Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wild Coast Adventures ~ Bandon Beach & the Southern Oregon Coast Workshop

The southern Oregon coast features some of the wildest, most dramatic ocean scenery in the United States.  There are rugged peninsulas and secluded coves.  Sea stacks eroded from the rocky headland lie on the beaches and just offshore.  Storms lash it all and the light and scenery are constantly changing.  I teamed up with fellow API staff instructor Joe LeFevre to lead a group to Bandon Beach and points north and south, photographing a wide range of marine conditions.  The light was spectacular on our first four excursions.  At Meyers Beach we shot a colorful sunset over the many sea stacks.  At Otter Point sunrise fog encased the peninsula in angelic light.  Spiral-shaped clouds gathered over Samuel Boardman State Park at sunset on the second night, and fog suffused the sea stacks at Meyers the following morning.  Each was magical.

Sunset over sea stack and peninsula, Samuel Boardman State Park.

The look and feel of the West Coast is vastly different than the East Coast, and different photographic strategies are required to showcase the best of both.  Joe and I led instructional sessions with tips and techniques specific to shooting the coasts.  We covered reading weather and photographing diverse lighting situations, varying shutter speed to obtain different textures in the water, how to shoot waves for maximum impact, and shooting and blending multiple exposures to control a wide range of light, depth of field, and expand image resolution.

20-minute exposure of stars over Bandon Beach sea stacks.

This was the third workshop we've led to the West Coast and we're anxious to go back next year.  The scenery is so magnificent.  Watch the API website for our next workshop adventure out there.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017 Adirondack Life Annual Photo Contest Winners

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 Richard Tyrseck for his stunning grand prize winning entry Misty Morning, Clear Pond.  Click the link below for details and to see all of the winners!

Rick is API Alumni and a wonderful photographer. He wins a spot in the Weekend with Adirondack Life workshop in Wilmington 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!  There are always so many beautiful photographs!

Tim Goodrich (first-place landscape)
Spencer Morrissey (second-place landscape) 

Melanie Houck (first-place wildlife)
Pat McGuire (second-place wildlife) 
Sue Kiesel (third-place wildlife) API Alumni! 

Cassandra Blair (first-place people)
Robert Stone (second-place people)
Theresa Denney (third-place people)

Debbie Thacker (first-place Macro)
Ryan Nerp (second-place Macro)

Sue Bonacci (first-place B&W)
Daniel Hart (second-place B&W)
Dave Waite (third-place B&W)

Blaine Stauffer II (first place Recreation)

Editors Choice:
Emma Terry

Check out our 2017 schedule below.  You can also find us on Facebook!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

API's Winter Wonderland

The more I shoot winter the more I appreciate its many nuances of weather and light: how sunlight highlights wind-blown patterns on the snow.  How shadows turn rich blue and become graphic compositional tools.  How snow and ice react to the ever-changing temperatures.  And it's incredibly beautiful at night.  On cold winter nights, the stars seem to sizzle overhead.

To me, winter is most scenic in its extremes — big snows and heavy ice.  We were fortunate to find both.  Major snow storms, which dumped about two feet on the central Adirondacks, bookended our four-day workshop.  In a spruce and pine forest, we shot in snow up to our thighs.  On a -4 degree night we photographed the Big Dipper over Raquette Lake.  On the Moose River — which kept  flowing despite the cold — intricate ice formations clung to boulders.

This set looked like Christmas ornaments.  When converted to black & white, their intricate forms and textures jump out.

Our classroom sessions were devoted to the Art of Seeing winter, taking advantage of its many scenic and compositional opportunities.  We also covered shooting and blending multiple exposures as panoramas, HDR's, layer masks, and focus stacks — all to push the bounds of what's possible shooting the Adirondacks' incredible fourth season.  My heart-felt thanks to the participants, for their interest, passion, and creative spirit.  I very much enjoyed being with you.  Winter's not over yet and the possibilities continue to evolve as the weather changes.  Explore it while you can!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Peak Fall Colors, Peak Scenery

API wrapped up its 2016 offerings with our Peak Fall Color workshop, led by API staff instructor Johnathan Esper and myself.  In accordance with our philosophy to guide participants to different sections of the Adirondack Park, as each are so varied and distinctive, we based ourselves out of Long Lake for a few days, then made our way to the Schroon Lake area.  The Adirondack autumn put on colorful displays in both regions.  The reds were the best we've seen in years!  Near Tupper Lake, dwarf maples glowed pink and red in a marsh.  More vibrant foliage lined the Raquette River and its rocky tributaries.  Colorful trees overhung Palmer Pond, suffused to pastels by the rising fog.

For the first time ever, we were able to take participants to newly opened state land near Newcomb — a forest-lined pond with Kempshall Mountain rising majestically beyond.  We also received special permission to photograph in the privately-owned Elk Lake-Clear Pond Preserve, which has possibly the most dramatic vistas of mountains and water in the Adirondacks.  But maybe the highlight of our wanderings, was when Johnathan led us to open cliffs with views to the Great Range, where fall colors swept from alpine valleys up steep mountain slopes.

In the field and in the classroom we concentrated on the art of seeing, and tried to convey the essence of what we experienced and felt through our imagery.  The art of seeing is a life-long endeavor.  My goal is to keep learning, and to push the bounds of what can be captured with a camera.  Many thanks to all those who joined us in that pursuit this year.  I look forward to shooting with you again.  We're currently working on our 2017 schedule, and plan to post it soon.

API's Retreat — Special as Always

I've been privileged to help lead API's annual photographic Retreat since its inception nearly ten years ago.  And ever since John Radigan and I led that inaugural Retreat, it has been my favorite event of the year.  It has become our signature program, cherished by those fortunate enough to participate.  This year's Retreat was again truly special.  For six days we immersed ourselves in the craft of photography as we shot varied landscapes across the Adirondack's central lake country.

We photographed foggy sunrises in the Fulton Chain of Lakes and at Raquette Lake, brilliant fall foliage along Raquette River, and the night skies over the dark and mysterious Moss Lake.  Here the Milky Way rises bright as a cloud bank.  We made time lapse sequences of it as clouds and fog danced over the surface of the water — a majestic and awe-inspiring sight.

The Retreat is different from our workshops in several ways.  There are no formal instructional sessions; API staff instructor Joe LeFevre and I performed all activities as full participants.  Each day we were given assignments, wrote of our thoughts and experiences from the field, and presented them to the group.  We also worked towards presenting the theme of our week's work on the final day.  Sharing our experiences and the lessons learned is always emotional and inspiring.  Joe and I are grateful to the attendees for fully involving themselves in the process and helping make the Retreat the transformative event it is.

Watch for news of next year's Retreat coming soon.  We will continue the traditions that make this event so unique, while including some new learning sessions and shooting locations to keep it fresh.

Exploring Autumn with API & Adirondack Life

September and October are my favorite times to photograph the Adirondacks.  With mist and fog rising from the waters most mornings and the onset of fall colors, the photographic opportunities are magnificent.  API runs three successive workshops at this time of year, and they are amongst our most popular.  We kicked off the season by teaming up with Adirondack Life magazine for the Weekend with Adirondack Life workshop.  Fellow API staff instructor Johnathan Esper and I were joined by the magazine's art director, Kelly Hofschneider, for a behind-the-scenes look at how graphics professionals search for and use compelling landscape imagery.  Kelly's insights into publishing were invaluable.  Participants learned the types of images sought, the opportunities for getting their images and articles published, and how to submit them.

Outdoors, the Adirondack autumn produced again.  While much of New England had below-par fall colors, the Adirondacks displayed richly varied colors, with particularly strong reds.  They carpeted the mountainsides.

To change things up this year, we based out ourselves out of the Schroon Lake area.  Several iconic photo locales are nearby.  Local forests exhibit a mix of colorful hardwoods and evergreens.  We received special permission to photograph in the Elk Lake-Clear Pond Preserve.  At both Elk and Clear, fog swirled and danced over the water, against a backdrop of imposing mountains.

Along the dark shores of Putnam Pond we photographed the Milky Way towering overhead.  From the Belfry Mountain fire tower we caught a dramatic sunset over Giant Mountain and other High Peaks.  At Blue Ridge Falls dwindling water levels allowed us to shoot exposed potholes and other erosional features that are covered in spring and summer.  Thanks to our participants for their enthusiasm and willingness to explore with a camera.  They made truly special images at each of these places, and we all went home with a deeper appreciation for autumn in the North Country.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Photographing the Night Landscape Workshop - Stellar Again!

Though I've explored many facets of photographing the night landscape, I'm continually learning, continually being surprised by how beautiful it is.  My night workshop in the Adirondacks last week provided more stunning revelations.  I was joined by an intrepid group of shooters looking to learn the intricacies of the craft: how to determine exposures in a variety of situations, how to focus in the dark, how to deal with noise, and discover the possibilities for recording details in the nocturnal landscape and sky.

Night cabin, Inlet
The night weather was threatening but variable, presenting a slew of photographic opportunities.  It was overcast the first night, and again on the second night, until fog moved in late, then clouds above it parted to reveal the Milky Way towering over Raquette Lake.  The third night presented a mix of clouds and clear sky, and the Milky Way shining brightly.  And then a surprise... Perseid meteors — which don't peak until the following week — raining out of the northeast.  We saw and captured dozens!

Milky Way over Raquette Lake
I impressed upon the participants to go out night shooting with a few goals in mind, and they took it to heart.  We shot stars as points of light, as trails and as circles.  We shot meteors, planets, and our home galaxy — the Milky Way.  We made vertical & horizontal panoramas of it, and time lapse sequences of it cruising across the night sky.

Milky Way & Perseid Meteor
If you'd like to explore night photography consider joining us for any of our upcoming fall workshops; the night is so photogenic, we'll shoot it at each.  And of course, I'll run my night workshop again next summer.  See API's website for full program descriptions.  There's so much to shoot at night.  My goal is to keep exploring it, and finding ways to push the bounds of what's possible to capture under stellar dark skies.