I visited a long time friend this past week who lives in Manheim,PA and when I drove through the town square I was struck by how charming it was so I decided I needed to come back and try and get a shot before everything got taken down. The bottom image was my first attempt and was taken the next evening after my visit and to be honest I thought this would be it. That all changed when I was heading out and looked back to see the top image in my rear view mirror. I knew it was supposed to continue raining all night and through the morning so I set the alarm for 5:30 am and headed over hoping that morning traffic would not make it impossible to get the shot. If you look at the top image, you can imagine what having one car parked in the foreground would do to the shot. All the reflections in the wet street would be blocked, so when I saw it was clear I quickly got set up and started shooting so I would have something at least. To my surprise no one parked in front and before long the black sky started to brighten as daybreak inched closer and the shot I envisioned came to life. I hate pitch black skies and if I had shot in the dark, you would not even see the trees that stand out against the blue sky. For the bottom image I used a polarizer to cut glare on the wet brick and because of that the reflection of the tree really popped against the backlit brick. Maybe next year I can get lucky and have a snowy version of the square. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year! Continue reading
This is one of those scenes that makes me want to go back over and over again because of the unique situation and the possibilities it presents. I started the day many miles away trying for a sunrise shot and when that fizzled out,I just started driving and looking and this scene caught my eye as I drove by. The sun was just starting to illuminate the farm in the bottom photo at sunrise and the ice was reflecting the color nicely. We recently had heavy rain and snow melt which filled this farm field that is usually dry. After thinking about the image all day I decided to return for a go at sunset.
The top image was captured at sunset as I stood in freezing water in my hip waders for almost 30-45 minutes. My friend was along and he bailed after 15 minutes but I knew what I wanted and that required waiting.The reason I had to wait is because I love when buildings are lit inside and have the lived in feel,and the lights from the windows would not start to record till it was pretty dark. I learned on this shoot that even if your eye can’t detect there are lights on,your camera can,and as I was shooting this the two brightest windows were clearly lit but as I stood in the water I kept thinking I wish they would turn more room lights on. well as my exposures started to get into the 30 to 60 second range,I started seeing there were actually lights on in other rooms but it took the long exposures to pick them up. As I finished in the dark and had to walk through the foot deep water, I kept thinking I hope there are not any huge holes I can’t see that are more like three feet deep.
Each image has its own unique qualities from the frozen reflection to the melted one later in the day,and although I really like both images, I would pick the sunset one with the lights on as my favorite. The sky light up to the left of the top image as sunset was unfolding and the color this night was unbelievable but it was way out of my frame and I was already committed to this image,so I just stood there in awe of the display.
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 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 pair of Amish sleigh riders are zipping down the road in rural Lancaster county on a day that saw temperatures hover around five degrees. Judging by the fact that you can only see their eyes,its safe to assume it was a bit brisk in the old red sleigh.Next time you complain about your car not heating up quickly enough in winter,think of these two.
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.
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 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!
As I mentioned the other day,this is what I left the house to seek out before dawn the other day. It is called hoar-frost and it is not snow but ice that accumulates on cold objects when the conditions are just right. Two days in a row the temperatures were in the single digits and one day it was all over the place and the next there was not even a single tree to be found with it. I have heard it referred to as radiation frost as well. Usually appears near streams or creeks in my experience.
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.