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!

What to Do with Historic Churches

Some of my favorite trips are those on which I start out with an idea, somewhere on a continuum of quite definite to rather vague, of where I’m going to drive and what I expect (or hope) to see and photograph. If the trip is to the Northern Catskills of Greene County, so much the better, because there is a wealth of historic buildings (including ruins) to preserve with my camera.

Maybe it’s because I’m a church historian by training, but fate often leads me past  wonderful old churches, some of which are more than two hundred years old. In some cases I knew of the church and deliberately set out to photograph it. This was the case with St. Mary of the Mountain Catholic Church in Hunter; I wanted to alert people to the efforts of those concerned citizens who are engaged in raising funds to preserve it. Other times, however, I have a vague idea of where a church may be (Carolyn Bennett of the Catskill Mountain Foundation in Hunter put me on to an excellent old book filled with all kinds of historical goodies, including illustrations), and I drive what I suspect are the correct country roads until, sure enough, I find a church. Such was the case with the Presbyterian Church in Jewett, which is about as rural as you can get.  I love places like that.

DSC0076 sThe Jewett Presbyterian Church dates from 1799 and lies in an idyllic pastoral setting in Greene County. The weather was favorable the day I was there and I made many images. The challenge was deciding which ones to process. Here are two that I chose. In the close-up I was interested in accentuating the lines interacting with one another vertically and horizontally, but I thought it deserved a spot of color, and so I selected the flowers, inverted the selection, did the conversion using a B&W layer in Photoshop CS5, and still had my red flowers, in which I increased the saturation slightly to ensure that they stood out.

DSC0086 sThe environmental image is evidence (if you wanted any) that in processing my historical images I choose the method that I judge to be the best for each picture (or one of the best: sometimes I make two or more very different versions): I don’t impose some overall consistency as an end in itself. As I said above, the Jewett church is in a pastoral setting and I wanted to bring that out and make the image look somewhat like a print that someone might have hung on the wall of their farmhouse. After my usual preliminary processing in Camera Raw and then in CS5, I brought the image into Topaz Adjust (which is now my absolute favorite plug-in for postprocessing), used the Detail Medium preset which I adjusted slightly, and then, once back in Photoshop, decreased the brightness by -12 to give it a subdued look.

Ed IMG_1092 Top sThen there are times when I drive by a church I knew nothing about beforehand. A complete and pleasant surprise. On the same day as i found the Jewett church, I then drove north to the Windham road. Whatever I was looking for in Ashland, I didn’t find it, but suddenly there was Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places as well as on a similar list for Greene County. The postprocessing? This may seem a weird choice for a church, but after the usual Raw adjustments and prelim adjustments in CS5 I took the image into Topaz Adjust and used the Grunge Me preset. This brought out the definition of the church but kept the clouds at bay; I wanted them there, but too much and they’d have overwhelmed the church.

None of these pictures made it into my book Historic Hudson Valley — the book was already in press by the time I took the pictures — but still, there’s lots of great stuff in the book by both Anton and myself. Check it out here!

By the way, if you’re a photographer and don’t have Topaz Adjust 5 — and if you read this in time — they have a 50% off sale until September 30, 2013. I highly recommend it. Here’s the link: