Through the Camera Lens
My Walk with Rodger
2007 Photo Contest Results
Selections from the Catskill Mountain Region Guide 2006 Photography Contest.
Wonders in Winter
When snow and ice come to a landscape, there are always new and different forms they create. We can’t explain why those brilliant white areas take the shapes they do, but they produce a sense of wonder as revealed in this month’s photographs. Our cover photograph is a remarkably sensitive image of snow on the ground of two hills, with the lines of a bare trees or bushes rising to the sky. The photographer is Eileen Camuto, and the title of the photograph is “Capturing the Moment.” Its beauty is in its simplicity.
El Niño, or global warming, may be giving us an unusually warm winter this year, but neither can change the unique patterns of winter light. The shortest day has passed, and the hours of light are beginning to lengthen, but the sun still rises late, and sets early. Even the mid day sun is a pale shadow of itself.
Hopefully if we think snow, the unusually warm weather we have been experiencing will pass and our mountains will turn into the winter wonderland so many of us look forward to every year. If the weather does not cooperate, at least we can see plenty of snow in the images sent to us by our photographers. Our cover, called “All in a Row” by Michael Coluccio, is a lovely example. There’s so much white in the image, it seems as if the snow is still coming down. We have that pine tree triangle on the right, and around it we can see different kinds of trees, all bound together with that strong white covering. This photograph tied for third place in the “winter” category of our annual photography contest.
After the Colors
Trees without leaves are like sculptures. It’s amazing to see how the branches are shaped, pointing up, pointing sideways, pointing downwards, sometimes straight and sometimes curving, always with ingenious forms. We take them so much for granted we don’t realize how beautiful the forms are. But photographers can open our eyes with their images. Our cover photograph, “Winter Thaw” by Al Alexsa, is a fine example, with the tree in the center of the page, rising out of the earth with a mist in the background.
We have those beautiful colors again! When photographers catch them, they create remarkable images. We see one of those in our cover photograph, “Alder Lake” by Margaret Ramirez, as she points her camera at a spectacular view of a hillside covered with red and orange. She doubles the impact by capturing its reflection in the still water below. The sky is quite clear with only a few strands of clouds, so we have a lovely blue above and below. It is first place winner in our annual Catskill Region photography contest in the “Mountains” category.
Brilliant colors are the great gift of September. Of course, we’re sad that August is behind us, but the colors that come alive in September fill our heart. They celebrate the passage of time, and we can always look forward for new wonders as we move on to the future. Our cover photograph by Diane Grant Melnik called “Filtered Light” is a glorious image which shows how wonderful September can be when we look around us at the leaves on the trees and on the ground.
In Our Mountains
For those of us who split our time between working in an urban environment and enjoying the Catskill Mountains, our time upstate is extraordinary and refreshing. We can sense this in our cover photograph by Anton de Flon, one of the striking entries for our 2006 photo contest. It is called “Steam Rising in Platte Clove,” and the strong green foliage, with the mountains in the distance, shows us how beautiful August can be in our mountains.
Water in Our Mountains
Water is very special to the Catskill Mountains. Our streams and creeks flow into reservoirs, and these in turn supply the residents of New York City with its pure drinking water, said by some to be the best tasting in the world.
Quilts at the Mountain Culture Festival
The 10th Annual Great Catskill Mountain Quilt Show at the Annual Mountain Culture Festival promises an exceptional display of talent, featuring the best of the quilted arts from all over the Catskill Region. More than 100 quilts and wall hangings comprise the exhibit, located at the heart of the festival in the Catskill Mountain Foundation Performing Arts Center Red Barn. The quilts pictured in the following pages exemplify the type of quilts that visitors will see at the quilt show—pictorial, abstract and traditional patterns.
Our farm is a place to discover the extraordinary beauty of nature. If you visit, and look carefully, you will find poetry in every detail.
Isn’t it like a miracle when spring arrives and those buds appear seemingly out of nowhere, and not long after, beautiful flowers blossom? We tend to take the passage of seasons as a matter of fact, the way of life on earth, but if we open our minds a little we see beyond that. Those beautiful forms and colors that seem to come out of nowhere can be mesmerizing.
When March arrives, winter is still with us, but the transition to spring begins. We see scenes with a mixture of snow and water. The ice is gone or disappearing. Signs of spring begin to emerge. In this portfolio we share with you a series of images that showcase this transition. We start with a remarkable cover photograph entitled “Spring has Sprung” by Rich Van Kleeck, which shows both winter and spring as lovely purple petals emerge with the melting granular snow still on the ground.
This winter has had some unusual warm spells, but in our mountains we still have had plenty of snow and ice. In this month’s portfolio we see different manifestations of ice in our winter landscape.
