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Capture the spirit of the region

When I'm out with my camera in the Adirondacks, I often say that Mother Nature does all of the hard work, and I just click the shutter. This seems especially true in the Whiteface Region, where there is something beautiful, interesting or spectacular to photograph every day of the year. No matter the weather, the light, or the type of equipment I have with me, I can find something that will keep me interested, engaged, and pleasantly challenged. With everything from scenic landscape views to people engaged in outdoor activities, the entire area is a photographer's delight. Dramatic (and not so dramatic) weather and seasonal changes just add to the possibilities for photos that capture the spirit of the Whiteface Region.

"A good photograph is knowing where to stand"

-Ansel Adams

You don't need any special equipment or expensive gear to take great photos and have a lot of fun doing it - much of the enjoyment of photography is being outdoors, taking the time to be present and observe the details of the scenery, and letting your creative juices flow. Bring what you've got - your cell phone camera, a point-and-shoot, digital SLR, mirrorless, or my recent favorite, an instant film camera! The photo ops are plentiful in every season, and there is no such thing as bad light, so pack your camera, your sense of wonder, and you're sure to come away with photos that you'll be super proud to share. Here are a few ideas to keep you outside with your camera, in search of that perfect shot:

Cobble Lookout

For a delightful blend of photography and hiking (or snowshoeing in winter), opt for Cobble Lookout. This is a relatively short hike with minimal elevation gain that leads to a spectacular view of the Ausable Valley and surrounding mountains. The trail is well-marked, suitable for a wide range of hiking abilities, and a great choice if you're carrying along extra lenses or packing your tripod. From the lookout you can spend a little or a lot of time savoring the view and experimenting with various compositions. Don't miss the chance for some selfies in front of the impressive mountain backdrop – no need to reveal it's just a short trek to this view! Consider repeating this sweet hike on several occasions throughout the year to build a seasonal photo series.

Two hikers wearing winter gear and snowshoes stand on Cobble Lookout, with scenic mountains in the distance

Jay Covered Bridge

Charming and unique, the Jay Covered Bridge is a standout in the Whiteface Region. Located in the Douglas Memorial Park in Jay, the historic bridge stretches across the East Branch of the Ausable River, and is an easily accessible, can't-miss stop for photographers. The wooden bridge is open exclusively to pedestrian and cyclist traffic, so it's a great place to take your time exploring the bridge and surrounding environment and experimenting with different photo compositions. Built in 1857 and renovated in 2006, the interior of the bridge is full of character, with interesting beams and trusses, light streaming through windows and the bridge entranceways, and all sorts of pretty details. Outside, park trails leading to the water allow for endless opportunities to incorporate components of the landscape into your photos - the river cascading over an array of smooth and angular river-worn rocks, mountainous landscape on the horizon and Jay Falls just upstream. Driftwood is often present along the water's edge, and in warmer months, you'll find butterflies, herons, frogs, wildflowers, and more. Don't forget to bring your tripod!

The Jay Covered Bridge stretches over the East Branch of the Ausable River

High Falls Gorge

You'll definitely want to put High Falls Gorge on your list of must-visit places, whether you're going there specifically to capture photos or simply to have a fascinating and memorable outdoor experience. The gorge is privately owned and has been welcoming visitors since the late 1800's. You'll need to purchase an admission ticket to enter, and you'll find tons of interesting and unique photo ops along the carefully-maintained walkways, including four waterfalls, natural potholes formed in the rock by the flowing river, and an impressive stand of old-growth American hemlocks. I visited recently and talked with the friendly and welcoming staff who gave some great tips on the best locations for viewing the falls. If you are shooting with a more advanced camera, be sure to bring your tripod along so that you can take your time setting up photo compositions and and practicing long-exposure moving water shots in interesting and changeable lighting conditions. Even the most experienced photographers will appreciate the challenge of capturing this dramatic and powerful section of the Ausable River! In winter, there are spectacular ice formations on the cliffs and in the river. Bring your photo A game and let your creativity flow! You'll leave with some great photos and a new appreciation for this glorious little piece of the Adirondacks. High Falls Gorge also has a cafe, gift shop, and restrooms.

Two people stand on a hitch-up bridge along the stone cliff wall of High Falls Gorge and look down up on a waterfall during winter

Ausable River

If river scenes are your thing, you're in luck! The Whiteface Region hosts a twelve-mile stretch of the beautiful Ausable River, and finding a spot along the river that isn't photo-worthy would be a challenge in itself. Sparkling water flowing around glacial boulders, scenic views around every bend of the river with mountains in the distance, wildlife, reflections in the water - what more could a photographer want? During the colder months, there are unique sculptures in and around the water created by ice and snow, and the warmer months are equally as photogenic with ethereal morning mists and fly-fishers casting over the water. There are many roadside access points along Route 86 and along the side roads where you can stop to search for that perfect shot. It's possible to capture impressive river scenes right from many of the pull-off areas, or walk down to the water's edge for more intimate river scenes. 

A section of the Ausable River on a snowy day

Whiteface Mountain

No photo outing in the Whiteface Region would be complete without considering at least a few shots of Whiteface Mountain. Even if you're not that familiar with the area, the ski slopes make Whiteface Mountain recognizable among the other peaks. A scenic drive through the area will yield tons of great views of Whiteface and other dramatic mountain scenery in the area, and give you ideas of what scenes you might like capture. In warmer months, opt for a drive up the Whiteface Veterans' Memorial Highway or ride the Cloudsplitter Gondola up Little Whiteface to capture photos from elevation.

A scenic landscape view of Whiteface Mountain with a field and evergreen trees in the foreground
Photo courtesy of Tarra Judge

The Whiteface Region has a great selection of lodging options to choose from, so it's convenient to get out before dawn to take advantage of the soft early light, or stay up extra late photographing the dark night skies of the Adirondacks. Wishing you a delightful time capturing the great outdoors of the Whiteface Region!


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