Adirondacks

PHOTOGRAPHIC ADVENTURE VLOG - AVALANCHE LAKE

In Episode 1 of the VLOG, I document my backpacking trip to Avalanche Lake located in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks. I also wrote about that trip on this Blog in a post titled: Same Lake - Three Different Photographs.

While I'm not entirely convinced there will be an Episode 2, this was something that I challenged myself to produce and I really had fun doing it. 

All the video was captured using a GoPro HERO4 Silver. For support and to film myself, I used the GoPro 3-Way Grip Arm. If the price of the GoPro grip arm gives you sticker shock, check out this selfie stick from HODA, which appears to be an exact copy.

Please feel free to leave a comment here or on my YouTube channel.

 

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.

IS THAT A LEICA?

My Fujifilm X100S complete with gaffers tape.

My Fujifilm X100S complete with gaffers tape.

As an owner of theFuji X100S for the past five months I've heard that question more than a dozen times. Second only to "Wow, do you still shoot film?"

It's a fair question. The Fuji X100S does somewhat resemble the Leica digital M9 or the M3 film camera and maybe that was what Fuji designers had in mind.

Somehow I think the X100S secretly likes this question. It's like watching a cover band that sounds just like the real thing and knowing that I only had to pay a fraction of the cost and had just as much fun. And just maybe that cover band breaks out and becomes famous on their own one day. Then goes from famous to classic.

Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto, Canada.

Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto, Canada.

The first time I heard this question was in Toronto, Canada, during my first ten days with an X100S I rented from Borrowlenses.com. My guide during a beer tour (on the record, this was a personal shooting assignment) of the city actually combined the top two questions by commenting how cool that I was both using a Leica and shooting film.

Heron Marsh Trail in the Adirondacks, New York.

Heron Marsh Trail in the Adirondacks, New York.

A couple of months later on a trail in the Adirondacks as a couple approached I could see the husband eyeing my camera. Just as we came together he commented that it had been a while since he had seen someone using a Leica. What really made this special was that he asked that question with a heavy German accent.

Red scooter and sign in Brussels, Belgium.

Red scooter and sign in Brussels, Belgium.

In Brussels, Belgium, as I was checking out of the hotel the desk clerk clearly was talking about something other than my bill. I was having a bit of trouble understanding him with his French accent until I heard the word Leica. Then it was clear, he was telling me that he hoped one day to afford one. Once again I took great delight in showing him that it was not a Leica, but in fact, the new Fuji X100S. Score one for international relations.

Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, Calif., near Los Angeles International Airport.

Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, Calif., near Los Angeles International Airport.

Then just the other day on the shuttle from the rental car agency to LAX I could feel the man across from me looking at the camera in my lap and sure enough, he finally asked which Leica I was carrying. I'm not sure even now he believes me that it was not what he thought it was.

Perhaps the 10mm red metal soft shutter release button I've recently added subliminally makes one think of the Leica emblem. Given that the red shutter button costs 96 cents,* combined with the $1,299 price of the X100S, I have a few more cameras to buy before my Leica 'impostor' equals the cost of an actual Leica M9. But this classic is mine.

*While the button costs $0.96, there is a $4.99 shipping cost. Also, there seems to be an issue losing the button which did happen to me, although I was lucky enough to find it in the bottom of my bag. I have since used super glue.

FUJI X100S AND LANDSCAPES - PERFECT TOGETHER

Even when viewing the results on the back of the camera I knew that the Fuji X100S was capturing the landscape as I was seeing it. 1/1000 @ f8, ISO 400.

Even when viewing the results on the back of the camera I knew that the Fuji X100S was capturing the landscape as I was seeing it. 1/1000 @ f8, ISO 400.

Much has been written about the Fuji X100S and its capabilities as a street camera and the look and feel of this camera certainly can evoke thoughts of roaming the streets in search of light and subjects. And I've previously written on this blog  about getting back into street photography and how I too thought this was the perfect camera.

What is overlooked though is that the quality of the images produced by this camera make it ideal for just about any type of photography, and that includes landscapes as I recently found out after spending a week hiking in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks.

This camera excels in black and white mode. I have added a custom setting for black and white so that I can quickly transition when the mood strikes me. 1/550 @ f8, ISO 400.

This camera excels in black and white mode. I have added a custom setting for black and white so that I can quickly transition when the mood strikes me. 1/550 @ f8, ISO 400.

For this trip, I was prepared to take my DSLR, assorted lenses and tripod. But the more I thought about that, it became clear that this trip was more about getting away and while I enjoy taking photos outside of work, I didn't want to put the pressure on myself that sometimes comes when I bring all my gear. And after all, one of the reasons I decided to purchase the X100S after reviewing it for ten days was because the quality rivaled my DSLRs.

Rocky Falls is a two-mile hike from the Adirondack Loj. Hand holding the X100S was easy even with a slow shutter speed in order to add motion to the waterfalls. 1/25 @ f16, ISO 200.

Rocky Falls is a two-mile hike from the Adirondack Loj. Hand holding the X100S was easy even with a slow shutter speed in order to add motion to the waterfalls. 1/25 @ f16, ISO 200.

Because of the size and weight, I was able to carry this camera over my shoulder while hiking and by running the camera strap through a carabiner attached to my backpack harness, I did not have to worry about the camera hitting the ground if it happened to slip off. Another reason it stayed on my shoulder is that I replaced the manufacturers strap with a double-sided non-slip strap from Think Tank Photo.

Panoramic view of Heron Marsh located at the Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center. I'm sure this would be spectacular with early morning or late afternoon light, but the X100S did just fine at noon. 1/850 @ f8, ISO 400.

Panoramic view of Heron Marsh located at the Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center. I'm sure this would be spectacular with early morning or late afternoon light, but the X100S did just fine at noon. 1/850 @ f8, ISO 400.

This was also the first opportunity I had to really use the panoramic settings on the camera and was impressed with the results. The features are not much different than other cameras, but the setting is easy to get to quickly and understand. You decide camera orientation and direction of the pan, along with how many degrees you want to cover. Once set, you pick the starting point, press the shutter and the camera provides visual cues needed to maintain the correct speed as you complete the pan.

The early evening light highlights swimmers at the public beach on Lake Mirror located in Lake Placid, N.Y. 1/300 @ f8, ISO 200.

The early evening light highlights swimmers at the public beach on Lake Mirror located in Lake Placid, N.Y. 1/300 @ f8, ISO 200.

Something else that really impressed me was that almost all of these photographs were made between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., normally not the best time to photograph landscapes. So what did I do to make up for the lack of golden hour light? Well not much, but nature did help by providing cool crisp air, nice big clouds and plus I underexposed most shots by a third to one full stop. This helped deepen the colors, eliminate bright spots and add some contrast.

Lake Placid, N.Y.  1/1100 @ f8, ISO 200.

Lake Placid, N.Y.  1/1100 @ f8, ISO 200.

All of these photos did pass through Adobe Lightroom 4, however only minimum corrections were applied. The results straight out of this camera are so close to perfect, post production is a breeze.

So while I don't think the Fuji X100S will replace my DSLR camera for all my landscape photography, it was an attractive alternative knowing I had miles to hike and was looking to shed some pounds. I think the results speak for themselves.

Previous Fuji X series cameras posts:

TEN DAYS WITH THE FUJI X100S

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE? FUJI X10 or X100S

INTRODUCING MY FUJI X10