September Featured Photographer: Julian Diamond
Publish Date: 2020-08-24
What is your name and where can people find your work?
My name is Julian Diamond, and I’m a landscape and night photographer based in the heart of Dutchess County. My work can be viewed and purchased at www.juliandiamondphotography.com.
Say “hi” to me on Instagram @julian.cd, or follow Julian Diamond Photography on Facebook!
Describe your perfect staycation in Dutchess, or your idea of a fun weekend in the County.
These are strange times. Ordinarily, September would be filled with seemingly endless goings-on throughout the county. But for each concert curtailed and every festival postponed, Dutchess boasts another fun, healthy activity waiting to be enjoyed.
Care to join me as I savor a late-summer weekend in some distinctly (and outdoorsy) Dutchess ways? Fair warning: we’ll be on our feet a lot. Still in? Great! It’s Saturday morning, and I suggest we take on the Dutchess fire lookout tower challenge today. You’ve probably been to at least one of these historic structures, but visiting all three in one day adds an entirely new dynamic to the experience. Mt. Beacon will probably get pretty busy this afternoon – with an early start, we can beat the crowds and catch the first rays of sunshine. We’ll be able to check this one off the list in about an hour-and-a-half. Before we hit the road, we’ll refuel at one of Beacon’s great breakfast spots. From there, we’ll cruise north to Stissing Mountain. It’s another short but vigorous hike, taking maybe two hours total – including lots of time for snapshots at the top. After I conquer Stissing, I like to cool down my calves with a leisurely stroll around the charming community of Pine Plains, just down the street. There are plenty of options in town for a light, late lunch as we psych ourselves up for the last leg of the challenge. Don’t worry – I saved the easiest jaunt for last. We’ll watch the sun sink low over the Catskills, meander back to the car over gentle, well-groomed trails, and, having successfully completed our challenge, set our sights on the Village of Rhinebeck to round out the day.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to see the sunrise on Sunday morning, too. There aren’t many better places to greet the day than the Appalachian Trail boardwalk in Pawling. We can walk as much or as little as we like; as soon as we get out over the Great Swamp, the rest of the world will seem far away. Brunch at McKinney & Doyle awaits us in the village. No Dutchess County staycation (or vacation!) is complete without paying a visit to Innisfree Garden in Millbrook. At Innisfree, a seamless interface between natural and human influences belies the tremendous effort that goes into arranging and maintaining each element of the property. If we aren’t careful, we could lose track of time and spend the whole afternoon lost in contemplation on the idyllic shores of Tyrrel Lake – and that’s just fine with me.
What equipment do you use in your photography?
I use Nikon’s DSLR system, with the D750 being my current workhorse camera. Some six years after its release – practically an eternity with respect to consumer electronics – the D750 continues to hold its own against newer and more expensive models in the arena of low-light performance. Before reaching my camera sensor, light passes through one of the many lenses I’ve acquired over the years, each with its own specialty. Among my staples are Tamron’s 15-30mm f/2.8, first out of the bag when sweeping vistas are on-tap; the Nikon 85mm f/1.8, which, despite being rightfully billed as a fantastic portrait lens, also produces rich, dreamy images of the night sky; and jack of all trades, master of none, the Nikon 28-300mm. Sturdy Manfrotto tripods and accessories like shutter release cables help keep images sharp during delicate long exposures.
What is your favorite place to photograph in Dutchess and why?
This question has two answers. The first is “my backyard,” my home in Union Vale. I’m fortunate to enjoy clear views in all directions from a relatively rural setting, so Dutchess County’s myriad astronomical and meteorological phenomena often come directly to me. Whether it’s a summer storm approaching from the west, the distant aurora borealis gracing the northern horizon, a vivid double rainbow in the east, or the core of the Milky Way glistening in the south, some of my most dramatic images have been made just steps from my door.
My creative home-away-from-home is Stissing Mountain, that ancient geological enigma whose profile dominates the landscape of northern Dutchess. There are endless vantage points from which to admire and capture Stissing, and the mountain’s character seems to change with each new angle; it’s our answer to Oregon’s Mount Hood. Sometimes, I like to tackle the mountain head-on with a hike to the fire tower and its commanding views of the Catskills, Berkshires, and everything in-between. On a lazier morning, I might be found fine-tuning a composition along the shores of Thompson Pond, nestled into the base of the mountain. Farther afield, Stissing can play the role of a grounding background element to wildflowers in the Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary, or to a misty sunrise vignette along Hicks Hill Road.
Do you have somewhere on your list that you want to photograph in Dutchess, but haven’t gotten there yet?
Somehow, Brace Mountain has eluded me. Checking it off my list will be a priority this season as the summer doldrums yield to cooler air and more atmospheric landscapes.
Give us a few photography tips:
The most important thing is, simply, to be there. Grab an iPhone and head to the nearest pond, and you’ll already be one step ahead of the camera guru who stayed home to pore over dynamic range charts. Whatever your destination, get there early and stay there late; after all, the very instant of sunrise is rarely the morning’s most photogenic moment. Be flexible – while pre-visualization is an important part of the creative process, one should never hesitate to seize new opportunities that may present themselves.
Do: learn the fundamental properties of light, the essential functions of your camera, the conventional wisdom about what makes a composition compelling.
Do not: become overconfident in your abilities. No photographer is infallible.
When you see something special, something that demands a high-quality image, take lots of photos. Bracket your exposure and your focus. Change your perspective slightly. Sometimes, it even pays to double-up without changing a thing, a form of insurance against fluke errors and glitches. Discarding redundant files is quick and painless; the sting of focus missed by a hair stays with you. Finally, on the technical side, the exposure histogram is the greatest tool we’ve gained from the digital revolution. A quick Google search will reveal endless tutorials on how to access and interpret your histogram in the field, so a word to the wise: whatever you do, don’t clip your highlights!