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.
This set of images were taken in the small town of Lititz,Pa in the area known as the Moravian Church Square. It is a gorgeous section of town that includes numerous old buildings and is right along the main street. This year I spotted a dazzling yellow Ginko tree on a friday night and took a shot or two before it got dark.I called a friend to tell him he might want to check it out,and he did just that on the next day.I called him to ask if he got anything and he said all of the leaves were off,to which I laughed and said there is no way all the leaves fell off overnight. He insisted it was true so on Sunday morning I headed over at sunrise to see,and lo and behold he was telling the truth. I was busy getting more photos in the pre-dawn light when the caretaker strolled by and said he was lighting the church and hoped that would not be a problem,to which I said go for it. The added illumination inside took the stunning scene to a whole other level in my opinion,and I was very thankful not only for the beauty before me but the ability to appreciate it and capture it. I joked with the care taker about the leaves not being cleaned up because he is a very efficient worker and keeps the property well maintained and he said the parishioners love to walk down the golden path as they arrive for Sunday worship so he leaves them lay an extra day.
This home in Rockport Massachusetts beckoned me to capture its unique seacoast charm after I noticed the many old lobster buoys adorning the entrance. As I was speaking to the owners wife,she told me her husband had collected these authentic buoys along the shoreline years ago and this quaint scene had been featured in magazines more than once.
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 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.
I photographed this snow-covered scene yesterday on a back road in Amish country and it includes numerous buggies and a few walkers as they head to church at one of the farms up the road. There is actually four buggies rounding the bend but they are hard to see in the distance. I really liked the youngster bundled in the green blanket and his sister wearing the bright yellow scarf. It was 16 degrees when I snapped this image,which was made possible by using my camranger from inside my warm truck to fire the tripod mounted camera on my vehicle roof. I had no intention of going out at sunrise because freezing rain was forecast,but as I looked out my bedroom at 5am,I could see stars,so I headed out.Clouds quickly moved in to ruin sunrise and this was shot at iso 1000,which I hate to do,but it was necessary to get a 500th second shutter speed. Was really pleased I Made the effort.
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.
Each year around this time I find myself scanning the landscape for fall displays to photograph. I passed this farm stand on my travels and stopped to get permission to try a shot. The owner was more than willing to allow the endeavor and said to stop anytime. I decided to try a shot before sunrise this past weekend and assumed I would be there in the dark all by myself for a while, but to my surprise and delight,work was already under way in preparation for customers when I arrived. The owner was washing the driveway down,and to be honest I was originally going to crop the building on the right off my shot,but when the wet surface reflected the stand light,it seemed time to change my plan. So with sunrise still an hour away,I began to compose and fine tune things before the light got good.
The gorgeous sky lit up first and lasted maybe 5 minutes,but that was more than enough time to capture it and the expanse of mums that stretch toward the barn. While I was waiting for the light to begin shooting, the owner pulled up with a large produce wagon pulled by two horses and he backed that wagon into the second door as easily as driving a car,which really impressed me. Between the sky,the reflection, and the mums,I was very happy with my result. The bottom image is the angle I originally wanted to shoot for comparison and you can see the horse and wagon sitting in the field on the left.
This peaceful little scene was at our motel in Lake Placid and was worthy of a shot. We stayed at the motel three days and it was only on the last day that I walked out back and saw this view.Sometimes the shot is right under your nose,but you need to look. The cabin runs around 500 bucks for two nights but being able to look out your bedroom window at this scene might be worth every penny.There was only one Adirondack chair out front,so I shot one frame with it on the right side and then moved it to the left for a second shot.I then layered the two images together to end up with the final image,which was possible thanks to the tripod.
This is the view from our motel backyard on our Lake Placid trip. I only knew it was there on our last day,so I set the chairs up, tied the canoes fast and set the oars in position the night before. I came out at dawn in the dark,set up my laptop,tripod and camera and started lighting the scene in the dark,and then recorded the lake and sky as the sun rose. I could easily get used to sitting in those chairs and the home out on the lake with the light on is a dream location to live.
This is a wall mural on the side of a small shop in a local town. I have no idea why this subject was painted but the artist is Wayne Fettro,who seems to do a lot of this type of work. I decided some light painting was in order to showcase the work.It took about 10 different flash pops to do everything.
