Friday, August 18, 2017

Mark Bowie's Night Landscape Workshop — Cloudy Skies, Beautiful Imagery

I’m continually amazed how various weather conditions can produce great night images.  Skies were mostly overcast each night of my Adirondack night landscape workshop this year.  The Milky Way made an appearance late one night, and a couple tireless students photographed it from about 3-4am.  The following night, we were photographing clouds over Fourth Lake, when one of my images (below) surprised me by registering the Big Dipper above the clouds.  We immediately went to a nearby lake, a darker setting with more open views, hoping to catch the Milky Way, but it was soon overrun by more clouds.

Though we had persistent cloud cover all four nights, we made some incredible images of the clouds reflected in area waters.  In the image below, the lights of local villages color the clouds, their arc reflected in a lake.  I framed some pickerelweed in the foreground, lit by a student's red headlamp.  The various elements of the scene came together amazingly well.  But here’s the most important thing I took away from this: you don’t get these conditions under clear skies.  It’s the clouds that really make the scene.  Next time, maybe I’ll better see the potential of overcast conditions, while still lamenting not seeing the Milky Way!

To me, night photography is an endless pursuit of heavenly beauty.  During each of my workshops, I take students out for some night shooting.  If you'd like to join me to explore the art of creating phenomenal images by the light of midnight, please see the API website and for upcoming events.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Waterfalls Galore! Workshop to Photograph the Finger Lakes Falling Waters

Here in the Northeast, we're fortunate to have ready access to two of the foremost places in the country to photograph waterfalls: the Finger Lakes region of central New York, and Ricketts Glen State Park in north-central Pennsylvania.  API has been leading workshops to each for years and we often alternate between the two.  This year, API staff instructor Joe LeFevre and I led a group back to the Finger Lakes.  Based out of Ithaca, we visited a slew of great waterfalls, including Taughannock Falls, the highest in New York State.  We also visited several parks with trails leading beside numerous falls — Buttermilk, Fillmore Glen, Cascadilla Gorge — and found remarkable photographic possibilities in each.

Upper Pinnacle Falls, Fillmore Glen State Park

Joe and I have become renowned experts in waterfall and stream photography.  In addition to our guiding, we lead instructional sessions on the many nuances of shooting both types of flowing water, including experimenting with shutter speeds for a specific look and feel, the benefits of shooting in both overcast and sunny conditions, compositional opportunities presented by flowing water, and how to shoot and blend multiple exposures for layer masking, focus stacking, HDR's, and panoramas.  We specialize in the art of seeing flowing water and how to optimize the resulting images in processing.

Upper Falls, Taughannock Falls State Park

We're looking forward to hosting another waterfall workshop next year... in Ricketts, the Finger Lakes, or elsewhere.  We'll announce where on API's website later this year.  Let us know if you might like to join us and have a preference!

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.