Platte Clove, Day 3: When I Consider Building an Ark

The refrain from Stanley Adam’s song “What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours…” was the theme running through my head. A slow moving storm hovered over the entire East coast and brought torrential rain for 12 straight hours. To say that the transformation of the area was impressive, would be a gross understatement! Early in the morning I heard a dull roar which I presumed to be a passing truck. It was only when I peeked out the back window that I realized it was the rush of the swollen creek. I tried getting some photos at Plattekill falls but, despite my best efforts, could not prevent my camera gear from getting utterly soaked. I visited several places to see just how much water was flowing. Driving down Route 23A through Kaaterskill clove, and seeing the massive amounts of muddy water spilling all over the place, was a stark reminder of the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene just one year before. Below are some images to give you a feel for how much the landscape changed in a few short hours (apologies for the low quality cell phone camera images).

Plattekill falls on my arrival to the cabin (left) and then after the storm (right). In all my research, I’d never seen an image of these falls with so much water. This was the morning after the rain stopped, it must have been really roaring the night before!
Old Mill falls, which sits right behind the cabin, before (left) and after (right) the storm. The photo on the left is a zoomed in portion of the falls since that was the only water that was present at the time.
This the top of Plattekill falls, before it plunges 70 feet to the base of the amphitheater. The force and noise of the water was something to behold! It was incredible to witness.
The Hell’s Hole and Devil’s Kitchen area of the Platte Clove. The first time I visited here, there was barely a trace of water (left) and only a trickle at other places (middle). Immediately after the storm it was too dangerous to revisit these spots, so this is the view (right) looking directly down from the bridge (for those familiar with the area).

It was a discouraging day for many reasons, the primary one being, of course, that I was unable to get out and shoot. While not having cell phone service or internet access may create a more focused environment for writers, as a landscape photographer who needs up to the minute information on weather (cloud cover, precipitation, temperatures, etc…), it was a difficult day of waiting and wondering when, or if, the rain would ever let up. Furthermore, internet accessibility would have provided me information about the tornado warning, areal flood warning, flash flood warning, and high wind advisory which were in effect (which I only found out about when I called my wife and asked her to check the weather for me)! The other frustrating aspect of the day was seeing all the waterfalls I wanted to photograph transform from mere trickles to rushing torrents in a matter of hours! Even if it were safe enough to approach these falls, roiling water makes for unsightly photographs.

To keep myself busy, much of the time was spent planning for the next few days, given the swollen creeks I now had to contend with. One of the first things I do to prepare for a photography trip is create a custom Google map of potential locations to shoot. Next I use The Photographer’s Ephemeris to determine sunrise/set times, phases of the moon, etc… for the dates I will be there. As the trip draws closer, I’ll begin watching the weather more closely and make choices of the best places to shoot and when. For instance, if the forecast calls for perfectly clear skies, then sunset will most likely be a bust and I may decided to commit to an evening of night photography. Whereas if the sky is gray and overcast with little chance of any dramatic light, I may focus on shooting waterfalls. You plan like crazy, but ultimately need to be prepared to improvise!

My customized Google map for the Platte Clove region.
Various maps, guide books and planetarium software; all resources used in planning for my trip.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: