Open To Wonder

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”

-Albert Einstein


“From wonder into wonder existence opens”

-Lao Tzu


Sometimes, as a photographer, luck opens up when you least expect it. For our stop at Watkins Glen State Park in New York, I didn’t have much hope for getting a good capture. Our stop was going to be near high noon and on a really hot and humid day. The crowds were on hand as we pulled up into the parking lot. Still, I wanted very badly to see this place. I had seen many beautiful photos of the park and I at least wanted to see it with my own eyes.


To be sure, this place does not disappoint. Glen Creek has carved a deep gorge in the bedrock here up to 400 feet deep. The paths here are carved into the rock and become part of the landscape rather than detracting from it. Around each little bend, as you climb the massive amount of steps, you are greeted with a brand new view that would be the centerpiece of many other State Parks.


The area in this shot, known as the Rainbow Bridge and Falls, may very well be one of the most photographed spots in the park. I was pleasantly surprised as I rounded the corner and came up the stairs to see that there was not a soul in view. Maybe the hot, humid weather had deterred most from climbing this far down the path. As an added bonus, the midday sun tucked itself behind some clouds for a few moments to soften some of the harsh shadows. Knowing conditions wouldn’t last, and seeing some groups of people heading up the path, I quickly set up from the classic viewpoint and took my shots.


I knew I had one I would be happy with at any time of day, and was pretty lucky to have been able to pull it off.


Rainbow Bridge and Falls inside Watkin's Glen State Park - New York


Photo Details:

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Lens: Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Settings: 5 bracketed exposures at 27mm Focal Length, f/16, ISO 50

ISO was cranked all the way down to 50 as well as utilizing a Polarizing Filter. The midday sun, even though filtered by some clouds temporarily, was still bright, and to get any effect on the waterfalls and pool of water, I needed to try to get the longest exposure I could. The bracketed shots were combined in Photomatix and then brought in to Photoshop as 6 separate layers. I masked in the layer that had the best effect on the water as well as the quicker exposure on the trees to prevent too much blur at the top of the scene. From there, it was OnOne’s Perfect Effects to help bring out the greens and some contrast. NIK, once again, has been my go to for any final sharpening. Noise reduction was necessary only to soften the water as ISO 50 does not produce any noticeable noise at all. Any noise came from the Photomatix blend. I do not mind the motion in the leaves bottom left as it seemed to bring a little motion to an otherwise static image as well as a pop of color.

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