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.