This past weekend Dean Cobin and I were shooting in Long Pond Ironworks State Park and Harriman State Park in NY. We spent pre-dawn at Monksville Reservoir looking to capture some early morning light. After a successful morning at the reservoir we made our way to Harriman and were surprised at the amount of color that the trees had this early in the season. As we were driving to our location we came across a group of trees that were backlit by the bright morning sun. The colors were very intense. Backlighting especially this time of year is a great way to bring out the color and textures in the leaves. After about 30 minutes of shooting we both gravitated to the same spot in this grove. We were less than 20 feet from each other and saw the same scene completely differently. It’s fascinating and fun to see the creative minds work. Hence the title of the blog…… 2 Photographers 1 spot.
Larry-I saw the shot as an overall field of color with shapes and depth. The depth comes in multiple forms in this capture. The trees themselves. Some are closer, others further back, some have detail while others are deep shadow. Also the black negative space between the leaves adds more distance . However, the colors are essential here. If it were all one color in this composition it potentially could have been a flatter image. That’s not a bad thing it’s just not what I saw and wanted to convey. The red color especially adds the pop and distance that I think helps this image successful. Dean and I were talking about how light is the crucial separator in making or breaking a shot. As your out and about look for light and how it hits the landscape that your interested in. You’ll always need a strong composition but great light is what really amplifies the final image.
Dean-Its really interesting as I came over to the area I had a wide angle lens on my camera and immediately switched to a 70-200 zoom. The back lighting was really working and I saw one particular tree I wanted to capture because it had an interesting symmetry to the branches. I placed the the main trunk down the center and then tried to isolate a pleasing pattern of the branches for the composition. In my minds eye I saw this as an abstract color panel.It is really amazing to stand next to somebody shooting the same scene and see how different the images are perceived. I love the image Larry came away with and I also liked mine. Fall color can be overwhelming and does not make a picture on it’s own, remember to always be thinking about the basic foundations for your image of good composition and great light which is what we had to work with here.
For any photographer at any level creating dynamic compositions is the goal and part of the fun of photography. In the last blog, I touched upon the use of the near/far compositional element to create depth. In this blog another very popular method of creating distance is leading compositional lines. Adding compositional lines can provide multiple composition solutions. They can grab the viewer and direct them into and through your image. They can also take you to a destination but both ways will create depth.
In this image the animal tracks are the leading compositional lines. I was looking for strong lines in dunes this particular morning and came across these animal foot prints. Without the lines the shot may be pretty but boring. It would have lacked the visual dynamic that I always look for in a composition. So the next time your out shooting look for things in nature that can lead. Maybe it’s a worn path going off in the distance, a groupings of rocks, a winding stream or lines in a dune (maybe you’ll stumble on other lines like me). There are many leading opportunities in nature , find them and incorporate them in your composition.
Hello everybody I hope you have been enjoying this amazing winter we have been experiencing, while I am completely tired of getting out the snow blower the opportunities for photography have been incredible. Since the last time I posted on this blog I have been half way around the world to China as well as Mt. Fuji , Japan and as far north as Yellowknife Canada shooting the Northern lights. However I think the best image I made this winter was right here in Mahwah, NJ at the Ramapo Reservation along the Ramapo River. During the first pretty snowfall of the season I knew the park would be a great place for winter images and as late afternoon arrived the storm had started to break up, it dawned on me that the river set up perfectly flowing west and the potential for some late day sunset color was possible. I found a spot that had a beautiful reflecting pool and then worked on a composition, Mother Nature did the rest.
We are so fortunate to have these resources at our disposal although I have the good fortune traveling around the world to shoot I still think I create my best images here at home in the local parks and trails I have come to know so well.
Have faith the spring and summer will be here soon where you will be reading a post from me complaining about the heat ☺
Sycamore and Thunderstorm was made at Four Mile Point off of Route 385 just south of the village of Coxsackie, New York. It was October 2010 and the last of the fall foliage had nearly disappeared leaving the landscape in its pre-winter austerity.
