Note: Starting with this blog post I will be discussing a little bit of why and how I create my photographs.

This is the first of a 3-part post on a recent photography field trip I lead to Harriman State Park in New York. Usually my trips to Harriman involve leading hikers wanting to visit remote lakes and vistas that are only accessible by rugged hiking trails. This was my first time leading photographers who were not interested in hiking, especially in dragging heavy photographic equipment up the sides of steep mountains. When planning this trip I had to find places that were easy to get to and showed the flavor of the landscape in a way that would inspire great photography. Harriman State Park and its surrounding parks and state forests make up an amazing piece of wilderness just 30 miles from New York City. Although I’ve hiked here many times, on this trip I got to experience it in a completely different way.

Iona Island, Again

These photographs are from Iona Island located on the Hudson River. This is a bird sanctuary with vast marshes and one of the few places where there are unobstructed views of the mountains. See my previous post of photographs from Iona Island

Iona Island on the Hudson River

View from Iona Island by Richard Lewis 2013

I wanted to get the true flavor of Iona Island, so I climbed a hill and found this overlook. The scene includes the lichen covered rocks, the patchwork of marsh grasses and Dunderberg Mountain, along with a cactus which grows plentifully on the hills of the island.

How I did it – This photograph is a vertical panorama made from 2 images. The foreground elements (outcropping and grasses) were on one image and the background mountains and sky were on the other. Not only does this provide a wider view but it allows for better control of the focus because it could be changed to match the elements in the different images.

Iona Island on the Hudson River

Morning on Iona Island by Richard Lewis 2013

An artist cannot visit the Hudson Valley without thinking of George Inness and the Hudson River School of landscape painting. Inness worked with dramatic lighting situations. He was very much on my mind when this scene presented itself. When photographing a sunrise or sunset sometimes the best lighting happens before and after the sun crosses the horizon.

How I did it – Because of the wide range of light (deep shadows and bright sky), I originally planned for this to be an HDR or High Dynamic Range photograph. Unfortunately this process did not yield the result I wanted, so I just adjusted the different areas of this photograph using selective contrast tools like Curves in Photoshop. I also processed this image with a couple of George Inness paintings on the screen to provide a visual and inspirational reference point.

iona island grasses

Iona Island Grasses by Richard Lewis 2013

Another view of Iona Island showing marsh grasses in rows with the slopes of Dunderberg Mountain in the background.

How I did it – This image was made with a 400mm telephoto lens. Because long telephoto lenses have a very shallow depth of field (how much of the foreground and back ground is in focus), I made two photographs of this scene, one with the grasses in focus and one with the trees in the background in focus. The two were blended together in Photoshop to keep the focus sharp throughout the finished image.

Like these photographs? They’re for sale as fine art prints. Please visit my photography website to see more.