As the sun rises on an autumn morning,this leafless tree stands as a reminder that winter is not far away. This is one of my favorite times of the year, when leaves fall all around you and a chill is in the early morning air. A time when frost coats the landscape and the rising sun brings welcome warmth to those seeking out the changing of the seasons.
A new day begins on an Amish farm as the sky overhead begins to light up from the rising sun. A light in the barn signals the beginning of the first cow milking session,which must be done more than once a day.The field in the foreground was filled with corn last week,but as fall approaches,the harvesting becomes more frequent across the landscape.
This image was taken recently while I was out shooting with a good friend. We were hoping to get a sunrise shot and I was pretty sure we were not going to get anything till we rounded a bend and saw the foggy valley ready to see the first rays of sunshine. I parked quickly and grabbed my gear and rushed across the road barely in time to frame the shot before the flare overwhelmed the scene. Thirty seconds later,it was hopeless trying to shoot with the sun in the shot.
This is one of those images that frustrates me as I try to get it to look like it did when I shot it. The road was glowing from the previous night’s rain and the rising sun, and the sun was a nice ball through the fog,yet I could not get it to reproduce exactly like it was, so this is as close as it gets. I was hoping for an Amish buggy or some cool subject to be a silhouette in the opening, but unfortunately I was all alone on this foggy back road.
This weekend included another mud sale in the region, and the day started with heavy fog, which quickly burned off to reveal beautiful sunny skies. I would rather have overcast to shoot people pics, but you take what you can get. I arrived at the sale location almost an hour and a half early so I could park reasonably close to the sale, mainly because I absolutely hate taking shuttle buses to and from an event. The image shown here was the first image of the day and was taken as I walked the hundred yards or so from where I parked to the sale site. I liked the receding trees in the early fog and the sun making an appearance. I will share some Amish shots from the sale over the next few days, which includes a great image of some Amish girls I photographed,so stay tuned.
The other day I posted an image from my Canadian Rockies photo trip a few years back, and I got to reminiscing about the experience I had at Moraine Lake, which is shown here. As usual I like to travel in the fall, because I thoroughly enjoy the early mornings with frost and the fresh air this time of year, and I always wait till the bitter end to make any sort of reservation. This trip I decided I would stay at the moraine lake lodge with my wife for several days to take in the mountain grandeur, but I was quickly told we were not staying there after hearing it was almost 400 dollars a night. I stood my ground and we stayed one single night in a room with a fireplace looking out at this lake. To me it was worth every penny,as I woke to head out before dawn to shoot under a lovely sunrise.
Let me explain a bit about my one and only trip to a place where you can be the main course on the menu at any moment. When we arrived, there were two nice sized bears in the parking lot roaming around, which gave me reason to ponder my usual early morning escapades. Signs were everywhere to travel in groups of 4 or more, and make lots of noise. Upon checking in, I said I wanted to hike the 30 minutes or so to this lookout to shoot sunrise, and the girl at the desk said you have two options. First was simply sleep in, and the second was to carry a bottle of pepper spray that was about the size of a small fire extinguisher. I opted for the spray, headed out at dark in the morning and was totally alone for at least an hour. I made so much noise going up that trail, hand on the trigger just in case, and a few prayers said along the way. I kept thinking all they will find is my gear, a chewed up pepper spray bottle, and a bear taking a nap. It really was nerve-racking, but the view up here was unbelievable. I have never seen such aqua/turquoise color in water ever. The angle of the rising sun was less than ideal,but it was sweet nonetheless.
The following day we stayed at a B&B in Banff, and the owner showed us his scrapbook of a mountain lion he shot under his porch. The thing was being held under its front legs and was taller than this guy,who was pretty darn tall. Its kind of humorous, because I started seeing signs for mountain lion activity in places we hiked and I would extend my Gitzo tripod legs all the way out,thinking I would whack this thing if it got any bright ideas. Someone said if they are stalking you, you would never know it till they pounce. Nothing gives you a better sense of being alive than to know you are not the king of the mountains and you better tread cautiously.
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.
