Photographer captures natural beauty around town
NISKAYUNA Warren Lee’s camera has witnessed red sunsets and blue dusk. It has captured the mighty wings of great blue herons and bald eagles as he sneaked up on them in his kayak. It has frozen the memory of light glinting off an ice storm’s glaze and water rushing over rocks so fast, it looks like silk.
You can see all these things, too. Most happened right here in Niskayuna: on the Mohawk River, in Lions Park, and along Lock 7.
Even the less familiar scenes were captured within an hour’s drive of Lee’s Angelina Drive home, plus a hike, if you’re feeling adventurous.
Lee, an engineer at General Electric Global Research, began dabbling in photography during the film era, snapping portraits of family and friends. When digital photography became accessible, he invested more and more time in nature and landscape photography.
“Photography is interesting partly because of the technical aspect,” Lee said. “In combination with composition and artistry, that makes it a neat hobby.”
At a reception July 13 in the historic Lions Park train station, which has been converted into an artists’ haven for the summer by local artist Maureen Sausa, Lee led guests to the windows overlooking the Erie Canal and showed them where one royal blue landscape had been shot.
Lee often makes a quick trip to the Mohawk River in the evening to make sure he doesn’t miss a particularly colorful sunset.
“It’s kind of hard to predict from my house how the sunset will look,” he said.
He’s been known to dash out of work to catch the light after an ice storm, or keep his hiking buddies waiting for an hour at the top of a mountain while he searches for the perfect angle.
“I’m lucky enough to have a really patient wife and friends,” he said.
They often climb Ampersand Mountain, west of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks, where he snaps photos of the rocky summit.
Closer to home, he’ll set out in his kayak with a telephoto lens to try to catch photos of birds just as they take off from their river perches.
“I’m basically scrunched down in the kayak with the lens propped between my knees for stability,” he said. “That can be really exciting.” A 2010 print hanging in the train station shows a bald eagle Lee snapped a picture of near Lock 7 during one such trip.
As his wife chased their newly mobile 1-year-old, Evan, and curious 3-year-old, Stella, through the historic train station, Lee reminisced on the influences that led him to nature photography.
His father is also an engineer and currently works as a professor at Virginia Tech. “My mom is an artist. She does a lot of painting, so I think I got a little of each of their influences,” he said.
Lee’s photography will be displayed in the historic train station through the first week in August.
The station is open from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays until Labor Day.
This story originally appeared in Your Niskayuna.