After a VERY Long Hiatus

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 – This will be my first attempt to revitalize the VPP website after a series of events I am finally getting beyond. Find a comfy chair and settle in – this will be a long post.

Shortly after my last post in April, 2019, Karen and I embarked on a 6-week photography excursion in our “Photo Mobile” with our faithful canine companion, Terra. We visited numerous spectacular destinations while making a giant loop starting in Canada, along the Michigan Upper Peninsula, across the plains states, south through Wyoming and Colorado and into Southern Utah. From there we swung south into Arizona and New Mexico, and eventually back to Keene. At some future time I expect to post a chronicle of this trip but, for now, I have more urgent matters at hand. It was a spectacular and very productive trip although you would not know that from this web site! Upon our return we dove immediately into running the Alpenhaus Gallery for its first full season. We had intended to implement major changes to the VPP web site during the 2019 summer but running the gallery led to more changes in our expectations so we decided to postpone updates until the late fall, after completing a full season with the gallery. That didn’t quite happen.

Just after closing the gallery in October, 2019 my mother passed away, which necessitated another divergence from plans to update this site while I attended to her affairs. A week after my mom passed away I lost a cousin to cancer. A few months later we found ourselves in the middle of the covid pandemic and shortly after that I lost a good friend to cancer, then we lost Terra, our amazing dog, in June. I also developed hip problems which curtailed my ability to hike very far. The gallery remained open on a limited basis during the summer of 2020 although visitation was impacted by the pandemic. After closing the gallery in October, we decided to postpone the web site update (which had become a complete re-design by this point) until winter 2020-2021 so we could embark on another long trip in the “Photo Mobile”.

In late October, 2020 we headed directly to Colorado, followed by Southern Utah at peak foliage. Traveling during the pandemic was actually quite easy in our self-contained “Photo Mobile”. We visited many of our favorite haunts as well as a lot of new ones. Later, we swung south through Arizona and New Mexico, visiting Bosque Del Apache and White Sands NP where we had perfect conditions for photography. This trip was probably our most successful one to date and I expect to chronicle it more thoroughly in the future. After almost two months we returned to Keene, expecting to finally update this web site!

As we drove back east, Karen began to have “tummy troubles” which became increasingly severe. In mid-January she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, on April 1st, my lovely wife passed away. As an active and healthy woman, this was completely unexpected. We did pretty much everything together for 42 years so her loss was a huge and devastating change for me; a true paradigm shift. Losing your life partner is traumatic but losing your business partner on top of that adds immeasurably to the trauma.

I did open the gallery from June through October 2021 but I was, at best, only partly present. I had my hip replaced in August and I relied on friends and family who helped immensely with my recovery. Living alone complicates matters more than I expected. My final stroke of bad luck happened in late September when I hit a deer and totaled the “Photo Mobile”. I had hoped to make a trip in it after recovering from my hip surgery but I was instead entirely without a vehicle and replacing it in the midst of skyrocketing prices was a challenge. I decided to order a new vehicle and waited 5 months for delivery! Fortunately, neighbors allowed me to use their truck during my long wait. And I used my forced sequestration to focus on how I might re-imagine the rest of my life!

As I re-read the preceding paragraphs it feels almost surreal to have lived that story. That said, sometimes “walking through fire” can be the route forward. It was for me. I don’t ever expect to get entirely beyond all the losses I have recently experienced but there is definitely a silver lining inside that dark cloud. Lots of hard work coming to terms with loss, along with unswerving support from friends and family allowed to emerge from the darkness. Once in the light I was able to reach out and, against all odds, I met an amazing woman with whom I share much in common. That’s a story for another time but, suffice to say, it has all been part of my journey out of the most difficult period of my life.

