Interview with Manuel Palacios | Meet the Mind Behind Zone 3 Photo

By: Mary Godnick - Adirondack Council Marketing and Fund Development Assistant
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

If you’re on Instagram or Facebook and love the Adirondacks, chances are that you’ve seen Manuel Palacios work. Known as Zone3Photo, Manny is best known for the way he captures beautiful natural landscapes from the Adirondacks to Iceland. When you look at one of his photos, you know there is something special about them. They are beautiful, but why? Well, because he has a way of using light to show a landscape scene in an unexpected way. Today we chat with Manny and learn how the Adirondack Park has served as an inspiration for his photography, and what you can do to take better photos in the Adirondacks.

manuel-palacios-Adirondack-CouncilA Morning Walk in South Meadows

Meet the Mind Behind Zone 3 Photo

Manny is a photographer based out of Niskayuna, New York. He spends most of his time photographing the Adirondacks. He grew up in Venezuela and came to the US to pursue his doctoral studies in chemistry at Bowling Green University in Ohio. He then moved to Boston to complete a post-doctorate in chemistry and finally moved to the Capital Region to work for General Electric (GE) at their Global Research Center. This is how he discovered the Adirondacks.

Manny found a connection to the Adirondacks through contemplation. He says “The Park is beautiful and vast. It is still not that hard to take small hikes and find yourself on a summit or a lake shore by yourself. Having those moments is when you really start to understand what it means to be a part of Nature.”

McIntyre_Range_Twilight_Manuel_PalaciosMcIntyre Range at Twilight

Living in the Capital Region, the Adirondacks are his playground. He says, “They are not just a pretty backdrop where I work, but a subject of admiration and a place that I have grown to love.” He wouldn’t say that he “fell in love” with the Adirondacks. He says, “It has been through admiration, work, respect, knowledge, and many miles hiked that I have learned to love this land.”

The more he gets to know the Adirondack Park, the more Manny realizes how vast and complex it is. He says this place is his muse and his home. He feels comfortable just hanging around, yet is on his toes at all times. “You never know when a great moment of light or a random bear encounter could happen”

Seeking Scenes That Evoke Emotion

So, where does he like to venture and shoot photos in the Park? Manny says that he usually sets up a project, he doesn’t plan for a specific scene. He goes in with a big picture idea in his head, and seeks inspiration for a beautiful image. After scouting and some research he tends to visualized the image and after that  there is a lot of waiting and failing until the right light and weather condition realize the scene the image is not really done until it makes him feel something. This is why he keeps showing up in the same locations time after time.

That being said, I asked him, what is one piece of your work that reflects what the Adirondacks mean to you? Manny explained that is a tough question. He puts his heart and soul in every image he releases. He says, “They all have a little piece of me...” He said that of each “project” he sets up, there is usually one image that best reflects what he is trying to convey with that series.

Falling_For_Gills_Brook_Manuel_PalaciosFalling for Gills Brook
His very first landscape photography project (how he got into landscape photography) was photographing the night sky in the Adirondacks. He says in that series, “A Starry Night Over Avalanche Lake” is probably the best example of that work.

He also has an ongoing project focused on capturing smaller scenes and more intimate landscapes. An example of this type of work is “Falling for Gills Brooke”, but “A Morning Walk in the South Meadows” his favorite in that series.

His most recent project has been inspired by the impact of big crowds visiting concentrated areas in the Adirondacks. This project focuses on areas explicitly outside of the High Peaks Region, where crowds are an issue. He says, “there is so much beauty in the High Peaks that it is easy to overlook the rest of the Park, but there is really so much outside of the High Peaks.”

In this series his favorites are “Sunset Over Crane Mountain” and “First Light Over The Norman Ridge.” You can see more of this project in the upcoming “Guide to the Great Outdoors” issue of Adirondack Life Magazine.

First_Light_Over_the_Norman_Ridge_Manuel_PalaciosFirst Light Over the Norman Ridge

Basic Photography Tips for the Adirondacks

Finally, we wanted to know. How can everyone capture the beauty of the Adirondacks better? Manny says “First of all, be prepared. That means, become familiar with your equipment and exposure until it becomes second nature.”

And as far as gear goes, he says, “don’t get obsessed with getting the best lens or camera body, because in reality it won’t improve your photography as much as your vision will. The most important thing that has helped me to improve my photography has been shooting with intent.” So, think before you shoot. The next time you think of snapping a photo, he encourages photographers to take a step back and and ask yourself why you want to take that photo. Finally, he says, “Find your subject, shoot like you mean it, and everything else will follow.”

You can find more of Manny’s work online at Zone 3 Photography. We are so thankful that he has shared some of your work with us!

Love to photograph the Adirondacks? Comment below and let us know some of your favorite Adirondack scenes to shoot.


Mary Godnick Adirondack Council

Mary joined the Council in August 2016. As the Marketing and Fund Development Assistant, Mary works with the team to coordinate marketing and fundraising efforts. She develops, manages and implements strategic social media and marketing campaigns to grow the visibility of the Council's efforts. She also works with the Fund Development team in production of materials, mailings and reports to help expand our support to preserve the Park for future generations.

Mary grew up in Harford, NY and is a graduate of SUNY Oswego and earned a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Public Relations in May of 2014. Previously, she has worked in digital marketing, search engine optimization and social media management. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, gardening, yoga, and enjoying all that the Adirondack Park has to offer.

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