This is the second of a 3 part post about my trip leading a group of photographers to Harriman State Park in New York
Bear Mountain Bear Mountain Lodge is a historic inn built in 1910 along the Hudson River. The group of photographers I was leading trip seemed to like it here and spent a lot of time walking around the grounds. I didn’t feel my usual inspiration because I tend to shy away from non-wilderness landscapes. As I wandered around, I saw the lodge’s grounds as a very inclusive place. Families with small kids, elderly folks, foreign tourists and others who probably are not inclined to venture up a steep hiking trail were all enjoying the natural beauty of the area on a perfect fall day. I decided to take my lens cap off and enjoy the fun too.
Hessian Lake on the Lodge’s property has a paved path around it with a lot of nice views. Since I am strongly influenced by the Hudson River School of landscape painting, I couldn’t help imagining what artists like George Inness or Frederic Church would have come up with if they were standing next to me and also taking advantage of the nice late morning light.
How I did it – Most of my panoramas are stitched together by hand using masks because I usually don’t like the results from Photoshop’s automated function. This may be because I rarely make panoramas with the camera in the recommended vertical or portrait position. When done properly, panoramas are easy to stitch together because all the areas line up perfectly. I prefer shooting them as horizontal images and only stitching two or three together. The result, to me, tends to be more impressionistic as the effects of using a wide angle, standard or telephoto lens tend to be magnified on the edges where the stitching or blending takes place. This makes the process a little challenging, but very interesting, because the best result will often come from modifying the image or moving certain elements around to create a more impressionistic scene.
How I did it – A long telephoto lens can be a great tool to isolate individual aspects of a landscape. In this photograph, using a 400mm lens, I found a spot where the fall colors were varied and strong. The large tree is a composition element that anchors the randomness of the fall colors. Telephoto lenses tend to flatten an image’s depth so I used a composition to take advantage of sunlight and shadows. To the human eye, lighter areas in a scene will look closer or come forward while darker areas recede. Here the bright sunlight on the leaves brings those elements forward while the areas in shadow recede, adding some depth to the photograph.
I liked this quiet little spot along Hessian Lake. What a beautiful place to sit and take in the surroundings. The age and condition of the bench adds a sense of timelessness to the scene.
How I did it – When shooting towards the sun, it is a challenge to get the right exposure because of the range between the bright sky and deeper shadows. Some photographers would look to High Dynamic Range or HDR photography, but not me. I’m rarely happy with the results and prefer not to struggle with the side effects of HDR like increased noise and haloing. Instead, I made several light and dark exposures like one would do with HDR and picked one that was just bright enough to show the detail in the sky. The rest of the scene was a bit dark so the finished image was adjusted using several techniques.
- Selectively adding contrast and brightness to parts of the image.
- Increasing Saturation was used to bring out the color which can looked washed out in a scene like this.
- To enhance the colors even further, solid layers of red, green, blue and yellow color were blended into the scene in selective areas. The results can be seen in the warm and cool cast of the bench, the blues of the sky and water, and the coloring of the rocks and ground around the bench.
- Using what I call a Burn/Dodge layer in Photoshop. (Contact me for more information about this. It’s a little too long to write about here.)
In Part 3 we spend our last day wandering in and around Harriman State Park.
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Beautiful work Rich! Hope you and Vivian are doing well.
Kevin Wax General Manager, Wax Family Printing, LLC Pastor, Blackman Baptist Church Cell 615-429-7890
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Thanks Kevin, All is well here and hope the same is true with your family.
Enjoyed your images and commentary, Rich. I like the tutorial comments as well and I think they’re useful. I was unfamiliar with a dodge/burn layer so I went online to find out about it and I’ll be using it
Thanks Ralph. I’m glad you find the commentary useful. If you need more details on the burn/dodge layer, let me know.
Very nice images Rich! You have definitely developed a wonderful style and these images stay true to it. Thanks again for leading the trip!
Thanks Denise. As a photographer I have a lot of respect for I appreciate your compliment a lot. It was a pleasure leading the trip and would gladly do another one. It was a lot of fun.
I don’t know if you remember me but I drove some of your stuff from the Smokies to NJ. I’ve spent the last 10 summers in Harriman State Park at a camp for homeless children. We are located on the other side of the park below Long Mt. Circle. The bench in your last photo was dedicated to a friend of mine who spent his entire life of summers in a similar camp. He died at 45 of cancer and we had the bench dedicated to him. There is a plaque on it. Another great place to shoot is Perkins Memorial. I’ll be back this summer for the last time- want to take some photo trips that are only offered in the summer. Nice photography Rich. Barb Korman