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.

A Day Like No Other

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Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Nickel Mines tragedy here in Lancaster county and it is something that still cuts me to the core today as I pass by the site often while out taking photos.This image is one of my favorite cemetery images that I have taken and captures just how many are feeling today. I have come to know the coroner who had to visit this scene of untold tragedy and her journey to find a sense of normalcy has been a long one but thankfully she has gotten help and is coping with what she saw that day. Today say a prayer for those touched by this tragedy from the police and emergency personnel who responded to the family’s who lost five precious little ones.

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.

Summer Bouquet

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I came upon these Amish girls scooting along a country road and noticed there was a patch of flowers ahead,so I made my way up the road and waited till they passed that spot.The dresses were colorful and so were the scooters and the whole scene was very summer like. My only regret is that I did not turn and get a shot of them approaching because you could have seen the little girl in front of the oldest girl as they rode the scooter together.

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.

Almost Heaven,West Virginia

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This past weekend a good friend suggested we head to West Virginia to catch some fall foliage and I am so glad we did.I normally like to head to New England in the fall but the forecast was for lackluster color there this year so heading south sounded like a great idea. We only had two days and our main destination was a place of natural beauty called Dolly Sods. On the way there I spotted this lovely red barn with fall foliage as a backdrop,so we stopped and I asked if I might be able to snap a few shots? The owner was very gracious and obliged my request and as I walked out the path to the barn I saw this old wagon sitting in the field and decided to take a shot. I think the composition is just right and the foliage was a perfect complement to the red barn. For those who don’t get the title, it is a line from an old John Denver song that I jokingly was singing on the trip. We had a great two days of shooting but man do they have steep hills in that state and when I was in my early twenties I drove truck and on one trip the truck blew up in West Virginia and we were stuck there for days and I remember feeling like we were in the most remote place on earth, which is not the case but some of the valleys make me feel that way. This photo was taken in what I would say was one of the more open valleys that we came across.

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.

 

 

 

Seen It All

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Just when I think I have seen just about every crazy sight in Amish country, along comes someone doing something even more interesting than the last. This road is a well-traveled thoroughfare with cars coming at a pretty regular pace,so imagine my surprise when I am coming up the road and I see what appears to be an Amish man moving a large shed with a tow motor? He was along the side of the road but he was having difficulty and kept getting off the tow motor and walking to the other end,which I could not see. I pulled over to watch because it seemed like it was a disaster in the making, and at one point he got it going again and was now in the lane of travel. All of a sudden it starts to rotate and suddenly I see a second tow motor on the other end. Imagine trying to move something where you can’t see the other end, or what the other guy is doing. They had no walkie talkies,no yelling,no nothing but fly by the seat of your pants and cross your fingers.The photo shows them blocking both lanes and amazingly no one came during the time they were doing this manuever. They got it into a narrow driveway on the first try which really amazed me.I was waiting for the whole shed to roll over and block the entire road, but they pulled it off.

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

Wheels of Progress

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I must admit I do not know exactly how this contraption works but I believe it is a threshing machine used to separate grains from the stalk. It was being demonstrated at the threshermans reunion this past week.I shot this with flash at dusk when everyone was watching other events. Old machinery can be quite amazing in its intricate design and construction.

Obstacle Course

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A group of Amish spectators watch an old steam engine competition at the Rough and Tumble reunion. This event featured the tractor team navigating an obstacle course,and just a few feet ahead they stopped and blind folded the driver and the guy sitting on the back got off and connected ropes to the drivers arms and controlled the tractor direction by tugging on the ropes much like controlling a horse.

Steaming Out Of The Past

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I spent two hours this week at the Rough and Tumble historical associations threshermen’s reunion in Lancaster county,Pa. This event features all kinds of old steam engines and rusty iron machinery from the past. To see these incredible machines in operation is something to witness and their whistles are a whole other story,and after standing right beside one when the whistle blew,I can tell you it is something you wont soon forget. These two beauties were lined up at dusk and even though I came upon them later than I would like,there was still enough color in the sky to try a shot. The engine in front is a 1913 Frick Eclipse steam tractor owned by Jim Wright and the one behind is a 1912 Aultman Taylor steam tractor owned by Gary and Russel Bingaman. 

Mud Sale Delivery Crew

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Amish boys bring their wagons to the mud sales and offer assistance to buyers who need to get purchases to their cars from the auction site.The popularity of the mud sales means parking is hard to come by and walking a half mile or more is not unheard of. For me,I get there around 530 in the morning,get the best parking available and then sleep till the sun comes up. The boys make a few dollars off each patron and the english as they are referred too, love to have the boys help, and for many it is their closest interaction with the Amish. Each worker tries to stand out, and customizing their wagons with signs is all part of the fun as shown in the middle image.The bottom photo shows how muddy it usually is and shows the boys hauling practically anything.

Fleeting Moment Missed

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Yesterday I posted the six boys looking the same direction and after reviewing my images from that day,I realized I had another image of them earlier in the day. This shot stands out in my memory because of the shot I missed right after this one. Whenever I attend events like this were Amish will be attending, I try and lay low below the radar and I try to capture spontaneous moments using long lenses. I snapped this image and immediately looked away to not draw attention to myself but as I glanced back at them I saw the smallest boy had both his thumbs against his cheeks with his hands stretched open and his tongue out as he made the funny face at whoever they were looking at.I no sooner started to lift my camera and he was finished with the show,and I can only imagine the unique shot I would have gotten. The Amish are generally conservative but I do occasionally see glimpses of things that reflect what the rest of the world does and these were just boys being boys.

Full Throttle Mud Sale

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These Amish youngsters checks out kids motorcycles at the local mud sales. The boy in the upper photo tried the throttle and nothing happened but his imagination was wondering what it might be like to ride this pint-sized Harley, and the boys in the lower photo seem to have a need for speed as the check a kids road bike.Both cycles are kind of unique at a mud sale but you will see all kinds of stuff there.