Todays post features a lovely older home that is owned by someone I know and it always seems to have such an inviting charm that beckons you to stop and sit on the wrap around porch and watch the world go by. The man of the house puts the lights up and then the lady of the house adds her special decorating touches to bring it all together and finally mother nature throws a dash of snow to complete the picture. This was actually pretty challenging to shoot because the house sits on a steep hill,so I set my tripod up on my truck roof,which gave me about ten feet of elevation to help get parallel.
This winter scene came to be thanks to the generosity of the homeowner, the sleigh owner, and my crazy desire to live in the past. The red sleigh was loaned to me by a kind lady who I have done photos for,and the property was made available for my idea by a generous gentleman who entertains my wild photo ideas. The two photos represent my vision for the shot,with the top being the final shot and the bottom was my pre-planning stage to decide where to place it.
This property is an ideal backdrop for the sleigh and the building on the left was actually hand-built by the owner and his son several years ago. I put a light on a stand in that building to shine light out the window across the snow toward the sleigh and lit everything else with flash. From the light illuminating the sleigh to the shadows on the roof from the pine tree,I had to light every element. The old lantern was provided by the property owner as well,and the fancy gift packages and decoration on the sleigh was courtesy of my wife.
The tricky part in doing something like this is knowing exactly where you are going to place the sleigh,and if you look closely at the bottom shot you can see two yellow stakes at the runners leading edge,which were my target spots on the snowy night. I placed a stick in the ground to mark my shooting location and had to walk very slowly as I pulled the package laden sleigh into position.One of the annoying things I had to deal with on this night was the fact that it was still snowing as I started to get the sleigh off the trailer,so I had to keep a tarp over it and try and set packages in place on the sleigh with a tarp on top of it. Thank goodness the snow stopped just in time to let me finalize everything or else I would have had to scrap the shoot. I will definitely remember this night and the fun I had doing this shot.
This is yet another display from the historic mansion Christmas event. This display was created by a local bakery and the tree is adorned in fresh gingerbread ornaments that include snowflakes,trees and ginger bread men. There appeared to be other food items on the tree but I was not exactly sure what everything was.The left window sill features gingerbread houses and various other items round out the composition.The first exposure was done capturing the exterior light and then everything was lit by a hand-held deer spotlight in a very dark room. When you do this technique,you must be careful not to kick or bump anything as you light things or you get registration problems.
This was the only shot I did this year alone in the mansion,which can be a little spooky in the dark as you hear every sound in the old structure. Thankfully the strong smell of gingerbread filled the room and kept my mind from being distracted by noises. If only I would have had a big glass of milk,I might have been able to sample the bakery delights.
I am hoping the image that I shot tonight will be the last Christmas related image I post for the season, but who knows? This old sleigh is part of the Christmas decor at the Foxchase golf course banquet facility in Lancaster County. Each year the owners bring the old classic sleigh out of storage to brighten the season for all the events held in their Palmer room. I have seen it for several years, imagined what I might do with it, and finally decided to ask permission to shoot it. I shot it with a small flashlight, and went so far as to shoot through the branches of the tree to cast the shadow on the back corner. the blue cotton comes from using my flashlight on its cooler blue light setting and then shifting my white balance to something in the 4000 kelvin range, to give the blue snow effect. I also brought the packages in the right corner to hide carpeting that I felt hurt the image. My wife wrapped the fake packages a few years ago for my escapades each year. The owners say the sleigh dates from about 1902.Now just imagine traversing the countryside on a cold winters night, full moon illuminating the landscape, and fresh snow whipping around you, as you hold the reins in this classic ride.
This lovely scene includes the Christmas tree of Claire de Perrot, a very kind and caring lady, who granted access to both myself and good friend Morrie to allow us to photograph this Christmas tradition that goes back many years in her family. Each Christmas Eve, the tree is lit with real candles as Worshipers leave the service at the Moravian church, which can be seen through her picture window in the quaint town of Lititz,Pa.