Meet this month's featured photographer Vijai Kalathur of HV Illustrated! He shared with us some great outdoor summer spots to enjoy and happenings in Dutchess you won't want to miss.
There are so many fun things to do in Dutchess that it's hard to fit in everything I would like to do in a weekend! I love the outdoors and usually like to have a packed schedule. The city of Beacon is one of my favorite places to visit in NY. I would start my weekend hiking up Mount Beacon and catch the amazing views of the majestic Hudson Valley in the morning and go climb up the fire tower. One of the many great restaurants along Main St in Beacon is a perfect place to remedy the appetite built up by the hike. After lunch, a trip to Dia Beacon, Madam Brett Falls, or Dennings Point sounds like a perfect way to spend the afternoon. To wrap up the day, I would head to my favorite place in the Hudson Valley, Long Dock Park, to end the day with a majestic sunset.
On the next day, I would head north and start my day watching a beautiful sunrise from the Walkway Over the Hudson. With kids, the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum (currently closed) is a fun place to go right below the Walkway Over the Hudson. I would spend the rest of the day exploring places in Northern Dutchess like the Vanderbilt Mansion, Staatsburgh State Historic Site, Valkill ( the home of Eleanor Roosevelt), and FDR's Presidential Library, Museum and Home. Rhinebeck would be my stop for the evening to check out some lovely restaurants and shops. My weekend ends with catching the sunset from the top of Ferncliff Forest Fire Tower or from Poets' Walk. I love the outdoors and Dutchess County has so much more to explore than I can pack into a weekend!
I primarily use a Canon 80D DSLR with a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. For shooting landscapes, the Canon 10-18mm wide-angle lens has become my favorite lens in recent years. I also use a Canon 18-200mm lens to shoot wildlife and a Canon 50mm lens for closeup and portraits.
Long Dock Park in Beacon! My interest in photography coincided with the initial development of Long Dock Park about a dozen years ago. Whenever I needed some inspiration, Long Dock Park has been my go-to place. I have probably gone there hundreds of times over the years, but I still always end up finding something interesting to photograph and always come back refreshed. It's different in every season. The view from Beacon Point looking south is one of the most amazing views of the Hudson River in the Hudson Valley. The sun setting over the Newburgh riverfront is another amazing view that's hard to beat. Based on the clouds and tides, the place looks very different. I could go on forever about the amazing things about Long Dock. It is also a very kid-friendly place and my little kids love exploring the trails, walking in the river bed in low tide, and seeing the wildlife and trains running alongside the park. I might not have even gotten into photography if it wasn't for this park!
I have specific scenes I would love to photograph in certain locations but I have not gotten all the elements to cooperate when I have been there. One such example is to catch a streaming ray of light coming in through the crevasse at Dover Stone Church in Dover Plains. I would also like to explore the Eastern parts of Dutchess a bit more than I have and find some of the hidden gems in that area. I usually end up spending most of my time on the Western side along the river as there are so many amazing places there.
One of the best tips I ever got when I was starting out was to identify 3 locations near your house that you can go to quickly and practice. Going to the same places, again and again, makes you comfortable with the settings while still challenging you to find new and interesting things to photograph every time you go there.
Some other tips that I think have helped me improve my photography:
- Always explore shooting the same scene or subject from different perspectives. The same scene will look very different when you take the shot low to the ground or high above your head and everywhere in between.
- Look for things besides the obvious beautiful shots that might exist. For example, I got some amazing mirror-like reflection shots but taking shots from just above puddles!
- Specific to the Hudson River, pay attention to the tide charts. It's quite amazing how different the scenery is at low tide versus high tide when you are shooting along the river.