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ARTIST PROFILE: John Eldridge takes the simple approach to photography

October 5, 2018
By STEVE LESTER - Correspondent ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID-It's one thing to take up a hobby later in life, unless you're like John Eldridge, whose later-in-life hobby covers almost every inch of wall space in his spacious house of 20 years on Snowberry Lane.

"There are only two things in photography," he said. "Just two. Light and composition."

Eldridge has taken those two things along with his rather small and unremarkable looking 9-year-old Canon S100, on which he spent $400, and made a name for himself as "one of the best photographers in the Adirondacks. He's just an amazing photographer," according to Wilmington town supervisor Randy Preston.

Article Photos

John Eldridge and some of his photographs
(Photo provided — Steve Lester)

He also has a larger model with a huge zoom lens like what you'd expect to see hanging over the shoulder of a professional photographer, but Eldridge says he only uses that for sporting events such as the Lake Placid Horse Shows.

"But that one's my workhorse," he said pointing to the S100. "I've taken over 50,000 shots with it since 2009 when I got it. It's inexpensive, but it's not cheap either."

Most of those 50,000 shots capture the natural beauty of the Adirondacks, many of which have qualified for a considerable number of juried art shows such as the current one taking place at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

"I only entered one piece in it, and it already sold," he said.

He has also been a contributor to local newspapers such as the Lake Placid News, he said while displaying a thick binder full of laminated clippings neatly arranged in chronological order.

He describes his formal training in photography as "self-taught," relying instead on the tutelage of legendary North Country photographer Nathan Farb, whose three books of Adirondack scenes have been excerpted by more than 100 magazines including The New York Times magazine, according to Farb's website.

According to Eldridge, Farb examined some of his work in 2008 and told him, "It's time to move up," meaning to get some equipment that's more sophisticated and continue to develop this new hobby.

To explain his technique, Eldridge paraphrased the Winston Churchill quote, "Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge," or put more simply, "Seek simple solutions to complex problems."

Eldridge described his simple approach to taking a good photo as, "I just see it and feel it, then take it. I don't use a tripod. I hand hold."

Several of his shots are compilations of photos pieced together to make one sizeable image that dwarfs all the others around it.

"A good picture is one that you should be having a conversation with. It should draw you in," he said referring to a lakeside shot hanging over his couch. "Doesn't that make you feel like you could just walk right into it?"

While many of his images include vast expanses of nature, he also has a penchant for close-ups, particularly with flowers having taken many shots at Longwood Gardens, a 1,077-acre botanical garden in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

"But aren't flowers beautiful? I get very intimate with them," he said while demonstrating an intricate slide show on his 42-inch Samsung TV complete with musical soundtrack.

A native of Albany, Eldridge first came to Lake Placid in 1946, he said, for Christmas and New Year's when he was two months shy of his third birthday. He skied for the first time then and has been skiing ever since.

He attended North Country School and Northwood School before enrolling at the short lived Franconia College in New Hampshire during its 15-year existence between 1962 and 1978 where he earned a degree in sociology.

"A lot of good that did me," he said. "I haven't had a paying job since 1989. It doesn't mean I haven't had a good life. I've done a lot of hiking, skiing and horseback riding."

He explained that his last paying job lasted but seven years when he was an elementary school administrator in Brooklyn working in the grants office. For most of his life, he has lived off investment income thanks to a skilled money manager at Merrill Lynch.

"I've been an investor for 36 years," he said. "That's a job, but it's one that allows me some freedom."

An example of his work, a colorful fall scene, is currently being raffled off by St. Eustace Episcopal Church, 2450 Main St., Lake Placid. For information, call 518-523-2564.



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