Olana

Why a Wonder: Olana State Historical Site is the former estate of Frederic Edwin Church, one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. For photographers and painters alike, Olana is a two-phase wonder: Outside, the grounds offer beautiful landscape views, while the home itself makes for interesting architectural compositions; Inside, the walls of the rooms are adorned with painting by Frederic Church and other well-known local painters of the time, including Thomas Cole, who was Church's mentor. Combined, the interior and exterior of Olana offer inspiration for all.



Where: Columbia County in Upstate New York.


When: Year around, but the colors of the trees in autumn add an extra touch of artistry to this picturesque setting. There is no charge to explore the 250 rolling acres of Olana, but there is a charge if you want to take one of the several tours offered of the grounds and the home’s interior. Reservations are easy to make online.



Photography: Olana is a wide-angle photo wonder. I'd suggest a lens like the Canon RF16-35mm. You can also get some cool shots with an iPhone.


Olana inspired us experiment with some artistic apps. Topaz Impression was used on the opening image, and Photo Wizzard (for the iPhone) was used on the image below.



Below is the straight-out-of-the camera photo from which the above photo was created.



When you are inside the home, try to tell the whole story. Photograph both the rooms, the furnishings and the collections. You can learn a lot about lighting and composition in the paintings.



Give yourself a photo challenge: try to take an inside-to-outside shots, and work with shadows. The window light is lovely in the late afternoon.


You can't use a tripod inside the mansion, but you can use a Platypod.



The tours are usually about 45 minutes. So, if you really want to study the paintings, take some shots and study them once you get back home.



Above is a photograph taken with the iPhone using the ultra-wide-angle lens. What's cool about this lens is that if you don't have a subject very close to the camera, everything in the scene is in focus, just as it looks to your eyes.


Here's a shot of Susan Sammon with her trusty iPhone using the technique she used for the opening photograph for this post. She is following one of my Sammonisms, "Use Your Camera Like a Spaceship."


Learn More: Click here to learn more about Frederick Church's masterpiece.


© Rick and Susan Sammon

This post sponsored by Platypod.


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