Two Hudson Valley Events


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Happy spring! I recently spent a few days on the New England coast north of Boston and will be writing some posts featuring my images and the history of that very picturesque region, but for now I want to tell you about two events occurring right now.

The Hunter Foundation is located in what to me is the most beautiful area in the Catskill region; you can visit their website to learn more about the Foundation.  I was invited to donate one of my photographs to their 2014 Online Auction, and so I chose one of my most popular images, Catskill Woodland Glow (shown above). The winner will receive this photograph, signed and beautifully framed, along with a copy of our book, Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour.  Please visit the Hunter Foundation’s website to see the page for my entry — there are many good prizes here. Why not place a bid on something? You may win something you’ll enjoy having. Bidding is going on now through May 1

Also — if you’re in the Albany area, this Sunday Anton and I will be speaking about our Historic Hudson Valley book at the Albany Institute of History and Art. That’s Sunday April 27 at 2 pm. We’re quite excited to have been invited to speak at the home not only of one of the most impressive collection of Hudson River School paintings anywhere but also of the complete collection of Thomas Cole’s papers.  You can get directions from the AIHA home page, and here is the page featuring our talk. We’d love to see you there!

Interpreting Poughkeepsie

With all my travels up and down the Hudson Valley for our book Historic Hudson Valley, I never sufficiently explored Poughkeepsie, a historic city in Dutchess County.  Yesterday I thought it was about time to put that right, especially since I’m doing a talk and book signing at the Mid Hudson Heritage Center on Thursday October 24.

Poughkeepsie has several historic districts, including this one on Main Street. Here are two versions of one of the photos I took, both processed in Photoshop CS 5 with Topaz Adjust 5.  (The building on the right houses the Mid Hudson Heritage Center.)

Each version expresses a different side of the character of the Main Street district. The first has a hint of the gritty look I associate with this kind of area. For this I used, from the Topaz Adjust Vibrant collection, Detail Strong – II, in which I increased the number of color regions to five and boosted the saturation to 1.30.Ed IMG_1978 Top Detail Strong s

For the second version I used the Faded Glory (the name itself says it all) with the original presets.

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Please leave a comment as I’m interested in knowing which version you prefer.  And don’t forget — my talk/book signing at the Mid Hudson Heritage Center on Thursday October 24. I’d love to see you there!

Sun Behind the Clouds? Be Prepared for Surprises

Ed IMG_1616 sWith Labor Day weekend upon us, the weather forecast looking none too good (I would rather have a foot of snow than hazy hot and humid)–including the possibility of thunderstorms all over the Hudson Valley and Catskills–and knowing that I had to get out with the camera gear at least once to avoid a severe attack of cabin fever, I decided to stay fairly local. Cross the Bear Mountain Bridge, drive up Route 9D, walk around Cold Spring and photograph, then back south to the Boscobel House and Gardens to buy some goodies at the Cold Spring Farm Market and scout a vantage point from which to photograph a ruined mansion called Castle Rock. Perched high above the Hudson, Castle Rock, the former estate of railroad magnate William Henry Osborn, is written up in detail in Hudson Valley Ruins, a very fine book by Thomas E. Rinaldi and Robert J. Yasinsac, who have meticulously chronicled the history and current status of a vast number of threatened or already demolished structures from Westchester County up to Albany.

Having read a forecast that called for sun early in the day, I had my mind specifically fixated Ed IMG_1626 s on photographing Storm King Mountain from the riverfront park in Cold Spring. Since Storm King rises up from the west shore of the Hudson, this is definitely a great morning shot with the sweet light on the mountainside. But the weather wasn’t cooperating after all; the sun, such as it was, was weak. No matter—I made friends with a sunflower on my walk from the Municipal Parking to Main Street, then photographed some street scenes (Cold Spring is rich with possibilities), including these delicately colored glasses displayed in the window of Kismet at Caryn’s, whose proprietor graciously allowed me to photograph these close-ups.

Ed IMG_1632 sThen on to Boscobel. By now the sun, which had been peeking through ever so slightly while I was in Cold Spring, had disappeared completely and a misty gray overcast lay over all. Normally I would never, in my right mind, have deliberately gone to Boscobel in such weather. Sometimes it pays to ignore your “right mind,” and this was one of those times. I didn’t anticipate these beautifully-colored roses, much less the cute bees scrambling in and out of them, and the “usual” view of the Hudson overlooking Constitution Marsh was totally transformed into an almost abstract landscape that definitely lent itself to black-and-white treatment. As an added bonus, the mist completely obscured the Bear Mountain Bridge, making the view even more one of an abstract landscape. (What, you might ask, is an abstract landscape? Doesn’t an oxymoron lurk somewhere in there? No – an abstract landscape, in my definition, is one in which such elements as shape, pattern, or texture take precedence over the literal content of the image.)

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Yet another added bonus to Boscobel was that I rounded off my walk with a visit to the gift shop and discovered that our book, Historic Hudson Valley, was on display! I introduced myself to Renate Smoller, the Museum Manager, and offered to sign the three copies they had in stock. (I know from my own buying experience that the author’s autograph is an effective selling point.) She was grateful, and so was I, for the opportunity.

Boscobel currently has an exhibit (until November) about the Hudson River painter Robert Weir. I must admit, shamefacedly, that I had never heard of him. But since I consider those chaps to be an important part of my artistic inspiration, I’ll be making a return visit, sooner rather than later, to see this exhibit, when I don’t have a home-made fudge torte, a broccoli-cheese quiche, and assorted veggies, fruit, and herbs in the trunk of my car in 80-degree weather.

And Castle Rock? Can’t see it from Boscobel, but could see it very well from numerous locations driving south on Route 9D. Now all I need to do is scout a place to park and wait for the right weather. This is a late afternoon shot and needs very good sun.

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