Thursday, November 26, 2015

Springtime Eggstravaganza

Spring comes in like a...

Springtime Eggstravaganza

Springtime along the Schuylkill River Video: Springtime along the Schuylkill River

We didn't have much of a winter this year, but what a spring it has been.

That's the first few seconds of the rush to scoop up 25,000 (yes, the comma's in the right place) Easter eggs on the football field at Cherry Hill West High School yesterday. Find more photos here, and a time-lapse video here (you can see me at the 20-second mark taking the picture at left).

I enjoy taking weather photos, but I think I blinked this past winter and missed our only snow day.

So I quess I'm making up for it now.

Last week I spent the morning photographing 5,000 tulips in Haddonfield (gallery here). I wondered if whoever (The Haddonfield Tulip Co.) planted the tulip bulbs and if the somebody (Kingsway Church) who had to buy/collect all the eggs before they were "hidden" on the grass field really counted them all.

When we got our first warm spell a few weeks ago, I was dispatched to shoot a "weather photo" in New Jersey. Another photographer would do Pennsylvania. We have two editions of the newspaper and try to have local photos for each. As I was leaving, my editor called to say another editor had just come into the newsroom after walking through Rittenhouse Square and said it was full of people. So, since I was still closest, I was detoured there.

As all the trees were still bare, I knew if I could look down on the park and get a photo that would show that it was both warm only mid-March. I parked in a garage overlooking the park, and drove to the very top level, envisioning a photo like Vincent Laforet's aerial views of Central Park for the New York Times a few years ago. Well, Rittenhouse Square is no Central Park, a parking garage is not a helicopter (and I'm no Vince Laforet). It wasn't wall-to-wall people on blankets, but there were two shirtless young men.

It wasn't quite what I was looking for. The photo did show that it was warm, but there really wasn't any visual evidence that it was only March. The picture could've been a file photo from last summer.

So I walked down to street level, and after asking the two Penn law students their names, I noticed the daffodils on the edge of the park.

That's it on the left. Then I continued onto New Jersey, confident I had a good Pennsylvania weather photo, I started looking for one for our readers in the Garden State, where they also grow daffodils...

A few days later, another call from editors for "weather art." I usually avoid going to Kelly Drive for photos because it is such a hackneyed site.

But I also avoid the Schuylkill Expressway when it's jammed and I'm trying to get home.

And the blossoms looked great, and there was even a place to pull over and park. So I did.

After photographing joggers, bikers, walkers and skaters passing along the trail, a family walked up.

I didn't want to bother them, but then witnessed a scene all too familiar to me: photo person wandering while partner person waits.

I made a few frames, then introduced myself. The picture-taking person was Dervin Witmer, a portrait photographer from Lebanon County. The patient partner person and their daughter sat in the shade.

This, if someone were to ask what I've shot lateley, is the photo I'd say is my recent favorite.

As you might imagine, I was not the only Inquirer photographer out shooting the warm weather. I was not the only one entranced by blossoms. So when I was asked again to "look for a standalone photo," I really didn't want to shoot any more flowering trees.

Bruce Springsteen was in town that night, so I went by the National Constitution Center thinking fans here for his Wrecking Ball concert might stop by the exhibit there - and possible do something in front of the big photos outside. A lot of maybes. 

Walking past the Federal Courthouse though, I noticed something in the planter I had never seen before. This in an area I have spent hours over the years waiting for defendants to leave or enter the building.

I asked the guard, who was hesitant about telling me anything about it. But I persisted and learned it is a makeshift memorial for a woodpecker - Woody - where in 2009 a courthouse worker buried the bird after it perished flying into the building's glass facade. Not knowing why it's there, tourists have added to it over the years, and others have taken pieces. But the orignal wooden popsicle stick cross is still there.

Finally, bringing my springtime musings to an end, an added bonus video: snippits of springtime I shot over the past month along the Schuykill River.

Inquirer Staff Photographer
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About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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