Great New Photo Guide by Carl Heilman II

Carl Heilman book cover

The Adirondack Park is an enormous place, some of it reachable only by boat (or kayak, etc.), some only by a lengthy hike. There are parts of the Adirondacks that I know very well, especially

The Noon Mark Diner in Keene Valley is a popular landmark along the road to Lake Placid.

The Noon Mark Diner in Keene Valley is a popular landmark along the road to Lake Placid.

the area around Lake Placid and the High Peaks, shown here in two photos from my most recent trip–in November of last year–that I’ve only just got round to uploading to my Zenfolio site. Then there are other areas that I know fairly well — and then there are vastly more parts that I would never have been able to discover at all without the help of Carl Heilman II’s new book, Photographing the Adirondacks: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them.

Carl Heilman II has lived and worked in the Adirondacks since the early 1970s. He has had the opportunity to find and photograph everything from the well-known iconic places to the more obscure ones. Now with the publication of Photographing the Adirondacks he generously shares his knowledge with us, offering descriptions of the places, directions on how to get there, suggestions for what to photograph and how, including the best times of day.

The book is divided into eight chapters devoted to specific sections of the vast Adirondack Park –

Fall yields to winter over the High Peaks seen from the Plains of Abraham.

Fall yields to winter over the High Peaks seen from the Plains of Abraham.

very useful since, unless you’re fortunate enough to be spending a month or more there, you’ll undoubtedly want to choose one or perhaps two places on which to concentrate. The front of the book even has clear maps that include numbers corresponding to the numbers of each of the sixty-four sites described by the author. You can hardly get more practical than that.

In brief, Carl Heilman II, one of the most prominent photographers working in the Adirondacks today, has saved you and me a great deal of time and legwork. Whether you’ve never been to the Adirondacks and are planning a trip there or, like me, you have your repertoire of favorite places acquired over the years and are eager to explore something new, Photographing the Adirondacks is a very valuable book to have.


Book coverOur new photo book Historic Hudson Valley is now officially published!

A Historic Catskill Railroad

The Delaware & Ulster Railroad, with its main terminus at Arkville, is one of the historic railroads offering scenic trips through the Catskill Mountains. It was a few months after Hurricane Irene ravaged this area–it’s in Delaware County and the next town over from Margaretville, which suffered extensive damage from the storm–that I ventured westward on scenic Route 28 to check things out at Margaretville. On the way, I stopped at Arkville and photographed some of the trains. The image here is one I selected to process and share. Below you see my original, straightforward interpretation.

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A few months ago a chance encounter with the new owner of a vintage car got me thinking about interesting ways to process images of cars and other vehicles, and my abstract of that car has been a success, sales-wise. Then a recent visit — two visits actually; I enjoyed this show so much I’ve returned a second time — to the RiverWinds Gallery in Beacon to see the exhibit “Leaving on Track 9 — The Train Show” by photographer Karl LaLonde and painter Peter Tassone inspired me to take my train photo “to the next level,” as they say.  Karl Lalonde has made some remarkable interpretations of his train images that still respect and reveal the trains as trains and not as starting points for something ultimately unrecognizable.  If you live anywhere near Beacon and can get to this exhibit, I recommend it very highly; it closes on July 7.

My interpretation of my Delaware & Ulster photo was inspired by but is by no means an imitation of Karl LaLonde’s work. First, I should say I did a great deal of experimenting, particularly by tweaking various presets in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust, and wasn’t satisfied with any of them. They all seemed somehow overdone. The solution, in the end, was something quite simple: the HDR Toning adjustment in Photoshop CS5. In “Tone and Detail” I increased the detail — something of a trademark of mine, I like detail and structure — and adjusted the toning curve downward. Then I used an adjustment layer to decrease the Brightness (-10) and increase the Contrast (+30) and voila — the results are below. Tell me what you think. I’m planning to enter it into the Twilight Park Artists annual show in Haines Falls next month. At the moment, it’s for sale on FAA if you’d like to buy a print for the railroad buff in your life.

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Our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour is almost out! Click one of the links to see and/or to place an order; the book will also be available on