On the Scene

Our 2022 Photography Contest

Grand Prize | A Light Breaks Through | near Echo Cliff, Piseco | William Adamczak | Ballston Spa, New York

Grand-Prize Winner

A Light Breaks Through near Echo Cliff, Piseco
William Adamczak Ballston Spa, New York

It’s never easy to pick the standouts from our photo contest contenders, and this year’s batch of eye-catching images was no exception. So we turned to an expert, veteran Adirondack photographer Carl Heilman II. He agreed there were some tough calls, especially when it came to ranking the finalists. “They’re all great shots,” he says, and he knows the legwork and patience it takes to capture the exact moment a loon takes flight, or an unexpected view of the clouds, or the magic of a morning’s light warming the forest floor. “I always enjoy seeing other people’s work, the pieces of nature that they capture,” Heilman says. “Everyone has their own unique eye.”

The Winners of our Annual Photography Contest

Congratulations to all of our winners. The grand-prize and first- through third-place honorees in three categories—Landscape, Wildlife and People & Places—will receive a commemorative piece of pottery by Sue Young, of Jay. 



People & Places

Editors' Choice & Honorable Mentions

Click Here to see the winners of last year’s contest. 

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December 2023

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Photography Tips

Adirondack Photography Institute executive director John Radigan’s photo tips:

1. Shoot during the “magic hours.”

The times around sunrise and sunset provide the best light, with a range of tones that can easily be captured by a modern digital camera. Rapidly changing conditions make interesting lighting effects, and the wind is often greatly reduced in the early morning.

2. Keep horizons level.

Avoid tilted lakes. Unless you are trying to achieve an exaggerated effect, horizon lines should be level. Use the camera’s viewfinder grid lines or a hot-shoe mounted bubble level to make sure.

3. Steer clear of large, featureless areas.

Large areas without interesting details should generally be avoided, as they draw attention from other parts of the image. A blank sky, for instance, whether blue or overcast, is a distraction in an image. Wait for clouds to add interest to the scene.

4. Be aware of what’s going on in all directions.

Don’t be fixated by a small portion of the scene surrounding you. Conditions in nature can change rapidly. Always look behind, down and up to see if there are other things going on that you may be missing.

5. Include a foreground object to give depth.

Placing objects at varying distances within the picture plane can create a more interesting image. This helps to create a sense of scale in the image, drawing the viewer in.

6. Don’t be afraid of the rain.

Some of the most beautiful and usable light occurs during a light rain or drizzle. Extremes of contrast from light to dark disappear, allowing a tremendous amount of detail. This is the time to be in the forest or among the plants in a field.

7. Always use a tripod.

Shooting during the magic hours or in low-light conditions such as drizzle can require long exposures—a number of seconds, at least. A tripod is a necessity at these times.

8. Avoid centering the subject.

Placing your subject in the center of the frame will, instead of highlighting it, give equal importance to the subject and everything around it. By placing the subject significantly away from the center, the viewer’s eye is drawn to it.