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Covered Bridges of Chester – Featured

Destinations Travel Magazine - April 2011
Destinations Travel Magazine – April 2011

Just got and email from the Editor/Publisher of Destinations Travel Magazine, that the April 2011 has been released, and my Photo Essay “The Covered Bridges of Chester County” has been included as the first of a planned three-part series of Photo essays!

Each photo essay is geared to be single 8 hour day trip.

Featured in this month issue (Day 1) are the following Covered Bridges:

Hope you enjoy them, and I would love to hear your feedback!

- Andrew
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Covered Bridges of Chester County – Phase 1 – DONE

Covered Bridges of Chester County – Phase 1 – DONE

After many hours of work on this project, I am happy to announce that I have completed the First Phase of this project!

Back in October of 2009, when I took my first pictures of Bartram’s Cover Bridge in Newtown Square…

I knew I liked covered bridges…
the look…
the history…
the engineering…

I had no idea that it would become this obsession!

Than, almost a year, to the day, I completed my Chester County Covered Bridge captures.

Generally, I posted them to Flickr, and would then add the images to my blog.

Blogs ago…

Initially, my website was based on DotNetNuke, but as I got into blogging more, the blogging options within DNN, were just not worth the cost.

For a while I was using the DotNetNuke blog module, but on two separate occasions, while doing some maintenance work in the background, my blog blew up.

Needless to say my productivity was very low during this time.

I did learn a lot nuke during that time, but the direction I was moving, was not going to allow me to thoroughly investigate all the functionality of DotNetNuke.

A little over a month ago, I decided to start from scratch again.

But this time in a totally WordPress environment.

Thankfully, I had most of my blog entries already in basic HTML format, so it was just a couple of nights of copying and pasting. I did have to redo some CSS coding, but that turned out to be fundamentally better for the overall look and feel of my website.

You might call this an evolution in my thinking of how to create maintain and operate a website.

Be that as it may, I have learned a lot, and with the coding gods help, my site will stay up and running for a long time.

The Journey…

As for Phase One of my Covered Bridge project, during the journey, the effort seems to have paid off more than the actual goal.

During the adventure, I was able to find great websites that pointed me in the directions of the bridges.

I used Google Earth and maps, to plot my coordinates into Maggie’s GPS, and I was off and running.

Having lived in Chester County for over 30 years, I thought I knew the area fairly well, but nothing prepared me for the beauty that seems to be uniquely Chester County’s.

It is very hard to believe that one can drive down a major road such as Route 30, turn left or right, travel for about 5 to 10 miles, make another left or right, and then be bombarded with the beauty of rolling fields of corn, hay or tobacco, and in between the fields, beautiful barns and silos of all colors, and of course the Covered Bridges.

I was also amazed that most of the bridges were in good condition, especially in these economic times.

Of course the more heavily traveled bridges such as Rapps and Knox-Valley Forge need a little work, but it is mostly cosmetic, i.e. a couple of nails and a good paint nails job, but who am I to say…

The Photography…

This project was also my first real exploration into the realm of HDR photographic techniques.

I knew the basic concepts behind HDR from my work using Ansel Adams’ Zone System in my black and white work.

What was really new to me, was the software side.

In the past, I had tried to create HDR images with Adobe Photoshop CS3, but the scripts always crashed the application, no matter how many times I had tried.

Using Google, I was able to hunt down many HDR software packages, and from there, I started to explore.

The Software…

The basic thing that I learned in using the various software packages that I found, was that it comes down to personal taste.

All the software applications that I used, allowed for some form of tone mapping, but the way you interact with the tone mapping controls, varies in some cases, significantly from one app to the next.

Another consideration, is what type of file format is used to bring the original captures into the software application.

Picturenaut (

The first application that I used, Picturenaut, is donation-ware, which was a big plus at the start.

The biggest obstacle that I had initially, was converting my DNG files over to TIFF, but within Adobe Lightroom I was able to easily set up an Export function to do the dirty work.

