Photography can be a very satisfying endeavor when you express your creativity and bring a subject to life such as this image.This was the last real snowstorm for this winter and I always liked this home for its unique charm so when I saw the faint form of the snow-covered steps as I drove by,it set the wheels in motion to ask if I could try a shot. The owner gladly obliged and I set off to light the scene as I envisioned it. This shot ranks right up there among my favorites for this winters shooting and compositionally everything works in harmony. There always seems to be a twist to my endeavors and after I knew I had captured the un-tracked snow,I headed up into the yard to begin lighting the house,when all of a sudden I hear a guy say in a rather gruff manner-who are you?, to which I shot back who are you? He says it’s not my property and wants to know what am I doing in the yard? I tell him I have permission and then his demeanor becomes a little more amenable. He tells me he is just looking out for his neighbors,which is understandable.
A few days ago I commented about wanting some more snow this year yet, and lo and behold we got a significant storm that left the region in a glorious coat of white. I shot more beautiful snow scenes in the last two days than all winter before that point. The night it snowed I was out shooting till almost ten at night in a landscape with literally no cars out and about, and then before and after work hoping to get as much captured before it melts. The scene shown here was yesterday morning when the temperature in my truck displayed -6 as I left at 5am to seek out images. The image above was shot later in the morning when it warmed slightly and this shot was captured as I was ready to give up for the morning.
I found this sweeping vista with the road curving into the distance and I had seen a lot of buggies heading to the seasons first mud sale, which is basically an auction held in the spring by various fire companies and the local Amish attend in large numbers. It is called a mud sale because the ground is usually a sloppy mess when they are held,so anyway back to the photo.I set up here with the hope a buggy would pass by and because this location is many miles from the sale I had no idea if a buggy would even be on this road? After 20 minutes of standing in the snow,I gave myself a three-minute countdown to leave and just as I did that I heard the clip clop sound in the distance. I basically looked through the lens and waited for the buggies arrival in the scene and was really excited when I saw the young lad being pulled behind on his wagon. He was probably going to be a runner at the sale and runners help the buyers haul their goodies to their cars which often times are a mile or more away from the sale site due to parking craziness in the country. He seemed to not mind the bitter cold ride and if you look closely you can see someone inside the buggy peeking out the back to either look at me or talk to him. Hopefully I can get to the new images to share before the tulips are blooming,so stay tuned.
Actually a warm seat awaits across the street at the Tomato Pie Cafe in downtown Lititz ,Pa. I photographed this ice sculpture yesterday and thanks to a stretch of bitter weather, it is still hanging around from last weekends fire and ice festival. The cafe recently added sunday hours and judging by all the footprints in the snow,it seems half the town was headed there. I light painted the scene to add some texture to the snow on an otherwise overcast and flat light morning. I would have preferred fresh untouched snow but folks must have been out and about saturday night leaving all the tracks so it works for a cool shot. This was the first day temperatures climbed to the freezing mark and seemed downright balmy while I shot this.
Actually it’s getting harder and harder to find farms that still use the old windmill,but this one stood out pretty prominently as I crested a hill and got this lovely view across the valley featuring numerous farms.The red barns illuminated by late day sun stood out as the focal point among the many farms.
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.
This image features a local farm-house and a gazebo the owners have positioned across the street to relax in. I waited till dusk to capture the glow of the gazebo lights against the cold of the night. I used my flashlight to bring out the stairway path in the snow as well as the snow texture in the foreground. I once again used my camranger wi-fi device with my tablet to fire the camera and review the images,all the while from a camera that was close to a hundred yards away. I could not dream of pulling a shot like this off without that device. It does have a slightly slower transfer rate to the tablet at this distance,but that’s still pretty impressive.
Every winter I find myself thinking of different images that I would like to create or hopefully find somewhere to shoot. For years I had this dream of getting out after a heavy snowstorm and building some nice snowmen,dressing them in colorful accents and placing them in the perfect scene.Well this exact scenario came to fruition recently thanks to a family that decided to get out and spend some quality time together in the snow. My wife was headed to work one day and called me to say I needed to check out five well done snowmen she had seen, to which I said yeah right.Upon further consideration I thought I better at least look and see if her suggestion was worth a shot and to my surprise it was absolutely perfect.
Not only did this family of five create one snowman for each family member,but they added colorful accents,had them positioned nicely,and even kept the ground covered in snow so no ugly grass showed. Add to all that the fact that the house was glowing with warm illumination and the trees were adorned with snow and I had all the elements to make a picture perfect moment.When I pulled into the driveway and rang the doorbell,no one was home and I was only 30 minutes from needing to set up for the shot so I visited a few neighbors who kindly gave me a work number for the owner and thankfully he said go for it and he would be home in a little while.Its not everyday someone calls you to shoot a snowman photo,so I am sure he thought this seemed a bit strange.I lit the scene with my flashlight to bring out the details and make them stand out in the scene. Many thanks to mom,dad and the three girls for your ambition and creativity.
