Waterfalls Sans Water


Mossy Log

The chilly spring weather continues here in western NY.  In general I like my weather cool – highs in the mid 60sF all the time is fine with me. The weather forecast for my hike this week was 62F and sunny. It sounded good to me.

Unfortunately I was riding the motorcycle and the temperature in the early morning was only 39F. That’s a bit colder than I normally like. I ride a Kawasaki Vulcan 800; a basic road bike without a windshield or fairings. Without any protection from the bike, wind chill is always a factor. At 60 … I mean 55 miles an hour, the wind chill makes 39F feel like 11F (that’s around -11.6C for you folks not from around here).

Dry WaterfallI wore my thermals and a winter coat and gloves and stuff, but still it was COLD! I had planned on going somewhere different than my usual haunts which meant a longer trip – maybe an hour and a half or two hours. However, about thirty minutes into my ride I could not feel my fingers anymore and it felt like I had a line of frost running down the middle of my chest where my coat zipper did a less than perfect job of keeping out the wind. When I saw the turn for a bit of familiar woods, I stood on the brakes, aborted the original mission, and ditched the bike as soon as I could.

You ever been outside in the winter so long that your hands get really cold and when you finally get inside and they start to warm up you get that pain like someone poking your fingers with thousands of jagged rusty needles? Well I had that in spades. I took off my gloves (unfortunately they were summer riding gloves), dug my hands into my pockets, and just stood in the sun for about ten minutes until I could get my fingers working well enough to take off my helmet. A little bit of walking down the trail finally got me up to speed and I was OK for the rest of the day which really did turn out quite nice in the afternoon.

OK, so on to the hiking.

If I didn’t know better I would have thought it was October instead of June. The air, as I may have mentioned, was crisp to say the least and clear with a cold pale blue sky. A thick carpet of crunchy brown leaves covered the floor of the woods. It made such a racket as I walked that every animal within a mile could hear me. Squirrels constantly scolded me from above for being so noisy.

Curved Stick and Dead Leaves

The stream that I met was mostly a dry rock strewn chasm. Just a trickle of water, as in late summer, zig-zagged in the deep dark gaps between the stones. Often the water would fade away altogether and run only underground until it seeped out again further down the gully.

Dead Leaves and New Growth

Obviously my usual flowing water photos were going to be hard to come by today. I took to shooting dry waterfalls. Places where the stones and logs just a couple weeks before were masked behind a translucent curtain of bright water splashing over them. Now they stand out clearly in their own right, but they have gone cold, dark, and silent. Strange shapes loom out of the shadows underneath the ledges.

Small Waterfall

I worked with what I had; trying to capture and convey something of the odd dismal beauty. My day passed at a very pleasant slow pace. I had a wonderful time of quiet reflection during all the loooong exposures in the dark recesses.

Water Streak

The photos certainly came out as strange as the subject matter. I’m not completely happy with them. The subtle texture of the light was difficult to capture. Ah well, as in golf, a little success here and there coupled with plenty of frustration is what keeps one coming back for more.


P.S. You didn’t think I could resist including at least some water pics did you?


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4 Responses to “Waterfalls Sans Water”

  1. fencer Says:

    That first photo is interesting… I passed over it the first through and then went back and realized that’s the one I like most… Unusual use of space, I guess.


  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    You are going to get tired of me calling these “exceptional photos” but really they are. Each one is special. This time, I can’t even say which one I like best. Excellent composition; great contrast of flat shapes to crisply textured ones.

  3. forestrat Says:

    Thanks folks.

    That first pic is certainly different. I wasn’t sure that I liked it at first either, but it grew on me.

    I was standing at the foot of one “waterfall” so that when I looked up, while waiting for a long exposure, I was at eye level with the stream bed. I saw this mossy branch poking out from under a huge tree trunk overlayed with slabs of stone. The bright green color against the dark black shadow caught my eye. I had to lay on my side in the stream to get this shot.


  4. Bernie Kasper Says:

    The log is a very impressive image Mark, I like how you conveyed the feeling of it coming out of the darkness, what a shot !!

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