The Finger Lakes region of central New York has over 200 named waterfalls. The variety is astounding. There are long bridalveils, ledgy falls and stair-stepping cascades that leap over sedimentary cap rock to basins below. API continued our annual visit this fall as staff instructors Mark Bowie and Joe LeFevre led participants to some of the most photogenic waterfalls in the East. A wet summer ensured the falls were flowing strong. Autumn colors adorned the banks and were reflected in the streams. We visited the classic falls in Watkins Glen State Park and others nearby. We also photographed the tallest falls in New York State, the majestic 215-feet high Taughannock Falls, and secured special permission to shoot the spectacular Frontenac Falls on private lands. And since we were in the heart of New York's wine country, we mixed in a visit to the Americana Vineyards for wine tasting. Autumn, waterfalls and wine — hard to beat!
Mark and Joe covered field strategies, tips and techniques for taking waterfall imagery to another level, including the use of specialized filters, long exposures, shooting expressionistic images and the need for shooting multiple exposures to expand depth of field, resolution and exposure latitude.
There's much more to explore in Finger Lakes region. We plan to head back next year. Watch for API's 2014 schedule, to be posted soon.
Autumn workshops continue to be our most popular, and for good reason. From mid-September to mid-October Adirondack forests put on a kaleidescopic show, what Mark Bowie calls "New England gone wild." Stands of evergreens poke through the deciduous forest. The hardwoods turn the classic yellows, oranges and reds of autumn, but what makes the Adirondacks so unique this time of year is that it also turns to black cherry, tangerine, lavendar, bubblegum, peach and other seemingly unnatural colors. Sunrise and sunset light enhances the drama. Mists are generated most mornings and lighten the vivid colors to artistic pastels. All these events came together again at this year's Peak Fall Foliage Workshop, led by API staff photographers Mark Bowie and Johnathan Esper. They guided participants through the water-laden central Adirondack region, visiting backwoods lakes and ponds, streams and waterfalls. They also led participants on night photography excursions, Mark's specialty, and Johnathan led treks up local peaks for spectacular views over the Fulton Chain at sunrise.
The instructors gave special emphasis to dynamic composition, reading autumn light and weather conditions, altering vantage points, shooting for color and tonal palette, expressionistic techniques for fall foliage and shooting multiple exposures for extending exposure range and depth of field.
The beauty of autumn in the Adirondacks is overwhelming. There are grand scenics, intimate woodland scenes, and macro opportunities galore. API's 2014 schedule will include several fall foliage events. Watch for it soon!
A half-moon backlit the mist as it hovered over calm water with a distant, mournful, call of a loon. Such were the conditions of our final evening together at our recent retreat. It was a classic Adirondack experience and a night we’ll never forget.
Half Moon at Moss Lake
With a willing group and fellow staff member Mark Bowie, we spent four days exploring the area around the Fulton Chain of Lakes. With its open schedule, the retreat format gave us the freedom to chase the light when the conditions were right. We worked on daily assignments and generated a theme for our work as it slowly emerged over the course of the retreat. After the morning fieldwork each day, we returned to the conference room to process the images and print our favorite ones. We enjoyed gourmet dinners together at the Woods Inn in Inlet, NY, and then headed back out for the evening shoot, either at the shores of Fourth Lake at the inn, or at other select locations nearby. With Mark’s expertise in night shooting and my experience with time-lapse, we exposed our students to these two exciting aspects of digital photography. We made some great friendships and shared wonderful experiences together. If you’re an advanced shooter, consider one of our future retreats, and take your photography to the next level.
API staff instructors Mark Bowie and Joe LeFevre led an enthusiastic group of photographers to the beautiful waterfalls of Ricketts Glen State Park in north-central Pennsylvania, their second workshop to this enchanting place. Ricketts is one of the finest places to photograph waterfalls in the East. There are twenty-two named falls, from 10 to 100 feet high, along a three-mile stretch of Kitchen Creek. Between them, slabs of rock are strewn haphazardly in the shallow creekbed. An infinite number of riffles flow over and around them. The surrounding beech forest is electric lime green in spring and makes a lovely backdrop to the falls.
The group was met, however, with challenging shooting conditions — bright sunny skies with a few passing clouds. Mark and Joe favor shooting forest-lined waterfalls under bright overcast conditions, but the group learned that even in contrasty light, there are abundant photographic possibilities. Shafts of sunlight lit underwater rocks, so that they appeared to be glowing in the creekbed. Zeroing in on the reflections of sunlit foliage created multi-colored bands of flowing water. Long exposures produced abstract blends of color and texture. The persistence of the students paid off with exceptional images not even possible in overcast conditions.
The instructors also led indoor instructional sessions with strategies, tips and techniques specific to shooting waterfalls. They emphasized the importance of careful composition and demonstrated the need for shooting multiple exposures. Layer Masks, HDR's, panoramas and image optimization in Lightroom and Photoshop were presented in detail.
Ricketts is truly a spectacular place, with one mesmerizing waterfall after another. Around every bend lies new discoveries, and Mark and Joe plan to go back next year. Interested in taking your waterfall imagery to new levels? Consider joining our experts for a workshop to the waterfalls of the Finger Lakes region in central New York from October 17-20. For details, including the program description and pricing, click here.
We've added another retreat program to our schedule. This program will be led by Mark Bowie and John Radigan, and take place September 22-27 at the Woods Inn in Inlet, NY. There should be some fall color making an appearance making this retreat even more fun!
Congratulations to grand prize winner and API alumni Howard Arndt!
What an amazing photo, Howard, and a gorgeous front cover!
Other winning photos in the magazine from API Alumni include:
First Place Landscape "Misty Morning Sunrise" by Karl Fisher Third Place Wildlife "Buck in Fog" by Nicholas Palmieri First Place Macro "Forest Floor at Fly Pond" by Timothy Wilson Second Place Macro "Frosty Fern Pattern" by Lee Drake Second Place B&W "Pristine" byRick Tyrseck Second Place Recreation "Passage on First Pond" by Philip Ashwood
In addition, several more were named honorable mentions! Visit the website to see these beauties:
Timothy Wilson "Morning at Raquette Lake Michelle Drackett "Forest Fireworks" Barb Drake "Solo Landing" Philip Ashwood "Foggy Dawn near Harrietstown" Susan Kiesel "Curious Otters near Old Forge"
Please visit Adirondack Life Magazine online to view all of the beautiful photos! Better yet, pick up a copy of the print magazine to see them in all their glory!
For API's annual winter event, staff instructor Mark Bowie led a sold-out workshop to the Lake Placid Olympic region. Winter in the North Country continues to provide incredible scenery and image-making opportunities. Bowie guided participants to a variety of locations; they photographed the steep cliffs over the Cascade Lakes, snow-capped High Peaks, and intricate ice formations along the Ausable River. He also led several night photography sessions — Bowie's specialty — and the group was treated to a moon halo, Orion, and Jupiter over the High Peaks. In the indoor sessions, Bowie covered the unique winter weather and lighting conditions that make winter shooting so special, and innovative field and processing techniques to optimize them. The group was an enthusiastic one. They freely exchanged creative ideas in the field and in the critiquing sessions. Mark came away inspired by their work.
Winter in the North Country always amazes us. We plan on being back in the Olympic region again next year, so if you'd like to share the experience with us, watch the schedule for our next winter workshop. And sign up quickly; they're always popular!