Empire State Plaza by Benjamin Brizzell

One of my favorite places to photograph in downtown Albany is the Empire State Plaza.  It is adjacent to the New York State Capitol and is the home of The Egg Performing Arts Center and the Erastus Corning Tower.  To say that there is some interesting architecture at the plaza would be an understatement.  The area is also surrounded by many other historic buildings such as the Alfred E. Smith building, the New York State Education Department, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (hint: the church parking lot is a great place to park (located at 125 Eagle Street, Albany, NY 12202) and is only a short walk to the plaza).

ISO 100  10mm  f/14  1.0 sec

ISO 100  10mm  f/14  1.0 sec

The New York State Capitol was completed in 1899 and took 32 years to build.  The cost of this architectural grandeur exceeded $25 million, making it the most expensive government building of its time.  This shot was captured from the west side of the building while standing in the Empire State Plaza, however all sides of the Capitol offer great views and foreground interest as well.  Free tours of the interior are offered on weekdays!

ISO 100  10mm  f/14  0.8 sec

ISO 100  10mm  f/14  0.8 sec

When the sun begins to set, the Empire State Plaza can become an even more photogenic subject.  By using a longer exposure time, you can get some cool smoothing water effects without the need for a filter on your lens, plus the lights come on in the office buildings and in the Erastus Corning Tower.  The tower, on the left in my photo above, is 44 stories, making it the tallest building in New York State outside of New York City.  The tower also has an observation deck on the 42nd floor, however keep in mind that there are no windows facing west, so don't hope for any spectacular sunset views from within the tower.

ISO 100  10mm  f/14  20.0 sec

ISO 100  10mm  f/14  20.0 sec

The Egg Performing Arts Center, named after its unusual shape, may top the capital building and the tower as the most interesting architecture to photograph at the Empire State Plaza or within the entire City of Albany.  This venue, built in the 1960's and 1970's, attracts music (I saw Steven Wilson there) and stage presentations (I also went to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar with the kids), as well as dance acts.  The acoustics of the performances, like the curved exterior of the Egg, are astounding to behold.

Thacher Park by Benjamin Brizzell

The area where I live in Upstate NY has so many wonderfully photogenic parks, trails, and nature preserves that I wanted to share with you some of my favorite spots.  Being based in the Town of Colonie, NY, I am close to the cities of Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga.  You can venture not too far at all from the cities and find some lovely landscapes such as lakes and mountains, or you can simply enjoy the beauty and architecture of the cities and towns themselves.  As you can tell, I am very excited to share with you some of my favorite places I have had the privilege of photographing in the Capital Region.

John Boyd Thacher State Park

Located at 1 Hales Cave Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186, Thacher Park is an awesome place if you are looking to photograph some EPIC views of the areas surrounding the Capital Region.  I'm talking about how you can see the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks located further upstate from the Overlook at the Park.  It's that amazing.

Thacher Park is located on the Helderberg Escarpment, one of the best fossil-bearing formations in the United States.  There are several trails at the park as well so it's a lot more than just a place to get a pretty view.  The Indian Ladder trail, named after the Mohawk Iroquois Indians who used the trail to reach trading posts, is a favorite as it winds along the edge of the escarpment complete with staircases so you can reach the lower levels and walk beneath waterfalls!  So cool!

A great time to visit Thacher Park is at sunset.  On a good night with some interesting clouds, you can really capture some magnificent images.  The image below was shot near the Overlook parking lot.  They even have coin-operated binoculars for you to really get a zoomed in view of the surrounding beauty.

If you are interested in wildlife photography at all, there are over 170 species of birds to be seen in the park, including a variety of hawk species, eagles, ravens, and red-winged black birds.  I have yet to capture any of those (with my camera that is), but when I do, I'll certainly post about it!

Thank you for reading!