Amish. The Long Way Home.

Late last September, after a shoot in Harrisburg, I decided to take the long way home through Pennsylvania’s Amish country. Despite having lived in PA on and off since 2001, I hadn’t visited this storied step back in time since I was a kid. With no real frame of reference, I typed the one restaurant I remembered from when I was ten into my GPS and set out for the Good and Plenty. The 45-mile journey would take me through the heart of Lancaster County and into the warm and welcoming past.

I never did make it to the Good and Plenty. The landscape was so inviting and accessible, I decided to pull off the highway and ramble through the farmland. Like John Muir supposedly once said, “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” While I may not always live by this philosophy, when the opportunity presents itself, I go for it.

I came across all you would expect to see in Amish country: children innocently riding scooters (they’re not allowed to ride bikes), horses pulling families slowly and deliberately down a country road and livestock lazily grazing in the late summer sun. I wandered through fields of corn that were indeed as high as an elephants eye, came to a clearing that was swarming with more bugs than there are stars in the sky and watched a hot air balloon softly sink below the distant tree line. The one oddity that caught my eye was the horse and buggy only section at the gas station. Although It was fully equipped with a garbage can and shovel.

It was nearing dusk and I had no idea how far I was from home so I hopped into my car and set the GPS for Philly. Turns out I was only 68 miles away. After about five miles on this single lane “highway” I was met with a road closed sign and was forced to reroute. I circled around to investigate and discovered the reason for the closure of this bustling thoroughfare was a parade. Guess John Muir was calling again. It took a few more loops but I finally found a parking space next to a few horses tied to a fence.

I walked the few blocks down the road towards main street and tried to blend in. This was no easy task with a giant camera dangling from my neck. I was clearly an outsider there acting as a voyeur. I’m usually not shy or apprehensive when it comes to shooting strangers in a strange place but I didn’t want to come off as if I was on Amish safari. I was genuinely excited for this parade and just wanted to document the experience. That however can easily be construed as exploitation.

The crowd was about twenty percent Amish, five percent minority and seventy-five percent civilian white (as in not Amish.) I posted up near a family who clearly claimed their spots much earlier in the day. I’m pretty sure they had eaten breakfast and lunch there and were just moving on to dinner. A friendly gentleman wearing an Eagles hat to my right who was not with the group pointed out that I was facing the wrong way and to get my camera ready because the parade was set to kick off any minute. He asked where I was from and when I told him Philadelphia he gasped. He’d lived in this town his entire life and had never been. Need I remind you I was less than seventy miles away? He asked if it was difficult to park downtown and what Reading Terminal Market was like. I told him he should come see for himself. This he took as an invitation to meet up. We exchanged emails then a parting handshake. I’m still waiting to hear from him.

The parade finally began. The Grand Marshall’s Dick and Jean Risk kicked off the festivities followed by generations of tractor drivers and the Lancaster County Alternate Dairy Princess. The last glints of sunshine were fading fast so I turned my camera on the crowd for a few final shots before heading home. As the golden hour turned to dusk I drove off but not before stopping to get a few more shots to properly close out my day. I guess the beauty of living in Pennsylvania can be summed up by the fact that you can spend the day shooting portraits in the middle of a “city” then stumble upon an Amish farmer plowing a field by horse at sunset. 

I also feel this post might best be enjoyed while listening to this song by PHOX. The whole afternoon had a rather slow motion sort of feel to it.

Derek and the Puppets

Meet Derek (Bagel) Bakal and his puppets. They’re an odd yet wildly entertaining and very photogenic bunch. If you’d like to learn to make puppets you should reach out to Derek.  He’s a brilliantly creative teacher/ mad man.

Pupper Master Derek (Bagel) Bakal

Pupper Master Derek (Bagel) Bakal

Pupper Master Derek (Bagel) Bakal

Forbidden Trail/ Devil’s Pool/ Wissahickon Creek

Natasha and I went wandering through the Forbidden Trail along the Wissahickon Creek the other day. We climbed steep slippery slopes (stairs provided to aid hikers), encountered threatening wildlife (some dog playing in the water) and forded the deep rushing whitewater river (wading up to our ankles to cross back to the side of the creek our car was on) All in all a lovely wander.

Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail Walking the Forbidden Trail

A Bugs Feast

I stumbled upon some bugs (moths, beetles, butterflies and i think a wasp) binging on a buffet of some gnarly rotten fruit during a stroll along the delaware river in south philly. it was all things gross and beautiful. wish i had a macro lens but honestly didn’t want to get too much closer. it smelled much worse than it looked.

bugs_001 Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia Bugs feasting on rotten food along the Delware River in South Philadelphia

Life Cycle of A Black Swallowtail Butterfly

I have an amazing backyard with an amazing garden which I love. I spend lots of time back there planting, pruning and perfecting. So when I noticed a horde of caterpillars decimating my dill and fennel plants I had to take action. A friend who was over pointed out that these fat little green goobers were black swallowtail butterflies. So I decided to keep them. I put together a fern leaf dill filled terrarium and transported them with the intention of building a bigger enclosure for them after I returned from being away over the weekend. However, when I got back they had already sealed themselves into their Chrysalis. I decided to leave them as is and waited for the transformation to finish. When I walked out to check on them this morning two fully formed beautiful black swallowtails had emerged and were waiting for release. Needless to say I was thrilled my little science experiment came to fruition.

Black Swallowtail ButterfliesBlack Swallowtail Butterflies

Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Chrysalis Shell after the first butterfly emerged

Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Three of the Chrysalis’s fell to the bottom so I used some chopsticks to prop them back up

Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Found a horde of caterpillars eating all my dill so i made them a dill terrarium and watched them go into cocoon and eventutally transform into beautiful butterflies

This poor lady’s ( i think it’s a female) wings didn’t develop properly. I did some research and there’s no way she’d survive outside. Luckily I have a variety of terrariums perfect for butterflies throughout my apartment. I added some banana and sugar water for food and branches for her to perch.

Found a horde of caterpillars eating all my dill so i made them a dill terrarium and watched them go into cocoon and eventutally transform into beautiful butterflies

Found a horde of caterpillars eating all my dill so i made them a dill terrarium and watched them go into cocoon and eventutally transform into beautiful butterflies

Found a horde of caterpillars eating all my dill so i made them a dill terrarium and watched them go into cocoon and eventutally transform into beautiful butterflies Found a horde of caterpillars eating all my dill so i made them a dill terrarium and watched them go into cocoon and eventutally transform into beautiful butterflies

http://youtu.be/fKMH3Lu9ADo

Bad day to live in a van down by the river

After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures. After days of heavy rain the Schuylkill River breached its banks along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia stranding motorists and opening up the road to more worthy sea faring creatures.

glimpse of virginia

spent the weekend in amherst/lynchburg virginia. took some pretty pictures.

VCCA

Gus Gus

 

 

 

 

I was sitting by my friends parents pool in Wildwood, NJ with the wife and a a friend when out of nowhere something splashed down into the water. that something was this baby cardinal. we jumped into action, scooped him up and set him on the ground so he could dry off. After hours or mind numbingly watching the bird come back to life it started hopping around. the mama and papa cardinal started flapping wildly trying to inspire little gus-gus to fly but the poor little guy or gal just couldn’t muster up the strength. he did however make a strong effort and flapped around the yard. My friends father’s paternal instincts then kicked in and he picked up the stressed baby bird and carefully placed him in the tree we think he fell out of. We went to bed and and the next day couldn’t find him anywhere. We could however hear his little chirp so assumed he made it home safely. live long and prosper gus-gus. 
gus_gus

Feast Fit For A Falcon

so two days ago i read a photo story in a back issue of national geographic on falcons living in nyc and then just happen to stumble upon one of them feasting on a pigeon in thompkins square park.