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.