Sense of Scale

Humans dwarfed by the eons

Lack of reference leads to a confused impression of this torrent of water. An adult human, standing on the lower rock ledges, will be dwarfed by the surroundings.

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Lucifer Falls at moderate spring flood. The Gorge Trail is closed for the winter due to the danger of falling rock. The water volume can sweep an unwary hiker quickly over the brink.

The potential for fatalities is increased by black ice on the smooth slate walkways along the torrent. Can you spot the barrier blocking access to the path? I am at a secure perch at the falls overlook on the Rim Trail, opened at this season.

These shots were hand held. I used a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a variable “zoom” lens, great for framing compositions.

Robert H. Treman New York State Park.

Click for a slideshow of this Waterfall of the Old Mill sequence

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Icicles!!

Key words: steep, icy

Water drips steadily from seeps, places water follows hidden cracks to emerge from the darkness. In warm seasons these may be a patch of moisture enabling the growth of ferns, only becoming evident when air is cold enough to freeze slowly running water.

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These macros capture the Moss, Fern and Lichen. These thrive in this environment.

These shots were hand held. I used a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a variable “zoom” lens, great for framing compositions.

Robert H. Treman New York State Park.

Click for a slideshow of this Waterfall of the Old Mill sequence

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Up the Rim Trail

Key words: steep, icy

It is the Gorge Trail that’s closed for the cold months, November through April. The Rim Trail remains open for those who dare icy, steep paths Unlike Gorge Trail, Rim Trail climbs above the dangerous cliffs from which rocks are wedged free by ice to fall on the trail. On an early spring day, after a sudden frost, we walked the Rim Trail to capture the moment.

Here is the steep start, climbing up from the Upper Park where a footbridge crosses Fish Kill. Kill is the old Dutch word for creek. Fish Kill mergers with Enfield Creek a few hundred feet downstream.

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This north facing slope stays frozen into May. Here layers of the sedimentary rock shale, laid down in a shallow warm sea over 350 million years ago, are slowly pried apart. Hemlock tree roots wedge between rock layers, slowly growing. The action of ice, water expands in volume at the point of freezing, aids the process.

In places the rock face appears to be a hastily made dry stone wall, the rock layers are so disrupted by plant and frost.

These shots were hand held. I used a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a variable “zoom” lens, great for framing compositions.

Robert H. Treman New York State Park.

Click for a slideshow of this Waterfall of the Old Mill sequence

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Of Rocks and Seeps

fresh icicles

New icicles formed overnight from seeps through the sedimentary walls around the Waterfall by the Old Mill. On an early spring day, after a sudden frost, we walked the Rim Trail to capture the moment.

Here icicles formed during the quick April freeze hand above Fish Kill. Kill is an old Dutch word for creek.

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Here a mix of frost and lichen mottle the rock layers.

These shots were hand held. I used a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a variable “zoom” lens, great for framing compositions.

Robert H. Treman New York State Park.

Click for a slideshow of this Waterfall of the Old Mill sequence

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Three Views, Falls of the Old Mill

A challenge of light

A day the falls run free of ice. On an early spring day, after a sudden frost, we walked the Rim Trail to capture the moment. Here are three captures of the same waterfall, the first visitors to the upper park encounter and the most visited and photographed right off the parking area.

Fish Kill was captured at this point to provide power to grind grain. Today neither nature nor man control the flow. Kill is the old Dutch word for creek.

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I have never counted the waterfalls from this one to the grand sweep of lower falls. The falls are uncountable because no two people could agree on how small a fall to credit.

Of these three versions, i prefer this one for the foreground inclusion of the enormous limestone blocks set to protect visitors from the drop. This scene is challenging photographically, bifurcated as it is by the bright sun over the fall brink. I prefer to shoot these falls early morning, for this reason, before the sun illuminates the area at all. Long exposures required demand a rock solid tripod, as it is just off the parking lot I use my studio Manfrotto for the work. Here all shots were handheld.

I used a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a variable “zoom” lens, great for framing compositions.

Robert H. Treman New York State Park.

Click for a slideshow of this sequence of the Waterfall of the Old Mill

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Ancient “Fracking”

a form revealed

Friday last Pam and I joined a “James Potorti Memorial Gorge Walk” through Buttermilk Falls State Park where we learned interesting facts connected to one of my most successful photographs, “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls.” This is the second post of this series.

Click me for “Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls” in my Fine Art Gallery.

Many Right Angles, Why?

On a July morning 2018 I walked Buttermilk Creek from the scene of my “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls”, up the steps on the right of that photograph to where the water flows across a flat expanse of stone. This is a photograph of that expanse taken using a tripod mounted Canon EOS 1DS Mark III body with the Canon lens EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM w/a neutral density filter (0.6 as I recall).

Click photograph for a larger view.
“Summertime Cascades – 2018”

For a scene from nature there are many straight lines and, even, right angles in addition to the layering of the sedimentary rock from its origin as eroded material from the ancient Arcadia mountains collected on the floor of a warm shallow sea. We learned from Friday’s walking tour this sea was close to the equator at that time, riding on a tectonic plate that’s since drifted north. This North American Plate jostling with the others.

Beneath these rocks were older formations in which decomposed organic matter had transformed to methane gas. When the African plate and this pressed together, the stressed rocks weakened at right angles to the force, each stress point joining others in straight lines. The methane gas pressure from below forced the weak points to open a straight line fractures.

As the plates continued to move, orientation to the African plate transformed by ninety degrees and the two pressed together again. Methane gas pressure was present, causing straight line fractures at right angles to the others. Everywhere these rocks are exposed across the Finger Lakes region we see these right angle fractures.

In Memorium

James Potorti was a native of Ithaca who perished at 52 years of age in New York City on September 11, 2001 were he worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

Click me for the first post, “Finger Lakes Water Chemistry.”

Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Finger Lakes Water Chemistry

protection against acid rain

Friday last Pam and I joined a “James Potorti Memorial Gorge Walk” through Buttermilk Falls State Park where we learned interesting facts connected to one of my most successful photographs, “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls.”

Click me for “Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls” in my Fine Art Gallery.

Low Flow

Presented here is the original photograph from July 2004 and an second version, produced July 2018. Both were produced at a low flow after many days without rainfall. The first learned fact is a significant water source for Buttermilk Creek and all the Finger Lakes gorge creeks, is ground water percolating through the sedimentary rocks cut through by the running water. The beautiful fall of water seen here is possible because the creeks flow through periods of drought, a lower flow creating these gentle cascades.

Click either photograph for a larger view.

“Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls -2004”

pH

Secondly, because Finger Lakes sedimentary rock formed beneath warm, shallow seas 400 million years ago, water percolating trough the stone acquires soluble carbonate (calcium carbonate, Ca CO 3), an chemical imparting basic (as opposed to acidic) properties to the water. This characteristic buffers the water protecting us in the Finger Lakes from the effects of acid rain. When the pH of rainwater falling on the Finger Lakes is measured, it is acidic, falling below 5 on the scale. pH is a measure of reactive hydrogen in water, the more hydrogen the more acidic. Neutral pH is a 7. The water flowing in Buttermilk Creek is consistently around 8, in the basic side of the scale.


“Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls – 2018”

James Potorti was a native of Ithaca who perished at 52 years of age in New York City on September 11, 2001 were he worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.