Inspirational Architecture


This church sanctuary is perhaps the most elaborate undertaking I have ever decided to capture photographically. I first drove past the church on a trip and I was so impressed with the exterior,I decided to inquire if I could possibly see the inside and make an attempt to capture its grandeur? The church secretary coordinated my visit to allow ample time to shoot uninterrupted one afternoon and with the help of my good friend Morrie, I was able to pull it off. When people say it’s a small world,I now believe it because halfway through the shoot,the Rector comes in to say hi and I told him where I was from,and after some more conversation we both realize he was the pastor who had officiated my wedding almost twenty-five years ago.

This has to be the most beautiful church I have ever been in and the details are just amazing. From the arched walls to the wood ceiling to the stained glass and lights,everything reminds you of a time when things were built with great pride and workmanship and I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to capture it. The church is St Luke’s in Lebanon,Pa and for those interested in photography,I lit it using available light along with a tiny monster flashlight from Nitecor that really puts out the light in a small package. The light helped me bring out the roof detail among other areas in deep shadow.I also used my newly purchased wi-fi device called the camranger,which hooks to your camera and sends wireless images to a tablet,so I can now walk around lighting things while seeing the result right on my tablet in my hand and never needing to go look at the shot on the camera or laptop. You can change shutter speed and practically everything else on your camera remotely.

I was wrapping up the photo session and several times during the shoot I mentioned how I wish we could light the candles that were set up for Christmas,and literally a minute before I was ready to tear down the tripod, the organist comes in and nonchalantly says would you like the candles lit? I said absolutely and that extra touch just added to the shot.

The Rabbit Lodge

end start


This scene is one I decided to shoot this past weekend after we had a light snow pass through the area. This neighborhood has some very nice older homes and some include architectural elements that appeal to me for photos. This scene is right along the road,so I could shoot it from the street. The old dilapidated shed with lanterns that have been dark for years beckoned me to add some light to bring them to life. I placed a flash behind the lanterns to light them and then lit the snow and shed to show the details.The bottom photo shows my starting point and the top my final result. The title refers to the three rabbit tracks heading toward the shed.

Flowers behind Glass


This close up window scene was captured at a state historic site,and I utilized flash to add some light to the scene inside.The flash also helped reveal the window texture,adding another detail. Everything was lit from outside by carefully directing the light.

Next stop on the Sleigh Tour


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.

A Christmas Memory

sleigh orig

This winter scene came to be thanks to the generosity of the homeowner, the sleigh owner, and my crazy desire to live in the past. The red sleigh was loaned to me by a kind lady who I have done photos for,and the property was made available for my idea by a generous gentleman who entertains my wild photo ideas. The two photos represent my vision for the shot,with the top being the final shot and the bottom was my pre-planning stage to decide where to place it.

This property is an ideal backdrop for the sleigh and the building on the left was actually hand-built by the owner and his son several years ago. I put a light on a stand in that building to shine light out the window across the snow toward the sleigh and lit everything else with flash. From the light illuminating the sleigh to the shadows on the roof from the pine tree,I had to light every element. The old lantern was provided by the property owner as well,and the fancy gift packages and decoration on the sleigh was courtesy of my wife.

The tricky part in doing something like this is knowing exactly where you are going to place the sleigh,and if you look closely at the bottom shot you can see two yellow stakes at the runners leading edge,which were my target spots on the snowy night. I placed a stick in the ground to mark my shooting location and had to walk very slowly as I pulled the package laden sleigh into position.One of the annoying things I had to deal with on this night was the fact that it was still snowing as I started to get the sleigh off the trailer,so I had to keep a tarp over it and try and set packages in place on the sleigh with a tarp on top of it. Thank goodness the snow stopped just in time to let me finalize everything or else I would have had to scrap the shoot. I will definitely remember this night and the fun I had doing this shot.

The Old Church


I photographed this old church in Lititz,Pa on a recent cold winter morning. This church is located beside the linden hall girls school and the church was built by a father in memory of his daughter. I used flash to create light and shadow to accent the details.

You’ve Got Mail


mailThis little scene features the porch at the Lititz historical society. The antique mail cart sits on the porch during the holiday season and society members fill it with wrapped packages and greens. I added multiple flash pops to various area to highlight things and the Moravian star was lit by flash with a snoot on it to avoid shadows on the ceiling.It might look better if it was actually turned on,but its the best I could do at five thirty in the morning. I liked the warm interior and the cool blue of dawn. I have no idea how old this cart is,but it must go way back in time.