So, after that very long-winded preface, here is what’s happening at Vertical Perspectives Photography currently. First, other than this post, the VPP web site remains in dire need of updating and a lot of the information is very outdated. I now have yet another re-design planned and it will not happen before the fall so I ask for your patience while I attend to the Alpenhaus Gallery over this 2022 season. The gallery is open and I am enthusiastic about future plans. I have a private photography trip coming up with a long-time client in a couple of weeks and I have several photographs in the upcoming “Giphantie, The Magic Mirror” exhibit, along with nine other photographers, at the Keene Arts gallery. I am printing new images as well as replenishing stock of old favorites. I expect to report on a couple of commissions completed since my last post, along with other news that “slipped between the cracks”. OK, more like “fell into a bottomless pit”!

One urgent update is the change of telephone numbers for VPP. (518) 576-9881, a number that we used since 1985 is GONE! It has been replaced by (518) 569-9881 (minor but important change). You can also reach me directly at (518) 569-9563. This will be changed on the rest of the VPP site as soon as possible.

VPP Web Site Revision In The Works

SUNDAY, April 28, 2019 – This web site launched just over three years ago and during that time much has evolved at Vertical Perspectives Photography. We intentionally cast a wide net with our aspirations and over the past three years we have completed two collector’s edition large format photographic monographs, dozens of photo shoots for two more upcoming books, fourteen major photography trips, local photography guiding, numerous presentations, as well as editorial work, including features and covers. After opening the Alpenhaus Gallery last year we made substantial changes in the ways we sell our fine art prints, expanded our giclée printing services and reconfigured how we conduct our workshops. As a result of listening carefully to our customers we have made a lot of adjustments to the ways we deliver our products and services. Over the next several months we will be gradually updating and restructuring this web site to reflect those changes.

Adventure Photography Presentation

MONDAY, March 18, 2019 – On Wednesday, March 20 at 7:30pm we will present “Adventure Photography – Behind The Scenes” at the Wadhams Free Library in Wadhams, NY. This event is open to the public and free.

Although we make landscapes, abstracts, cultural and other types of images, many of our presentations feature Adventure Photography of one sort or another. As part of these presentations, we always allocate some time to explain how we go about making the images but, frequently, we have been asked to include more comprehensive descriptions of our methods than time permits. 

This presentation is devoted entirely to unravelling the mysteries of how we go about photographing adventure subjects; particularly rock and ice climbing. We explore our strategies and methods in depth, leaving ample time for questions and discussion. 

Our adventure photographs, and the techniques we employ to make them, are based upon decades of experience in the vertical world. We speak from a first-hand perspective when we share the inspiration behind our images as well as the often complicated process required to bring them to life.

Many of the photographs from this presentation are featured in our Classic Adirondack Climbs coffee-table book. They are also on display as a collection of fine art prints, in our Alpenhaus Gallery.

We’ll present the following topics:

Adventure Photography: A Selection of Images
To introduce you to our work, we share favorite images we’ve made over the years in a fast-paced, five-minute, audio-visual presentation.

Our Shooting Techniques
In this segment we explain the three ways climbers can be photographed, as well as several of the specific methods we use to make our adventure images. We discuss the specialized equipment and techniques we rely upon, and the cameras, lenses and other equipment we use. Serious photographers, climbers, and other outdoor enthusiasts will find our methods to be of interest.

Making The Photographs
Putting theory into practice, this section addresses the process behind five climbing photo shoots. We explain how we planned and implemented each shoot and why we made the choices we did.

Landscape, Abstract and Cultural Work
A five-minute, audio-visual introduction to our work outside the realm of adventure. Introspective and meditative, these images reveal other facets of our photography which inform our approach to making adventure images.

Equipment Demonstration
A hands-on introduction to some of our specialized rigging and support equipment.

The Wadhams Free Library is an intimate space, ideal for up-close viewing of our images and lots of audience interaction. We hope to see you there!

Honda Element “Photo Mobile” Camper Conversion

The “Photo Mobile” on an overnight test trip

MONDAY, December 3, 2018 – Our “Photo Mobile” conversion is now complete! Although we didn’t spend a lot of money on materials, the time spent on design, and in the woodworking shop, was considerable. We have completed two local test trips, both during full winter conditions, and we are now confident we can make extended photography trips to remote destinations in relative comfort.

