Daniel Novak Photo | A Different View (of Watkins Glen)

A Different View (of Watkins Glen)

May 05, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Before you go screaming at me that we barely made it through winter and it's definitely not fall yet, trust me, I know. This winter was long, even for those enjoying winter sports. It started in November and did not let go until April. And that depends on how you look at it. Some might say it did not really leave yet. So yes, I know it's not fall yet and despite that being a wonderful season I do not want it yet - that would just mean we're in for another winter. However, I am looking forward to some colors showing up, even if it is just the spring subtle yellows and greens.

Exploring new places is exciting and I love doing that. That's a big part of my appetite for travel and travel photography that comes with it. However, it often feels more like location scouting than serious photography due to the very limited time on site. That's where going back to the same places over and over again fills the gap. And yes, I've mentioned that in the past (Revisit Your LocationsRevisiting Locations RevisitedThe Changes at Eighteen Mile Creek, Winter's TurnBack to the Pier for a Winter LookThe Seasons at Emery Park, a Year-Long Photo ProjectBack at the Elevator for a Different Take).

A Window, Watkins Glen State Park, Not the Typical ViewWatkins Glen WindowNot the Typical View

When you go back to a place again, you know what to expect, you have some photos from before and know what worked and what did not, you know how the light looks, you know the angles, you know where a wide angle can be used and where a telephoto is better. Yet, there is always something new to see, something new to try. And most of the times it's something you can be in charge of. Just change your point of view, your angle, your lens, time of the day, weather ... There are so many variables!

Other times, luck steps in. That was the case with me and this photograph. I loved walking through the Watkins Glen State Park on this rainy autumn day. The foliage looked even more colorful being wet (with a little help from a polarizing filter you can cut the glare and be left with pure saturated color), the sheen on the rocks worked great for my taste too, and people don't like bad weather much. Combine the rain with being late in the day and there was barely anyone there.

We usually walk the gorge trail up the creek, then the stairs up, and the woods trail back down to the parking lot. But since it was late, we just turned around and backtracked our steps through the gorge again. It was a whole new world! You can think that by turning around once in a while you can spot the sights in both directions but this instance clearly showed me that is not the case! By turning around, you miss out on how everything changes as you approach from faraway, you miss out on fine tuning the angles and perspective. Remember how it felt looking at a blank white paper in a developer and the image slowly coming to life, first very faint but gradually becoming crisp and bold? That is what you miss out on by just turning around!

As we walked the gorge this view shaped up in front of me and I knew I had something new from a good old place. No waterfall in the scene, not really even the creek! Now tell me, have you seen a photo from Watkins Glen without a waterfall? There you have it, and here you have the photo. Even the canyon is barely in it, just as a silhouette framing the window overlooking the seasonal show of color. I stood there and stared. It took me a while to wake up from my dream and put the camera down on a tripod. Now I can blow up this photo, grab a mug of tea, stare, and dream (of being in Watkins Glen).

Have fun dreaming your dreams!

Equipment Used:

Nikon D600 (replaced with D610 but the D600 saving you about $500 as of now)Nikon 24-85mm Nikkor Lens, Induro Carbon Fiber 4-section Tripod (CT014) (my travel tripod; its four sections give it smaller collapsed size and it's also lighter than my standard workhorse tripod. It has been through deserts and oceans and is still going strong after 4 years), Manfrotto ball head (496RC2), Hoya 72mm NXT Circular Polarizing Slim Frame Glass FilterThink Tank Speed Demon Waist Pack,  Petzl Zipka Plus 2 Headlamp (always in the bag just in case), SanDisk Extreme 32GB SD Cards, Exposure delay mode of 2 seconds, no remote release, Nikon Capture NX2


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