Platte Clove, Day 5: Epitome

Spoiler Alert: If you do not like waterfalls, proceed with caution!

With another day of clear skies in the forecast, I made my way to Plattekill falls first thing in the morning. The goal was to get a shot of the falls – something that had eluded me the previous 4 days. I had about 90 minutes before the sun would be high enough in the sky to cast direct light onto the falls. Despite how much the water level had gone down following the storm, I was still surprised at the copious amount of spray being generated. It’s one of the challenges of shooting in an amphitheater-like environment. I could not get as close as I wanted for the composition I had in mind, but found this large moss covered rock to provide a foreground anchor for an alternate composition.

Plattekill falls in the early morning. The photograph is a 2-shot panorama and then slightly cropped.
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Along with my 24-105 mm workhorse lens and an ultra-wide angle lens, I also brought along a (borrowed) 100-400 mm lens. Rather than contend with the spray from the falls, I set up further downstream and used the telephoto lens and long exposures to experiment with capturing select portions of the falls.

Detail of the base of Plattekill falls.
Detail of the base of Plattekill falls.
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I walked downstream for a bit, looking for more intimate landscapes. I went as far as the crest of Bridal Veil falls and on the way back was attracted to the contrast of this newly fallen leaf on the vibrant green moss.

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Detail of newly fallen leaf on the forest floor.
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Heading back to the cabin, I spent some time at Old Mill falls. For whatever reason, on this trip I ended up shooting a majority of the waterfalls from the side, rather than head on. It works – at least for me – as this is one of my favorites from the week.

Old Mills waterfall.Print available for purchase.
Old Mills waterfall.
Print available for purchase.

In the afternoon I headed to iconic Kaaterskill falls. Once again the overwhelming mist thwarted my attempts to get anywhere near the base of the falls. I chose to convert these to black and white to make the water really contrast with its surroundings and stand out. What color there was, did not do much to enhance the image.

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The second tier of Kaaterskill falls. The abundance of water prohibited me from getting much closer.
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Print available for purchase.
The full view of Kaaterskill falls in all its glory!
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In late afternoon I met Del for a sunset shoot at the crest of Kaaterskill falls. To get to the crest is only a few minute walk from a parking lot and the view is spectacular! Your eye follows the water to the crest of the falls and then it just disappears. If you have the constitution (I most certainly do not!) you can peek over the edge to the base of the first tier below. Furthermore, you are treated to views down to Kaaterskill clove. While in the gorge shooting the falls, the sky was almost completely clear. By the time we reached the crest of the falls, we were welcomed to an incredible view. In addition to a healthy amount of water flowing, dramatic clouds were filling the sky and when the sun poked through, it providing warm backlighting to the rising mist generated from the falls. It was an incredible combination! In fact, the reason I chose to title this post “Epitome” is that I imagine scenes like this were what inspired the artists from the Hudson River School of painting. Actually, I don’t have to imagine, I know views like this inspired them, because Thomas Cole has a famous painting from this very location.

Although often overused description, this was indeed an “epic” sunset from the crest of Kaaterskill falls.
Print available for purchase.
Thomas Cole's masterpiece "".
Thomas Cole’s masterpiece “From the Top of Kaaterskill”, from a vantage point a few yards upstream from the photograph above.

Following our productive evening shoot, Del was kind enough to buy me dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. After several days of subsisting on beans, rice and trail mix, he’ll never know how enjoyable that big plate of deep fried, General Tso’s chicken was! Thanks Del.


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