In Ansel’s Footsteps – Twelve Significant Photographs in any One Year (2012)

Ansel Adams once said, “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” This doesn’t sound like very many but at that time Ansel was shooting with an 8×10 large format camera, a very heavy and bulky piece of equipment. Photography has evolved drastically since then with the advent of digital cameras, which are lighter and much more compact than the old field cameras Adams hauled around. With high capacity memory cards and bigger hard drives one can take hundreds of photographs without even thinking twice about it.

While it seems that taking photographs has gotten a lot easier, actually making significant photographs that stand out above the rest is a skill that still requires hard work and dedication, lots of patience, and sometimes even a little luck!

Due to an extensive amount of traveling this year I just couldn’t narrow it down to just twelve, so below are thirteen images from 2012 which are significant to me. Clicking on the image will open a larger, high quality version. Happy New Year everyone, Enjoy!

Emerald-Fairy-Tale

“Emerald Fairy Tale” – Adirondack State Park, New York

"Paradise Meadows" - Paradise Valley, Emigrant, Montana

“Paradise Meadows” – Paradise Valley, Emigrant, Montana

 

"Another Day at the Office" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“Another Day at the Office” – Adirondack State Park, New York

"Perfect Harmony" - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

“Perfect Harmony” – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

 

"Nature's Architecture" - Glacier National Park, Montana

“Nature’s Architecture” – Glacier National Park, Montana

 

"Ghost Ship" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“Ghost Ship” – Adirondack State Park, New York

 

"The Height Of Summer" - Crazy Mountains, Montana

“The Height Of Summer” – Crazy Mountains, Montana

 

"Frozen Wonders" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“Frozen Wonders” – Adirondack State Park, New York

 

"Glacial Chamber" - Glacier National Park, Montana

“Glacial Chamber” – Glacier National Park, Montana

 

"An Early Spring" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“An Early Spring” – Adirondack State Park, New York

 

"Beyond The Falls" - Hyalite Canyon, near Bozeman, Montana

“Beyond The Falls” – Hyalite Canyon, near Bozeman, Montana

 

"Mountain Paradise" - Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana

“Mountain Paradise” – Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana

 

"Grand Finale" - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

“Grand Finale” – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quadrantid Meteor Shower Kicks off the New Year with Impressive Display!

Happy New Year everyone! The first Meteor Shower of the New Year, the Quadrantids, put on an incredible display during the wee hours of the morning on January 4th. Despite the below freezing temperatures I layered up and headed out to watch, and hopefully photograph the meteor shower, which was predicted to peak around 2:20am EST with an estimated 60-100 meteors per hour.  

Earlier that evening I was listening for meteor echoes on Space Weather Radio (www.spaceweatherradio.com). The site has a live audio feed that is connected to the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar, each time a meteor or satellite passes over the facility an echo, or ping, can be heard. Very cool site and worth checking out if you’d rather enjoy a meteor shower from the comfort of your own home. 

Around 1:30am EST the pings were becoming more and more frequent so I decided to head out. The location I chose to watch the meteor shower from was a nearby section of the Hudson River known as “Snake Rock” to the locals, a popular swimming hole in the summer. I knew the spot would provide a clear view of the northeastern sky where many of the Quadrantids would appear to radiate from.

After settling on a composition I just sat on the rocks and gazed up at the night sky in awe. At times the sky seemed to be raining stars. The sky put on such a display I stayed and watched it for four hours. I counted nearly 60 meteors during that time, including this one shooting through the milky way galaxy. I am confident that number would have been much higher but I was to busy searching for different compositions and making exposures to watch the sky the entire time.

Quadrantid Meteor streaking through the night sky over the Hudson River

 
This photograph is a blend of five exposures to overcome various technical limitations of the camera and lens; three for DOF (Depth Of Field) @ f/2.8, one for the sky with the meteor, and one for the water and distant landscape. All 5 images were taken from a tripod in the same exact spot. The first image that I made was a 74 sec. exposure @ ISO 800 for the water and distant mountains. The sky shot with the meteor was taken using a 25 sec. exposure @ ISO 1250.

Considering the vast amount of meteors shooting through the sky they seemed to be avoiding the area where my camera was pointed. After a considerable amount of time (and patience) I finally got a bright meteor to shoot through the frame about an hour and a half before dawn. Once I had an acceptable meteor I took the three remaining exposures for DOF, all shot at 30 Sec. @ ISO 1250. I would have used a lower ISO and longer exposure here but my cable release froze up and stopped working.

Such a wonderful night to be out under the stars, and one I definitely won’t forget anytime soon. What a great way to kick off the New Year!

Prints of this image can be purchased through my website here: http://www.adirondackzack.com/Galleries/New-Work/New-Work-Adirondacks/14362035_nqdd95#!i=1660234604&k=ZRW9KMk

“A Moment Of Silence” For The Last Day Of Autumn

With Autumn officially coming to an end I thought I would share one of my favorite images from October, titled “A Moment Of Silence”, and the planning that went into this image. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the Adirondacks this photograph was taken at Chapel Pond in the Keene Valley on a very calm and peaceful morning. Being very acquainted with this area I knew the composition that I wanted to capture even before I arrived at the pond. This, as you will soon find out, was just the beginning step in the planning phase that ultimately made this image a success..