One of the challenges we faced was our need for easily installed and removed modular components, so we could use the vehicle in its standard configuration when not on a road trip. The design we settled on allows us to go from “around town” mode to “road trip” mode in about 30 minutes, making this easily the most versatile vehicle we have ever owned.

Even though Honda no longer makes this vehicle, because of its easily removed seats, pillar-free doors, good gas mileage, unusually generous headroom, flat floor and boxy shape, the Element remains a popular vehicle for conversions. Ours also includes 4WD and plenty of clearance for rough roads and snow, which we have appreciated for quite a few years already. Although there are many examples of designs for Element conversions posted online we chose a unique approach we have not seen elsewhere, in part because it utilizes space very efficiently (which is important in a small vehicle like this), and in part because we used a similar design for a pickup truck conversion that served us very well for many years. Trailers and self-contained, purpose-built campers and RV’s, although spacious and more comfortable, sacrifice the mobility and flexibility we find essential for our photography road trips. We avoid campgrounds whenever possible, preferring undeveloped locations without amenities, so a small van is a much better solution for us.

Design & Building Process

Because we intend to travel in our “photo mobile” on extended trips we paid a lot of attention to details. Our conversion design was meticulously thought-through. The platform and upper cabinet were carefully constructed from high quality materials including maple and cherry plywoods, birds-eye and tiger maple, quality brass hardware and other finish details. For durability, we finished most surfaces with three coats of polyurethane varnish and others were rubbed with oils. We have no plans to give up our home and embrace a permanent mobile lifestyle but, on a long trip little details matter.

Most designs, including ours, include some sort of platform for sleeping, with storage beneath. Our platform is divided for cooking and food storage to the rear (accessible with the tailgate down) and photography equipment to the front (each side accessible from its respective rear side door). There are no “trap doors” or inaccessible compartments to contend with. The entire platform unit can be slid into place from the rear and is wedged snugly so as to avoid any need for attaching it to the vehicle. The platform is just long enough to touch the back of the driver and passenger seats when they are moderately reclined with maximum legroom so driving and riding are not impacted by the platform. In this configuration the front of the mattress is folded up to allow room for the seats to slide back. The platform’s width permits 1/4″ side clearance when sliding into place. Shims on the sides and front of the platform unit lock everything into position. Using standard 12″nominal 2×12’s and 1×12’s provides 11-1/4″ clearance under the platform’s top. This height allows us just enough headroom to sit up atop the mattress while on the sleeping platform, and it is tall enough to accommodate all the items we store underneath.

For sleeping we slide, and tilt, each seat all the way forward. This creates a space behind each seat that is filled with a rigid Coleman cooler on each side. The coolers match the platform height, thus extending the platform to a full 70″ from the tailgate and providing a comfortable sleeping space only slightly smaller than a double bed. The coolers contain food and ride beneath the upper cabinet during travel. They are accessible from the kitchen as well. For less remote sleeping spots we have a privacy curtain that attaches easily. 

Our photography equipment is stored, out of view and easily accessible from each side door, beneath the front section of the platform. We each use a modular system of camera backpacks supplemented by additional bags for specific uses. We can carry an extensive collection of bodies, lenses, nodal brackets, flashes and plenty of accessories, along with a tripod in each compartment. We each carry a large tripod as well, which fits adjacent to the upper cabinet.  

Our “upper cabinet” includes storage for kitchen items on the rear and clothing, along with a charging station and slide-out desk, on the front. The upper cabinet mounts  via 2 bolts attached to an L-bracket on each side of the sleeping platform. This arrangement, with a transverse cabinet, allows us to utilize the interior space far more efficiently than typical designs with a cabinet running along the side of the platform, taking up valuable bed space. When sleeping (or at the desk) our feet rest comfortably beneath the cabinet.