It’s not hard to choose the word “snow” as the key element of our January issue. We’re now in the middle of winter, and what we think of as the main characteristic of our weather and the scenes in our mountains, are those beautiful white blankets on the ground and the marvelous patterns on trees. We begin our selection this year with our cover photograph by Randy Williams, which captures the remarkable patterns of snow on evergreens. It fills the space so graphically that one can barely see the scenic background at the top of the photograph. The image effectively captures the spirit of the season.
Winter light is different from the light of any other time. The sun rises later and sets earlier and it beats down on us less intensely. In the most northern realms there is hardly any sunlight at this time of the year, but we are lucky. We still have the sun in the sky for quite a few hours, and because it is nearer to the horizon it casts long shadows. When there is snow on the ground, we sometimes have beautiful blue shadows spreading across the surface.
Last Colors and Leaves of Fall
We had a lot of rain in October—enough to make up for the rest of the season, which was somewhat dry. Now the streams are fuller, the weather has gotten colder, and we have had our first snow of the year, at least in our Northern Catskill Mountain Top community. There are still some leaves on the trees, but most have fallen.
Recent events give us cause to worry about the new, frightening changes in the weather – especially the prospect that hurricanes are becoming stronger and more dangerous as the atmosphere surrounding the earth becomes warmer. But when the sun shines on a bright autumn day, and the leaves turn beautiful colors, we give thanks that the change of seasons is the same as it has always been. In our cover photograph, called “Reflections” by Diane Grant Melnik, we are reminded of how much there is to be grateful for. It is a beautiful composition, with the golden leaves under a blue sky reflected in the water, as the noble floating duck creates ripples on the surface.
In Our Mountains
September is the month when summer turns to autumn. The children go back to school and the adults remember the good times they had on vacation. The first signs of the fall colors are arriving and we are getting ready to celebrate them. Our cover photograph of “Roxsbury Hillside” by Skip Malley strikes the perfect note. Tints of brown and orange against the green spread across the mountainside with the sun somewhere above and a beautiful cloud in the middle of the sky. This image won first place in the Mountain category of our annual photography contest.
Happy Moments in the Sun
So far we’ve had good weather this summer—a few heavy rainstorms and a lot of sunshine. We’re pleased to have some lovely photographs to celebrate the season. Our cover image, “Deer in Woods” by John Hayes, is a great way to express our appreciation. It’s something of a miraculous photograph—catching the deer standing for a moment in the one sunlit spot in the middle of the woods, turning his head for an instant to look at the photographer, who was standing nearby ready to press the shutter. A wonderful piece of luck and a great eye!
We walk in the fields, look at the flowers, see the green mountains in the distance, enjoy the warm weather, relax, enjoy vacation time – that’s what summer means to us. Now that it’s here, we wish it could stay for a long time. We know that’s not the way the world works, but we can certainly make the most of the many lovely days and weeks of this happy season.
The Rich Quilt Colors
Once again this year, our Mountain Culture Festival will feature the Great Catskill Mountain Quilt Show. The Festival will take place on July 9th and 10th on the grounds of the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Red Barn Performing Arts Center in the Village of Hunter. The two large rooms in the red barn will again be filled with a display of beautiful quilts. The images in this portfolio are of a few of the quilts that will be included in the show.
How wonderful it is to see the trees and flowers blossom again, and the grass become a bright green, and the hours of the day grow longer and longer! There is something in the air at springtime that lifts the spirit and dazzles the eye. That’s what our photographers show us in this month’s portfolio.
First Colors of Spring
It is always a wonderful feeling when the harsh winter temperatures subside, when the sun rises earlier in the morning and stays with us later in the afternoon, and when we look around us and see the foliage we love so much coming to life again.
The Moods of March
March in the mountains is a moody variable month. We have cold overcast days, and bright cheery ones that give a hint of the coming spring. We also still have some big snowfalls, and we have warm days that melt away the snow.
Our cover photograph by Richard Bruner is one of those rare but wonderful winter images in which everything seems just right—a bright, clear day, the sun casting its warm light on the trunks of trees as well as on the heavy snow blanket, snow on the branches as well as on evergreens in the distance, water running down a brook at a rapid pace—an idyllic winter scene.
The female cardinal shown on our cover does not seem to mind the cold weather or the snow. Gail and Nelson DuBois caught her sitting comfortably on the branch of a snow-covered pine tree. It’s a lovely composition, with the tree on the left framing the main focus of the photograph and a soft area on the right as the camera picks up the colors but not the details of the distant snow, shadows and branches. The red feathers and beak of the bird and its yellow breast bring delightful color into an otherwise gray scene.
