Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Stellar Night Workshop!

A brilliant Milky Way, billions of stars, hundreds of streaking meteors, and northern lights — an utterly amazing celestial show in the dark skies over the central Adirondacks during my annual night photography workshop.  We all went away awestruck.  I'm still counting the meteors captured in my images!

Milky Way standing on end.  ©Mark Bowie 2015.

This is an in-depth and comprehensive workshop.  During indoor instructional sessions I covered the latest techniques for shooting the night sky in relation to the landscape, with recommendations for shooting the moon, stars, planets, meteors and other celestial objects.  I discussed shooting both wild landscapes as well as artificially lit scenes.  Many thanks to the enthusiastic group of shooters who joined me.  Their commeraderie and creativity were infectious.  And the night shooting was a blast!  We had clear skies on the first night, cloudy conditions on the second and third.  The forecast called for persistent clouds until around midnight on our final night, with clearing afterwards.  We were determined to stay up late, and we were rewarded.  Around 11:30pm the clouds drifted away to unveil the Milky Way shining brightly.  Over the next two hours, we counted about a hundred Perseid meteors streaming out of the northeast and along the axis of the galaxy.  It was a spectacular natural fireworks display!

A Perseid meteor over Fourth Lake.  ©Mark Bowie 2015.

Light trails & lit trees, Inlet.  ©Mark Bowie 2015.

This event sold out quickly, with a lengthy waiting list.  I'm honored by the support.  If you're interested in joining me for next summer's Adirondack night workshop, once the schedule is announced later this year, consider registering as soon as possible.  With enough interest, we'll look at adding a second night workshop.  And I'll continue to share the unbounded beauty, awe and wonder of photographing the Adirondacks by the Light of Midnight!

Mark Bowie

Milky Way & Perseid meteor.   ©Mark Bowie 2015.

Monday, June 29, 2015

3-in-1..... Spectacular Olympic National Park

With towering glacially-sculpted mountains that seem to rise straight up out of the ground, temperate rain forests housing the largest biomass on Earth, and wild and rugged coastlines, Olympic is like three national parks in one.  All this diversity within a few miles.  It's unparalleled.

Joe LeFevre and I led a six-day workshop to the region, scheduled around a new moon to take advantage of Olympic's dark skies. On clear nights the Milky Way shone brightly above the serrated edges of Sitka spruce.  We photographed stars circling over jagged peaks, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the lights of Victoria, British Columbia in the distance.

Sunset from Hurricane Ridge overlook. ©Mark Bowie 2015
We also visited the lush forests of the Solduc River Valley, perhaps my favorite forest anywhere.  Giant spruce, pines, and red cedar climb the hillsides, many draped with hanging mosses.  Velvety green mosses cover boulders in small streams.  We shot golden reflections in the Solduc River, just upstream of Solduc Falls, which plunges through a dramatic chasm.  In the Hoh Rain Forest, our challenge was to make order out of the chaotic richness of Life.  Here plants seems to cover nearly each inch of forest floor.  Elk thrive here as well.  One participant counted thirty-two in one place!

Exploring the Hoh Rain Forest, Hall of Mosses trail. ©Mark Bowie 2015
The mountains and lush forests are impressive, but to me, Olympic's wild sea coasts are the most photogenic.  The motion of the ever-changing tides, the wind and waves that bring in fresh atmosphere, and the presence of numerous sea stacks on the beaches and just off-shore, provide an endless variety of subject matter, forms, textures and color palettes.  At sunset we practiced timing our shots of waves as they curled up on shore, then receded.  We shot time lapse sequences of clouds streaming overhead.  And on one magical evening on Ruby Beach, witnessed one of the most spectacular and long-lasting sunsets we had ever seen.  As twilight descended the beaches and sky turned blue.  Venus and Jupiter appeared, shining over the sea stacks.  They put on a show each night.  We shot into the night, as stars peered out from behind clouds, reflected on the sand beaches.  The possibilities here are astounding!

Early night at Second Beach. ©Mark Bowie 2015
We heartily thank those intrepid photographers who experienced this place with us.  And to all our workshop attendees, whether you've been with us for one workshop or several... thank you for your support.  We'll continue to bring you the latest field techniques and digital workflow information as we pursue our creative endeavors together, in wild places far afield, and at home in the beautiful Adirondacks.