Late Evening Light



This image was one I did last night in my living room. I was in the mood to shoot something,so after noticing our exterior Christmas lights were shining on the curtains,I decided to light paint one of my wife’s flower arrangements. First,let me say we do not have two lamps sitting at our front window,but I decided to bring the second one in for balance. My wife recently bought the lamps from a friend who was moving and they fit nicely in our decor. Normally we like traditional white Christmas lights,but for some reason I decided some blue lights on our bushes would be interesting,but I am not really sold on them yet,but they add a cool look to this shot.

My first exposure was for the window light,which was ten seconds and during that time I turned the lamps on briefly for about 2 seconds. After that I used my spotlight to selectively light the goose,flowers and curtains and the hanging angel ornament.

A Simple Christmas

hans-herrThis is another Christmas display in one of the rooms at the old mansion I mentioned the other day. This display was done by the folks from the Hans Herr House,which is the oldest homestead in Lancaster County and  is a registered historic landmark. It is a more natural setting,with no lights on the tree,and basic food related items that harken back to a simpler time. I lit the entire scene with a small hand-held flash with a snoot to direct the light in very small areas. The figure is very life-like kneeling at the tree and helps balance out the composition.

Wood Shop Warmth

This image is part reality,part imagination. The barn and lamp-post were part of this scene yesterday and they were coated in a light dusting of the seasons first snow. I have always enjoyed the paintings of Thomas Kinkade for their dream like quality and I also like the effect of warmth in a cold setting,so I added some warm light to the scene to invite the viewer into the scene and maybe take a peak in the window of the wood shop to see what the craftsman might be making. The gentleman who owns this barn made the unique doors,which if I recall correctly have a passage from the Bible carved in them. I noticed there are icicle lights on the roof line,but unfortunately they were not lit,so Hopefully we will get more good snows and I will remember to return.

Enter Fall Foliage


I just returned from a five-day trek to the Lake Placid region in New York, which was more challenging than I had anticipated. Foliage was decent,but the area is known as the high peaks region,which meant you are often in between mountains with not a lot of valleys to see farms etc. I am sure if I had researched the area more before visiting, I would have been better prepared to shoot in that setting. Foliage was slightly past peak,but still lovely as evidenced by this private lane with a rustic log gate with brilliant foliage surrounding it that I shot on the way in to Lake Placid. I will share more images in the days ahead as I get to them.

Theodore Burr Arch Truss

This is the interior of a local covered bridge that has been closed for over a year due to damage from tropical storm Lee last year. Not sure exactly what the problem is,but if you look at the exterior,the bridge has a slight bow to it. This bridge sits approximately eighteen feet above the creek,but last years flood was an extreme one that hopefully wont be seen for another hundred years.I used flash to light the interior in an attempt to show the intricate construction that goes into these beautiful structures. This bridge was built in 1867 at a whopping cost of $4,500 dollars. The arch design is credited to inventor Theodore burr,who lived around the early 1800s and was a cousin to Vice President Aaron Burr.

Arriving by wagon

This image is one of those special moments that make being a photographer so rewarding for me. The young girls were riding on this miniature cart and were making their way to sunday church service at a local farm when they passed me at a covered bridge I was photographing with a friend. They headed on their way up the road and I decided to get in my truck and try and get one more photo of something I have never seen before, and figured never would again. They turned down this farm lane with others who were arriving on foot and I took this image through my open car window pretty quickly. Although I am extremely thrilled with the photo, For some reason I have this bad habit of tilting my head and consequently my camera when I shoot handheld,and the image was slightly tilted.My framing was less than ideal in this hurried moment so the image has a touch of tilt yet.

Something I missed was a shot from the front showing the miniature horse that was pulling them,and he must have been a little powerhouse to pull five youngsters. The other thing I really like about this image are the colors the people are wearing,and admittedly I am no expert on Amish ways and I have always wondered how or why they pick certain colors. they are usually very lovely hues and I have seen families dressed in the same color palette on more than one occasion.