This is my favorite time of year to photograph because the bare trees reveal their skeletal structures and the true beauty of their forms. It was late morning, windy and warm with a hint of rain. I sensed that the conditions might be right to photograph this subject so I packed and drove to Four Mile Point as the calm weather began to intensify into something more powerful. I had attempted to photograph this magnificent river-sculpted sycamore several years before and failed totally. Always in the back of my mind as a great subject, this tree and I were eager for another try. I arrived with my 8×10 inch camera and went to work. The wind began to blow steadily and seemed to be following the tidal movement of the river. Generally, with large format photography, exposures are long and strong winds can cause havoc with foliage and anything that moves. Under most circumstances this would be undesirable, but wind is a natural element and can be used to creative advantage. As I composed this image, dark clouds began to form before me and I heard the rumble of nearby thunder. Thinking that this was a little odd late in October, I decided to wait and watch. Moments passed and the thunder and dark clouds increased. I was now confronted with a powerful, dramatic and very unexpected scene. I adjusted the exposure to last for four seconds. Long enough to allow the movement of wind and river to define themselves but short enough to keep the camera steady in a heavy wind. I made three exposures. Lightning flashed around me and drops began to fall. The sky opened suddenly and without warning the full force of the storm was upon me. Because of the size and amount of equipment needed for this type of photographic work, I could not stow it away from the storm, so I had to stand fast and wait it out. I covered the camera with a large plastic bag, closed my backpack, pulled up my coat hood and braced myself. What followed was an amazing and somewhat unnerving experience. Being so close to the water in this type of storm, I imagined being electrocuted or at least knocked down. As I held onto the tripod-mounted camera to keep it upright, I watched the rain and wind roar violently around me. The ancient sycamore swayed as it probably had a thousand times before. Then, as suddenly as it began, the storm ended. I removed my hood and listened as the fast moving freight-train storm roared on to its northeastern destination. I packed and started out, hopeful that this would be a meaningful image. Today, I print this negative as a very large silver gelatin photograph. The large size helps translate the immense power of river and weather and the calm, steady countenance of this beautiful tree-creature which has experienced more of the raw power of nature than any human being could ever imagine.
This beautiful rugged pine grows from a crack in the cliff wall 80 feet high at a spot called Palenville Overlook at the eastern end of the Kaaterskill Clove. Accessed by route 23A, this area affords a stunning view of the Hudson Valley as well as views westward into the Clove and south along the Great Wall of Manitou. A state trailhead and parking lot are the access point at the western edge of the village of Palenville. Years before, I had photographed this same tree in color and had always intended to do it again in black and white. On this early winter day, I made the trip arriving at this point in the early afternoon as planned. My goal was to portray the tree as a living sculpture in its harsh, yet beautiful environment. I believe this tree to be much older than its small size would indicate, its 8 foot stature is maintained entirely by the elements. How it found purchase and survived in this spot using only a crack in the cliff one inch wide is a miracle of nature. Beyond the tree is a sheer drop providing the unobstructed view of the clove below that my intended image required. My intention was to depict the tree clinging to edge of the world. I set up my 8×10 camera with 210mm wide angle lens and a medium yellow filter to render the blue sky above a realistic medium gray. I toyed with the idea of using a red filter which would create far more contrast and a darker sky. In the end I chose the more subtle approach to maintain the rich shadow values that were so necessary to balance the image. I waited for over an hour as the sun grew lower and illuminated the trunk of the tree, while casting a shadow behind it on the southern wall of the Clove. With all of the elements in place, the wind began to blow! I now played a waiting game with the wind, trying to guess its patterns (much like ocean waves) in order to make my 1 second exposure at f/45 without movement. At last I succeeded and the result was one good negative and a living icon of the forest preserved forever. ©Thomas Teich
