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!

The Adirondacks: Visiting an Old Friend

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The Lake Placid region of the Adirondacks has always been one of my favorite places to photograph. In a sense it was the place where I cut my teeth photographically, as many of my earliest serious endeavors took place there, back in the days of Fuji Velvia film and my dear old Nikon 6006 camera. My last visit there, however, had been a foliage trip in October 2010, and so it was more than time for a return. Thanksgiving weekend I took to the roads, fully expecting to get some gorgeous shots of the High Peaks in the sweet early morning sunlight–so lovely at this time of year when one doesn’t have to get up and out at an ungodly hour to make such images!

The weather had other ideas. The flurries I encountered on the Northway north of Schroon Lake–it’s always fun to drive through flurries, and they weren’t supposed to amount to anything–turned into some serious stuff by the time I was halfway between Exit 30 and Lake Placid on Route 73, and it became obvious that this wasn’t going to go away. Scratch the sweet sunlight shots; this was going to be snow close-ups in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Which I did. But after a lunchtime break at High Falls Gorge (more on that another time), as I was driving back toward Lake Placid along Route 86 (one of my favorite roads in the universe), the sun did make an appearance, just as i decided to pull into the parking area at Monument Falls.

Monument Falls is one of those iconic spots with a great view of Whiteface Mountain. I had photographed it countless times before, but years pass, you learn more about your craft, and you have a better camera and considerably expanded knowledge of post-processing, so I wanted to give it a try. In place of the late autumn foliage I had originally expected, there was, of course, snow, and the late afternoon sun was lending a nice glow to Whiteface. Out came the Nikon D90 and tripod, and I made several images, vertical as well as horizontal. I was more aware of the extra interest added by the mountain’s reflection in the water (the Ausable River, a branch of which runs through here).

Then came the post-processing. I worked on a horizontal that I thought was OK but decided to try a vertical as well in order to minimize the dark clump of trees that otherwise can threaten to be a distraction. When post-processing my historic or dilapidated buildings or my street scenes I like to give my creativity fairly free range, but my nature images I prefer minimal post-processing, on the theory that nature itself does it best. Still, I brought the image into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (yes! I just upgraded to Pro 4). For some reason I decided to experiment with the Tonal Contrast preset, which I normally avoid in my nature shots out of concern that the result will look too artificial. Lo and behold, it worked. I moved the sliders to 44 (highlights), 50 (midtones), 20 (shadows), and 20 (saturation), and it was just enough to produce a “pop” without resulting in an inappropriate, contrived look. The result is what you see above.

Ed IMG_0350 sThis was also my first visit to Lake Placid since I got seriously into my street scenes and window reflections photography. Here I used my brand new Canon Powershot G15. Below is one of the results. Click on the image and it will take you to other images from this trip, just uploaded onto my website.