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.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Adirondack Life Magazine 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 Adam Baker for his grand prize winning entry Foggy Fall Morning at Split Rock Falls.  Click the link below for details and to see all of the winners!

Adam wins a spot in the Weekend with Adirondack Life workshop in Schroon Lake 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!  We are so proud to have 5 API Alumni on the winners list!

Richard L. Endres, Loudonville NY (first-place landscape)
Karl Fisher, Cary NC (second-place landscape) API Alumni!
Laura Castelein, Rochester NY (third-place landscape)

Philip Ashwood,Calcium NY (first-place wildlife) API Alumni!
Howard Arndt, Amherst (second-place wildlife) API Alumni! 
Pat McGuire, Washington DC (third-place wildlife)

Eric Thacke, Eatontown, NJ (first-place people)
Michael Fingar, Schenectady NY (second-place people)
Linda Benzon, Carlisle PA (third-place people)

Barb Drake, Bloomfield NY (Honorable Mention) API Alumni...there's a Drake every year!
Nicole Curtin, Long Lake NY (Honorable Mention)
Brad Wenskoski, Cohoes NY (Editors Choice)
Debra Apple, Schenectady NY (Honorable Mention) API Alumni!
Shawn Michener, Port Henry NY (Honorable Mention)

Check out our 2016 schedule below.  You can also find us on Facebook!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mark Bowie's Finding November

Instructor Mark Bowie recently completed a self-assigned project to photograph November, staying close to home in western New England and northern New York State.  He was out nearly every day — anytime from predawn to night — making images and recording his impressions.  His goal was to look beyond the bare trees and gray skies to discover November’s hidden beauty.  It became a very personal project, an exercise in the art of seeing and expanding his craft.  And day after day, image after image found him.

He’s published the resulting images, and the stories behind them, in a new e-book — Finding November.  It's for anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature, whether you’re a photographer or not, and in particular, those who love the Northeast.  The collection reveals the depth and character of the month, and the treasures to be found by looking deeper.

Click on this link to learn more.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Working Winter's Opportunities

The central Adirondacks had received feet of lake effect snow this winter, but a warming trend a couple of days before our annual winter workshop had melted it from the trees and reduced the snow on the ground to a few inches.  Still, the lakes and ponds were covered with upwards of 12 inches of ice.  I've learned that different weather conditions create photographic opportunities that aren't available otherwise.  It's one of the major points I stressed as I went into great detail on strategies, tips and techniques specific to photographing winter under varying conditions.  I covered how to shoot big snows, extreme ice and blowing snow.  And I discussed shooting winter throughout the day and into the night — a wide variety of field craft and processing information participants could use the rest of the winter at home and in their travels.

Each time we ventured out we found something worthy of photographing.  Now the rivers and streams were open and spectacular ice formations along the banks were revealed. We were also fortunate to have three starry nights, despite forecasts for poor stargazing conditions over our entire stay (I've learned not to let weather forecasts psych you out of your plans here).  The Milky Way — even with much of the ecliptic below the horizon —arched brightly over the blue ice of Fourth and Moss Lakes. Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn shone brightly. Several meteors streaked by. Shooting the Adirondack winter at night is truly an unforgettable experience.

Many thanks to the hearty photographers who join me.  I'm inspired by your creativity and enthusiasm, and we all came away with a renewed appreciation for winter in the North Country. I look forward to being with you again soon.

Mark Bowie