Although it is possible to configure a tiny space for cooking inside an Element, it is not possible to do so without consuming a huge percentage of possible storage space. We chose to configure a “kitchen”, accessible from the rear of the vehicle for all cooking. Cooking equipment and food slide out from compartments beneath the platform and a rack above provides easy access to cooking items we use frequently. In bad weather we cover the lift-gate with a fitted tarp, completely enclosing the kitchen, and with a couple of collapsible chairs we can cook and eat in weatherproof comfort. For night use we installed a powerful LED light which provides excellent illumination for cooking and eating.

The upper cabinet provides ample storage for our clothing, accessible from the interior of the vehicle, as well as a slide out desk for photo editing on the laptop or other office functions. We can also charge all of our electronic devices, using the 9-outlet power strip above the cabinet. Spaces above and beside the cabinet provide easy access and organization for assorted additional items. We have a bright LED lantern hanging on each side of the van, and each can be positioned toward the front or rear as need dictates.

Recent advances in Li-Ion battery technology, charging systems, and pure sine wave inverters have made mobile digital photography a lot more practical. Our Chafon 200 watt-hour Li-Ion battery power station allows us to utilize all our electronic technology reliably with no need for AC power. While driving, the unit charges from the vehicle’s rear 12 VDC, 120 watt power outlet. Despite cold temperatures and liberal usage, we have yet to draw the battery down to less than a 50% charge and a couple hours of driving will bring it back to 100%. Although the unit can be charged via AC power, or a solar collector, and we carry adaptors to do so, we have had no need for either. The unit provides four 12 VDC outlets, four USB outlets plus three 120V AC outlets and it can deliver a total of 300 watts at one time. We originally planned to use 12 VDC for lighting but the inverter works so well we decided to just use 120 VAC instead. That allows us to plug in a regular household, 9 outlet power strip for charging batteries and our computer, whenever we like. We also plug in a very bright under-cabinet LED light in the kitchen, plus a 3 outlet extension cord we can use in the kitchen. Although we won’t be using hair dryers or toasters, we can pretty much use anything else we might want. Our smaller USB devices stay charged by using the vehicle’s front 12 VDC, 120 watt power outlet and a 4 port splitter while we drive so we hardly need the Chafon unit’s USB outlets. The car’s alternator generates charging current only when the engine is running and when it is off there is no way for the car’s battery to discharge, so we don’t have any concerns about drawing down the car battery and getting stranded. Our original charging plan called for a much bigger battery and custom wiring at a vastly greater cost. The Chafon unit cost $165, weighs under 5 lbs., and tucks conveniently into a space adjacent to the upper cabinet. What’s not to like?

Having travelled extensively, around the world, by foot and by every conveyance from ox cart to jumbo jet, we learned long ago to carry only what we need. For road trips in our “photo mobile”, that includes basic cooking/eating supplies and sleeping paraphernalia, plus clothing and equipment systems suitable for any situation we might encounter, plus a suitable selection of photography equipment and electronics.

For trips up to a couple of weeks long, in temperate conditions, our “photo mobile” is ideal as described. For longer trips, more challenging conditions (winter, remote deserts, etc), trips involving adventure photography (climbing, canyoneering, etc) and all the specialized equipment it requires, we can add a rooftop cargo box for lots of extra space. Access is not very convenient but our box holds four very large duffle bags plus our photo booms and a bunch of other items that we will not need every day. It can safely carry more than 150 lbs. of cargo and, fully loaded, it is not noticeable while driving, or at the gas pump! The greatest danger is forgetting it’s up there and attempting to drive into our garage – really bad idea!

Photo mobile in the real world…

We have decided to remain in complete denial regarding the advisability of travel with our dog, Terra. Clearly, it is, BY FAR, the least well thought out aspect of the photo mobile. She has already commandeered a central sleeping position in the bed, demonstrated little interest in staying on her exceedingly comfortable bed while driving and made it clear that she is not a photographer and is thus unfairly inconvenienced. We expect much fodder for stories of travel with our four-footed friend. To be continued…

Travels in the Element(s)

MONDAY, October 29, 2018 – A Honda Element will be our home for photography road trips starting this fall and early winter. We have “car camped”, using an assortment of modified vehicles, for nearly four decades so we have a pretty good idea of what we need and why. Modifications we are making to our Element are designed to provide a reasonably comfortable mobile living space adapted specifically to photography trips.