Life in the slow lane

This past week I came across a group of car enthusiasts that were touring the countryside throughout Lancaster county. The group spent five days navigating the scenic back roads and also spent time visiting several county sites of interest. The group included owners of what are known as E-M-F cars, which are early 1900 vehicles built by Byron Everitt, William Metzger, and Walter Flanders. This image is the result of some planning, and a dash of luck, which I will explain.

I got the itinerary for the day from the organizer and decided on a spot to shoot them as they drove by. I took a few images at the location I picked and then decided I was going to get ahead of the group for a second attempt. The second spot included a covered bridge, but as I got to the road, it was closed for repaving,so I tried to find another road to access the planned route. Thankfully one lane was still open,and it allowed me to get this image of the cars coming through the bridge and a buggy waiting his turn as well. This image would have been all but impossible if the road were not closed to traffic for the road work. Usually cars file down this road one after another, but I actually set up my tripod on the road and shot a series as they all came through the bridge. These cars are full of character and draw a crowd wherever they go. If you want to learn more about them, check out     E-M-F Company on the net. I may post another shot or two in the coming weeks.

Oak Hill Chapel

This is another infrared image featuring the chapel at the oak hill cemetery in Washington,D.C.. It was very peaceful in the place, but the trip to get there was a real anxiety laced ordeal for me. I have a real problem with being in traffic jams that just sit there, and this trip included just that.

The Wrap around porch

This lovely home is known as the Gonder Mansion, and is included on a local ghost tour in the area. It is a Victorian era Queen Anne style mansion built in 1905 by big wheel Benjamin Gonder, and was the home for him and his wife mary. It’s said to be haunted by the spirit of a woman who committed suicide – Annie, Benjamin’s loco sister who lived on the grounds but was shunned by the rest of the family because of her mental condition.  It’s reported that the sounds of music and crazed laughter can be heard throughout the home, and her misty form has been reported haunting its corridors. She moved into the mansion in death after being forbidden to step inside the home during life. I did a small bit of light painting to highlight the gate,wall,and bushes at dusk to add my own touch to the beautiful home. The wrap around porch looks like a great place to sip cold lemonade on a summer day. I shot this from my truck roof using my laptop in the hopes of offering a better perspective.

Come and sit a spell

This was a last-minute photo selection for today, as I was busy dividing iris clumps in our garden this evening. This recent shot featuring a rocking chair was calling my name to sit down after two hours of digging in the dirt. The darn warm temperatures have everything starting early, so I am trying to keep ahead of the garden chores, which seem to get harder every year.

The Fairground Organ

This image hopefully showcases what I consider to be a very beautiful Bruder Fair Organ from the late 1800s. The owner was gracious enough to let me photograph the piece, which has the most lovely colors on its carved surfaces. The founder of the Waldkirch organ industry was Ignaz Bruder, 1780-1845, and he was the master teacher for several german organ builders, and four of his sons founded the business Gebruder Bruder. Two of those sons, Wilhelm and Arnold, founded their own organ factory under the name of Wilhelm Bruder Sohne. I assume this piece was done by them because that name is painted across the middle, above the figure. I did not hear the organ play,but I bet it really resonates for blocks when it does play. I am by no means an authority on these organs, but doing a little research on the net, it was hard to find two organs that looked the same, so quite possibly each piece was one of a kind. The craftsmanship is simply mind-boggling. I light painted the whole room to give it a dreamy look. Can you imagine anyone having the ability or desire to create such a masterpiece today? It not only is beautiful to look at, but the music it produces most certainly delighted countless crowds way back when as well.

A Stitch in Time

I spent the morning sunday shooting with my friend larry who is light painting master, and we each did our best to do something unique at our local historical society. I chose an old sewing machine, and friends Margi and Dan loaned me several antique sewing items to help bring the shot to life. I used small pen flashlights and my big spotlight to accent the pieces, and the shot took me nearly an hour and a half to do. The best I could figure was this sewing machine is one made by the man who got the first patent for a lock stitch design in 1846, and his name was Elias Howe. Mr Howe had to defend his patent in court from 1849-1854, because he found that Isaac Singer, and Walter Hunt had been selling a facsimile of his machine and lockstitch design. He eventually won the case and won considerable royalties from singer. I can imagine the many hands that worked diligently on this machine in the late 1800s and early 1900s, creating garments and necessities for the family. My grandmother was a great quilter and I remember her working countless hours on her old sewing machine doing patches,and a few times over the years she would relay the stories of how a needle had gone straight through her finger and nail while sewing.

