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

Heritage Days4

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.

The Pharmacy

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This local pharmacy has been an anchor in the local business community for years and since I was doing a little photo series on shops in the town, I felt it was a definite choice for photographing. I went inside to see if they would like a shot done and I asked if I could add some garland above the one sign to give it a little more seasonal feel? They said certainly,and I set out to capture the top image on a very nice December evening. I really wanted to do a shot of the entrance as well because it has this neat old curved metal sign that been there since the 1930s and has eye-catching orange lighting behind it. The employees were all very helpful and I was told the sign could be set to stay illuminated all night so it was ready to shoot at dawn the next morning and they would also leave a few inside lights on as well to look like they were open, and as we were talking the pharmacist said yeah the weather looks like it will cooperate as well. I went to bed thinking how I was going to do the shot and when I woke to my alarm at 530am, it was pouring outside. I knew it was going to be a treat trying to get this in the pouring rain and the following describes the ordeal.

I brought an 8 ft ladder, and on the top of it I thread a steel pipe that goes up another 6 feet and then I mount my camera anywhere I want along the 6ft pipe. I recently bought some inexpensive plastic camera bags that are made specifically to protect your camera and lens while shooting in the rain and that is how I started the shoot but I noticed the image on my tablet had rain drops on it and realized the rain was blowing onto the front of my lens, so I now had to strap my umbrella to the steel post as well to keep the front dry.Now the thing about this whole angle you don’t realize, is that there is only ten feet from the pharmacy door to the street behind me and my ladder is literally sitting on the very edge of the curb as far as it can go. So my camera is about 12 feet off the ground with an umbrella strapped tight above it and on top of that I must climb the ladder,try to compose and focus at that height and not fall to the ground,all in the pouring rain. This was shot with my widest angle,which is a 17mm and it was just able to get the composition with the decorated street light and the sign. It is a minor miracle this even turned out because even with the umbrella,it was still getting rain on the lens occasionally which meant I had to climb the ladder,dry the lens off and pray that I did not shift anything while doing all of that.To my surprise all images were in register from the shoot.I love rain and the reflections it provides but I still have not come up with a foolproof rain shooting strategy. The sign also posed serious challenges because it picks up every reflection of light,color etc and the blue light from early morning was what I liked in the end. I tried lighting the letters with my flash but I found out chrome doesn’t play nice with flash and there were very few angles that the added flash looked decent on,so in the end I just waited till the ambient light matched the sign light and was as balanced as possible.

Pumpkin Wagon Train

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Sometimes I think I have someone directing my photographs and this is an example of that. I was out looking for fall images when I crested the hill and this scene was right there in front of me.You can call it coincidence if you want but they were in the exact composition I wanted and literally a minute later they were done and heading back the farm. They all were laughing as they were hard at work and I was snapping pictures. This is just outside a little town called Farmersville in Lancaster county.

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.

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.

A Painterly Reflection

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This is another image I captured after looking for water collecting in fields this spring. This old mill sits right along the road and with just a short walk down the bank here,I was rewarded with the morning sun creating this lovely reflection in the ice.A barn across the street adds to the composition in this country scene that would make a gorgeous painting.

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.

Lititz Fire & Ice Festival

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Last night a light snow moved into the area and since the small town of Lititz,Pa was holding its annual fire and ice festival this weekend I decided to brave the elements and get a few shots. I woke at 5 am today,went back to bed and laid there pondering the choice of staying nice and cozy in bed or going out into 2 degree weather with thirty mile an hour winds that made it feel a wonderful minus 18 degrees. Well I finally mustered the enthusiasm to get bundled up and head out and this shot of old man winter blowing his air was very apropos for the day. I lit this with flash and intentionally did a shot to cast the shadow onto the snow for added interest. Ice is very tricky to light and getting the right angle takes a little work to reveal the carving details.

I shot for about twenty minutes till my two batteries were drained, and then I sat in my truck with the heater warming them up to bring them back to life for a few more shots. I bounce back and forth between really enjoying mother natures intense weather and asking myself what possesses me to go out in weather like this? Inevitably I must take a glove off to change camera settings and today that was a really numbing experience after about a minute of the glove off. The upside was there was only three other brave souls that I encountered taking photos of these things and they all had cell phones. The guys who carve these do a great job using a variety of tools from chain saws to grinders to blow torches and the event is always packed with visitors from near and far.

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.

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.

It’s Ewebiquitous

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Well it’s that time of year when I like to check out and photograph the unique shop windows in the quaint town of Lititz,Pa. This year the first one to catch my eye was the newly opened fiber arts destination with the catchy name of Ewebiquitous. I usually like to shoot horizontals but this one worked out in a vertical and features the exterior decorated window box and the sheep dressed in knitted Christmas stockings looking out the window. The owner had closed the shop for the day but graciously allowed me to come inside to light the yarn with some flash to highlight the colors.

Fonthill Castle

 

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This place is known as Fonthill castle and is located in Doylestown ,Pa.I photographed this amazing location at sunrise recently.Built between 1908-1912, Fonthill was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian, Mercer built Fonthill both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. The first of three Mercer buildings in Doylestown, Fonthill served as a showplace for Mercer’s famed Moravian tiles that were produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Designed by Mercer, the building is an eclectic mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and is significant as an early example of poured reinforced concrete. It almost felt like I was visiting Europe when I was here.

