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

Giving Thanks

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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.

Autumn Sunset

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This gorgeous location is situated right in the back yard of a lovely Lancaster county property and overlooks a creek and Amish farm country.I had the privilege of being allowed to photograph here last winter and recently noticed the fall foliage from a distance away while driving in the area.I decided to stop and see what things looked like and was rewarded with this glorious scene featuring fall foliage,several farms and a lovely sky at dusk.This property features numerous old trees that are full of character and I hope to capture their grandeur this winter.

A Round The Hay Field

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This field of round hay bales looked especially appealing in the late day light of an approaching storm. I was slightly concerned as I shot this because I was on my truck roof with my tripod extended and there were a few flickers of lightning in the distance.The lower image includes the machine that makes the bales and a load of bales ready to leave the field.That image was taken across the road in a second field that evening and I am pretty sure the large field got drenched before they were collected.

Amish Balloon Sight Seeing

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This series of images were captured on friday evening in rural Lancaster county.The top image was taken as the pair of balloons slowly drifted across the fields on their way to landing on the road.The second image is my favorite and includes a buggy load of locals who rode up to watch the spectacle and the second deflated balloon is barely visible on the right in that image.The third shot includes some Amish volunteers who stepped forward to help fold the balloons up. A young man who was a tourist came over to me in utter shock to tell me the balloons were actually sitting right on the road,and I said relax,you see stuff like that in the country all the time.I was surprised they waved this truck to come through while they were getting ready to deflate.

Windmill Country

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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.

The Enveloping Freeze

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Finding any body of water around the area that is not completely frozen over has been a bit of a challenge this winter. This partially thawed farm pond was a bit of a surprise with temperatures in the single digits.It must be a spring fed pond to stay open at this point in the season and the temperature at daybreak was a crisp minus 5 degrees.

Winter Zen Moment

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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.

I Had A Dream

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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.

Sunset at Suppertime

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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.

Sunset Across The Valley

churchtown-farms-snowThe last light of day skims across the farmland in this snow-covered valley. I came to a quick stop in order to jump out of my truck and capture this fleeting moment.Less than five minutes later,the sun had dropped below the mountains and the cold of evening began to envelop the region.

Cemetery shadows

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I photographed this cemetery scene last evening as the sun set on another cold day. This shot was only possible by shooting two exposures because the flare was too overbearing,so I blocked the top half with my hand as I captured a flare free bottom of the shot, and then I had to wait till the sun was right on the horizon to get the second part of the shot. The only thing that is less than perfect is the fact that the sun set to the right of where it was when it cast the shadows,and unfortunately there were little if any shadows when it got low enough to capture it properly,so I had to use the two images I did.

Winter at the Cemetery

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I headed out to a local cemetery to try some light painting this past weekend and once again temperatures in the single digits tested my dedication to the craft. The sunset was nice and the colorful sky in this image is part light from sunset and the city nearby,which gave a neat effect. I used my nitecor flashlight to illuminate the chapel,trees,snow and tombstones. I always am on my toes when I am alone in places like this because I have seen homeless sleeping here,but not with the temperatures we have right now. I was also worried the gate might be closed when I went to leave but thankfully that was not the case.

An Illuminating Path

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Lanterns mark the path for guests on their way to hear a chorus sing at the Historic Ephrata Cloister. Thankfully, snow had fallen the day of this event and made a perfect setting for the glowing candles in these lanterns.

Glaze of Ice

 

Icy-snow-tree-sunsetOpportunities 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.

 

History Awaits

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This image taken at dusk features the historic Ephrata Cloister. It is a National Historic Landmark and looks even more special in a fresh blanket of white. Snow came fast and hard during the day,but clearing skies in the evening provided a perfect backdrop.

 

Winter Wonderland

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A fresh snow blankets the sleepy little village of Lititz,Pa on a quiet night. These poor snowman and santa are trapped behind glass and wish they could get out to frolic in this winter wonderland.

Motif Number One

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Rockport Massachusetts was one stop on my brief new england photo trip and shooting this classic scene was among my goals. I learned something new about this spot after hearing a term mentioned by three separate people in about an hours time. This place is referred to as motif number one,and is located on Bradley Wharf in the harbor town of Rockport, Massachusetts.It is a fishing shack well-known to students of art and art history as “the most often-painted building in America.”  It is even listed on my atlas as motif one,which surprised me. It s very interesting to watch the fisherman stand in these little boats in the foreground to paddle out to their fishing boats in the morning. Super storm  Sandy undermined one wall at the harbor but they escaped with much less damage than most. Our motel owner said the water came up to the ice machine there and the motel sits about 40 feet or more above the ocean and they stayed for the whole storm.

Beauty in a Window

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As we drove down the street in Rockport Massachusetts, an art gallery caught my eye because of the warm light inside and the cool light of dusk outside. The owner was getting ready to close for the day so I was only able to get four exposures taken before the lights went out. The title of my image refers not only to the window overall but the lovely portrait showcased in the center. This is the gallery featuring the art of Luisa F.V. Cleaves, a contemporary artist and painter from this coastal town. Next time we pass this way, I will try to slow down and visit the many quaint shops in town. My friend says I get tunnel vision when I am photographing and I know this to be true, because when I was here 10 years ago with my wife, I never stopped to even realize they had shops. We got the absolute best croissants in this town from a place called Helmut’s Strudel shop. If you are ever in Rockport,take some time to visit this talented artists gallery and the many unique shops located along main street in town.

