By September in northern New York, evenings quickly shed their daytime heat and the sun casts long, deep shadows by the middle of the afternoon. Green, yellow, and gold in the landscape take on a rich saturation, the sky and the clouds look more intense and variable in color, and the first hints of fall reds and oranges start to appear. The photos below were taken between Plattsburgh and Lake Placid early in September a few years ago, the first five nearer to Plattsburgh and the last three nearer to Lake Placid. You can see in the photos what a difference the elevation makes: the Lake Placid region is about 1500 feet higher above sea level and the cooler temperatures encourage more leaves to change color sooner.
This is the first of a series of fall color photographs I’m working on for my Flickr Reboot project; I’m not sure yet how many I will end out recreating, but will certainly post more as my work progresses.
Select the first image to begin a slideshow if you would like to see larger versions. Thanks for reading and taking a look!
At the base of Whiteface Mountain in northern New York, on the road to Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort, just before you cross a bridge over the Ausable River and where your eyes widen to take in the size of the mountain close up … there is a large dirt and gravel parking lot. If you park your car and walk up the mountain road, you just might miss the forest opposite the lot: it’s hidden behind rows of birch trees and ferns that have gathered in the sunlight and grown right up to the left edge of the road.
After you step beyond the birch tree gateway and through the knee-high valley of ferns, your feet land in a blanket of soft needles discarded by pine trees that have been growing and shedding for decades. Your sense of hearing is instantly altered: the pine needles absorb and mute sound from the road and river nearby just as if you’d walked through a doorway and closed the door behind you. Your footsteps make no sound. Bird-call that you didn’t hear just a few minutes earlier is suddenly everywhere, accompanied by the rhythm of a breeze fluttering back and forth over the landscape.
Inside this forest, many of the birch trees that likely grew in before the pines took over have become degenerating deadfall, scattered across the forest floor or leaning against the rocks, and the rocks … well, they’re just enormous. You’d need a ladder to climb onto most of them; their surface textures range from smooth but finely pitted to rough like sandpaper to something that feels like it was spit from a volcano — but was more likely created by snow and ice and the slow roll of glaciers that molded the Adirondack Mountains. The rocks with flattened tops have given life to their own miniature forests, where ferns, small shrubs, and even tiny trees have taken root.
Some of the pine trees have grown so close to the rocks that the rock surface and the tree trunk are barely separated: you couldn’t fit your hand in the space between the two. That’s the case with this blue-green monster that blocks your view of the river, poised as it is just a few feet from the cliffs that dive about thirty feet almost straight down. It’s striking that rocks this large are so far above the river, that they remained on higher ground while the river carved and deepened its path.
You wonder about the tension between the rock and the tree if the rock shifts and as the tree continues to grow, then you walk around them both to the clifftop and views of the boulders in the river below. The first few steps feel pretty comfortable; the second ones get your legs a little rubbery as the speed of the water flow seems to increase; then you’re just glad you brought a zoom lens.
After a few shots, you reel the zoom back in, step back into the quiet of the forest, make your way back to the parking lot, and regret that you have to leave, because:
If you got this far, thanks for reading and taking a look! These photos are among the landscape images I’m reworking; more about that project here: Flickr Reboot. If you would like to see before and after versions of the images that I processed for this post (including two bonus boulders not shown above), select the first photo below to begin a slideshow.
Last week, I bought the Lightroom Classic CC Video Book by Tony Northrup to learn more about some of the features of Adobe Lightroom CC that I haven’t used much or didn’t feel like I understood. The book and accompanying video cover a lot of ground, and I’m only through the first quarter or so, but I decided to try using what I learned so far about radial and graduated filters; adjusting hue, saturation, and luminance; adjusting sharpness; and working with noise reduction. The photos below were taken in northern New York during several trips to visit my family and seemed like decent landscape photos to try out some of the techniques. You can select the first image to begin a slideshow.
The videos and book show detailed practical examples of enhancing photos Lightroom. I learned a lot in a few hours, much more than I’ve been able to figure out on my own, and paused the video often to experiment with my own photos. Below are a couple of before and after images for comparison (the last two gallery pictures above). Click the first image and page through all four to see the effects of the adjustments I applied in Lightroom. One thing that fascinates me is that these adjustments helped restore the images so they match how I remember these scenes … or at least how I think I remember them!