Exploring New York: The Final Days

all of my gear - and melanie's - sitting in my room after coming from the trip

all of my gear - and melanie's - sitting in my room after coming from the trip


be sure to check out parts one, two, and three before continuing!


Monday May 21 2018: Taughannock Falls | Robert H Treman State Park


When planning this trip and trying to figure out what falls to visit, I had come across two that I knew I needed to photograph: Kaaterskill and Taughannock.

Kaaterskill was by far the most important for me to see, and it had quickly become my favorite waterfall. Taughannock was a close second but only in terms of the fall itself; the rest, sadly, was not nearly as great.

You see, when I go to see a waterfall, I like getting into the midst of things. I like standing in the river, knee-deep, soaked from the heavy mist. What I hate most is when I am constrained by boardwalks, trails, signs, et cetera. It makes me more creative – yes – but it also constricts my creativity all the same. I hate it.

While it was not as bad here as at Watkins Glen and Bushkill Falls, having only one main viewing platform killed the many potential compositions I had had in mind. However, I did the best I could do with what I had – sun flare helped add some interest – and I think I’m happy with what I had accomplished. Of course, I also captured some abstract photographs of the water, the same as I had at Kaaterskill Falls.

in hindsight, i should have paid more attention to the brightness of the rocks in the foreground...

in hindsight, i should have paid more attention to the brightness of the rocks in the foreground...

there's just something beautiful about the abstract shots i took

there's just something beautiful about the abstract shots i took

As that was the only waterfall, and it didn’t take as long as expected, we decided to head over to Robert H Treman State Park where Lucifer Falls sat, waiting impatiently for me to capture it.

When I plugged the directions into my phone’s GPS and followed them to a dirt road, I got rather confused, as most would. The directions were to the falls specifically, since we only wanted to really see the one and were unsure of the park’s overall setup. As there was no parking lot, I followed the dirt road until it ended by a man’s home; I used his driveway to turn around.

The house’s owner was outside, pulling his bicycle out from behind his home, and followed a bit behind us as we made our way back to the main road. Knowing I had to figure out where an actual parking lot was, I pulled to the side and got back on my phone.

The bicycle man came up aside the car, so I rolled down the window to see what – if anything – he had to say. Part of me expected him to scold me for using his driveway to turn around. He didn’t.

Instead, he simply asked if we were looking for Lucifer Falls – we were – and explained to us that the trail on this road was not the prettiest.

Yes, it led directly to the falls, but it was not as scenic and you would miss out on seeing the other waterfalls on the main gorge trail. He gave us some rather simple directions that I still managed to mess up, and we were on our way.

Lucifer Falls.jpg

Shortly after making it to the main parking lot of the park, after getting out of the car and gathering our gear, a car came racing into the lot. The driver was clearly in some sort of rush. It irritated me, how he seemed not to care if he hit anyone or was breaking the law (15mph speed limit).

We ended up talking a bit as we were headed to the same trail at first; this was when he explained how a portion of the trail was closed but he had always disobeyed the signs and gone past without much thinking. When I had found this closed area later on, the sign simply prohibited you from entering the water as I would have liked to. This was most likely due to the heavy amounts of rainfall had in the past week, so it was more-so a safety concern than anything else.

Anyway, the guy – a fellow photographer – ended up going up another trail to a higher overlook of Lucifer falls. In hindsight, I am glad; I prefer to be (mostly) alone.

Mel and I explored the short trail of the falls, reaching the end without setting up for a single image. I wanted to see it all, figure out what compositions I wanted and could manage, and go from there.

As tempting as it was for me to go up to the overlook – it really was not that far a hike once we reached the end of the main trail – my knee was hurting terribly.

When I was Adams Falls on Friday, I had climbed up onto a rock, banging my knee pretty good. But it clearly didn’t stop me from continuing on the rest of the hikes.

Mel pointed out after climbing the rock at Adams Falls that a sign said not to do that. Ironic, is it not?

Mel pointed out after climbing the rock at Adams Falls that a sign said not to do that. Ironic, is it not?

We ended up turning back, heading from which we came, ready to make some beautiful images. Or, at least attempt it.

For Lucifer Falls, the only composition I could come up with was a nice panorama with the beginning and end of the waterfall in opposing corners of the frame. While taking these images – a few long, thirty-plus second exposures – Mel and I enjoyed the last bits of our lunch, whatever we had not devoured at Taughannock.

There was really only one other waterfall I had deemed worthy of my time. Yet again, this was a series of thirty-plus second exposures, later stitched together in Lightroom. I’m not too sure of it at the moment, as the highlights were a tad strong on portions of the rock walls. They’re a bit distracting as I look at the image now.

BTS Calm Tree.jpg

On our way back to the car, I forced Mel to stop at a lone tree in a grass pasture of sorts, a mossy rock and log close by. Something about the scene calmed me – I had to try my hand at photographing it.

I shot my first frame around 12:01. This first picture was simply a test to check my exposure settings; my composition was something I was very unsure of. The next five photos crafted a panorama. After looking at the stitched panorama in Lightroom, however, I found out it was not what I wanted. I continued trying with both my D7200 and my Bronica ETRS. Until I develop the Portra 160 from the ETRS, I won’t know if I got the shot or not.

Fingers crossed.


Tuesday May 22 2018: Going Home and Reflecting


Tuesday morning we woke up, packed our bags, stripped the bed. We were both tired from a long week and honestly just wanted to go home to pass out.

After eating egg sandwiches and packing the car, we headed home to do just that.

I am honestly not 100% sure if I have recovered from the trip, over a month later. The only times I have picked up my camera was to take images of Melanie or to move it from one place to another. I began working very long weeks – 45+ hours – to save money for insurance, bills, play. I bought a beautiful Pentax 67 with a 105mm 2.4 lens from YoungKim.


The freezer is slowly being stocked with Portra, Delta, Acros. I hope to go all-film for the rest of my photography career. We shall see about that. I have my doubts, to be honest.


Hell, I really haven’t even opened Lightroom much, save for some strict culling as I narrow down what I want in my 2018 portfolio box – coming soon!

Editing – photography in general – has not exactly been on my top priority, sadly.

This trip and the weeks that have followed have forced me into a whole lot of reflection. In terms of life, photography, and all else. It has been interesting and scary, to say the least.

Nonetheless, I hope to head out on a three-day long camping trip before the summer ends. I miss camping, and desperately need to do it a whole lot more.