Adirondack Fall with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f/1.8

Adirondack Fall with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f/1.8 by Jonathan Zaharek (Instagram, website)

My name is Jonathan Zaharek and I am professional landscape photographer. I've been doing this for about three years and professionally for one year. Every photograph below was taken with the Nikkor 20mm f 1.8. As I reflect on these photos, I would say with a full frame camera, 20mm is a very awkward range in between wide-angle and not, especially for landscape photographers. Some of these photos I found it necessary to stitch multiple frames together because the lens was just not wide enough. Indeed, 20mm is wide, but not quite wide enough for most situations. I chose to purchase the lens,however, because of its 1.8 aperture.  I specialize in astrophotography as you can see on my website. So, let’s begin!

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of posting to this Forum Europe with the Nikon D7100. This time, I would like to share with you my experience in the Adirondack Mountains for the fall season, 2016. I've been traveling to the Adirondacks my entire life (19 Years). I normally spend around two months of the summer  there, but for the past two fall seasons, I've had the ability to return and be situated there for the two years off-and-on. What better place to be on planet Earth than in the Adirondack Mountains during the fall! It offers some of the most spectacular, vibrant, colors of any park found in the United States. With 6 million acres of park, there's so much to see in so little amount of time. The following photos are a sampling of what you might find.

Adirondack Fall with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f1.8

20mm @1/320th, f/9, ISO 200

If I could only recommend one place to go to in the Adirondacks, it would be Mount Jo. That is where this picture was taken. After traveling on Route 73 from 87 for 30 miles, you'll eventually come to another road which you have to travel another 10 miles, deep into the wilderness.  You then arrive at Heart Lake, which is at the bottom of the valley. I have hiked this mountain ten times; it's not very difficult to traverse. That's why enjoy the “off the beaten path” type of hiking so much - because of the awesome views such exploration can offer! This hike is certainly no exception and rewards the photographic explorer with some astounding views.  In the distance there are multiple high peaks between 4000 and 5000 feet. One can clearly see the multiple variations of colors that the many different types of trees have to offer. Just as in the first photo above, the one below was taken at the same approximate location. This is Heart Lake, with Algonquin peak in the background. This lake can be seen from the first photo.

Adirondack Fall with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f1.8

20mm @½ sec, f/9 ISO 50

Adirondack Fall with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f1.8

20mm @8 seconds, f/4.5, ISO 320

Adirondack Fall with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f1.8

This next location is one that I enthusiastically sought after seeing it in the summer time. It is called Tenant Creek Falls in Hope, New York. It's a very short little hike like the last one to a beautiful waterfall. The photo on the left was taken at the lower falls, and the one on the right is taken at the upper falls. One thing I've always wanted to capture was the swirling of the leaves in a river, however, I got them without even realizing that I did.

Adirondack Fall with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f1.8

20mm @ 10 seconds, f/4 ISO 125

If you're familiar with the Adirondacks, then you absolutely know this barn! I'm definitely not the first person to photograph it, nor will I be in the last. Because so many people do, I did it just for the enjoyment of it. There's one thing, however, that you might not perceive with a casual glance. It was actually was taken half an hour after the sun went down. It was very dark and I could barely see where I was walking. There was still enough residual sunlight bouncing off of the atmosphere onto the clouds, causing the diffused light to still produce natural color in the dark. The barn is off of Route 73, halfway to Lake Placid.

20mm @ 0.8 seconds, f/9 ISO 80

There is one thing I must confess. this is my only photo not taken in the Adirondack Park. This was actually taken in the Green Mountains of Vermont. In the third week of October, the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains got slammed with a snowstorm. This was the following day at the base of Mount Mansfield, north of Stowe Vermont. You can watch a video at this link about me taking the photo and what actually happened to me on this hike... it's worth watching. Trust me. If you want to see me suffer in -5 degree temperatures on the summit of a mountain and getting lost, then watch it! This definitely not only was my best photo of the trip, but one of the best photos I've ever taken. I cannot get enough of the river, snow, fall leaves, and moss!

I would recommend the Adirondack Mountains to anyone for some incredible photographic subjects - in any season. It offers spectacular views and beauty all year round. For those of you who might think I use extreme digital editing, vibrancy bar employment, I did not. In nearly every one of my photos, the colors are purely natural. This is done by way of removing impurities in the photo and using a post-processing technique that I designed to bring out more color naturally. I've never touched the saturation or vibrancy bar in nearly 90% of my photos.

There are a myriad opinions about what constitutes a great photograph.  However, I would submit that photography, as an art, is very individual.  It can be pursued from many different approaches, I believe that there's no absolute “right” or “wrong” way to photograph. We often see unique types of photography which gain rapid followings and marketing success. The photographs I present in this short portfolio represents my individual style, with my “photographic signature”.   I thoroughly enjoy every element and aspect of it!  I've been working with this camera and lens combination for about 4 months now.  If you're looking for a wide-angle lens, I would prefer acquiring the new Laowa 12mm Zero Distortion lens. This will be my next purchase. If you are looking for an astrophotography lens, I especially recommend this one! If you can nail the focus at 1.8, it can produce some pretty tack sharp images.

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • smith0100

    Jonathan, great job. The pictures are amazing.

  • Eric Calabros

    I don’t know why some photogs love that much foreground coverage, especially tilt-shift guys.

    • Allan

      Chacun à son goût.

      I like it.

      • pedantic_brit

        Not a big fan of blurred water either on the whole, but the leaf swirl is very cool. Nice shots Jonathan, thanks for sharing.

  • Aldo

    Great photos no doubt… they lack a bit of originality imho… like they came from an instructor photographer who plays it safe. One thing I would have loved is a panorama shot… I felt like wanting to see beyond the frame in several images.

  • Spy Black

    What makes you think that only happens to Nikons? I work in a studio where we shoot with Mk IIs and Mk IIIs and I’m spotting images all the time.

  • Spy Black

    Lovely work Jonathan. I’m not too far from the Adirondacks, I’ll have to ride up that way sometime.

  • SteveWithAnS

    I may or may not have seen that barn before… I just drove by it once and saw at least 5 tripods out so I figured I would stop. My skills have progressed since then, so I will have to return eventually. I have only climbed Cascade and Porter Mountains. Giant Mountain defeated me because I tried to climb it with 40lbs of photo gear, lol.

  • vousplaisentezouquoi

    Nice places. But all the images seem out of focus.

    • Eledeuh

      Looks like some Orton-effect-ish thing was applied in PP.

    • This could be caused by the jpg compression used in WordPress (the software that runs this blog). Try to click on the images to get the full res.

      • vousplaisentezouquoi

        It could be. But I think that it is because of the long exposure times. Using long exposure times is good to give movement to the water, but it is not so good when there is a background of trees moved by the wind.

        • Yes, but I have gotten similar feedback in the past – it’s probably a combination of both.

  • decentrist

    Let the images stand on their own. Dial back on post

  • bushkov

    Take into consideration Sigma 12-24 Art instead of Laowa , it’s a fine lens.

  • CarSalesman

    Jonathan, great images, thank you. I was in the same area, possibly at the same time. I was also using the Nikon 20mm f1.8, this time with the D5.

  • preston

    Thanks for sharing Jonathan! Nice scouting and compositions but a little too saturated and too heavily vignetted for my taste. I think b&w landscapes work better with vignetting because darkened colors become unnatural looking and therefore distracting.

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