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 at Bear Mountain Lodge

Hessian Lake by Richard Lewis 2013

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.

Fall Colors at Bear Mountain Lodge

Fall Colors at Bear Mountain Lodge by Richard Lewis 2013

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.

Old Bench At Bear Mountain Lodge

Old Bench by Richard Lewis 2013

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.

  1. Selectively adding contrast and brightness to parts of the image.
  2. Increasing Saturation was used to bring out the color which can looked washed out in a scene like this.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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