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 amazon.com.

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Intimate Landscapes by Robert Rodriguez

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Robert Rodriguez, Jr. is one of the greatest landscape photographers working in the Hudson Valley. Robert has that most important gift of all — knowing how and when to capture the beautiful light. But that gift doesn’t come without hard work, work that takes time. In fact, at Sunday’s reception for his new show at the RiverWinds Gallery in his home town of Beacon, Robert emphasized that the most important “tool” in a nature photographer’s kit is time–time to return again and again to a specific place in order to scope out the best compositions and to wait patiently until the lighting conditions are optimum for your vision of a scene. As an example, he pointed to his stunning black-and-white image from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, taken during a vacation with his family, and recounted how it took four visits to that particular site before the light was right and he got the image he wanted. This is food for thought in a day and age when prodigious prolificness seems to be demanded of photographers; Robert shows that one needn’t buy into this.

And a gorgeous image this is. I find it interesting that many nature photographers are turning to black-and-white, not exclusively, but certainly a sufficient number of magnificent black-and-white landscape pictures are turning up that one can speak of a black-and-white renaissance.

My little snapshot at the top of the blog gives you a modest (very modest) idea of Robert’s work through the windows of the RiverWinds Gallery. If you have the opportunity to visit his exhibit, it will be at the gallery through March 4. Visit the gallery’s website for opening hours and directions. It is very easy to get to (if I say that, it’s guaranteed to be true), right off Route 9D from the I-84, and Beacon itself is worth visiting, especially for art aficionados and anyone who would appreciate amazing views of the Hudson River.

New Year’s Surprise

Image“All is quiet on New Year’s Day,” the U2 song says. And so I decided to take advantage of the quiet to drive over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge to check out a historic homestead in the Beacon area.

I don’t always listen to the little nudgings from the Spirit (usually to my great disadvantage), but this time when the little voice said, “Take the Canon G11 as well as the Nikon D90,” I did. And when the road to the historic homestead took me right through Beacon’s Main Street, and the little voice prompted me to park right there and check it out, I did so–there was even a parking space just waiting for me.

ImageBeacon’s Main Street proved to be a real photographic treasure. Vintage buildings with colorful storefronts abounded–just the sort of thing I love shooting, whether as straight architectural shots or for my “two for the price of one” reflections series. The lightweight, discreet G11 is ideal for this type of photography; no need to lug a tripod to ensure sharp shots or to call attention to yourself. One or more of my images from this shoot will find their way into my forthcoming Historic Hudson Valley photo book. Here are a couple of previews for you.

And the historic homestead? Actually, pretty much a waste of time, definitely an exception to the rule. The lesson? Never, ever ignore the promptings of the Spirit to take an extra camera or to make an unexpected stop. It could be the making of your photo trip.

My Favorite Photos of 2011 are now posted in their own gallery on my website. Check them out, and if you’re interested in purchasing any of them enjoy a 10% discount (for a minimum order of $10.00) by using Coupon Code NYSP12, valid until January 31.

Also, I’m selling some beautifully framed matted prints left over from an exhibition. If you’d like to check them out, please visit the online shop I’ve set up for this purpose.

A Happy New Year to all my readers! Thank you for your continued interest in my work.