Once you are inside the application, it is just a matter of importing your series of images, the interface is a little bleak but I did like the fact that you had some additional tweaking features before import, such as EV settings editing.

There are a series of presets and I believe you can download more from the site.

I did have some problems with saving my files with a new name, but got around that by using the default name provided.

Even this renaming of files became a checkpoint for bringing that file back into my work-flow, but that is another subject.

I have seen the debates in regards to working with TIFF vs. DNG, and at the moment, I prefer to work with DNGs, namely because they cannot be edited directly, thereby taking on a template form for any future use.

Any actions you take on a DNG file, whether it be in Adobe Lightroom – which only modifies the metadata, or Adobe Photoshop – which will only let you do a “Save As”, your original image data is not touched or altered, either by accident or on purpose.

Needless to say this is a big plus.

Photoshop CS5 (

The reviews that I was reading on Photoshop CS5, seem to suggest that it was a good contender for dealing with HDR captures.

I had to maneuver some things and was finally able to set up a VM so that I could give Photoshop a test drive.

Once I got the VM up and running, I realized that I was going to have some issues with speed. Needless to say if you do run Photoshop, running it in the VM is not optimal, but serves my purpose at the moment.

I was very happy to see that when I tried to import my DNG files, CS5 brought them in without issue and did not crash!

Another thing that I really enjoyed, was the ability to select your “key-frame” for your HDR rendering.

Photomatix (

After working with Picturenaut and Photoshop, I decided to finally give Photomatix a try, which I have already reviewed.

In quick, I was very impressed with its speed, but it was very easy to see why, so many have indulged in the surrealistic side of the HDR spectrum.

HDR Efex Pro (

after watching several of the online videos, after watching several of the online videos, I signed up for a 15 day demo.

It took several days to get the license number, but once I did I fired up the demo in my VM.

I should have taken the extra time to read the requirements… you definitely do not want to run this on a VM.

You are running an application on top of Photoshop CS5, hence the need for very powerful machine with a lot of RAM and a very good video card.

Of all the applications I played with, this one looks like the most fun, but I was not able to really use the application in my VM environment, it was just too slow.

Which do I use?

As mentioned earlier in this posting, it seems to come down to personal choice but more importantly, how much are you willing to spend.

Picturenaut is the only Free one in the group. It is definitely very powerful but the user interface seems to be a little bit more technical.

Photomatix runs between $99-$129, depending if you want the plug-in or not. It seems to have the largest user base at the moment, and is very well regarded.

Photoshop CS5 has definitely revamped it’s HDR thinking, but carries a heavy basic price, $199-$999.

HDR Efex Pro definitely seems to be the premier environment for working with HDR at the moment, but it also comes at a very premium price, $159.95, on top of the need of Photoshop, and good hardware.

So take your pick, they are all going to do more or less the same thing, it is up to the artist to figure out which tools are the best for them, just remember some of the most beautiful and lasting things have been built with the simplest of tools.

Just remember to have fun, while you are learning.

New Friends and Contacts

A basic foundation of this project, has been

I joined Flickr in September of 2009, but did not do much with it until July of 2010, it which point I upgraded to a Pro membership, and that’s when things to begin to change.

As my images got invited to various Flickr groups, my contacts begin to grow.

I started with some local groups, then began to find specific groups for my interests, including Covered Bridges.

During this time, I received a great deal of feedback and comments that encourage me to continue on.

So thank you all for visiting my various sites and incarnations…

I thank you one and all!

– Andrew
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Announcements Awards Chester County Flickr HDR Photo Journal Photography Photostream

Featured Photo & Photostream – Nov 2010

In checking my Flickr email this morning, I was surprised to see the following:

Photo and Photostream for the month of November.

Andrew, I am happy to inform you that your Photostream and photo of Glen Hope Covered Bridge will be featured in our Group for the month of November. The photo is really beautiful and we do appreciate you posting it with us.



