“Millbrook Ridge, Mohonk Preserve”
The Mohonk Preserve is an amazing place to visit, hike and photograph, and I have often mentioned it here as a favorite local destination. Not only do I conduct photo workshops there, but I also donate a print every year to their yearly fund-raising benefit auction. The auction raises money to help keep the preserve the magical place it is now and hopefully for many future generations. This years benefit auction will be held on June 12.
I also use this opportunity as a way to motivate myself to make a new image that hopefully helps convey the beauty of this place. This year I sort of surprised myself when I decided a black and white print would be my selection. While I consider myself a color photographer, I’m always open to trying different interpretations of an image, and in this case I’m certainly glad I did.
Often when I’m in the field, I’m looking for that magic light that will work together with composition and color to create a successful image. Once the golden hour has passed and the sun rises higher in the sky, I sort of change my focus and start to look for compositions that emphasize shadows and highlights. In the case of “Millbrook Ridge” this is exactly what I was looking for, and it was just a matter of getting the most dramatic lighting I could manage which in this situation was back lighting, where the sun is behind your main subject. This can create dramatic photographs, but can also create problems with lens flare and difficult exposure readings. I used my baseball cap to block the sunlight at just the right angle which helped with flare and restored the proper colors and contrast to the scene.
In Lightroom, I converted the image to black and white, and used the color adjustments to darken the sky and brighten the vegetation which helps create separation and depth. I also added a very slight sepia tone to give the darker shadows some warmth. The final print will be matted and framed in a 28″ x 38″ wood moulding.
Using nature photography to bring awareness to our natural world is something we can all do, regardless of our skill level or chosen career. Consider donating your prints to a favorite cause, whether a local park or other resource that needs awareness and protection. I can guarantee you that giving will do more for your confidence and motivation for making photographs than almost anything else you can do as a photographer.