This photograph was made the day after a moderately heavy winter storm in December. Many people who ski at Hunter Mountain do not recognize this view from the top of the ski lift. That’s because they are not on Hunter Mountain! Colonel’s Chair is the home of the ski resort. The real Hunter Mountain lies approximately 1.5 miles to the southeast, and is a wild, heavily forested guardian overlooking the Stony Clove. I set about with 8×10 camera package and a light lunch to photograph from the then abandoned state fire tower at the summit. Since this image was made in 1990, the Catskill Mountain firetowers have been restored for public use and are a wonderful day hikers destination offering incredible views any time of year. Back then, however, they were dangerously unmaintained and climbing them was risky; especially after a snowfall. My two friends and I began the climb off of route 214 just north of the Stony Clove. The snow was light and powdery making the ascent extremely long and difficult. Hidden rocks and roots tripped us constantly and every stumble resulted in a frustrating backward glissade nearly doubling the time it took to reach the top. The summit was extremely cold and once there, it began snowing again. We took shelter under the spruce and ate lunch waiting for a break in the weather. Before long the snow stopped and we climbed the tower in search of a high vantage point. It was soon apparent that the ricketty snow and ice covered steps and platform were to big a risk for all of us so my companions remained below as I set up the camera ten feet above them. The scene before me was magnificent. A birds eye view of the wind and snow blasted spruce and balsam with the Stony Clove and summit of nearby Plateau Mountain emerging from the clouds. I set up the 8×10 camera with a 360mm lens to gain some reach and waited for the clouds to cooperate. This time though, waiting proved futile. New clouds carrying snow moved up the Clove and began to obliterate my view. The wind picked up and more snow was imminent. Within seconds, the wind parted the clouds above Plateau, and I made my exposure, the distant summit barely visible. The snow came on full force now so I packed quickly, hopeful about this one negative. We retreated back to the trail and headed down. I stopped just below the edge of the summit and made another fine snow forest picture then joined my friends for the long, slippery descent to the valley below.©Thomas Teich
On October 20th I met up with 5 people at the Reeves Meadow Visitor center in Harriman State Park for a photography workshop. Georgia, Jeremy, Harold, Dan and Andrew and I shared a common bond of enjoying be outside and photography. We took an easy walk into the woods on the red trail along Stony Brook Creek in search of images. As an aside, the images that are in this post were shot by Jeremy, Dan and Andrew.
Starting in the early afternoon we shot along Stony Brook Creek. The creek is full of beautiful rocks in and around the water offering many opportunities to shoot. As we moved in and around the water everyone found spots that appealed to them. Working one on one, we discussed photographic techniques that were applied to the specific shots envisioned by the photographers. Techniques such as, using a foreground element that provides a visual anchor and creates added depth. Also, incorporating a diagonal line through the image provides a path for the viewer to move through and explore the rest of the image. These techniques provide the foundation to create exciting images.
In the afternoon we traveled to Little Long Pond to take advantage of late day sun hitting the pond and trees. The pond offers many features for photographers especially in the fall. There is an island close to shore that is filled with colorful plants and a large pine tree and through out the pond lily pads were still floating. Everyone again spread out and explored the location. Some of the group concentrated on the island while others took advantage of the lily pads and reflections.
By the end of the day plenty of images were taken, a lot of camera talk occurred and batteries wore out. When it’s all said and done there is nothing better than being outside shooting with a group of people who share a similar passion.
©Jeremy Nelson ©Dan Avallone ©Andrew Quinn
Over the next few months I will be highlighting photographers whose images describe with great beauty the NYNJTC region. Each artist brings their own vision and style that showcases our beautiful environment. Enjoy their work, learn from their experience and visit their sites to learn more about them. Have fun. Larry
It’s that time of year. We will once again witness nature’s magic as trees begin their transformation. As chlorophyll disappears from the green leaves they begin to reveal their underlying golden hues. A rush of color seemingly occurs over night and will transform even the mundane landscape into spectacular displays. For photographers the changing colors is the equivalent of the starter pistol in the 100yard dash at a track meet. It becomes a race to capture the colors before they fade away at the finish line. Predicting and timing peak color is of course tricky. There is nothing real scientific that allows for the accurate prediction of peak times. Following certain websites certainly helps but those are educated guesses. In addition, one website’s peak is another website’s past peak. Eyewitness accounts may be the most reliable source of information especially if you are traveling beyond your community. Safe to say there are usually a couple of weeks every October to early November to test your creative skills. The fall season brings textures, amazing reflections and crisp beautiful light that are waiting to be hiked and photographed. Go out and enjoy. ©Larry
Welcome to the new NYNJTC photography blog. I hope you’ll be inspired by the writing and images to explore the regions trails and parks. In the coming months other professional photographers will be introduced in the blog and contribute their images and ideas for everyone’s enjoyment. The framework driving this is the NYNJTC. Their caring of the trails and preservation of the lands allows us as artists and hikers to have fun creating exciting images and explore. Please feel free to comment as the site begins to take shape. My goal as we move forward is for it to be a destination with information, thoughts and sharing everyones images. Thanks. Larry