Mark Bowie

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

So Many Waterfalls, So Much Beauty - Exploring Ricketts Glen

There are so many waterfalls on Ricketts Glen's Kitchen Creek — 22 of them over a 3-mile stretch, ranging from 10 - 100 feet high — it's hard to photograph them all well in a single workshop... but we tried!  Joe LeFevre and I led an intrepid group of shooters here over two full days.  We experienced a range of lighting conditions, from sunny and breezy to overcast and quiet.  And the falls put on a show.   When the sun was out, we learned how to capture the colorful reflections of spring foliage in the creek.  The reflections changed with our vantage point and the wide contrast range demanded shooting multiple exposures to blend later in processing.  When it was overcast, the lime-green forest surrounding the cascades made a magnificent backdrop.  The lighting was even and the forest glowed against brilliance of the falls.  So both conditions created special imaging opportunities.

During the indoor instructional sessions Joe and I covered many field and processing techniques specific to waterfall imagery, including blending multiple exposures for exposure latitude, expanding resolution and focus stacking.  We discussed the creative use of filters for lengthening shutter speeds and reducing glare.  And we illustrated the special conditions produced by flowing water that make photographing waterfalls so enticing.

The concentration and variety of Ricketts' waterfalls makes it one of the best places in the East to photograph falling water.  This was our third trip here and we were again overwhelmed by the sheer number and beauty of the falls.  They're seemingly around every bend of the trail.  So much beauty over such a short span.  We can't wait to return!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winners of the Adirondack Life 2015 Photo Contest

It's that time of year again when we get to see all of the beautiful photographs from the photo contest winners in the Annual Adirondack Life Photography Contest

Congratulations to Matt Champlin for his grand prize winning entry Green Island on Indian Lake which you can see by clicking the link below:

Matt wins a spot in the Weekend with Adirondack Life workshop in Lake Placid this September.  Get details about this great event hosted by three our of fabulous instructors here!

 And congratulations also go out to all of the other winners, some for the first time, and some repeats, including some of our own alumni!  We are so proud!

Linda Benzon, Carlisle PA (third-place recreation)
Russ Hartung, Morrisonville NY (first-place recreation)
Ronan Chris Murphy, Marina del Rey CA (first-place people)
Hobit Lafaye, Ithaca (second-place people)
Melanie Houck, Brant Lake (first-place wildlife)
Lee Drake, Bloomfield NY (third-place landscape)  Lee placed Second in Macro in 2013!
Timothy Behuniak, Latham (second-place recreation)
Wayne Jones, Gansevoort (second-place landscape)
John Seelbinder, Rochester (first-place landscape)
Anita Vigorito, Willsboro (third-place wildlife)
Howard Arndt, Amherst (second-place wildlife) Howard was the Grand Prize winner in 2013!

Check out our 2015 schedule below.  You can also find us on Facebook!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Adirondack Life Photography show at View

Coinciding with the release of the 2015 Adirondack Life Photography issue, View will partner with the magazine in presenting highlights from this years issue. Adirondack Life Photography: A Celebration of Iconic Images features iconic images of the Adirondack park from some of the area’s top photographers—including work by:

Nancie Battaglia
Mark Bowie
Eric Dresser
Anne Diggory                                                                                             
Erika Edgley
Johnathan Esper
Nathan Farb                                                                                                 
Lisa Godfrey
Carl Heilman II                                                                                             
Joe LeFevre                                                                                               
Barry Lobdell
Robert A. Lubeck
Ben Stechschulte

A special opening reception will be held Sunday March 1, 2015 from 1pm-4pm. For more information visit View's website.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Joe LeFevre's First Time-Lapse Workshop

The Time-Lapse Gang
For the first time, I led a four-day time-lapse workshop out of Inlet in the southwestern Adirondacks, working out of the historic Woods Inn. We created a variety of time-lapse sequences, from sunrise over Raquette Lake, to the Milky Way over Moss Lake.  Two nights were spent in a classic Adirondack setting: a lake with loons calling, fog swirling as the night progressed, and the amazing Milky Way moving across the sky.

We spent time in the conference center learning the ins and outs of how to shoot time-lapse, optimizing our images, and finally, producing the time-lapse movies. New friendships were made, shooting partners were established, and great fellowship with like-minded people was enjoyed by all.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Amazing Night Weather ~ Possibilities Beyond Starry Skies

Many photographers, especially those new to night photography, may think they need clear skies and a small moon to photograph the night.  Images of dark, star-filled skies, whether the stars are recorded as points of light or as long trails, are indeed awe-inspiring.

Milky Way over Moss Lake, Adirondacks.
30 sec’s, f/2.8, ISO 5000

But there’s also incredible beauty to be discovered under varying meteorological conditions at night.  I take my camera out in all kinds of nocturnal weather: partly cloudy, foggy, rainy, in lightning storms and snow squalls.  It’s a chance to expand my repertoire and create unique images packed with drama and atmosphere.  I’ve seen moonlight catch fog on fire, cast rainbows on sheets of rain, and paint fogbows on mist.  I’ve recorded fingers of lightning fanning through cumulonimbus, and the Aurora Borealis backlighting clouds with fanciful colors.