As part of the process I used The Photographer’s Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com/), a very useful program that determines how the light will fall on the land, and realized at that particular time of year the early morning light would be coming in through the valley and effectively sidelighting the pond and hopefully the birch trees along the shore. I also checked weather forecasts leading up to my visit for two reasons: (1.) to be sure the sky would be clear enough for the sunlight to penetrate the valley, and (2.) to make sure wind would not be an issue since I wanted a nice reflection.

The next thing I needed to do was make sure the fall colors at the pond were at their peak. Instead of leaving it to chance I decided to take a drive up to the Keene Valley the day before my scheduled shoot to check on the leaves. I had gone hiking in the area a week before and had an idea of the progression of colors already.

The next morning I awoke and looked outside to see the stars shining like diamonds in the sky. I started my old Jeep and hit the road to make the hour-long drive to the pond and still have enough time to set up before the sun rose over the mountains.

When I got to my destination I was incredibly relieved to see the water reflecting the colors of autumn like a giant mirror.  I quickly unpacked my gear and walked down to the edge of the pond, knowing that the wind could come at any time and ruin this perfect moment. But the wind never came. Just as the sun broke over the mountains some high clouds came in and diffused the light a bit. I ended up using four vertical frames, shot in succession, to create this final image. Hope you like it!:)

“A Moment Of Silence” – TECH SPECS: 1/13 Sec. @ f/8, ISO 200, Polarizer, 4 Vertical Frames Stitched (Click to View Larger)

Remember to Shoot Verticals!

Back in early October I set off for a dayhike to photograph the many scenic waterfalls located within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve near St. Huberts. My modified “waterfalls loop” would include a number of falls located along Gill Brook, as well as Beaver Meadow Falls, Wedge Brook Falls, and Rainbow Falls- a spectacular waterfall that drops nearly 150 feet into a beautiful mossy gorge littered with boulders. The route I had chosen would also transverse the rocky lookout at “Indian Head”, with its stunning views of Lower Ausable Lake and the Great Range.

Small waterfall on Gill Brook
A small cascade on Gill Brook

I arrived at the trailhead well before dawn and loaded up my backpack with all the essentials; food, water, first aid kit, compass, map, whistle, waterproof matches, headlamp, extra clothes, rain jacket, and of course my camera, a variety of lenses and filters, and my tripod. I was good to go. The first couple of miles walking along the road went by fast. I was happy to see the junction for the Gill Brook trail shortly thereafter. This is a wonderful walk that parallels the brook the entire distance and passes many scenic waterfalls, including Artists Falls, along the way. I got my first shot of the morning not far up this trail. This may be the only horizontal image from this trip that I preferred over a vertical composition.

One of the many waterfalls on Gill Brook
One of the many waterfalls on Gill Brook

I took several more images farther up the brook, working my towards the next intersection. At the Elk Pass intersection I took a right and headed up to Indian Head Lookout. Upon reaching the summit I was greeted with breathtaking views of Lower Ausable Lake and the slides on Gothics as well as the other nearby peaks that make up the Great Range. By now it was mid-morning and the light wasn’t doing me any favors so I snapped a few “documentary” shots and decided to shoot over to Fish Hawk Cliffs and get a glimpse of the “Indian’s Head” I had been standing on.

View of Lower Ausable Lake from Indian Head
Lower Ausable Lake from Indian Head


“Indian Head” and the Great Range from Fish Hawk Cliffs

A few shots here and then it was back up and over Indian Head and down to the Lake Road. My next stop was Rainbow Falls, and this is where I spent the majority of the day.. hoping for some of that special light. I shot a variety of compositions here but the ones that stood out were the verticals. In the end I managed to come away with at least three images which I feel are unique from here.


“In The Mist” – Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls from a plunge pool just downstream of the falls
Rainbow Falls from a plunge pool just downstream of the falls

By now it was quite late in the day and I wanted to hit at least two more waterfalls on the way out. After packing up my gear I started my return via the East River Trail, which follows close to the beautiful Ausable River for much of its distance. At the intersection for Beaver Meadow Falls I crossed over to the West River Trail and visited this very scenic horsetail-shaped falls. The base of the falls had changed dramatically from my last visit back in early June. It wasn’t hard to figure out what had caused the huge jumble of trees and rock that had been deposited here, it was Hurricane Irene. The light was just about gone by the time I reached Beaver Meadow so I continued on to my next stop, Wedge Brook Falls. A couple of miles further down the trail I reached a sign pointing me in the direction of the falls. I scurried up the trail for a short distance to get a look at this scenic 30 ft waterfall that drops from the mountainside into the Ausable River. The light in the woods was fading quickly so I decided to hit the trail again.

Early fall colors in Rainbow Gorge
Some nice light in Rainbow Gorge, 3 image vertical stitch

Finally I reached Canyon Bridge, a sturdy well constructed bridge that crosses over the Ausable. As I was crossing I passed a gentleman who worked for A.T.I.S., he told me he was checking on some trail work that his crew was supposed to have finished that day. I stopped for a breather next to the bridge and took out my camera to photograph some moss covered boulders in the forest. Shortly thereafter I reached the road just as the man I had crossed paths with was hiking back to his truck. He asked if I would like a ride back to the trailhead to which I quickly replied “Yes, Thank You!”.