Over a lifetime of traveling for climbing and photography, we have learned when you arrive at your destination is as important as where you are situated. Being at the right place, in time for the best light conditions, frequently means camping close to our chosen photographic location. Car camping, for its convenience, is our preferred option when possible – especially when challenging weather is likely.

The Honda Element is a popular vehicle for this type of camping because its high clearance and 4WD allow it to go places larger RV’s can’t, and it gets far better mileage to boot. We are customizing sleeping, cooking and storage spaces for camera gear and other essentials. Easy access to photo gear, clothing, cooking facilities and electronic accessories is possible with comprehensive planning and a good bit of woodworking. Equipped with auxiliary power for lights, and for charging batteries and electronic devices, we will be able to work with the photographs we make and stay in touch with the world.

Our dog, Terra, is only lukewarm about the whole idea. She’d be fine staying home and curling up someplace warm. Although the van will never feel quite like home, we hope the new and interesting smells we encounter will win her over.

We will be posting more about our vehicle conversion,  upcoming trips, and our dog’s demeanor, over the next few weeks.

Successful Alpenhaus Gallery Opening Weekend

Fall Reflections - East Branch Ausable River

Fall Reflections

MONDAY, October 22, 2018 – Our opening weekend was a great success and we were pleased to welcome many visitors to our new gallery. Thanks to all who attended!

We received numerous excellent suggestions during our opening and we will be implementing many of them over the next few months. To expand its functionality, major upgrades to the Vertical Perspectives Photography website are also in the works. We will be reaching out to you with details of our progress later in the fall.

Travels & Explorations
During the fall and early winter we look forward to exploring new destinations on a series of photography trips. After several months preparing to open our gallery, with little time for anything else, we are eager to get back into the field with our cameras. This time of year, although sometimes cold, offers unique light because the sun tracks closer to the horizon.

While on the road, we will continue to post to here and on our Facebook page so, if you have not done so already, please “Follow” this blog, and “Like” our Facebook  page.

The Alpenhaus Gallery will be open during October on Saturday & Sunday afternoons, from 1pm to 5pm. We are happy to open the gallery whenever we are here so please feel free to drop by at other times, or contact us to arrange a specific time to visit.

More Media Coverage of the Alpenhaus Gallery
Thanks to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise Weekender magazine for its coverage of the Gallery’s opening weekend.


Alpenhaus Gallery Opening Reception A Success

SATURDAY, October 6, 2018 – We had a steady stream of visitors during our Opening Reception on Friday evening. Many thanks to all who attended!

The Alpenhaus Gallery is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, October 6, 7, & 8, 2018 from noon to 7pm.

And thanks also for the media coverage of our opening weekend.

Lake Champlain Weekly: Lake Champlain Weekly Cover


Adirondack Almanac:

Adirondack Almanack Gallery Opening


Limited Edition Print – Available Columbus Day Weekend Only

Forest, Reflected & Inverted

Forest, Reflected & Inverted

THURSDAY, October 4, 2018 – At our Alpenhaus Gallery opening on Columbus Day Weekend, we will be featuring this photograph entitled: Forest, Reflected & Inverted. It was created by R.L. on a backpacking trip to Flowed Lands, in the Adirondack High Peaks, in July, 2018 as part of a collaboration with Janet Grice and the Vento Trio. We created a visual presentation to accompany Janet’s new classical music composition, Lake Tear of the Clouds. Both the music and media presentation, featuring 48 of our photographs, premiered on August 2, 2018 at Keene Arts.

The Story Behind the Image
Most of our fine art prints include a “story” giving a bit of background about the photograph from the point of view of the photographer.

Forest, Reflected & Inverted
Reflected images are an amalgam of what they reflect and what reflects them. In this case, the chiaroscuro of the partly shaded trees in evening light is abstracted by the surface of the water. The ripples on the water render the image as an impression, forcing the viewer to consider it as such. Outside the confines of literal interpretation, the image can sing in a very different key. Although the image is a reflection, and thus “should” be upside-down, I chose to present it in a more familiar orientation by inverting it.

