I was recently in the Adirondacks shooting at Connery Pond. I got up very early and drove down a dirt road that led to the pull out near the trail head. It was pitch black as I was driving through the forest but as I turned the corner I saw beams of light being directed in all directions. Groups of photographers wearing headlamps. I wasn’t alone, I should have known. I knew this was a popular spot but I wasn’t expecting this many people. Once I found a place to park I worked my way through the woods to the pond. I could faintly see the largest group beginning to set up their equipment. Not wanting to be a part of that group I decided to set up shop further down to the left. There was a pretty dense fog covering the entire pond rendering visibility to way less than 100 yards. Knowing there was time before I was going to shoot I struck up a conversation with a woman who informed me that the large group was a camera club from New Jersey. To my left about 40 yards away was a photographer that I follow online,Chris Kayler. He apparently got into an accident with a tractor trailer the day before and rolled his car twice. Totaled it. No hospital for him but a trip to the rental car facility and kept the trip moving. He’s young. The quiet sounds of digital shutters began to take hold as the fog began to lift revealing Whiteface mountain in the distance. It really was beautiful. As the fog completely lifted most of the group had left to go shoot somewhere else. I wandered down to shoot a couple last shots by the trail before leaving. After such a large gathering all morning it was down to me and 2 other people on the other side of the creek. As I was packing up it turns out that one of the two guys left was fellow NYNJTC blogger Dean Cobin and a buddy of his. After catching up we decided to go to another location and continue shooting. It’s a crazy small world.
In a quest to find more hikes that have many photo opportunities I bring you Franklin Parker Preserve. The preserve is a series of sandy paths that intertwine around sections of pine forests, cedar swamps, streams and various bodies of water. The preserve is located in the Pine Barrens just outside of Chatsworth, NJ. For people who have never spent anytime in the Pine Barrens this is a great tune up to understanding the environment. Many people have driven through the Pine Barrens on the way to shore and never really paid attention. The Pine Barrens beauty needs to be experienced first hand. It is unique not only to New Jersey but the nation as a whole.
I’ve hiked in the preserve from both ends. There are 2 parking areas that allow easy access. I find shooting early and late here the most beautiful as the light will bring out the textures on the beautiful pines. The preserve is also set up for bird watching with platforms in the large open spaces. All kinds of birds including Eagles make the preserve their home.
It’s funny how the creative mind works. How can two photographers be in the same beautiful location and see the same elements but have two different visions on the final image. I’m fascinated by that process. It may be as simple as something we saw that triggered the process or maybe something deeper. Perhaps unexplainable or just plain innate. Either way here is our thoughts on shooting in the Catskills around Peekamoose Mountain last weekend.
Larry- What struck me about this spot were the long flowing lines and the x shape that formed between them. I tend to look for graphic shapes in my compositions. This was a natural. The x and lines are very strong compositional elements. They define the foreground and help draw your eye back to the cascades. The larger decision for me was how much of the background to show. I knew the cascading water was very important and the key to finishing the composition. The cascades provide the connection of the water from the foreground to the background. However, I wanted the main focus to be on the x and flowing water so cropping out the trees and the rest of the environment behind the cascades became necessary. Once that decision was made I positioned my camera with an 11-22mm lens low to accentuate that dynamic relationship, switched the camera to live mode and fine tuned the final capture.
©Larry Zink Cannon 7d, 11-22mm lens 13sec @ f/13
Dean- Since I have been to this locations many times before I had pre-visualized a completely different shot however since this time I would be able to shoot from standing in the water, which normally due to conditions I have not been able to do this new composition entered my mind. From the new angle I saw the potential for beautifully defined flow lines which would be created with a long exposure, couple that with the perfect flow volume for the pour-offs which I also knew from experience would stay completely defined and clear the combination of the two generally makes for a nice image. The scene had great tonality and I was able to completely see this in Black and White in my mind’s eye. I like the way the image turned out probably one of the best of the day, hey every once in awhile you get lucky and it actually all works according to your plan for those who are interested this was a 30 sec. exposure the light was relatively low so it was easily achieved by stopping down to f22 I was using a polarizer to control the glare.