Several people who know me have commented that they enjoy my light painting photos, but want to see more of my nature and scenic photography, so I will appease them with a shot I did in Acadia National Park one fall morning. I really love traveling to the New England states in autumn, because the landscapes and quaint villages make for some terrific possibilities. Many times in the past I have made the trek to Vermont and New Hampshire, only to find a nasty batch of bad weather has destroyed most of the fall color, or I am slightly early or late. After suffering through that situation several times, I started to have a back up plan each trip, and that turned out to be the great state of Maine. The beauty of Maine is the fact that even if the color is a flop, you can hit places like Acadia National Park, which is really quite spectacular. It features a rugged rock lined coast, lovely pines, crashing surf and more. The title of my post refers to the fact that I headed to this mountaintop overlook Four days in a row, and on the very last day I was rewarded with this sunrise. This view is from Cadillac mountain in Acadia, which is the highest point along the atlantic seaboard and the first place you can see the sunrise in the United States. Each day before this one was full of nasty winds, rain, thick fog,etc, but this day awoke to the ocean being covered in a spectacular wave of rolling fog. The Sun made an appearance and provided the finishing touch to the scene. All the mornings of getting up an hour and a half before dawn for nothing great, were soon forgotten as I took in the awesome scene before me.
A few tidbits of info for anyone contemplating visiting Acadia or anywhere along the coast of maine. First take plenty of high-capacity memory cards, wake early and see things that 99 percent of tourists miss by sleeping in. Next, if you are one that likes to get unique perspectives, be aware that if you fall in the surf or get washed out in Maine, chances are fairly good that you are finished. Maine pretty much figures if you are brave or stupid enough to be pulled in, that’s your problem. I basically like that view and will tell two simple stories of my escapades in Maine.
The first is from a trip I took to Acadia years ago, and as I was working the rocky coast, I made my way along a ledge that lead to a small cove of rocks that was almost ten feet high by about twenty feet wide. I was dazzled by the crashing surf on the rocks below,which were at least 8 feet below me,and even though I knew the tide was coming in, I was oblivious to that fact. After about thirty minutes of shooting, I noticed the ledge I came in on, was now under two feet of water. If you ever had a scare where you feel your heart racing, then you know what I felt at that moment. My only possible way out was to climb the sheer walls in this cove, and I did that by using my Gitzo tripod,which is very strong,and I literally stood on it to reach the top. All this while The surf was spraying me occasionally and getting closer. It was a real eye opener, because had The surf got me, that would have been all she wrote.
My next memory of Maine involves a trip to the Portland Headlight, which in my view is a very gorgeous lighthouse. Anyway, as usual,they have a fence to kind of keep you off the rocks, but again, if you are after that special image, you most certainly feel the call to jump that fence. I have ventured into this usually very safe landscape of granite many times, and gotten great images over the years. On this particular trip I was somewhat close to the ocean, but I was standing on a mountain of a rock that no kidding was at least 25 feet high and 20 feet square.This rock was far enough and high enough from the crashing surf that the incoming waves were only just nipping at the rock next to mine. To get a clear picture, imagine you are on a 25 foot high rock and there is a two foot gap to the next rock and you can look down and see surf at the bottom. wave after wave mildly washed around the bottom few feet of these house sized monsters. As I was looking through the viewfinder, I hear a thunderous crash and look up to see the entire rock next to mine covered, the 25 ft deep crevasse filled with water and water washing up to my ankles. If you have never heard the term, rogue wave, familiarize yourself with it, before hitting Maine. Those memories are forever etched in my mind because of the intensity of the experience.
Okay, one more funny one,to me anyway. I was photographing at the pemaquid lighthouse one fall morning. There was only one other guy there shooting. I said hi and noticed a small sticker on his tripod that said John Shaw. I asked why he had a John Shaw sticker and he said well, it’s because I am John Shaw. For anyone who does not know him, he is a fairly well-known nature photographer who has published numerous books. I had all his books, but in person, he looked different than I remembered. He was very cordial, left me load a roll of 220 velvia slide film in his fuji panoramic camera and shoot a series with it. I was dazzled by the meeting and even had my wife snap our picture together.
With temperatures climbing past 60 degrees today, I started to reminisce about a couple of images from the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival a few years ago. Art comes in many forms and I am always amazed what these sand sculptors create with several million grains of sand. These are good examples of getting up before the rest of the world to get images others rarely see. Now I can only hope for a good arctic blast to set everything back on its proper course, and maybe get some snow sculptures instead.
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.