Photographer Focuses on Washingtonville Area
By Eugenia Moskowitz
When Derek Robertson moved to Washingtonville in 2008 from Pearl River, he knew he loved the area’s natural scenic beauty, but being a sports photography editor, he didn’t imagine he’d ever gain a following for his nature images.
But that’s exactly what has happened over the past year. “I always liked to take pictures,” he said from his home in Rock Tavern. And after serving in the army after high school, he kept on taking them. “But I’ve never taken a photography class or anything like that. I just go out and keep trying until I get what I want.”
He loves capturing the natural beauty of Blooming Grove, Salisbury Mills, and surrounding areas. “I kept my pictures to myself mostly,” he said, “for a very long time. And then last year I joined a local Facebook group and started sharing them there, just on a whim. The response I got was overwhelming, which surprised me. Hearing how much people liked my photographs gave me the confidence to keep sharing.”
He was already familiar with Washingtonville since his wife Kristin is a native, and he had gotten to know the landscape when she and he were dating. His first house, close to Taft Elementary School, was not situated in wilderness and he found he loved hiking in Cornwall’s Black Rock area to get his fill. He then discovered what has since become his favorite spot closer to home: the train trestle in Salisbury Mills and the Otterkill Road. But it’s not easy to capture what he sees. It takes time and patience. “Bald eagles especially,” he said. “I had heard people speak of them and I was eager to find them. I finally found them, watched them, learned where they like to go and at what times, and I try to be there to capture them in images.”
How does he find these magical places? “Well they’re not magical at all. They’re perfectly ordinary, and they’re everywhere. We live in a very beautiful place. But its true I do like to find a different angle to the ordinary. I scope out areas as I’m driving and then get out and walk, because you see so much more that way, what you really can’t see zipping by in a car. Most mornings, depending on the weather, I put my camera in the car, bring my daughter Keira to Taft, and then do a loop around the area. I’ll spot a place I like and, based on the season and the light, I’ll come back at sunset or whenever, and take shots.”
He has a Nikon camera with two lenses, one for landscapes and another for animals and closeups. He uses a tripod at night for long-exposure streetscapes and star shots. “I get strange looks from people because I go out at strange hours and will stand in the middle of the road or something to get a shot. Regarding man-made structures, I like churches, graveyards, and some streets, especially if they’re devoid of people.”
“The challenge,” he continued, “in a small town, even a big small town like ours, is to find new things to take pictures of. But I try to go to new areas, or I’ll set up at midnight in places, just to get a different perspective. I like to go out when everybody isn’t there. It’s more private, and that’s when the magic happens.”
“I just made a calendar of some of my favorite pictures, which should be available around town shortly at Betty’s Country Kitchen, Nailed It Hardware, and Catherine’s Hair Salon,” he said. “The response I’ve gotten from the public has really been amazing. It’s made me realize that the way I see the world also resonates with others. And that’s really a very nice thing to know.”
The Orange County Post looks forward to printing more of Robertson’s photographs. His work can be viewed at his Facebook page “Derek Robertson Photography.”
CAPTION: Washingtonville area nature photographer Derek Robertson with his wife Kristin and daughter Keira. (Photo provided)
More photos by Derek in this week’s Orange County Post and on his Facebook page “Derek Robertson Photography”.