A Game of Cat & Mouse

I was coming down a local backroad yesterday and up ahead I noticed an Amish farm stand and there was a buzz of activity focused in one area beside the road. Luckily there was another business straight across the street where I could park unnoticed for a while. There were kids, teens, and adults all filling pots with soil that were then lined up in rows in a growing area. I may be wrong but I think they were the beginnings of fall mums because this same location has had a large crop of mums in this exact spot for several years. With that being said, I watched all the activity around the farm for photo ops and I noticed way back the lane there were some youngsters playing with this tricycle/cart setup. I was quite frustrated because they were about 75 yards away and my longest lens was still not able to reach them so I waited and hoped.

Before long they disappeared behind the barn but a few minutes later they reappeared on a lane that went around the barn in a U-shape. I watched as the came almost to the road and then rode away again and I thought well you missed your chance. I then drove to the opposite end of the lot and there was exactly one spot left and guess where it was located?  You got it, it was straight across the road from the lane they were playing in!  I watched as they came toward me and rode away and tried my best to look disinterested and on the third trip, I brought the camera up and got this image as they turned to go back. What was funny was how they were having such a good time as I snapped this image but I think it finally registered that I had a camera and then they became much more elusive. They would dart out and make funny faces and quickly retreat but they were having fun hiding and reappearing. I keep looking at the image trying to figure how three kids fit in that little trailer. It has been a long time since I took any Amish photos but shots like this remind me why I enjoy capturing moments in their lives.

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.

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.

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.

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This Amish father and his five sons caught my eye as they headed home from heritage days. All the boys were dressed identical in blue and the view from the side was amazing but right after I snapped this shot at the stop sign,they turned right and I passed them to go further up the road to try for my dream shot of them. I went about a quarter-mile ahead,found an empty parking lot with bushes to kind of hide my truck a bit and focused in anticipation out my window. After two minutes I realized they went in the lane at the farm right after the stop sign so this image is all I got.

All Decked Out

The fourth of July is a time to reflect,as well as a time to enjoy with family and friends, and one local town near me does its best to celebrate in grand fashion.That town is Lititz,Pa and it seems everyone gets into the patriotic spirit in town as the old red,white and blue proudly waves all over town. Most photos shown are from the Moravian church that has made a tradition of placing thousands of flags across the grounds in neatly lined rows,and the rest include a funeral home done very tastefully and a flag lined main thoroughfare.

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.

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 Pumpkin Patch

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Welcome to the pumpkin patch,one of Lancaster counties many farm stands. This stand is one of several where we went for a good selection for our house display this year. I bought the biggest one they had here and it was almost 50 bucks,and it is self-serve here. They must sell wholesale as well because there was a truck at the barn and the driver must have had a good laugh watching me because it took me 5 tries to get it on the wagon.The first four involved tipping the wagon and trying to right it with the pumpkin leaning against and then finally I found a board and rolled it on the wagon. it easily weighed 150 pounds plus but is very awkward to lift. Many times two guys will use a burlap bag and double team them but no one was around.The bottom photo is part of our finished display along the rail trail where we live. the whopper is the one on the left and it is almost twice as big as the nearest one.The cat on the fence is one of three we cut out from templates on Martha Stewart and the bed was found for free at the curb. It is hard to get a great shot because our display is on a steep hill that goes down to the trail. Also the welcome pumpkin is done by the farmer using a nail to scratch the skin and it heals like that by harvest time.

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 Whole Crew

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If I didn’t know better,I would think this father wanted me to take a picture of his boys working in the field. I was a good distance away at the side of the road and as they got closer,dad loaded all the boys on the horses and kept coming forward and he actually has a smile in this shot. Hard to say if the scenario I described was real or imagined but it sure seemed to be the case. Still I really like the unique image I got here.

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.

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 Distlefink

 

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A distlefink is a stylized goldfinch and it appears in Pennsylvania dutch folk art.It represents happiness and good fortune to the Pennsylvania german people.It is a common theme on hex signs and fraktur.The word distlefink literally means thistle finch. I shot this large version which welcomes visitors to the Berks county history museum from both sides. It is in desperate need of a repaint but it still made a fun subject to light paint.The biggest problem I had was avoiding three groundhogs that made their home under the bush and kept coming out after dark, but a little blast from my flash and they would high tail it for a little bit.If you look real hard at the top photo,in the lower right corner you can barely see one of the groundhogs in the grass and I only just saw it was there as I was working on this post.

 

 

 

F-18 Super Hornet

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I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to photograph this F-18 Super Hornet that was part of the Lancaster Airports community days plane showcase. I am not sure I did this multi million dollar plane justice with my lighting, but it was a fun time. This plane flew over my house as it arrived in the area for the show and merely hearing it throttle up slightly was enough to impress with its raw power. I can only imagine being on the receiving end of this piece of military power at its full capacity.By the time you hear it coming,it’s too late. I was confused why the plane has the slogan “Pukin Dogs” on it but after looking on the net I found this, The squadron adopted its current insignia in 1953, a winged black lion (or a mythical Griffin) on a blue shield. The distinctive squadron name “Pukin’ Dogs” came about when the squadron commander’s wife saw the creature’s droopy head and gaping mouth design. She stated, in front of the squadron pilots, that it looked like a “pukin’ dog.” The pilots loved that, and the name stuck

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.