Winter in the Mountains
There is something magical about our cover photograph by Anton de Flon. A heavy white snow covers the ground, while the sun throws shadows around the tree trunk and the houses in the distance. There is also a shadow of a tree on the roof of the barn, although we can’t see the tree that is throwing the shadow. The sky is very blue, but it is so dark it almost seems like nighttime. And the sun shining on the hill in the distance highlights the snow on the ground beneath the winter trees, while the hill just behind the barn is spotted with rich evergreens. The whole combination makes an impressive scenic photograph. This image won first place in the winter category of our annual photography contest.
The Changing Season
For some people, autumn is their favorite season. The colors are the most beautiful of the year, and there’s a long tradition of driving around the mountains to enjoy the views. For others it is a somewhat sad time. The leaves they love in the spring and summer have gone, and all we have left are the bare branches. Or perhaps we all feel a little of both emotions. In any case, our photographers have found lovely scenes to capture images of the new season and give us a positive sense of the gifts of autumn.
Colorful Images of Autumn
The photograph of the beautiful colors of autumn surrounding the dark branches of a maple tree is the first prize winner for the “Fall” category of our annual photography contest, as reported in the Letter from the Publisher in the September issue of this magazine. We are always dazzled when the leaves turn—each year they seem to be more beautiful. And we are sad when the colors begin to fade. But our photographer, Jeffrey C. Smith, has caught this image at just the right time and found a lovely composition in his camera lens.
The Magic of Water
Water is magical to a photographer because of the many different images that can be discovered in its various forms. There is nothing quite like it in the landscapes we see around us. The surfaces of water can be affected by winds that create ripples, by cliffs that create waterfalls, by rocks on the shore that create splashing waves, by a stillness that produces reflections. This month's portfolio consists of photographs that show some of the many different variations of water that we can discover with our camera eye.
Memorable Summer Moments
Summer is in full bloom. The weather is good—with many days of sun to enjoy and helpful days of rain that nourish crops, trees and flowers. We’re told that global warming is continuing and we should be concerned, but it’s hard to recognize the changes from year to year during such delightful months.
Walks We'd Like to Take
Walking through the woods alongside streams or in open meadows is one of the joys of summer in the Catskill region. The air is clean and fresh and when the sun shines down on the trees and streams we can see beautiful colors and forms that transform nature into an artist’s canvas.
The Quilted Landscape
With the Great Catskill Mountain Quilt Show coming up at the July 10 and 11 Mountain Culture Festival in Hunter, NY, it is time for our quilt show preview portfolio again.
Light in Our Landscape
Why do beams of light shine so beautifully through the trees on a sunny morning? Perhaps there is a slight mist in the air, although there’s no evidence of such a mist in our cover photograph. Or maybe it’s something the camera discovers in a longer than usual exposure. In any case, this month’s cover photograph starts us off with a brilliant image of light in our landscape.
The Promise of Spring
We have a beautiful cover entitled “Beech Leaves Unfurling” by Violet Snow. Sometimes a photographer is able to find a detail – a moment in time and space – that tells so much more than a wide landscape shot. Here we feel the full force of spring opening up with the miracle of life. It’s been a long and cold winter, and it’s especially thrilling this year to see the flowers and trees and grasses coming back to feast our eyes.
The Last Days of Winter
Winter has a way of fooling us. As the weather changes, we think spring is around the corner, and then the cold returns and we realize we were mistaken. But in March we know that it can’t be long before the new season will arrive, so we look around at the snow and ice ready to say farewell for this year.
The Poetry of Snow Covered Buildings
This month’s selection of photographs is somewhat poetic in the way they portray buildings covered with snow. We think of them as poetic because they have especially sensitive design qualities. Some of them are close to abstractions. All of them, we think, tell us something of what we sense at this time of the year when we feel the wind in our face and look at the unusual scenes created by winter snow.
Every winter we receive a collection of striking photographs of skiing, snowboarding and hiking in the snow-covered Catskill Mountains, and we find it hard to resist devoting one of our portfolios to the best images we receive. This year is no exception. We have chosen for our cover a striking image of an experienced snowboarder floating in the air, appropriately dressed with a helmet and gloves, waving to us as he passes us by. It was a bright, sunny day when the photographer captured this image with a high-speed shutter, beautifully capturing the shadow of the skier on the snow and the flakes of snow flying in the air.
The Spectacular Images of Autumn
We might imagine that Mother Nature has decided to bless the passage from summer to autumn with brilliant colors to compensate for the imminent disappearance of the lovely foliage that graces our hills and valleys. Perhaps that’s why our cover photograph seems so poignant – a single leaf, perfectly shaped, spotted with brilliant reds and yellows, against the white and gray bark of a birch tree that presages the colder weather that lies ahead. At least that’s a poetic way of interpreting the image.
