bit more about this machine since yesterdays post. It supposedly is built around a real Tucker SnoCat from years ago,actually moves and was a prop in the movie The Last Airbender. I never saw the movie but my wife claims to have seen it,and yet most of what I find on the net shows an animated movie and she claims it was a regular movie. Anyway it is supposedly a part of the fire nation military in that movie, and if you want to buy it, I can hook you up with the owner who is currently asking $13,000. This image was shot in infrared to add a little extra drama. It would make a cool lawn decoration if you had a huge estate. The owner told me he has more neat stuff of a similar nature if I want to check them out sometime,which I hope will happen.

The Kings Palace?



Is this the palace of an Arabian king, a temple along the Nile river, or the final resting place of some middle eastern ruler? Well none of the above,it is actually the home of Sight and Sound Theatres,which is the largest faith-based theatre in the country and it is in Lancaster county. Their live recreations of Biblical stories are unparalleled,and years ago I saw their production of Noah,which included countless live animals and a huge ark. Google it to see the stage. Shot both images in infrared and the sky in the top one is awesome in my opinion.

Grace in Granite

This figure kneels at the grave of someone named Pidgeon,who is buried in this magnificent Victorian era cemetery that is full of highly detailed statuary.The only info I could find was that the monument cost $2,350 dollars and shipped in october of 1898. It mentions eight stone cutters,a polisher,a statue cutter,and letter cutter. I shot this in infrared on a sunny day,which turns the foliage a dreamy white. I lit the statue shadow areas to show a bit more detail.

The Peterson Path

I like to give a little story or background on my photos,but I cant seem to nail down any specifics about who is buried in this mausoleum? I did find out it was built in 1912 at a cost of $9337 dollars,and is blue westerly granite.Shot in infrared with a Nikon D200 and 17-35 wide-angle,which is not so wide on that camera body.

A Friend of Lincoln

This is the mausoleum where Methodist bishop Matthew Simpson is buried.Though based in Philadelphia during the Civil War, Methodist Bishop Matthew Simpson (1811-1884) traveled the country during that time giving speeches in support of the Union, emancipation and President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was thankful for the Bishop’s support.After Lincoln was assassinated he delivered the eulogy at his burial in Springfield, Illinois. At that time few people traveled as widely as Bishop Simpson did and his reports on public opinion were a valuable resource to the President. The mausoleum reminds me a little bit of a miniature church to some degree.

Best Friends

They asked for so little,but gave so much.More than just friends.This is the epitaph that one pet owner had etched in stone in memory of a beloved cat and dog.I assume the pets are buried here just feet from magnificent mausoleums housing their owners. I was not particularly dazzled by the carving work on the cat,but it may be a hundred years old and simply be weathered. You never know what you might come across in these acres of granite.

Fog Shrouded Dawn

This is one of the first images from a recent photo excursion to the cemetery with a friend,and initially  this area caught my eye as the rays of sun spread across the grounds. We parked along a lane and I decided to walk about 30 yards in,which put me in the right spot to see the rays and various light and dark tones. We had an hour drive to get there,and we had no idea the morning was going to be enveloped in fog,so we wish we had left earlier.

Art in Stone

It has been a while since I have done any cemetery infrared shooting,so both myself and a good friend went out yesterday to explore a new destination. Lovely weather in the low sixties provided the perfect opportunity to look for compositions amongst the grandeur of this Victorian era cemetery.This image was captured with a converted Nikon D200,which only captures infrared now. I spotted these ornately detailed urns which were sidelit by the sun,and the mausoleum in the distance rounded out my composition. I am always amazed by the sights you see in these old cemeteries. I will share more from this trip in the month ahead.

Infrared tree reflection

This was taken recently at a local park. I Shot the top image using a Nikon D70 with an infrared filter supplied from lifepixel. The camera can only shoot infrared,but it does a good job with infrared.The bottom image was taken with a Nikon D200 and a color infrared filter from the same company. It is called false color infrared and to be honest I am not sure why the color reproduces as it does.

War of 1776

I shot this infrared image this past weekend at a local chapel and cemetery.The flag was caught on the stone,and I assume it had blown there. Wish I could have seen the mans name, but when it comes to cemeteries, I never touch anything out of respect for those interred there. The marker on which the flag is attached says war of 1776,and the date he died read 1778 on the stone.

The Prince and The Pauper

As spring advances and trees and grass begin to green up, I start thinking about shooting infrared images.The green foliage turns white in infrared, creating a very unique look. I have found that some of the Victorian era cemeteries can look quite stunning when shot in infrared, and todays post is one such example. This is Calvary cemetery outside New York City, and features very impressive statuary, monuments and carved stones. I have a black backpack and often set it down while I am shooting, and more than once I have gone into panic mode as I wander a bit and realize I forgot where I set my bag. Try finding a bag amongst thousands of dark stones and you quickly remember to wear your bag when you move around. I always go with a friend, and we usually shoot different subjects, so at least once a trip I wait till he is in deep concentration looking through the camera, and I sneak up and suddenly grab his arm or talk in his ear, and of course he returns the favor. This particular cemetery goes on for acres and includes 3 million burials.The large mausoleum on the left is that of the Johnston family. the following is from the internet about this family and where my title came from.

John Johnston died May 17, 1887, seven years after brother Charles and seventeen years before his other brother Robert A. Johnston.

