An intimate view of a sea anemone I found in one of the many tide pools at Point of the Arches. The opportunity to view sea life such as sea anemones and starfish in a wilderness setting is one of the many reasons why the coast within Washington’s Olympic National Park is one of my favorite destinations for backpacking and photography. Prints Available.
Photo of the Week
A wave crashes and sprays on the beach where beautiful volcanic rock protrudes above the sand. Saona Island, Dominican Republic. Prints Available.
The sun rises over the distant plains, showcasing the surreal and colorful badlands of South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Prints available.
An article on this photo can be found at Landscape Photography Magazine.
Photo of the Week
Shooting stars streak across the beautiful night sky, at the height of the Perseid meteor shower in August 2016. The otherworldly bentonite clay formations in the foreground were the perfect complement to the shooting stars and the colorful nebulae of the Milky Way galaxy. I stayed up all night watching hundreds of shooting stars streak across the sky, and this was undoubtedly one of my favorite and most memorable moments (and photographs) of a year-long cross country road trip. Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada. Prints available.
Paddling Guide to Follensby Clear Pond
As the days grow longer, the temperature rises, and frozen lakes and ponds return to their liquid state, the serene waters of the Adirondack Mountains beckon the outdoor adventurer to stow away their snowshoes and skis and break out a canoe or kayak for long sunny days of aquatic exploration. Home to over 3,000 lakes and ponds, a paddling destination suited for every taste can be found in the vast Adirondack Park. For a fine introduction to what backcountry canoe camping in the Adirondacks is all about, head to Follensby Clear Pond in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. While small enough (roughly 1.5 miles from end to end) to explore in a day, the beautiful waterfront campsites, plentiful wildlife, and options for further exploration make Follensby Clear an ideal basecamp to call home for a few days. Don’t have a canoe or kayak of your own? No problem, just head to St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake or nearby Floodwood Pond for boat/gear rentals, guidebooks and maps, and trip details from the friendly staff. After launching from the parking area at the south end of Follensby Clear Pond on State Route 30 (where a dock facilitates the loading and unloading of boats), glide through the placid waters as you bid adieu to civilization. Trace the sinuous shoreline, keeping an eye out for herons hunting in the shallows, and scout out the numerous campsites that pepper the shore. Note: the DEC periodically closes campsites and builds new ones in popular locations such as Follensby Clear, so give the regional DEC office a call ahead of time to find out the most up to date status. Contact info and other details and regulations can be found at the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest DEC website.
While the closest campsites are a mere stone’s throw from the parking lot, press on to the quieter northern half of the lake to avoid most of the day-tripper traffic and to discover primo island campsites (including one of the only lean-tos in the area) as well as a large and beautiful campsite on a peninsula that extends from the western shore in the north end of the pond. All campsites are first come, first served and have an outhouse or open-air “thunderbox” as well as a fire ring, but no picnic table or food storage lockers. While bear canisters aren’t necessarily required in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, they’re highly recommended to avoid having pesky rodents and raccoons getting into your food bag, even if it has been expertly hung.
Once camp is established, spend your days either lounging around camp or heading out to some of the enticing destinations that make for perfect daytrips from camp. For a half-day loop that visits three additional ponds and has very short portages, find the portage trail on the west side of Follensby Clear, located about midway up the pond and just southwest of the island that has the lean-to campsite. Take the short portage trail down to the landing at the eastern corner of lovely Horseshoe Pond and explore the interesting peninsula (complete with a killer campsite) that can be seen across the pond from the landing. After enjoying the solitude of Horseshoe Pond, paddle to the northwest corner of the pond to make the short portage to small and boggy Little Polliwog Pond. The portage trail intersects with the Horseshoe Pond Trail, which makes for a nice leg stretcher and heads north to Polliwog Pond or south back to Horseshoe Pond. Once on Little Polliwog Pond, paddle northeast to the downhill portage trail to much larger Polliwog Pond and take your time exploring Polliwog as you work your way to the northeast corner of the pond and the short portage trail back to Follensby Clear Pond.
Whether the day has been spent paddling to distant waters or relaxing at camp, there’s no finer way to end a wonderful day on the water than by taking a dip and laying out in the sun to dry. As night approaches, light up a campfire and listen to it crackle as the haunting call of loons echoes across the lake, quite possibly the most Adirondack way to cap off an exhilarating day of paddling in the vast Adirondack wilderness.
A version of this article can be found at EMS Go East Blog.
Photo of the Week
A Scottish Highland calf seeks the shelter of its mother in a meadow at June Farms in Upstate New York. Prints available.