Impending Storm

 

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This home was once owned by Jacob Konigmacher, a prominent member of the German Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Ephrata.The land on which the Konigmacher House rests was once part of a 180-acre tract deeded by William Penn’s sons to John Miley in 1739. The existing house was built by Heinrich Miller sometime before his death in 1778. It is now owned by a real estate company and it is one stop on a driving tour of eighteenth century homes. I light painted the home as it was getting dark, and I was interrupted by a nasty storm that quickly blew through. Holding an aluminum pole ten feet in the air with a flash attached while it is lightning is not something I like to do,so I used what I had up to this point to produce this result.

 

Coming in Hot

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This might be the last pair of images from this subject unless I  come up with something more imaginative. To be honest,I was somewhat disappointed with my burning steel wool result and perhaps that’s because the rusty subject gets lost in the burning embers? I only tried about five steel wool spins due the fact that I was right by a busy highway and I didn’t want the cops harassing me. The bottom image is the same as the top except for sparks,and that was light painted using my flash.

For those not familiar with burning steel wool, you need fine grade steel wool,which burns better than coarse,and a device to spin it. I took a steel kitchen whisk, which holds the steel wool inside and then I took a wooden handle and mounted a pulley with a screw that allows the pulley to freely spin and then attached a steel cable to the pulley and whisk. I simply load the whisk with steel wool,light it and then start spinning the thing rapidly. As the air hits the wool,it becomes a raging flame thrower, so wear protective clothes,eye protection etc. Always have a fire extinguisher handy and do it when its damp outside at your own risk. One steel wool pad burns about 30 seconds or so and you should also keep your camera out of the ember zone.One guy on the net had a Nikon 14-24mm lens get messed up when an ember fused on his front element.

Meet Miss Virginia

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This was my third subject to light paint on the evening I was allowed to shoot at the air show. It is a lovingly restored and highly polished  C-47 named Miss Virginia. A moon rising in the background added an extra detail to the shot. According to web sources,this restoration took over 7000 hours and the aircraft was named Miss Virginia to honor both the military and the state of Virginia. Miss Virginia was the name of the P-38 lightning that shot down Japanese Admiral Yamamoto in 1943.


			

Wings of Glory

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Our local airport was the sight for a community event showcasing numerous airplanes and flying machines in a celebration of flight this past weekend. I am not a big fan of plane photos with a ton of people standing around,so I inquired whether there was any chance to come out after the show closed and do some light painting images of planes on the tarmac. Thankfully,I spoke to one of the gentlemen in charge and he was willing to trust me and allow me to give it a whirl. I returned later than I had hoped to,and that forced me to make quick decisions about what I could shoot in a short time frame till it was pitch dark out. The sunset was a huge disappointment for my background,but I lit the plane with about twelve pops of the flash at various angles and this was the result. Special thanks to Austin for the opportunity to shoot these special vehicles.

The plane shown above is the only restored flying B-24j in the world and is owned by the Collings foundation. Read more about it at http://www.collingsfoundation.org

The Waiting Game

amish-farm-fenceThis farm and fence shot proves that a mediocre scene can become a winner with the right light. I have driven past this spot dozens of times and never gave it a thought before,but late evening sidelight and a dark sky behind the barn made me pull over on this occasion. I liked the leading line of the fence but hated the empty road,so I decided to sit till dark if necessary to get a buggy or something interesting passing by. Well I sat and sat,and thought you got to be kidding me that no buggies are out tonight,and an hour in this lone buggy came trotting by just as the youngster was coming to feed the horses. He looked so serious,I thought he was going to say get lost,but he merely fed the mother and colt.

One thing I remember about this evening was the group of Amish kids at the farm behind me who were watching me from behind the raspberry bushes and when I would turn they would duck,as if I had no clue they were there.Finally one got brave enough to move closer and smile and wave.They are always intrigued by the camera on the tripod and must have wondered what this idiot saw that was worth waiting so long for.It was the only shot I got that night but was well worth the drive in my opinion.

Lincoln Slept Here

 

_mountian-springs-flowers2-copyThis is the only remaining structure left from the mountain springs resort built in 1848 and the rest was torn down several years ago ,with this part being restored. It sits on a steep hill and the large expanse of coneflowers made an impressive foreground so I made an attempt to capture the scene.The hill falls away fast,which necessitated me placing my tripod at maximum height and using my laptop to gets things lined up correctly. I started shooting about an hour before sunset and held in there till the sky started to light up with an amazing sunset. I almost wished I had gone with a wider shot because the sky was even more dazzling to the left of my composition but I was too locked in at this point. The shadows on the back wall of the porch are from my big flash,which I used to add detail under the roof line and I experimented with different angles till I got the shadow to fall on the wall between the windows,which shows the woodwork detail. Several presidents including Abraham Lincoln stayed in this building,so its kind of neat to capture it today.

 

A Great Evening

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I never post this many shots at once,but I wanted to show the different images I captured at one location on a stormy afternoon. I had been hanging out with friends one sunday afternoon and right near supper time these amazing clouds started moving in so I grabbed my gear and headed out. The top image is what I was after and I barely got the shot because the sky was changing so fast and the time between the first and second image is around ten minutes. After the storm blew over and poured down buckets of rain, I decided to try and get ahead of the storm and drove about twenty miles to get to the leading edge of the storm and gave up because I was getting into an area that was not very scenic. Next I turned around to head home and as sunset got closer,I decided to retrace my route and as I got back to the farm again,rain was stopping which left the road glistening and reflecting the colorful sky. The last shot was taken very close to the spot I shot the first image from, and all in all turned out to be a great afternoon of shooting.