John Johnston led the J. & C. Johnston company, and the J. & C. Johnston department store at Broadway and Twenty-Second Street was a popular source for dress silks and other fabrics. The store was among the most successful of its time, prospering during an era when similar companies frequently went bankrupt.The fortunes of J. & C. Johnston took a drastic turn for the worse after John Johnston’s passing. Responsibility for the company passed to Robert A. Johnston, at whose helm the business failed.

Mr. Johnston possessed millions when the business came to him through the death of his brothers, but he lost all in a few years, and in 1888 the house went out of existence. He retired to his palatial home at Mount St. Vincent, on the Hudson. Later the place was sold at foreclosure and the house burned, the owner having a narrow escape. Since then he had lived alone in a barn on the property, refusing charity. He was found sick with pneumonia and insane ten days ago.”

This obituary makes tantalizing reference to the mighty structure that has fascinated folks for years: “[Robert Johnston’s] body … will be immured in the magnificent family mausoleum built many years ago at a cost of $300,000 in Calvary Cemetery.”The dismal circumstances of Robert Johnston’s death did not cost him a space in the family mausoleum. The mausoleum’s presence today echoes the success and personal fortunes of the Johnston name while housing the man who wasted it.The story is indeed interesting, as the tomb is occupied by prince and pauper alike.

The Guardian Angel

Sometimes I must just pause and contemplate things that may be coincidence or may be something more. Most of my posts are pretty light-hearted in nature, but today I was asked to photograph a guest speaker at a local school. That speaker was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the stories he relayed to the students were simply heart wrenching. He spoke more candidly to the adults afterward and the ordeal this man went through and survived is nothing short of miraculous. The coincidence part I mentioned is because I post a shot last night about a guardian angel, and today this man told numerous stories of his days at Auschwitz, and how he was saved many times by a guardian angel. It just struck me that I could have posted that image a month from now, but I chose last night.

I will share two stories he offered for anyone brave enough to read. The first Story involves him finding a tunnel that the German Shepherds had dug,which went right under the electrified fence. He had made up his mind that he was going to try to escape and either die trying or live upon his escape, and the day before he was planning his attempt, eleven men had done the same thing and were caught outside the perimeter. He said every man was made to parade with a sign saying they were glad to be back inside,and then they were lined up to be shot. Before they were shot, the commander asked for eleven volunteers to join them, and if no one volunteered, he would be selecting 50 men himself. He said in less than three minutes, eleven men had volunteered, and then all 22 men were shot in front of them. He still made his attempt the next day,and upon exiting found a boot on his neck, but after making some conversation in german with the man about his family and children, he was given the chance to get away by this man, and once again the guardian angel was there.

The last story I will share of his experiences is one where he was in italy after his escape, and one day he was stopped by german soldiers and questioned. He spoke perfect italian, but the men refused to believe he was a native of the town, and immediately took him to the wall for execution. He said the commander gave the order to prepare to shoot him, and out of nowhere comes a Priest yelling at him and giving the performance of a lifetime. He said this man was so dramatic,saying he had been looking for him and he was supposed to get to the church to do his work. He had no idea who this man was, and as the soldiers stood there in a puzzled way, the priest led him away by his ear no less, and at a safe distance told him to run for all he was worth. Again the guardian angel was there.

He sat 15 feet from Hitler at the 1936 olympics, and watched him turn his back on Jesse Owens, and he also watched Joseph Mengele decide who would live and die on numerous occasions. Hopefully I did not upset anyone with my post today,but to hear this man tell of his journey was something that just left me with a sense of utter sorrow for all those who suffered.

The Guardian

Since I posted an infrared shot yesterday, I got to thinking about spring and shooting with my good friend Morrie. Each spring, we make a couple of day trips and weekend excursions to shoot some of the amazing cemetery statuary that exists in our region. The statuary is absolutely breath-taking in some of these cemeteries and many people find the images I shoot in infrared to be very moving for some reason.Spring is when the temperatures are most pleasant and the grass greens up to provide great effects in infrared. Todays image features a mausoleum ,with what appears to be a guardian angel on top. One can only imagine the cost of this statue, which has to be at least 8 feet high,by as much wide, much less the building, which is made of granite. Until just a few short years ago, I never knew such beauty even existed in cemeteries, but if you go to most major cities, you can find such places. In Victorian times, cemeteries were places to congregate for picnics and family activities, but today, many cemeteries are being lost to neglect. Benjamin franklin once said, ”show me your cemeteries,and I’ll tell you what kind of people you have”, and once again I think we need many more men like this in charge once again. One trip to a big city cemetery thats abandoned and you quickly realize how right he was.

Dramatic Skies

My image today features intense cloud formations that were blowing through the area, and lasted just long enough to allow me to run and get my infrared camera/filter combination. I actually think the clouds were more intense when I first saw them, but I am quite happy with what I got here. The shot was done using my old Nikon D70, which was excellent for capturing infrared images when used in conjunction with a Hoya r72 infrared filter. The downside is the fact that you can barely see through the filter,so essentially you focus the shot on your tripod and then add the filter on the lens before shooting. Exposures usually run from 1 second to 8 seconds at f16 in most situations,and you must remove the filter every time you do a new image. As things soon turn greener, Infrared effects will get even better.

Classic Victorian

Just wanted to let anyone that might be following my blog to know that I do not just do light painting, so I felt I would share an image of what I consider to be a beautiful old Victorian home . It was shot with a Nikon camera that I had specifically modified to capture only the infrared spectrum. I used to use an expensive filter to do it, but that got to be a real nuisance because the filter was so dark, you had to remove it to focus on every new shot. The modified camera can almost be handheld,but I still insist on the tripod. I mention handheld because with the filter, you had daylight exposures in the 4 second range.