Fine Art Prints
To truly appreciate the colors and details of a stunning photograph, nothing compares to a fine art print. Prints not only provide a means to display a photograph at a much larger scale, they also allow for the photograph to be printed in an expanded color space beyond the sRGB of the Web. The result is a piece of art that fully captures the details, colors, and beauty of the scene as I experienced it.
My personal favorite method of photo printing and display is to print my photographs on aluminum through a process known as dye-sublimation. The result is a print of unrivaled clarity, color, and beauty.
Hanging Options & Finish
All of my aluminum prints come ready-to-hang with a float mount (details below). All prints come with a semi-gloss finish that accentuates the colors and details of the print, while also minimizing glare.
Float mounts set the print 1” off the wall, giving the print the appearance of “floating” off the wall. This striking and modern look eliminates the need for a frame, matting, and glass, reducing cost and glare.
All prints are hand-signed, and include the year in which they were printed. While prints are typically signed in the bottom-right corner, occasionally the bottom-left will be signed if it fits the composition better. I also include a handwritten note with each print about the moment captured in the photograph, what it means to me, and what I hope it will mean to you.
Traditional paper prints are an excellent and affordable way to enjoy my photography in your home or office. Prints are made on high-quality Kodak Lustre paper, which showcases the colors and contrast of the image and has a slight, almost pearl-like texture that provides added depth. This paper also has the benefit of possessing minimal glare, so that the print can be enjoyed in uneven lighting when framed.
Looking to purchase a print in a different style than paper or aluminum? Please reach out to me via the “contact” header on this website and I’d be happy to work with you to meet your needs.
How to Order
To purchase a print, simply click “Buy” below the image title and caption, and you’ll be able to select the size and framing option of your choice. If you are viewing the image on a mobile device or in full screen mode, just click the << symbol in the upper-right of the webpage to reveal the “Buy” option. For any questions regarding prints, please send me a message by clicking on the “contact” tab at the top of this page, and I will get back to you shortly. Prints are typically delivered within 2-3 weeks of ordering.
Photo of the Week
A robin hides out in a blooming cherry tree in Upstate New York. Prints available.
“Higher and Higher” Appears on Cover of Adirondac Magazine
Higher and Higher was chosen as the cover for the March-April 2021 cover of Adirondac Magazine!
Beautiful sunset light makes the snowy winter landscape come alive. The solitude and dramatic beauty of winter makes it my favorite time of year to explore the mountains. Adirondack Mountains, New York.
“Higher and Higher” Prints available.
Adirondac Magazine can be purchased by subscription or single copy.
Winter Wildlife Photography: Tips and Tricks for Capturing Stunning Images
Viewing animals in their wild, natural habitat is one of the most thrilling aspects of hiking and outdoor adventure travel. Coming away with photos that expertly capture these moments, whether using a smartphone or expensive digital camera, can be difficult, and it’s frustrating to giddily flip through freshly taken wildlife photos only to discover that the trophy shots are blurry or not properly exposed. The following tips and tricks will help you come away from your next outdoor adventure with stunning wildlife photos, with special attention given to the extra-challenging conditions present during the winter season. Remember, always give birds and animals a wide berth and never approach wildlife. No photo is worth endangering yourself or an animal.
Study the Subject and Anticipate the Action
While wild animals are of course unpredictable, being patient and taking the time necessary to study their behavior can aid in coming away with stellar action shots, particularly birds in flight. The generally playful nature of animals, such as puffins, can make for interesting, even funny photos of animals interacting with each other or goofing around solo. Traveling with a friend or family member can also be helpful, as they can alert you to opportunities outside your immediate field of view.
Pay Close Attention to Shutter Speed and Shoot in Bursts
One of the most common wildlife photography pitfalls is not using a fast enough shutter speed and coming away with blurry, out-of-focus photos. For bird photography with a digital safe-lens reflex camera (DSLR) or a mirrorless camera that provides greater manual control of settings, a good rule of thumb is to use a shutter speed of 1/1000s or faster for birds in flight or on the move. If the light level is low and precludes the use of such a fast shutter speed, bump up the ISO, or sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light, a bit and use a wider aperture in the f/4 to f/8 range to allow in enough light while still maintaining the depth of field to keep the subject sharp. When using a smart phone that doesn’t allow as much fine control of shutter speed settings, shooting in “burst mode” is a great way to ensure that you crisply capture the action of an animal in motion.