This spot is a recent find I made and one I hope to work more in the future. The snow was very textured,possibly from strong winds at some point.This is an Amish farm and I think the light in the house is from a propane or kerosene light lantern.This snow was extremely hard to traverse because it had a hard crust that you would break through and sink eight inches with each step. I also got zapped twice on the electric fence going in and leaving this field,which my friend thought was hilarious. When I stopped to ask about taking photos,I was greeted by a large dog that appeared friendly as I called him over,and then after I was 6 feet from the car,he started growling pretty good and seemed like he was ready to rip into my leg,and thankfully the owner came out and the dog calmed down.
This early morning image had all the earmarks of becoming a spectacular shot and although it turned out very nice,it could have been much better. the sky was just filled with clouds that would have lit up at sunrise but for some reason it kind of fizzled just when I was getting excited about the shot. I had to find the farmer in the barn as he was milking cows to ask if I could go on the land and he was more than happy to oblige. One funny thing that happened several times in the last week is me getting shocked as I climb over the electrified fences.Each time I gave them a cursory couple touches with the hand and each time nothing,until I start climbing or going under the fence and sure enough I get zapped. It kind of helps you get over the fence a little quicker.
This is a stream located along a quiet country road in Lancaster County,and it includes a farm at the end of the stream and several majestic old trees. This is not the first time I have attempted to photograph this lovely setting but it is the first time I had the opportunity to use my new flashlight to add some interesting light to help accentuate the lay of the land. One reason this spot appeals to me is because the trees are against the clear horizon,so they stand out nicely and do not blend in with the land. It was around 4 degrees when I photographed this,which took close to an hour or more to capture.One thing that puzzles me is how the temperature actual drops after sunrise on days like this. It was 11 degrees when I left home and after the sun came up,it dropped to 4 so go figure. I photographed the farm located beside this stream the night before and that image is awesome but the owners asked me not to post that,so I agreed not to show it here unfortunately.
This telephoto shot compressed the distance between the one room school-house in the middle and two Amish farms in the background. I find it humorous how modern schools have closed several times due to low temperatures,yet Amish kids still walk to school and attend on the days public schools are closed. I spoke to an Amish friend and he told me ”we love our children just as much,we just don’t think they need to be sheltered from every adversity”. Some people wonder how the Amish can live without all the modern gadgets,yet they have things many can only dream of,like contentment, humility and the list goes on and on. Imagine sitting in the outhouse at that school in minus 10 degree weather,and you can bet you would take care of business in a timely fashion.
This lovely farm sells Christmas trees and they were generous enough to allow me and a friend to capture a few images.We arrived under heavy cloud cover but within a few minutes the sky started to open and I captured this shot as the first rays of sun illuminated the house and barn but still left the trees in shadow.
Todays photo of the day features the Historic Smithton Inn located in Ephrata ,Pa. Innkeepers Dave and Rebecca Gallagher have painstakingly restored this beautiful property and it now functions as a highly rated B&B welcoming guests from all over the world who are visiting quaint Lancaster County. This year marked the 250th anniversary of the inn and the owners have hosted many events over the past year,which have benefitted many charities. Of all the folks I have worked with doing photos,Rebecca has been one of the most appreciative,which makes my efforts easier. I probably spent close to three hours bringing this image to completion and it included dozens of images.
The middle image is the starting point with no light added and the top image is after adding light from various angles. If you notice,the lamps were not lit when I got there,so I used a spotlight to light them and the ground below them.Most other areas were lit by flash.Take special note of the unique three-dimensional design on the wall shown up close in the bottom photo. I have no idea how that was done,but it is very unique.
This nativity is located on the square in the town of Lititz,PA, and a few years ago someone complained and the ACLU got involved trying to ban the display. Thankfully the land is owned by the Church and the ACLU and its misguided agenda were sent packing. Wishing all my loyal blog followers a Merry Christmas.
This snow-covered stone wall frames the lane leading in to this rural home. I looked out my bedroom window in the early pre-dawn light and had an inclination the sunrise would be good,so I bundled up and headed out in search of a scene to capture. I passed this place,hit the brakes and backed up to capture the gorgeous light on the landscape.
This lovely scene was one I captured last weekend as I drove home in some rather treacherous wintry conditions, but they were not bad enough to stop me from shooting this Currier and Ives picture postcard type scene. It was actually half snowing and sleeting the whole time and thankfully I had an umbrella clamped to my tripod to protect the camera somewhat. I have great memories of gathering with the family during the holidays and going to grandma and grandpa’s house to savor all the treats that only grandma seemed to be able to make. From sand tart cookies that melted in your mouth to glazed carrots that were a perennial favorite with the whole family,oh how we all long for the good old days. below are the beginning lyrics to two classic holiday tunes that you can sing to yourself as you imagine curling up by the fireplace in this classic home on a frigid night.
Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,
For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home.
or this lyric from the song sleigh ride
There’s a happy feeling
Nothing in the world can buy,
When they pass around the coffee
And the pumpkin pie,
It’ll nearly be like a picture print
By Currier and Ives,
These wonderful things are the things
We remember all through our lives!