Pennsylvania Covered Bridges

Again, I am deeply HONORED by this, and many thanks to all my visitors, contacts and friends!!

– Andrew
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Chester County Covered Bridges Flickr Photo Journal Photography Projects

Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889)

Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889)

Hickory Hill, Chester Count [38-15-02]

Finally, it seems that my project to photograph the Covered Bridges of Chester County is done!

It was a wonderful trip down to the “Southern Most” Covered Bridge in Pennsylvania.

I approached the bridge from the North side, and immediately knew I wanted to capture the windy road heading into Maryland.

Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) - Looking South
Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) – Looking South

Driving through the bridge, I parked on the small hill on the South side, and got out of the car.

While unpacking my gear and surveying Glen Hill, I really had to question myself on the location!

I thought I was back at Linton Stevens CB!

I did check the GPS, just to make sure…

I missed this bridge the last time I was down here in September by ‘fat fingering’ the GPS coordinates and driving into a townhouse area without any creeks, streams or rivers!

Waking into the bridge, I looked for the plaque, which is located on the Northern side of the bridge.

Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) - Sign
Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) – Sign

While taking my images of the plaque, a truck pulled up to the Southern entrance, and I signaled it go continue.

As the man passed me, he stopped, and we began to talk, and after a minute or two, he pulled over, and we began to talk more.

He introduced himself as Jamie Crouse of Crouse Auto Body in Elkton MD, and had lived in the area all his life.

As we walked and talked around the bridge, he keep telling me more about its history, such as the over weight truck being stuck inside the bridge during the 1960s.

Jamie also pointed out the char marks from the arson fire that destroyed the bridge in 1987.

Burn marks on floor - Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889)
Burn marks on floor – Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889)

Jamie continued to explain that a great of effort was made to recover as much of the original wood as possible for the rebuilding, which included Bongossi wood from Africa.

If you look closely at the floor in this picture, you will see large indentations, which were caused by the burning bails of hay and gasoline used to start the fire.

Some of the vertical posts still show charring from the fire.

He continued to say, that the two men responsible for the bridge fire are still in jail, and had also been linked to other arson attacks in the area.

On a more humorous side, he recalled that during his teenage years, two local girls visited Glenn Hope and other local covered bridges of the area, and carved “Boobless Wonder Strikes Again” on the down-creek side and “Woogie” on the up-creek side of the trusses.

We chatted a little more, and thanked him for the background info, and then he was off.

So now, where do I start my images?

The lighting was bouncing all over the place!

There was a stormy cold front passing over the area.

Short bursts of direct sun light, followed by various types of clouds, dark ones with rain and white fluffy ones.

Exposure nightmares!

But since I was doing HDR images any way, it really was not an issue.

Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) - Looking South
Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) – Looking South

In this image, you can see the Sun light popping in some areas, but not others.

HDR and ‘Mother Nature’ work wonders some times!

Underneath Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) - Looking South
Underneath Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889) – Looking South

What I find most striking in this image, this the different layout of the support beams.

This was the first time that I saw the short ‘horizontal’ support beams instead of the long full-length ‘vertical’ beams of the other bridges, and certainly makes for a different visual capture!

I moved West up the Little Elk creek, and was able to capture this image looking East.

Looking East (Down Creek) - Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889)
Looking East (Down Creek) – Glen Hope Covered Bridge (1889)

Featured Image and Photographer (November 2010) – Pennsylvania Covered Bridges

I did move further up the creek and managed to rip my Domke jacket… My first rip in the 25+ years I’ve owned the vest!

Bummer… Not a bad rip, but…

I went up about another hundred feet or so, and took some more images of the rocks surrounded by flowing water.

I still need to process those, and post them in another entry.

- Andrew
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10/25/2010 – Finally posted the HDR images to PhotoShelter, Flickr, RedBubble and Panoramio accounts. Also updated the Google Maps.

10/18/2012 – Notes from a talk given at the Citadel Credit Union about the Covered Bridges of the Oxford area.

