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 www.markbowie.com for upcoming events.
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!