Northern lights over Fourth Lake, Adirondacks.
12 min’s, f/4, ISO 400

Prior to night shooting, I check weather forecasts on-line.  Wunderground.com, weather.com, and noaa.gov provide hourly forecasts of sky conditions.  AccuWeather.com has an Astronomy tab that lists stargazing conditions over several nights, by location, based on the amount of cloudcover and phase of the moon.  I get excited when forecasts call for intermittent clouds.  Just as with daytime photography, at night clouds can lead to more interesting images.  They take on the colors of the atmosphere and reflect artificial lights from below.  When clouds are sufficiently thin, or there’re breaks in them, the stars and moon shine through.  Moving clouds streak through the sky during long exposures.  They splay dramatically when they’re coming at you or going directly away from you.  Using a wide angle lens will accentuate the effect.

Moon reflected in Little Tupper Lake, Adirondacks
30 sec’s, f/4, ISO 400

Even total cloudcover can be photogenic at night.  I was leading a night photography workshop to Newport, Rhode Island.  We gathered at a nearby beach where I gave a short session on nighttime camera settings as we stood under umbrellas in a torrential downpour.  Several members looked as if we should pack it in.  But we stuck it out and were rewarded.  In the fifteen minutes it took to drive to Newport Harbor, the rain stopped.  Clouds hung low over the world-famous sailing mecca, colored by the city lights.  I made this image, one of my all-time favorite night images.  Note how the lights paint the clouds in contrasting cool and warm tones, and how the long exposure has smoothed the clouds and water, and softened their colors to pastels.

Newport Bay Bridge and sailing vessels, Newport, RI.
30 sec’s, f/5.6, ISO 200

Night fog lends a certain cinematic atmosphere.  I experienced some amazing fog at Fourth Lake in the central Adirondacks.  On a summer night it streamed down a hillside, splayed out across the lake, and billowed up against the far shore.  The lights of a dock and gazebo colored it.  The Big Dipper shone above.

Fog on Fourth Lake, Adirondacks
30 sec’s, f/2.8, ISO 800

I led a workshop to Nauset Light on Cape Cod one spring night.  Skies were clear but for a layer of fog that hung over the top of the lighthouse.  The light rotated through the fog and I made this image, reminiscent of a Thomas Kincade painting.

Fog and stars over Nauset Light, Cape Cod.
30 sec’s, f/2.8, ISO 800

At Follensby Clear Pond in the Adirondacks an advancing thunderstorm was overtaking a starry sky.  Along the leading edge a night rainbow appeared, cast not by sunlight but by moonlight, as the moon rose behind me.  Sheets of rain fell beneath the stars.  You can’t make such images under clear conditions!

Stars and a moonbow, Follensby Clear Pond, Adirondacks
8 sec’s, f/2.8, ISO 3200

In Pittsfield, Massachusetts I shot a time-lapse sequence of a summer thunderstorm over Silver Lake.  Using a hahnel Giga T Pro wireless remote with a built-in intervalometer, I shot 10-second exposures, separated by one second, over about 35 minutes.  Many of the images didn’t capture lightning bolts, but several did.  In StarStax image stacking software I blended four images that contained bolts using Lighten blend mode.  The software combined the brightest parts of each image — the lightning bolts and lit clouds — to render this composite.  Be extremely cautious photographing thunderstorms.  Lightning can strike up to five miles out from a storm cell.  I feel relatively safe shooting receding storms with the wireless remote while I take shelter in my vehicle.

4-image composite of lightning over Silver Lake, Pittsfield, MA
Each exposure: 10 sec’s, f/2.8, ISO 200

The most astounding nocturnal weather event I’ve witnessed took place at Moss Lake in the Adirondacks on a cool summer night.  As the night progressed, a low-lying fog thickened over the lake.  The Milky Way towered above.  Eventually the half moon rose behind me, magically projecting a multi-colored moonbow on the fog, the shadows of bare shoreline trees beneath it.  What special conditions coalescing at once!

Milky Way and fogbow over Moss Lake, Adirondacks
30 sec’s, f/2.8, ISO 5000

So don’t limit your night shooting to clear skies; venture out in all kinds of weather and explore the artistic possibilities.  You’ll find that as beautiful as the resulting images may be, the ultimate reward is discovering the majesty of Nature at work after dark.

Mark Bowie has authored two extensive e-books on night photography: The Light of Midnight and After Midnight.  They are available through his website: www.markbowie.com.  He is a staff instructor with API and leads photo workshops, tours and seminars throughout the year.  He is also a much sought after public speaker.  For a list of upcoming API events, visit www.adkpi.org.

Special thanks to Hunt's Photo for granting API permission to re-produce this feature, which originally appeared on their blog.