©Dean Cobin Canon 5DMark2, 17-40mm, 30sec @ F/22
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.
Late in the summer of 2009, I made a trip on the Hudson River with my good friend Ellen Kozak, the brilliant and prolific painter of Hudson River light. Ellen paints from the west shore of the Hudson near New Baltimore but hadn’t explored much on the eastern side. So, on a hot summer day we headed down river from the Nutten Hook landing directly across from Coxsackie. Our trip started in the early afternoon as we made our way toward Fordham Bay, an area I love and frequent. The water was warm and the tide low as we hiked the sand beaches that distinguish this beautiful stretch of river. Eventually, arriving at an inlet just north of Fordham Bay, Ellen set up shop on a huge beached log and began to work. I moved further south and spent the afternoon working on several subjects including a beautiful expanse of spatterdock (waterlily), that followed a seemingly endless curve of the river. The eastern shore of the river in this general area is quite wild and untouched, much of it New York State Forest Preserve. One gets the same feelings that early explorers like Henry Hudson might have had; that you are alone in a silent, pristine world. As usual I was working with my 8×10 camera which limits the distance one can travel and the number of negatives exposed. This restriction becomes a discipline that forces the photographer to choose very carefully his subjects and to wait for the best light and weather. While Ellen worked hard at her painting, the result being one unique work of art, I made three negatives, the last shown here. As the sun moved low in the sky the tide began to rise rapidly; a signal that it was time to go. I headed north toward Ellen’s spot but stopped suddenly as I came upon this scene now dramatically lit and half submerged by the river. I was fascinated by the intricate growth of the reeds and the reflections they cast in the water as well as the rugged beauty of the driftwood. I set up and made my last image looking directly toward the southern outskirts of Coxsackie across the river. Again, I was deeply impressed by the wild, unspoiled character of this stretch of Hudson River. Finally, packed and ready to go, I met Ellen and we began the hike back to Nutten Hook through nearly waist deep water that had been only sand beach hours ago. ©Thomas Teich
Some people hike for exercise, some for solitude and some for the ultimate challenge. Simply put I hike to take pictures. I’m always on the search for hikes that have good photo to hike ratios. What I mean by that is a hike that has great opportunities to shoot in multiple locations without the time and energy to make a long extended hike. With limited time on weekends, hikes in the 2 to 4 mile range fit that requirement. Many parks in the NYNJTC area have extensive trails that allow for people to create their own combinations to fit their objectives. I did such a hike at Harriman State Park this past weekend. I’ve done this loop about five times. It’s not terribly difficult and the photo rewards are numerous. The photo to hike ratio for this hike weighs heavily in favor of photography. Starting behind the Reeves Meadow Center the trail combination is as follows Red-yellow-white-orange- red (see map). It makes an approximate 2 mile loop with some grade changes.
The reason I enjoy this hike are the various creeks and brooks that can be photographed. With enough rain small streams form as they race down the mountain with the ultimate destination of joining the main attraction, Stony Brook Creek. The creek has amazing colorful rocks embedded in the stream itself and along its shores. Pine Meadow Brook emerges midway on the hike. A smaller more delicate stream but offers many cascades. On this loop Cascade of the Slid can be seen. It’s a series of small waterfalls working their way through large boulders as it makes its way down hill. Under wet conditions both streams offer numerous opportunities to shoot and create beautiful images.
Timing is everything here. Weather conditions and time of the year are very important. Fall and spring, especially after some rain like this weekend, brings out the best in the creek. Fall obviously explodes with outstanding color and the springtime is a rejuvenation of intense greens and new blooms. Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel line the upper portions of this trail and can certainly add to any composition. Water, rocks and blooms when incorporated together in a composition are a recipe for excellent images.