Opportunities like this don’t come along very often because freezing rain on top of snow is not that commonplace. The glistening coating makes for a lovely canvas for light to reflect and shimmer across the surface. I had plans for a cool shot after sunset but the sun disappeared behind a cloud bank shortly after this image. A light snow also came last night which has ruined the chance for more images like this but I have no complaints because we finally are having a winter with snow again.
This image is from this weekend and features the amazingly beautiful St Luke’s Church in Lebanon ,Pa. You would never know it from this photo,but there was a raging snowstorm dropping lots of snow all around me. This side entrance gave me a little cover while I was shooting but I had to continually clean snow off my lens and laptop the entire time. The ride home was about twenty miles and more than once I had to slow to a crawl just to see the road in front with the white out conditions.
The entire entrance,including the lantern were lit using my deer spotlight and without the lit shining,I felt it would not have the warmth I was after. This image took me about 40 minutes to do and I hope to be able to photograph the sanctuary as well,which is stunning. I used a 17 mm to get this wide view but could have used even wider if I had it,plus I lost a little angle when I corrected for the tilt. They sure don’t build them like this anymore. The bottom image shows the general conditions I saw when I began photographing the scene.
This snow scene was shot only a few hours later than my gazebo shot from yesterday. I literally went to bed just before midnight,tossed and turned as I thought about scenes to capture and climbed out of bed before 4am to head out looking. Again the full moon had the landscape lit up as evidenced by this shot taken around four thirty in the morning.A farm with silos glows in the distance as a bright star on top reflects in this peaceful stream.If you look closely,you can see stars in the night sky.
Tried another location for the sleigh I borrowed recently, and this time I wanted to show the beauty of the sleigh from the back.This old farmhouse has been lovingly restored by the current owners, and I thought it created another scenic backdrop for the sleigh. A lovely sunset kicked off the photo shoot and then I proceeded to light paint the sleigh,buildings, and even skim some light across the snow to reveal texture. A street light behind me cast some terrible shadows across the snow,so by lighting the snow I overpowered the street light to help pull the shot off.The sleigh was one of the first areas I lit and thank goodness for that, because three separate times I had to pick up packages that got blown off in about 15 mph winds. Would love to have a good horse to pull me as I take a ride in this thing instead of just hauling it on a trailer.
I ran the sleigh photo idea by the owner a year ago and they were excited about it,but the day I shot this,I could not get a hold of them,so they were surprised to see the sleigh in their yard and me hard at work photographing it that evening as they came home from a brief vacation. All in all I am very happy with the result of this little escapade with the old sleigh. Now lets see whats in those packages.
Yesterday we got a light dusting of snow and once again it was nothing to get excited about. For some reason I woke up a little early this morning, and took a peek out the front window, and I saw a nice pastel sky with an near full moon getting lower to the horizon. I hurriedly threw on some clothes, while my mind raced to think of any possible locations to shoot. Nothing came to me, so I just drove around and ended up with these two so-so images. Hopefully some significant snowstorms are still coming this year yet, so I can get some real snow scenes.The windows in the house are illuminated by the rapidly approaching sunrise behind me.
I was hoping to sleep in this morning, but I woke up early thinking about several photo projects I am planning, so I bundled up and headed out for a potential sunrise. Temperatures were right at 20 degrees,which is not that cold, but when the sunrise is a bust, it seems colder as you wish you were home in a warm bed instead. After conceding the sunrise was not happening, I headed home and suddenly the rays broke through the clouds and side lit the plowed snow along this country road. It only lasted a minute or two, but I had my gear on the seat and captured the fleeting moment.
Tonight you could feel the cold raw air on your neck as a wintry mix moved into our area. Freezing rain, snow and everything in between are possible,but unfortunately it sounds like it will be just a small storm. For those who enjoy taking photos, it’s the kind of storm that leaves you wishing for a good old-fashioned nor’easter that drops inch after inch all night long, and as you lay in your warm bed listening to the wind howl, you anxiously await first light and the glorious landscape. Tomorrow I am shooting a few antique items using light painting, so unless the storm surprises me, I plan to be inside most of the day. This image was taken last year about the same time as everything was covered by freezing rain, and I found myself rushing around to catch the endless possibilities that were melting before my eyes. Author Bill Watterson once said “getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery” and that sums things up pretty well.
Although we still have not had any significant snowfall this year, I thought I would share an image I took exactly one year ago during the same week. I mention in my about me section that photographs can trigger many memories, and I remember this day like it was yesterday. A fast-moving storm coated the region in fresh snowfall just in time for weekend shooting, and as I drove around looking for images, I found this church and cemetery ready to greet the new day. Winds of 25mph plus were howling as the front moved through and even using hand warmers left me in a good deal of pain from the wind chill. I composed this image this way to direct your eye through the scene, going from the stones to the church to finally the sunlit clouds. Despite the brutal cold, I enjoy feeling the wind, snow and cold hit me, verses sleeping in a warm bed and watching the world go by. As they say, no pain, no gain.