After my presentation, I got to chat with several folks about the bridges, and during one conversation, I was introduced to Joe Chamberlain, who was tasked with removing and repairing the bridge after the cement truck damaged the bridge in 1968.

He not only confirmed the story, but went on to tell me, that the truck had started over the bridge, got about halfway, when the rear of the truck fell through the decking. He also questimated that there were about  8 yards of cement in the truck, at +/- 4400 pounds/yard, or 17.6 tons on a maybe 10 ton limit bridge!

Mr. Chamberlain went on to tell me, that the top of the cement truck was still above the deck level, and that he and his crew had to dig into the creek bed to lower the truck enough for them to get it out.

Additional Websites

Cross Links

Reference Material


If you are really a fan of Covered Bridges and Scale Models, you are going to love the work done at Mike and Jackies.  


Chester County Covered Bridges Flickr HDR Photo Journal Photography Projects

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (1865)

Knox – Valley Forge Covered Bridge (1865)

Valley Forge, Chester County [38-15-15]

It still just amazes me.

Growing up in the area, I had been by and through this covered bridge countless times.

In my teenage years, it was a ritual to meet at the National Memorial Arch in the middle of Valley Forge National Park after the Prom, hang out, and maybe watch the sun rise. (At least that was the stated goal…)

With that in mind, why was this bridge so late in my project?

Don’t know, but I FINALLY got to it!

But when I first got there, my shot looked like it was in jeopardy because there was a repair crew looking over the bridge.

So I drove through the bridge from the Yellow Springs Road side, and turned left on Rt. 252.

I was headed toward the Arch. I had stopped by with Madison on July 30th, but was not happy with what I had gotten that day.

What was also adding to the day, was the weather!

There was a front coming through the area, with a great range of dark and light clouds.

I drove around, stopped a couple of places, took some pictures, and finally headed back to the bridge.

When I got there, I was happy to see the Repair Crew had gone, and there no cautionary signs, so I drove back through the bridge on Yellow Springs, and park in the little lot on the right.

I gathered my gear, and started to walk back to the bridge, crossed the road, and hopped over the guard rails to setup for my first shot.

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Exterior Long View) hdr 01
Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Exterior Long View) hdr 01

From here, I moved down the embankment toward the creek, and what I really found striking, was all the flatted tall grass leading to the creek. Tropical Storm Nicole had moved through less then a week before.

It was a little unnerving to see clumps of grass in the tree limbs at eye level…

I got to the creek, and tried to find a good water shot, and captured this:

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Down Creek) hdr 02
Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Down Creek) hdr 02

I then headed down the creek, and setup for this shot:

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Underneath) hdr 03
Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Underneath) hdr 03

Pivoting to my left, I headed back up the embankment, and setup for this shot:

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (East Entrance) hdr 05
Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (East Entrance) hdr 05

This shoot, actually took about ten minutes to capture because of all the traffic coming from three different directions, and with the sun popping in and out… It was allot if fun!

I walked through the bridge, and setup and captured this.

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (East Entrance) hdr 04
Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (East Entrance) hdr 04

Again, this image took some time, and in both cases, I was helping to direct traffic.

From here, I jumped over the guard rail on the left, and captured this:

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Long Low Angle) hdr 06
Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Long Low Angle) hdr 06

If you look carefully, you can begin to see the flatted tall grass on the left, but it does not approach what is just 10-15 feet further left!

Again, I climbed back up the embankment, crossed over the road, over another guard rail, and down the right side for an up creek view:

Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Up Creek) hdr 07
Knox-Valley Forge Covered Bridge (Up Creek) hdr 07

From here I headed back to the car.

Another Chester County Covered Bridge captured!

- Andrew
§ § § § §

If you found any of the images or information useful, why not consider making a donation today!

Tech Talk


Additional Websites

Cross Links

Reference Material


If you are really a fan of Covered Bridges and Scale Models, you are going to love the work done at Mike and Jackies.