Majestic Ambler Theatre

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I photographed the restored Ambler movie theatre while visiting Ambler last week.I used my nitecor flashlight to reveal the rich color and detail of the place.The Ambler Theater was opened by its owner Warner Bros. on December 31, 1928, with the movie “Our Dancing Daughters” starring Joan Crawford. An exuberant Spanish Colonial style architecture was employed to create a magical facade with Terra cotta, spacious lobbies (entry lobby, main lobby, vestibule lobby, then foyer), an ornate auditorium with 1,228 seats, and a Gottfried pipe organ (which is long gone). The builder, Phillip Harrison, previously built the Seville (now Bryn Mawr) and Lansdowne theatres, which may explain the Spanish Colonial similarities. Prior movies in Ambler had been shown in an opera house, a second story Civil War era theatre.

Due to the competition from TV and the multiplexes, the Ambler was no longer viable to continue as a for profit theatre with mainstream movies and ceased showing 35mm films about 1969 to 1970. By this time the auditorium’s side walls and front part of the ceiling were draped over. From the 1970’s until 1997 the Ambler was operated as a Christian cinema, showing films in 16mm including The Robe. The Ambler closed again, waiting re-use. The Christian group sold the theatre in 2001 to businessmen, who in turn sold the theatre to the nonprofit: Ambler Theater, Inc.

The non-profit organization devoted two million dollars to renovations. Paint colors were chosen to match the original colors. No original carpet was found, so carpet was replicated from photographs with the appropriate colors selected. As the original ticket booth was long gone, a cheap modern ticket booth was removed and replaced with a retro style ticket booth. The ornate new ticket booth took its inspiration from the auditorium’s organ lofts.

Built in the former rear of the orchestra seating area are two ‘black-box stadium seated auditoriums, equipped with digital surround sound. One auditorium has 150 seats, the other has 110 seats. The Ambler reopened February 28, 2003, with those two auditoriums showing the movies Nicholas Nickleby and Real Women Have Curves.

As the original 30 foot towering vertical neon sign had been demolished in the late 1960’s, an exact replica was constructed by Bartush Signs and funded in part by a Keystone Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The neon tower was installed in September, 2005 and officially lit on October 21, 2005.

Renovation of the original front section of the auditorium began March, 2007. It reopened October 5, 2007 with the film Into the Wild. The original proscenium arch opening hosts the large movie screen (30 feet wide for ‘scope films), ornate decoration on the side walls, and organ lofts. This auditorium with stadium seating for 280 people has a ceiling with what looks like wood beams, but in reality they are made of plaster.

Recent renovations have restored the marquee to its original 1928 majesty complete with neon trim and chaser lights. Additional fundraising is being undertaken for more renovations, including restoration of the facade.

Asbestos Built This Place

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This is an interior view of the Lindenwold castle located in Ambler,Pa.I took a few days off to seek out some photo subjects and stopped at the castle to see if I could snap some images.At first a friendly staff member escorted me to shoot yesterdays image outside but when we came back to the castle,she said I could photograph the upstairs by myself if I wanted.I was surprised by the offer and quickly jumped on the chance. The place was amazing and I could only imagine the elite figures from times past that gathered here to socialize. Off to the left is what she told me was called the blue room,which contrasted with the rich wood throughout this room. Dr Matteson’s fortune was made primarily by his work with asbestos.

The Gazebo

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This scene is part of the estate of the late Dr. Richard Vanselous Mattison. Some people loved him, more hated him, but everyone agrees his partnership with Henry G. Keasbey made Ambler what it is today. Richard V. Mattison was the man who put Ambler on the map. Originally, he opened up a small pharmaceutical laboratory in Philadelphia, then moved it to Ambler. Mattison experimented with the insulating properties of asbestos and opened up a plant in Ambler. By 1914, Keasbey and Mattison had become the largest supplier and manufacturer of asbestos products. Located down the street from the Ambler train station was the Century Asbestos Shingle Factory, one of Amblers most important factories. Keasbey and Mattison produced a wide range of products, from headache and stomach relief products to asbestos insulation products. They shipped their products all over the country. At one point their slogan was “Lest we forget-the BEST in asBESTos.”
Mattison owned a 400 acre estate that he remolded after the Windsor Castle in England. His estate was known as Lindenwold and included a lake, gardens, gatehouses, and elaborate stone walls. Keabey and Mattison’s top executives lived in elaborate stone houses on what was known as Lindenwold Terrace. Mattison was also responsible for building homes for his other employees and still stand today on Mattison Avenue.
To honor the memory of his daughter, Esther Victoria, who suddenly died at the age of four, Mattison built Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church. The church was consumed in a tragic fire in 1986, but the congregation promised to restore it.
In addition to bringing a new culture to Ambler, Mattison pushed for the incorporation of the town. He introduced street lighting, built Ambler’s first water system, opera house, and participated in town matters. shown is a stone wall with stone statues and the picturesque gazebo located along the lake. I got special permission to enter the property and shoot a few photos.

 

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.