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February 2017

One Giant Year

Carl Heilman II photographs the same High Peaks view in every season

Photograph by Carl Heilman II

Photograph by Carl Heilman II

I had often considered taking on a yearlong photo project of the same location, so when Adirondack Life asked if I’d be interested, I didn’t hesitate in answering, Yes! After much thought and scouting, I chose a spot along the Giant Ridge trail that met all the criteria—Adirondack character, scenic drama, weather options, good angles of light year-round and relatively easy access.

Throughout the year I drove from my home in Brant Lake to the trailhead near St. Huberts, and climbed the 1.5 miles up the steep mountain 35 times. I captured morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening and night. I was under the clouds, above the clouds, in the clouds, in snow and rain, and in the clear. I photographed the Milky Way with a Perseid meteor, plus sunrises, sunsets, moonlight and starlight. I shot stills, timelapse and video.

In early October, I blew out my right rotator cuff. I continued to shoot until my early December surgery, when I was sidelined for two weeks. I missed 10 days of spectacular conditions, instead watching the clouds moving gently below summits from home, via the Whiteface webcam.

After that, I made three trips with help from friends and family, including my son Carl. On December 30, my final—and solo—trip, clouds danced in the valleys around the white-capped mountains as light snow settled on the trees. Clouds blew over the summits and filled the valleys around Dix, Noonmark and the Great Range. Thick clouds blew in and out a couple of times before completely enveloping my ledge with a thick gray fog—a closing curtain for one of the most enjoyable projects I have had the privilege to work on.

Watch a slideshow of my photographs:

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