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03.09.2012

Morning in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It is an hour and a half ride from both eastern Philadelphia and southern Baltimore. The rhythmic footsteps of the horse and the wheels on the buggy echoes throughout the corn field. The Amish do not drive cars. One of the buggies came toward me, so I quickly framed a shot with the large aperture zoom lens and incorporated the shadow on the corn field produced by the buggy. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/500 sec | Aperture:F5.0 | Focal Length: 200 mm

Driving behind a large truck, the water from the road kept spraying on my window. The windshield wiper worked at maximum speed, but I still couldn’t see. The rain stopped as soon I entered Brooklyn from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). I drove over the Williamsburg bridge and enter lower Manhattan. Driving through the busy streets of Manhattan, I drive into the Holland Tunnel built under the Hudson River and resurface in New Jersey. I drive straight onto I-78 and head west. When I enter Pennsylvania, I switched over to US Route 222 and 150 miles away from Manhattan, I arrive at Lancaster County. Driving through the night, I find a motel. When I woke up in the morning, I saw that I was surrounded by large farms. Men wearing black rimmed hats and black clothing as well as women in black clothing with black caps gathered around the large barn next to the motel. I asked if there was a celebration and they said that it was their daily service.

The Amish people walk for their morning gathering. Their unrushed appearance makes me forget about the congested New York lifestyle. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/250 sec | Aperture:F3.2 | Focal Length: 200 mm

Many gathered by horse drawn carriage. Attaching the orange triangle safety signs to the buggies are mandated by law. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/200 sec | Aperture:F3.2 | Focal Length: 200 mm

The sun hiding in the clouds created a dramatic morning. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/800 sec | Aperture:F5.0 | Focal Length: 14 mm The sun hiding in the clouds created a dramatic morning. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/800 sec | Aperture:F5.0 | Focal Length: 14 mm

On the vast farmland, a farmer and a horse plowing the field can be seen in the distance. The large aperture telephoto zoom lens captured the morning light shimmering on the relaxing farmland. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/500 sec | Aperture:F4.0 | Focal Length: 200 mm

Having no knowledge of the area, I went to the gas station to ask for direction to the information center. After watching a short film about lifestyle of the Amish, I spoke to the woman working there. As the woman said, “Phone calls during dinnertime disrupts the family circle, so there are no phones in the Amish household,” I though of my family dinners and felt guilt. In the morning in front of the farmhouse, I asked one of the elderly man with the thick beard if this was a prayer gathering and he responded with a smile, “You wouldn’t understand.” The man’s thick glasses seared in my mind and I didn’t expect to understand his teachings. The woman working at the information center provided me with an simple driving course on the map and I decided to take a trip. I drove through the congested road of US Highway 30 to a road through the farmland. The well-paved road seemed like an ideal cycling course.

The Amish children attend a small school located in the middle of a large farm. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/640 sec | Aperture:F8.0 | Focal Length: 38 mm

Standing firmly on the rich soil, the ultra-wide zoom lens captured the cornfield, green pasture and clouds floating through the vast skies. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/500 sec | Aperture:F8.0 | Focal Length: 8 mm

I saw many covered horse-drawn carriages, but I saw a few without a cover. Out of nowhere I hear horse’s footsteps, then the wheels of the buggy and I finally see it go past me and quickly disappaers into the distance.

The young man riding the roofless carriage dashes past me. Only adults are allowed to operate the covered carriages. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/500 sec | Aperture:F8.0 | Focal Length: 50 mm

Following the map that I retrieved from the information center, I was able to catch a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Amish. I walked toward a booth displaying vegetable sand pickles and the woman who was cleaning the yard told me to take what I like and place money in the box. I took the pickles and left $3 in the box.

Pickled vegetables were displayed on a covered booth in front of the house. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/500 sec | Aperture:F8.0 | Focal Length: 33 mm

The pond and the pig grazing on the field creates a rustic landscape. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/320 sec | Aperture:F4.5 | Focal Length: 147 mm

The children, who may never cross paths with the video game lifestyle, goes fishing in the creek. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/160 sec | Aperture:F5.6 | Focal Length: 40 mm

Walking to the front of the farmhouse, I saw several parked trucks and a group of people dispersing. I asked one of the young men what was going on and he said that the auction of cattle just ended. He also mentioned that it was a good auction. I asked how much one would be sold for and he answered, “There are many types of cattle so I don’t have a clear answer, but today was about $1800.”