The Golden Age of Music.

Today I wanted to share a photograph I did recently showcasing a beautiful Wurlitzer 125 Military  Band Organ that dates back to the early 1900s. This amazing musical instrument is from an era when automobiles,airplanes and electric lighting were all new. Given the opportunity to photograph such a marvelous old piece, I cant help but think of the generations of people who must have had a smile on their face as they listened to this mechanical wonder. This organ would have played in a variety of locations, such as skating rinks and carousels and can supposedly really fill the air with a tune.

As an artist, I have always found music to be very inspiring, and the ability that many musicians and singers have to take you to places that let your spirit soar has always fascinated me. This old instrument undoubtedly captivated the imagination of those who heard it play as they skated or simply enjoyed special times with family and friends. Most certainly, anyone from an older generation would have fond memories come flooding back from their youth if they were to hear this classic come to life.

I must extend a very special thank you to the owner of this piece, for allowing me access to capture something so beautiful, and also the opportunity to express my creativity through my photography. Things like this are not seen every day, and it affords ones imagination an opportunity to dream of things of wonder and beauty from times past.The original catalog states it is a 44 key instrument designed for small to medium size rinks. It lists instrumentation as outside visible-13 Brass trumpets, 13 Brass Piccolos, 13 Wooden Flageolets, 2 Drums,and a Cymbal. Inside it has 5 Wooden Trombones, 5 Open Basses, 13 Open Pipes, 6 Stopped Pipes, 11 Pipes in Accompaniment. Bottom- 5 Stopped Basses, 7 Stopped Pipes, 10 Pipes in Accompaniment, 1 Stop for Trumpets, 1 Stop for Trombones, 1 Stop for Piccolos, 1 Stop for Flageolets, Bass Drum and Cymbal.After reading about all the instruments, it’s probably good I did not ask to hear it play in a closed setting. Shipping weight was noted as 800 pounds.There are also two harmonicas lying on the table to echo the whole music theme, and the one is called a Hohnerphone that utilized a small horn like amplifier. Another very cool old instrument on a smaller scale of course.

For many seeing this image may invoke visions of merry go rounds, circus midways or other childhood memories that few other automatic instruments can match. I hope anyone seeing this image enjoys it as much as I did photographing it.

Birds of a Feather

Today I decided to shoot this group of hand-made birdhouses that I occasionally pass in my travels. They are for sale at a roadside stand that features a variety of items for the passerby.They are all made by an older gentleman who lives there. He has no electricity or power tools and cuts everything utilizing good old muscle power on an old miter box. Sometimes it seems I forget many of the places I have shot before, because the wife of the owner came out to tell me about a nice photo another photographer gave them years ago. Turns out it was my photo, and I figured I would share that image along with tonight’s shot. I came up with the title because I think many of the people who follow me here also have a good appreciation of beautiful places and things, hence birds of a feather, flock together. The top image was done with my flashlight this evening using a thirty-second exposure.

The Invincible Machine.

Nothing is really invincible, but this machine found in an old mill seems to be very well-built and has the name invincible on its front. A sticker on the beam says invincible cleaners, but I have no clue what it did in the mill operation. Evening light was pouring in the windows while I was lighting the gears and barrel, so we have a cold verses warm effect.This was shot in the same place as yesterdays post, and thanks to no heat inside, temperatures were near freezing, which was actually colder than it was outside. Perhaps that comes from the stream that runs under a portion of the building.

The Barrel Room

Todays image is another from my series taken at an old mill, and features a room full of old wooden barrels, along with a variety of tools used by the mill in its heyday. The round stone, serving as a table in the foreground weighs 2000 lb and is not going to move anytime soon. The image was shot using deer spotlights that I have placed diffusion on to soften the light output, and each exposure was approximately 30 seconds in an almost totally dark room. The windows were covered with black fabric to block the outside light from having any influence on my light painting, and were uncovered at the end to get the window detail. The lanterns were lit only by my spotlights to give a glowing effect. Because the spotlights are so intense, I use a technique where I pulse the trigger on briefly ,then off and keep moving across the scene till the shutter closes. A half second worth of spotlight is all it takes to light an object at f11 or f16 at iso 200. I also use a fairly inexpensive wireless remote to fire the camera from across the room, so I never touch the camera once I get started.