Mountain Streams, Creeks and Waterfalls
Some summers our streams dry up, the reservoirs are low and everyone is concerned about water being in short supply. This spring and summer has been particularly wet. The waters have come pouring down in buckets, our reservoirs and lakes are full and our streams flowed swiftly down our mountains. That inspired us to feature images of the Catskill Mountain waters in this month’s portfolio.
Facing the Elements
Winter has arrived, and our cover photograph shows a skier moving along a blanket of snow, looking at an adjacent hillside. The forest of evergreens hugs the lower landscape. Above there are clusters of leafless trees casting their shadows on the white background. It is an ideal image to introduce our December issue.
Rediscovering the Architecture of Trees
When the trees are in full foliage it is sometimes hard to visualize what they look like when the leaves are gone and the branches are bare once again. But now we see those twisting lines against the sky once again, and we are treated to architecture of nature that was hidden for so many months.
The Brilliant Colors of Autumn
If you haven't pressed an Autumn leaf to preserve its color, you ought to try! It's amazing how long it lasts. We are all used to seeing those colors disappear as leaves fall to the ground and the season moves on, with the reds and oranges, and crimsons and yellows turning to ashen brown. Keeping one or two of them between the pages of a book gives one a sense that time can, in some respects does, stand still!
Architecture, Water & Landscape
As our readers can see, we have a most unusual cover this month. It is the first prize winner in the architecture category of our photographic contest, and we think it is a beautiful image. But it may not be clear initially what the subject of the photograph is or even where the viewer stood when he pointed his camera at the water scene in front of him. But if you look carefully, you will see that the image is a reflection of a building in the water, and that the blue one sees is actually the sky above. We think it took some creative courage to photograph this image entirely as a reflection, without showing any of the shoreline or the actual barn itself. What has resulted is a photograph that resembles some of the water-lily paintings by Claude Monet that he did towards the end of his life and are considered by many as his greatest masterpieces.
Friends in August
It is amazing - and refreshing - to see the lovely colors on our cover surrounding a dragonfly as it stops for a rest. We have no idea if it can see the beauty we see, but we are grateful that its presence caught the attention of the photographer whose sharp camera eye and quick finger made this stunning photograph. The delicacy of the dragonfly's wings is matched wondrously with the organic veins of leaf and petal in an unforgettable image. It won the first prize in the category of Nature in our photography contest.
Some months ago the editors of the Catskill Mountain Region Guide announced a photographic contest in which readers were invited to submit photographs in the following categories: landscape, nature, action, people and architecture. There was no way of knowing how many photographs would be received, but to our delight over 1300 prints were submitted. The judges were Peter Finn, chairman of the Catskill Mountain Foundation; Michael Schubert, creative director of Ruder Finn, Inc.; and myself.
The Art of Quilts
It’s a pleasure to feature this selection of outstanding works of art selected from those that will be exhibited at the Great Catskill Mountain Quilt Show, July 13 and 14, as part of the Mountain Culture Festival in the Village of Hunter.
Wildlife Of The Catskill Region
In the last issue of GUIDE we featured photographs of birds as the first messengers of Spring. Now we turn to the animals that once again populate our fields and forests.
A Gift Of Spring: Catskill Region Birds
The famous “Birds of America” series of 435 hand colored prints in four volumes by John James Audubon were first printed in England 1827–1838. They are still the most admired series of portraits ever created of those exquisite beings that fill our skies. Now that spring is here again we can see many of them in the air, on trees, on flowers, on the ground and we can enjoy the return of some of the most beautiful living beings ever created. And those with eyes sharp enough to find them in the woods and fields of the Catskill Region, and who have fingers agile enough to capture them on film, can enrich our lives with the kind of images we have in this month’s issue of the Catskill Mountain Region Guide.
As Winter’s End Draws Near
When the most vigorous of all seasons reaches its final days, those of us who enjoy the glories of winter may feel a mounting tension. It is something like the fourth movement of a symphony when the music reaches its climax; we are thrilled by the consummation experienced in the finale but sad to realize that it will have to come to an end. The difference is that in the back of our minds we know spring is not far behind.
Barns In Snow
There is something about snow on the roof of a barn that sparks the imagination. It changes the design of the building, creating white roofs in place of gray or black as if an architect has added a new accent. The snow is clean while the buildings tend to be old and worn, and the contrast is striking. That’s even true when the snow has melted off the roof but is still on the ground surrounding the barn. It’s somehow a metaphor for a new world and the old in touch with each other.