The location where the auction was held. I imagine this young child growing up as an adult in this world. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/125 sec | Aperture:F6.3 | Focal Length: 50 mm

A woman cleans up the leaves falling from the gusty wind. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/125 sec | Aperture:F3.2 | Focal Length: 200 mm

The buggy returning home from the auction. It was faster than it looks and as soon as I grabbed my camera, it was already in front of me. I quickly pressed the shutter. The farm became a cloudy autumn afternoon. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/160 sec | Aperture:F5.6 | Focal Length: 17 mm

Horses were an essential part of Lancaster and I saw many of them. Rather than the carriage pulling horses, the thick footed horses left an impression on me.

The two horses ignored my presence and kept grazing on the hay. Looking at them from behind, I felt their powerful energy. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/160 sec | Aperture:F5.6 | Focal Length: 43 mm

Following the recommended route provided by the information center, I drove leisurely while stopping from time to time and I suddenly noticed it was dusk. The cloudy skies in Lancaster county prevented me from seeing the sunset. In the chilly fall afternoon, I heard the horse’s footsteps and saw the lights on the carriage go past me.

The carriage dashes through dusk. It was dark, but I could slightly see the man smiling. Quickly framing the shot with the large aperture zoom lens, I followed the carriage’s light and pressed the shutter. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/160 sec | Aperture:F2.8 | Focal Length: 157 mm

Along Highway 30 there are outlet malls, shopping centers, golf courses, restaurants and lodging. It gives the impression that many people visit the area. on this night, I stayed at a large chain motel. My room faced the highway. It was bright by the window from the lights coming from the cars passing by and the gasoline station next door. I sat by the window without turning on the room lights and sipped some beer while trying the pickles bought from this afternoon. At the information center earlier in the day, I heard that in recent years, due to the lack of land the young Amish youth had difficulty finding a job in agriculture. As I recall on the dark, evening road, I faintly see the young Amish man smiling on his carriage.  The next morning, I left the motel before the sunrise and went back to the same road running through the farmland. When the sun rose above the horizon, the farmland was consumed in red and a new fresh day full of energy started.

Through the invigorating morning air, the footsteps of the horse is heard. Holding the large aperture zoom lens firmly, I stood on the straight road and captured the morning air. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/125 sec | Aperture:F3.2 | Focal Length: 200 mm

Morning light spills onto the basketball court at the Mennonite Church. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/320 sec | Aperture:F8.0 | Focal Length: 50 mm

Unconsciously walked over to cemetery surrounded by grassy field shimmering in the morning light. Camera: SIGMA DP1x | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO: 100 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/125 sec | Aperture:F7.1 | Focal Length: 16.6 mm

I walked over to the farmhouse where the cattle auction was taking place the night before. It was a quiet, empty morning.

A young man stood in front of the horse. He was about to go farming. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/160 sec | Aperture:F5.6 | Focal Length: 17 mm

The Amish homes without washing machine and dryers can be easily recognized. Without using dryers, the clothing dries under the sun. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/500 sec | Aperture:F8.0 | Focal Length: 26 mm

The harvested cornfield was a withered color. By contrast, the green grass was seared in my eye.

Beyond the withered cornfield, the cattle grazing on the grassy field under the blue skies blended well with the vast landscape. The large aperture telephoto lens created a beautiful bokeh in the foreground and focusing on the half-silhouetted cattle, the vastness of the field is revealed. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/1600 sec | Aperture:F5.6 | Focal Length: 85 mm

I saw many Amish men assiduously reaping the grass. From a distance, I captured the tirelessly working individual from the back using the large aperture telephoto zoom lens. The clouds began to cover the sky. Camera: SIGMA SD1 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Exposure Mode: Manual | ISO:200 | White Balance: Daylight | Shutter Speed:1/400 sec | Aperture:F4.0 | Focal Length: 200 mm

When I returned to the starting point of the driving course, the morning air had changed to afternoon air. Clouds began to cover the sky and the morning light no longer reached the farmland. One of the Amish men had finished reaping the grass and when I waved at him, he waved back. I walked over to him to shake his hand and I felt his rugged, strong hands. I said, “ I live in LA and work as a photographer. It is not an easy life.” And he replied looking straight at me, “It’s the same here too.”

“Lancaster County is a slow-down, catch your breath kind of place. Instead of rushing into the day, why not wake to your child’s laughter and the smell of a farm-fresh breakfast instead?” This was what was written in the guidebook, but for the people who work on the farms, it didn’t seem like it was a catch your breath kind of place.

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  1. Beautiful photos, the sd1 has some great dynamic range. I have a sigma dp2 and canon 5dmk and still some of my best shots have come from the dp2. Seriously thinking about buying the sd1.

  2. Performance of the Sigma Camera is not the fastest.
    However, to those who pursue the attitude of \carefully and take seriously the photo\ is recommended. I think that taking a picture means that shows the inner surface of the heart of the photographer. So to see my mind, I do not hurry.