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  • Writer's pictureDave Pidgeon

Light trails in Lancaster

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Traffic passes Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Light trails run past Penn Square in downtown Lancaster, Pa.

LOCATION: Penn Square, Lancaster, Pa.

EQUIPMENT: Canon 5D Mark IV | EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM | Breakthrough Six-Stop Neutral Density filter | Manfrotto tripod

THE STORY: The Civil War Soldiers & Sailors monument in downtown Lancaster, Pa. (my home city) is a prominent feature for a few reasons.

It's the center of Penn Square, where so much happens even on a daily basis. When I was there on a Sunday evening in late February, the place bustled with people walking, heading to bars or just enjoying a burst of early Spring weather.

It's also a message. Justice, perched on top of the pillar, faces north, having turned her back on ... well, let's not reopen that national wound here, okay?

I came downtown because I needed to find something to do with a solitary Sunday evening. To soothe the heart, mind, and soul.

And there's no therapy quite like photo therapy.

I've mentioned before how photography creates mindfulness. For even a brief moment, everything in your life melts away as you turn your attention to camera settings, composition, light, shadow.

I set my Manfrotto tripod up on the of the sidewalk so the traffic on North Queen Street would almost touch the lens hood.

Penn Square sits on top of a flat ridge, so the sun stays remarkably bright on the area for a long time into blue hour. I affixed a six-stop Breakthrough ND filter to my wide angle lens to achieve a 10-second exposure.

And concentrated on that. Just that. Pressing the remote shutter release with my thumb. Watch the traffic rush by. Check the LCD screen on the back. Did I get it? Not that time. Press the release again. Did I get it? Yes, that time I did. Try again.

What's wonderful about the mindfulness of photography is that quite often you create something of permanence. This photo will carry on, even when the mindful moment passes, and hopefully bring joy to someone who sees it and needs comfort or inspiration.

Dave Pidgeon is a seasoned writer and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. You can contact him at

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