Sunday in the Catskills

Here is the last post about the Catskill Photographers Weekend that I led from May 14-16. (If you want to read about the trip in order start with ‘Scouting in the Catskills’ and work your way up.) Sunday on the tour is usually a self-guided day but we decided to go out as a group anyway. Our first stop was at a well-kept farm right around the corner from the Glen Falls House Resort. It is always picturesque and those of us who had been there before enjoyed photographing it in a different season and with the white puffy clouds. From there we went to a small lake that had some birch and willow trees surrounding it. The nice sky, morning light and mountain backdrop made for a peaceful place to make images. Before heading in for our roasted chicken lunch we went to take a last look and say our good byes to the 2 waterfalls on the property. I was pleasantly surprised to learn there is a trail that provides easy access down into the ravine. (I didn’t have to roll down the cliff then scale the wall back up as I had done during previous visits!) We were blessed with wonderful Spring weather on this trip and in my humble opinion think it was the best trip yet!

'Sunrise Farm' © Denise Bush
'Lakeside Willow' © Denise Bush
'Glen Falls' © Denise Bush
'Bridal Veil Falls' © Denise Bush

Catskill Afternoon

After a lunch break back at the Glen Falls House we resumed our tour. With a quick stop at an overlook that boasts visibility of 5 states we headed to a large beaver site. Here we photographed the skillful carvings and architecture by the local beavers. The next stop was ‘All Souls Church’ which was quaint and photogenic with its surrounding stone fence. Once there I called the caretakers who we had met while scouting to come unlock the doors as they had offered so we could photograph the interior. We had to be careful not to shake the floor with our long exposures. Our last stop was to the site where the Catskill Mountain House once stood. The sky was as clear as anyone who had been there before had ever seen and the view of the Hudson Valley was beautiful. Carvings in the rocky ledge date back to the 1700’s. We returned back to the resort for our dinner and went back out for sunset. Even though the sunset was less than photogenic, our view from a neighboring B&B’s deck was wonderful and a nice way to end the day.

'Beaver Etchings' © Denise Bush
'Beaver Dam' © Denise Bush
'Beaver Pond Reflection' © Denise Bush
'All Souls Church'
'All Souls Church Interior' © Denise Bush
'Escarpment View' © Denise Bush

Catskill Morning

Here are a few images from the Saturday morning tour in the Catskills. We warmed up by stopping roadside at Schalk’s Falls before heading up to Platte Cove which offers views of high peaks and steep valleys. The clouds were pretty so we stopped to photograph the mountains, trees and clouds before proceeding up to Old Mill Falls, also located roadside. Here, there are small cascades to photograph up close or through an arched bridge. A woman who lived up the private drive saw our tripods and invited us to photograph her view of the Hudson Valley. It was a bit difficult as it was extremely windy from her mountain top home and the vista was pointed toward the sun. I managed a silhouette of the view with a little help from Photoshop. From here we headed to a spooky abandoned inn. The group seemed to enjoy the location as well as the horses and ponies that lived next door. Our last stop before lunch was to a waterfall and little covered bridge just up the road from the Glen Falls House. The sun was getting high by this time but the group enjoyed exploring a variety of woodland and stream subjects before heading back to the resort for food and a little rest!

'Waiting for the Clouds' © Denise Bush
'Woodland Cascade' © Denise Bush
'Viera's View' © Denise Bush
'Spooky Inn' © Denise Bush
'Covered Foot Bridge' © Denise Bush

Scouting Locations

I headed up to scout Catskill locations a day prior to the Spring Photographers Weekend that I would be leading May 14-16th. Matt, who works at the Glen Falls House Resort and is an excellent photographer, accompanied me. Since I have several shots I’d like to post, I thought I’d show you a few I shot while scouting. Among our stops were some locations that were not suitable for the tour for one reason or another. Locations had to be considered according to time of day, proximity to one another, parking and appeal. The spot where I shot ‘On the Edge’ would have been too steep for the group — my knees still hurt from carrying all that equipment on such steep terrain! Once I find a spot I like, I name the location and enter it into my GPS favorites. This makes it so easy to get to any of the favorites from anywhere on the road. The light on this Thursday afternoon and then Friday morning was gray and overcast so I needed to enhance the contrast and color while processing. Some were processed by combining 3 bracketed shots to bring out a full tonal range. Here are some of my scouting results.

'Before Sunset at North Lake' © Denise Bush
'Foggy Valley View' © Denise Bush
'On the Edge' © Denise Bush
'View from Polly's Rock' © Denise Bush

On the Way Home

On the way home from Rickett’s Glen we stopped by Hickory Run State Park, in Carbon County Pennsylvania which is in the western foothills of the Poconos. Across from the ranger’s station there was a picturesque church, waterfall and lake. But what makes this park really unique is a 16.5 acre boulder field which is designated as a National Natural Landmark. It was created about 20,000 years ago during the most recent glacial period when large amounts of melting waters from the glaciers carried boulders down from the ridges and into the valley. It was a gray day and the light was flat but I bracketed 3 shots 1 stop apart and combined them to create a more interesting image than I could have achieved from one exposure. From there we headed down to the town of Jim Thorpe, once known as Mauch Chunk (sleeping bear) by Native Americans before being renamed for the sports legend. Nestled in the Poconos this was a great place for a little street photography and lunch before heading home.

'Church of the Dammed' © Denise Bush
'Boulder Field' © Denise Bush
'Main Street Carriage' © Denise Bush
'Old Prison' © Denise Bush
'Old Door Knob' © Denise Bush

Water, Water, Everywhere!

I could still hear the rushing sound of the waterfalls while working on this collection of images shot at Rickett’s Glen State Park. Here I preferred the horizontal versions as they show not just the waterfalls but surrounding area. In an attempt to provide a sense of place I used a wide-angle lens for most of these. The scenes had a high dynamic range from the bright white water to the dark shaded cracks in the rock. I was happy I bracketed the shots (usually about 1 stop apart) so they could be hand-blended in Photoshop. The weather was mixed and at times the sky was blue with white puffy clouds. To reduce glare and make the scene less contrasty, we waited for the clouds to move in and diffuse the sun before we pressed the shutter. To achieve the silky water effect, I aimed for a long exposure by setting my aperture anywhere from f16 to f22 with an ISO of 100. When the light was on the bright side I added a 2-stop neutral density filter to lengthen the exposure time. But, when the sky was darker and overcast the filter wasn’t needed since the reduction in light lengthened the exposure time. What a great place (if you like waterfalls) — I hope to return soon!

'A Place Where the Water Falls' © Denise Bush
'Falls at Trail Crossing' © Denise Bush
'Rickett's Glen Cascade' © Denise Bush
'Silky Water' © Denise Bush
'Twin Falls' © Denise Bush

Go Both Ways!

When shooting a subject I like to try both, vertical and horizontal compositions. They often offer two totally different looks. Here are two shots from a recent trip to Rickett’s Glen in Pennsylvania. Here I prefer the vertical shot. It seems to accentuate the height and direction of the falls. The horizontal shot includes a small cascade to the right that I think is a bit distracting from the main subject. Rickett’s Glen State Park offers views of more than 20 waterfalls. They are very accessible along two trails that meet about halfway down the mountain. Look for more images from Rickett’s Glen in my next post!

'Adams Falls I' © Denise Bush
'Adams Falls II' © Denise Bush