Limited Availability
This photograph will only be available as a specially priced, matted, 16″ x 20″, Limited Edition print during the Alpenhaus Gallery opening weekend; Friday, October 5 through Monday, October 8, 2018. The size of this limited edition will be determined by the number of prints sold within that time period.

Alpenhaus Gallery Opening on Columbus Day Weekend

Alpenhaus Gallery 960On Columbus Day weekend, October 5-8, 2018, a new art gallery will open in the village of Keene, NY. Lifelong photographers and career mountain guides, R.L. & Karen Stolz, established Vertical Perspectives Photography to share their artistic vision and the new Alpenhaus Gallery showcases their work in a unique viewing space.

Originally constructed in 1987 as a climbing gym for their mountain guiding service, Alpine Adventures, the new gallery space is twenty feet tall yet retains a very intimate feel. “The height of the gallery enhances the verticality of our rock and ice climbing photographs while providing unusual perspectives for our landscapes and abstract work. Looking up at the photos of cliffs and climbers gives the viewer the feeling of airiness typically experienced by climbers,” said R.L. Stolz.

For nearly four decades, the Stolzes have traveled extensively throughout the world as mountain guides and photographers. Their photographic subject matter is diverse, both geographically and in terms of the images themselves. Photos of steep-walled, desert canyons from the southwestern United States are placed alongside striking landscapes of lakes, rivers and mountains of the Adirondack Park. A selection of 45 framed and float-mounted fine art prints, ranging in size from 16”x20” to a panorama 12 feet in length, are displayed. Matted prints in smaller sizes, along with two Collector’s Edition coffee-table books of their photographs, are also available. These images represent a small sample of their body of work and future exhibits, emphasizing a variety of themes, are planned.

“In addition to making the photographs, we do all of our own printing, matting, mounting and framing to ensure our work remains as true to our intention as possible. We maintain large format giclée printers in our printing studio, and a separate studio dedicated to framing,” said Karen Stolz. Besides sharing their own images, the Stolzes share their knowledge and experience through workshops, tours, trips, presentations, and other photographic services.

The Alpenhaus Gallery is easily located on Routes 73 and 9N at Vertical Perspectives Photography, 10873 NYS Route 9N, Keene, NY 12942

The Alpenhaus Gallery will be open from noon to 7pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, October 6, 7 & 8, 2018.
An Opening Reception will be held from 5-7pm on Friday, October 5, 2018.
Special events during the weekend include:
Meet the photographers – ongoing, throughout the weekend
Photography equipment demonstrations (1pm each day)
Climbing photography rigging demonstrations (3pm each day)
Multimedia presentations – ongoing throughout the weekend
A matted and signed, 16”x20” fine art print will be offered as a Special Limited Edition, available only during the opening weekend.

CAC Featured in Magazines

SUNDAY, November 26, 2017 – The Classic Adirondack Climbs – Collector’s Edition is featured in the Nov-Dec 2017 issue of the Adirondack Explorer magazine. The magazine cover is a photograph from the book entitled “Winter Ascent of Colden Slide.”

In the centerfold of the magazine is a photographic essay entitled “High Art” by editor Phil Brown, where he recounts his experience being on photo shoots with us. He also describes how our undiminished passion for climbing shines through in “high-quality photographs of climbers at play on vertiginous cliffs and humongous icicles,” and “the results are stunning.”

Winter Ascent of Colden Slide by Karen Stolz

Winter Ascent of Colden Slide by Karen Stolz

Adirondac magazine, the magazine of the Adirondack Mountain Club, also recently reviewed our Collector’s Edition calling it “an inspiration and an appreciation.” The reviewer, editor Neal Burdick, goes on to say, “It consists almost exclusively of dramatic images, some from unique and breathtaking perspectives…”

Thanks to Phil and Neal for their appreciation of our photography and Classic Adirondack Climbs – Collector’s Edition.