Gorging on the works of nature and humanity.
The dramatic 215 foot Taughannock Falls you see at the top of this post isn’t in some western national park, or an exotic wilderness location. It’s in New York, the Finger Lakes region near the town of Ithaca to be exact.
The Finger Lakes in Central New York is known for its gorges and waterfalls. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built elaborate pathways through these steep sided gorges that became New York State Parks. The pathways have beautiful stonework stairs and foot bridges that are designed to blend into the natural landscape.
These pathways provide relatively easy access to the gorges. As a result they are usually packed with people during the day. That was not the case in the wee hours of a summer morning. At 5AM every day, I found myself alone in these gorges and felt the energy and power of the water sculpting the rocks. It gave a sense of reality to this quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (The Art Of War):
“In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.”
There are so many gorges in the Finger Lakes area. Each has it own set of waterfalls that seem to appear around every corner.
The stonework bridges, stairways and trails are not only a feat of construction magic, but were designed to blend in and compliment the landscape they wander through.
The gorges range from tight narrow places to wider steep sided valleys. While the waterfalls are what attracts most of the visitors here, I find the natural sculpture that the water creates between the falls can be even more beautiful and at times looks quite abstract.
Gorging On Light
The normal routine for a landscape photographer is to plan when and where the sun rises. This is done in order to find the right spot to take in the blue hours of early twilight and the golden hours of dawn. Not so in a gorge. It’s deep and dark, usually with a tree canopy overhead, meaning the light is diffused and not direct. Instead of obsessing on where the sun was, it became all about the gorges. Things like humidity, the direction they run in, temperature, and more all influence the quality of that diffused light.
It’s one thing to come back from a trip with nice photographs and another to feel like you have experienced something that has made you a grow as a photographer. Being in these Finger Lakes gorges with their sculpted walls, waterfalls and human made stonework was a place to do that.
See More Photographs of New York State
Thank you Ashwarya.
Beautiful photos, Rich. Because of your photos, I have put this area on my bucket list.
Thanks Ken. You should go there for sure. When you do, I’m happy to give you a few pointers.
Enjoyed reading your description of the gorges, stairways, trails and bridges as well as your preparation. FYI, my father & Joyce’s dad were in the CCC Corp during the depression. Although I don’t know where they were assigned to work, I would hope it was in these locations!! Great photos Richard!!!!
Thanks for your comment Bruce. We didn’t know about your father and the CCC. It would be interesting if it was possible to find out if his service was in NY
My youngest was at Ithaca College… sadly did not stay around long enough for me to explore!!! Gorgeous place, especially your opening pic. Something about walking, waterfalls and photography…. soooooo soothing for the soul!!
Thanks Mike. Too bad she didn’t hang around because you would have a reason to be there in every season. I couldn’t agree more with you about walking, waterfalls and photography. It is quite meditative and when you are there with no one else around, it is quite a powerful experience.
Beautiful images, Rich. I love the fuller landscape shots and the close ups equally. I’ve not yet seen the Finger Lakes myself. It looks like a breathtakingly beautiful area.
Thanks Laura. We were very surprised at how beautiful this place was. We knew it was nice but the exceptional beauty was quite unexpected. I would recommend definitely putting this place on your list.
Spectacular images, what else can I say and, as you know, the abstract captures are real but, unworldly!
Thanks Bob. I agree about the abstracts. It was hard to think that they were not made by some architect or artist. I’d like to go back and just focus on them more.
Your title for this collection is perfect. Spectacular powerful shots of the waterfalls. Amazing what time and nature has the ability to create. Thanks for sharing Rich. I had been to that area many years back. Would love to go back and just absorb the beauty again. For now, viewing your images will take care of that. Beautiful.
Thanks Buck. This is a definite place to admire the power of nature’s creativity. I spent a fair amount of time just sitting and taking in the beauty of the water running through these gorges. I hope you get back there sometime. I know we’ll be heading back again.
Gorgeous Gorges and Stunningly Beautiful Waterfalls!
I have never photographed a waterfall. They are on my bucket list.
I wish you have a workshop on them. I would love to learn to shoot them with you.
Thank you for the inspiration!
Thanks Anushka. I appreciate your comment. I’ll take your suggestion under advisement and let you know if I can set something like that up.
Excellent post and images. I have always thought New York is a state with a lot to offer and you have proven that here. Your compositions and exposures are perfection!
Thanks, as always, for your kind words of support. New York never ceases to amaze me. I didn’t really have high hopes for the Finger Lakes visually and was happy to very mistaken. When you consider this place, The Adirondacks, Catskills, Harriman, The Shawangunks, Hudson Valley and even the City, there is a veritable treasure trove of amazing things to photograph.