Think Small and Large in Terms of Subjects and Lenses
AMC’s region is blessed with a wide variety of wildlife, ranging in size from mighty to miniscule. Moose, black bears, deer, coyotes, puffins, owls, starfish, salamanders, and insects are just some of the many potential wildlife photography subjects that can be found in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The two types of lenses that come in most handy when shooting a large or small animal subject are a telephoto and macro lens, respectively. A telephoto lens in the 300 to 600 mm focal length is perfect for capturing large animals from a distance without spooking them and for capturing frame-filling shots of birds such as puffins in flight. On the other end of the spectrum, a macro lens is tailor-made for capturing small subjects such as insects in astounding detail. If you’re shooting with a smart phone, a variety of telephoto and macro adaptors are available that can be attached to the camera and can yield surprisingly stunning results.
One of the most challenging aspects of winter wildlife photography is keeping yourself and your photography gear safe in the sometimes hostile conditions of winter. Wildlife photography is often a waiting game, and while it’s relatively easy to stay warm while on the move, having the right layers and gear are critical to staying comfortable and safe while waiting for just the right moment. In addition to snowshoes , skis, and microspikes or crampons for traction, items such as a warm and lightweight jacket and pants, balaclava, and even ski goggles will help keep you warm and protect your skin from the biting cold and wind while you’re taking photos. Perhaps the most critical piece of clothing for the winter photographer is hand protection , and finding the perfect balance between keeping hands warm while maintaining enough dexterity to change lenses and adjust camera settings can be a tricky task. Pairing a thin and windproof glove with a warm pair of mittens can provide the best of both worlds, where the mittens can be put on when hands get cold, and the base layer glove provides just enough protection and supple dexterity to handle the camera. Carrying extra pairs of gloves is always wise, as gloves that have become sweaty on a hike can become hazardous if a prolonged photo session is planned. If the conditions are truly arctic, throwing a hand warmer inside each glove is an easy way to ensure that hands stay toasty while maintaining dexterity.
Protect Your Camera
Protecting the camera from harsh winter conditions not only increases your chances of taking the best possible photos, it also prevents your often expensive photo gear from ruin. A waterproof camera cover comes in handy when photographing in snowstorms or freezing rain and costs much less than replacing a camera body that’s been ruined by water damage. Condensation can also be a problem in winter, especially when taking the camera from the cold, dry outdoor air to a warm and relatively humid house, cabin, or car. Allowing the camera to gradually adjust to temperature differences limits the chances of condensation forming on the camera and lens and potentially making its way inside the camera. Leaving the camera in a camera bag inside a backpack or camera bag overnight will help it adjust.
While these tips will help to avoid damaging your gear after you’ve finished your outing, a challenge you may face while out in the field is moisture from snow or rain accumulating and freezing on the front of the lens. Periodically checking the lens glass for snow and ice will prevent the frustration of having an excellent photo rendered useless. While snowflakes can typically be brushed off the lens using a microfiber cloth or an air blower such as the Giottos Rocket Air , take special care if ice has accumulated on the lens. Trying to scrape off ice can lead to scratches which could permanently mar an expensive lens or filter. This is another situation where the ever-useful hand warmer can save the day. Gently holding one against the ice helps it melt, allowing you to easily wipe or blow away the remaining water with a microfiber cloth or rocket blower.
Pack Extra Batteries
Cold temperatures drain battery life, and there’s nothing more frustrating than getting part-way through a photo outing and having your camera battery die. Packing a couple extra batteries for your camera, or an external battery pack for a smart phone, can be a trip-saver when they’re needed. Extra batteries will be rendered useless, though, if they’re left unprotected at the top of your pack and subjected to the cold as you hike. Stashing batteries toward the center of the pack, where they’ll be insulated by the surrounding contents, can help maintain the batteries’ life. Double-bagging batteries in a plastic bag and placing a hand warmer in between the two bags can also provide extra insurance in truly frigid winter conditions.
Utilize Animal Tracks
One of the advantages of winter wildlife photography is that the snow-blanketed landscape makes a perfect canvas to capture the tracks of animals on the move. While tracks or paw prints from animals such as deer, wolves, and rabbits can be useful aids when pursuing an animal to photograph, the tracks themselves can make for interesting photo subjects and can add intrigue and mystery to a landscape photo. Remember, do not approach wildlife anytime, but especially not in winter, as causing animals to expend energy unnecessarily threatens their ability to survive until spring.
Exploring nature with the intention of capturing wildlife photos is one of the best ways to feel connected to the natural world. Utilizing these tips will help you not only come away from your next photo outing with better photos, but will aid in keeping you and your gear safe while getting out during the winter months.
Respect wildlife as you take their photo by following Leave No Trace principles.
Browse the 2020 AMC Photo Contest winners.
Improve your wildlife photos with smartphone HDR.
“Two-step” A beautiful Atlantic Puffin walks along the rocks of Machias Seal Island, which possesses the densest population of puffins on the Maine coast. Prints available.
A version of this article can be found at AMC Outdoors.