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
I spent a Sunday morning recently shooting in Harriman State Park with fellow photoblogger Dean Cobin. While we had talked about shooting together in the past on this particular Sunday it was a spur of the moment shoot concocted the night before. So, with some mad social media skills we arranged a time and location. According to my trusty accu-weather app the forecast wasn’t great…….sunny skies no clouds. Atmospherics always play an important role in the ever allusive epic image whether it’s at Harriman State Park or at Yellowstone National Park. Except for some early morning passing clouds it became a cloudless bright blue sky by early morning as predicted. Undaunted, Dean and I ventured off. While I’ve shot at the park numerous times it’s actually Deans backyard having spent much of his formative years there. As we traveled around we went to some of the more off the beaten path sections that he was familiar with.
For a state park so close to New York City Harriman has such a varied landscape for photographers. Lakes, creeks, pine groves, flowers and vistas are all hiding within its boundaries. On this day though, we spent most of the morning shooting all along Tiorati Brook. To our surprise, especially considering the lack of rain, we found many pools of water that had beautiful reflections along with interesting cascades guiding the water along. Given the light that morning it played out perfectly as the pools became reflective of all the colors and shapes around it. The moss on the rocks was becoming a beautiful electric green that occurs in the springtime along brooks and creeks.
Life is regenerating again all around us and springtime in Harriman is a wonderful place to be …….especially as a photographer.
I’m always looking for simple graphic images in any chaotic environment. The river at Ken Lockwood Gorge is filled with so many photographic opportunities. I spent a fair amount of time in this one river location working the composition and waiting for the light. I’m sure the hikers who passed me coming and going were curious as to what I was shooting. Was I photographing a fish? Was it a cool Amphibian? No, it was a lone rock in the water.
There are 3 main elements that caught my eye: the colors reflecting into the water, the way the water was moving around the rock itself and finally the distinct shape and colors on the rock. Presenting those 3 elements in a neat and tidy composition is the challenge.
My 70-200 allowed for the tighter composition and I purposely positioned the subject low in the crop and used the rest of the frame to enhance the story. Next, taking a cue from Dean Cobin’s blog (see below….thanks Dean) and his use of neutral density filters I broke out my 4 stop ND filter. This filter doesn’t get to see the light of day very often but coupled with my polarizer it gave me about six additional stops to play with. Having the ability to shoot with a longer exposure allowed the cascades to be soft and white. The curves of the water are essential elements in the composition without over powering the rock.
Learn to shoot long exposures and you will really start to gain creative control of your images. It’s actually very simple and lots of fun. Here are the basic’s ; you will need a tripod mounted camera and a simple understanding of how to increase the length of your exposure time, you’ll also need something to shoot such as a stream, rushing water at the beach or clouds on breezy day . Once you pick your scene go head and meter your shot. In this example I will be shooting in aperture priority so once I set my f stop the camera will choose the correct shutter speed accordingly.
Take your exposure and keep track of the exposure time. Now comes the question how do we extend the length of the exposure and the answer is we need to block some light, the first and simplest way to do that is to “stop down” or close down your aperture. This means to move it to a higher number. Remember that for every stop you add you are decreasing the amount of light by half or doubling the exposure time. For example if your first exposure ended up being ¼ second then by stopping down to the next stop your next exposure should end up being ½ a second which is an eternity in photographic terms , if you stopped down again your exposure would end up being a full second long . You might ask what happens when I run out of stops on my lens, where here’s where it gets more interesting you can also control the light by putting something called a Neutral Density Filter in front of your lens which I will leave for another discussion.
Light is the big factor here and if you want to realize immediate success when trying this I suggest you attempt this during very early light or very late light the results you can achieve with just your lens will be quite significant. The image posted here was slightly more difficult to capture because It was shot at noon , but with the aid of an overcast sky and a variable neutral density filter I was able to extend this exposure to 4 seconds which creates a dreamy effect for the pour off’s and strong flow lines in the water which add the intended effect for my composition. Try it I think you will really enjoy the effects and never be afraid to take risks with your creativity that’s what makes us all unique. Of course there are countless hours of reading and info on this subject on line which I strongly encourage you to explore…