Adventures In Snow
Snow is sometimes late in coming – as it has been this year, but when it arrives the world around us is transformed. We have a gift of new colors to enjoy (for shades of white and gray are our winter colors, just as shades of green and yellow are those of spring and summer, and red and gold those of autumn). We feel the crunch of new snow under our feet and the softness of falling flakes on our cheeks. We bundle up in warm clothes and feel the contrast of the cold outside and the warmth within.
Many of us watch carefully as the last of the golden leaves fall to the ground and all we have to stare at are the bare skeleton-like branches that remain. But then we discover once again how beautiful those bare branches can be, and when the snows come we feel enriched by the fantastic shapes created by that white powdery stuff that blankets the mountainside.
The Glow Of The Fading Sun In Autumn
For reasons that are hard to explain, there is a certain light in autumn that is different from the light in the rest of the year. Perhaps we become most conscious of the difference when the sun is low on the horizon and the evening shadows are deepening. This is always a particularly beautiful time of day. The softness of the fading light casts a wonderful glow over the landscape, and the colors we see at the end of the day in this time of the year can be spectacular.
The Vigil: Remembering Those Lost on September 11, 2001
America suffered a terrible tragedy on September 11. Those of us who witnessed this unspeakable disaster will never forget the horror we experienced. As we move on and focus on rebuilding, it is important that we remember the individuals who were lost. The photographs in these pages show some of the hundreds of messages that were placed around the city in what we call “the vigil” by friends, relatives and fellow citizens. These photos are selected from many I took in lower Manhattan in the days following September 11th. These and other photographs will be published in a book dedicated to those who lost their lives that day.
The Gift of Autumn
In this month’s portfolio, we are pleased to publish a collection of photographs by J. Gerard Smith and Ellin Pollachek that can both sooth our souls and bring a sense of peace to our hearts.
Joys of Harvest
As autumn approaches we reap the rewards of all the hard work done in the spring and summer. The fruits and vegetables we nourished are now ripe and ready for picking. We can experience esthetic joys by admiring their freshness, their color, their fullness, and at the same time anticipate the pleasures that await those who will be served with them at the table. The camera can capture both what our eye sees and what make our taste buds salivate. But it also can add another ingredient ñ a beautifully composed image. Our photographer for this issue, Jim Smith, has shown us how that extra quality can make works of art out of the most common objects we see at this time of the year.
A Walk In The Woods
In this issue we have the good fortune to publish a series of photographs of some relatively unknown treasures in the Catskill Mountains. Photographer Stu Spero is an explorer, and he found his way with a camera into places that many of us who know the countryside well have never seen.
County Fairs are part of a long American tradition as occasions to display favorite animals from the family farm, to engage in all kinds of competitions and to enjoy a rich variety of country entertainment. Many visitors take their cameras with them and come home with rolls of film to remind them of the fun and excitement.
A Country Patchwork
There has long been a supposed distinction between what are called the arts and what are called crafts. But it is an arbitrary distinction that has little real basis. There is no doubt that the work of craftsmen and craftswomen often have the same high artistic quality as the work of many fine artists.
Landscapes of Green
It has been said that the month of May is a time of miracles.
"Is Spring really here?" we ask ourselves each year. Winter seemed so dark with its short days, harsh with its snow and ice, and long lasting - almost as if it would never end.
As the end of winter approaches, hints of a new season are in the air. Photographers may still capture coats of ice clinging to branches on the few cold days that remain, but we know that soon it will all be gone. When the snow begins to melt, streams will move more swiftly and falls will grow from a trickle to a splashing flow. And as the season begins to change, the sun will bring greater warmth. The temperature will rise. In the evening when we see the sun set, we will be heartened by the promise of the birds and buds that will soon be appearing.
The photographs in this month's portfolio show contrasts and similarities between the winter sky and icy landscapes in the Catskills.
Snow, Ice Water
"The over-all picture is winter / icy mountains…" wrote the poet William Carlos Williams when describing a painting by Peter Breughel. That's what one sees in the Catskills as the coldest time of the year arrives. Winter creates its own patterns. The streams are still there - when they are not frozen - but framed in white, they have a different personality. Somehow the water seems more precious. The bare branches of trees are freezing but stalwart. They will stand fast against the wind, hibernating during the season when growth is suspended. The pines are covered with a blanket of snow that changes their forms - they almost disappear under the heavy weight.
Take a Class at Sugar Maples
The Studio Arts Program at Sugar Maples offers intensive short-term retreat/study programs for advanced students and practicing artists from outside of the region, and an expanding array of introductory courses for students of all ages.
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