SAME LAKE - THREE DIFFERENT PHOTOGRAPHS

When I peered out of my tent at 4 a.m., I could see the stars. An hour later when I broke camp and headed to the lake, the stars were gone and the clouds were starting to build. There was some wind, however, it was blocked by the mountains, so the surface of the lake remained calm, allowing me to capture some nice reflections. A half hour after I took this photograph, the sky became a solid gray and it started to rain. No sunrise, but I still came away with a photograph. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with 16mm lens, 1 second @ f3.2, ISO 200.

When I peered out of my tent at 4 a.m., I could see the stars. An hour later when I broke camp and headed to the lake, the stars were gone and the clouds were starting to build. There was some wind, however, it was blocked by the mountains, so the surface of the lake remained calm, allowing me to capture some nice reflections. A half hour after I took this photograph, the sky became a solid gray and it started to rain. No sunrise, but I still came away with a photograph. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with 16mm lens, 1 second @ f3.2, ISO 200.

I set out on an overnight backpacking trip to Avalanche Lake, located in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks in New York State, with the intention of capturing both a sunset and a sunrise photograph. What I ended up with was neither a sunset nor a sunrise, but I still came away with three photos that I'm proud to share.

The details. From the Adirondack Loj parking lot, located 16 miles from the town of Lake Placid, it is a 5.2-mile hike to the south end of the Avalanche Lake where I took the photographs. The first 2.3 miles to Marcy Dam and the next one mile are fairly easy. However, the next mile presents you with a 635-foot elevation change in order to reach Avalanche Pass before you descend a litte to the lake which sits nicely between Avalanche Mountain and Mount Colden.

I knew that I would not be able to capture the sunset unless I hiked back to the other side of the lake. and that wasn't going to happen. But the great late afternoon light coming from behind and skimming the tops of the mountains on either side of the lake added a nice warm color reflection and made the photograph. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with 16mm lens, 1/60 @ f11, ISO 800, Exp. Comp. -1.3.

I knew that I would not be able to capture the sunset unless I hiked back to the other side of the lake. and that wasn't going to happen. But the great late afternoon light coming from behind and skimming the tops of the mountains on either side of the lake added a nice warm color reflection and made the photograph. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with 16mm lens, 1/60 @ f11, ISO 800, Exp. Comp. -1.3.

The final part of the hike which brings you around the lake is the most challenging and demanding, especially with a full pack and camera gear. You will contend with boulders, ladders, and a very winding trail, but if you take your time, it is worth it. One of the neatest parts of this section is the two "Hitch-Up Matildas," or boardwalks, that are affixed to the sheer rock walls. 

While it is quite possible to do the round trip hike to Avalanche Lake in one day, it would be tough to do that, yet still be there early in the morning or late in the day, optimal times for taking photographs. So I recommend you bring a tent and plan on spending the night. There are some lean-tos closer to Marcy Dam, but that is still quite a hike. A nice tent area sits only about 100 yards from the South end of the lake.

At this end of the lake, there is plenty of debris, mostly logs, that has built up and makes for some interesting foregrounds. In this case, I switched to a vertical and used this large branch to lead you into the photograph. Converting to monochrome emphasizes the contrast between the warm wood and the cool lake. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 16mm lens, 1/60 @ f16, ISO 800, Exp. Comp. -0.3.

At this end of the lake, there is plenty of debris, mostly logs, that has built up and makes for some interesting foregrounds. In this case, I switched to a vertical and used this large branch to lead you into the photograph. Converting to monochrome emphasizes the contrast between the warm wood and the cool lake. Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a 16mm lens, 1/60 @ f16, ISO 800, Exp. Comp. -0.3.

So in the end, even if I didn't capture a sunrise or a sunset, I was able to get three different looks of the same lake and it was all made possible because I made the overnight hike. Sometimes the effort put into the hike makes the photographs even better, even if only to the photographer.