Classic Victorian

Just wanted to let anyone that might be following my blog to know that I do not just do light painting, so I felt I would share an image of what I consider to be a beautiful old Victorian home . It was shot with a Nikon camera that I had specifically modified to capture only the infrared spectrum. I used to use an expensive filter to do it, but that got to be a real nuisance because the filter was so dark, you had to remove it to focus on every new shot. The modified camera can almost be handheld,but I still insist on the tripod. I mention handheld because with the filter, you had daylight exposures in the 4 second range.

Antique Biscuit Box & Tins

Once again, thanks to the generosity of many people I meet, I am lucky enough to be allowed to photograph items that are a part of their lives, and at the same time, express my creative side through my photography. Sometimes these people own things that are so cool, I just have to ask if I can photograph them. The antique biscuit box and old tins shown here are one such example. Owners Margi and Dan have quite a selection of quality antiques they sell, and they were more than happy to let me capture some that have a personal connection. The grained wood box supporting everything is a family heirloom from the 1800s, many of the tins are early 1900s and were found in old general stores. Margi’s great great uncle was Newton Graybill who operated an old general store until the mid 1900s in Richfield,Pa, and in the late 1980s, a huge public sale was held featuring countless new merchandise items from the 1900s. Margi was able to buy several items from that sale. The old calendar reads 1922, and the american lady shoe sign is early 1900. finishing off the image is a door that is original to the house from around 1790. I light painted the whole scene with deer spotlights that have snoots and diffusion that I added to control the power they have. I use many types of flashlights and flash to do this,but I favor my spotlights the most. small items need more subtle flashlights, so its good to have a variety.

A glimpse back in time



This photograph features the old equipment in a water powered grain mill. This amazing set of machines are still functional, and start right up with the twist of a shaft, which runs two stories to the basement. In the basement there is a huge tank that holds water in reserve, and at a moments notice, the entire operation is ready to go.The date on the machines says patent-1893, and the craftsmanship and build quality is characteristic of an era were necessity was the mother of invention,  This is another example of painting with light, and the photography session lasted almost 2 hours and the merging of all the pieces took about 3 hours, but I go in circles sometimes trying to decide which effect I want to pick, so that complicates things a bit. As I have warned in past posts, never bump anything in your shot while doing this, and as usual, I kicked the shovel halfway through, but luckily I had it captured already. Try and find something built to these standards nowadays, and you will be looking a while or digging pretty deep in the pocketbook. The two lower photos represent the base layer on the left, upon which the image is built and that image is a very flat,subdued, dark image,upon which the highlight images are overlayed, and a single light painted sample section,on the right, which includes the flashlight source where I have the arrow pointing. I generally try to keep the light source hidden by my body or simply turned away, so the camera cannot see it. A snoot or shield on the light can help, and even if you see the light source, its irrelevant if that section is not being used.

The doctor will see you now!

This light painting effort from my shoot today includes some of the tools doctors used in days gone by, and reminds me that I am happy to be living in modern times. This small grouping of medical items came to me courtesy of the local historical society, who I have been working closely with to highlight some of the pieces in their collection. The doctors bag is well-worn and one can only imagine the stories it has seen, while the smaller cases still hold pills that would have been prescribed at the turn of the century. The round device in the foreground was used to heat the clear glass domes which, when applied to the body would draw blood out through a vacuum effect,  curing the patient of whatever malady they had, or so they thought. The tiny metal device near the glasses would slice the skin with a series of very sharp blades. The two remaining items are what I believe are an early microscope, and a syringe.

The photograph of the doctor was added after my shoot, and was photographed in a locked display case. it was downsized from the larger photo, and I added it because I just felt its nice to see the people who made a difference in their communities and this doctor was one such person. He is Doctor John Franklin Mentzer, born in 1862, and it was said his service to the community could hardly be equaled. He was a Physician, a postmaster during President Benjamin Harrison’s term, Was director of a trolley company, and was a county treasurer as well. In 1904 and 1908, he was a county delegate to the republican national convention, which nominated Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Howard Taft. He died in 1958 at the age of 96.

One important point for those wishing to try this type of image, is you absolutely cannot bump anything during your light painting, or you will not have registration between the various pieces. I bumped the microscope about a half hour into shooting the scene, and thankfully I had that half of the shot already captured. This technique takes a certain amount of dedication to your photography, but I thoroughly enjoy the creative process it entails.