Posted on 1 Comment

Lee ND Filter: The Aqueduct Falls Adventure

I was exploring a new way back to our home from our daughter’s new house when I saw these real neat stone arches over a waterway that I suspected was part of the Erie canal.  So, I pulled into what is known as Aqueduct Falls Park between Palmyra and Macedon, NY.  The structures are characterized as hand crafted stone pillars that supported a wooden aqueduct.  The falls are approximately 15 feet and is part of the Erie Canal System.

Featured: Fine Art of Photography D7100: Nikon 10-24mm @ 24mm – 30 secs @ f/13 – ISO 200. – Lee Big Stopper Filter
Aqueduct Falls

As I just happened to discover this place, I was unsure of what I would find. At first I went to the water’s edge and took a couple of shots of the waterfalls.  It was there that I noticed a walking trail that would put me above the falls. So I packed up my gear and hiked over to the bridge. Again, I set up and framed up a couple of shots from this view.  I was not that thrilled with what I was seeing in my LCD screen.  Once home, I reviewed the images in Lightroom and ended up scrapping all of them.  I decided that the next time I would do some homework and online scouting using the Photographer’s Ephemeris and Google Earth.

For my second trip, I was better prepared and decided to go up and around Lock 29 to get to the top of the dam overlooking the waterfalls and remains of the aqueduct. This put me across the canal from my first visit. Once I got there and looked around, I knew this was the spot that I wanted to compose.  The only drawback was that there was a big log stuck on the step of the falls.  I knew that I would need to compose in a way to keep the log out of the final image.  I started to set up all my gear and prepared for the traditional landscape view, but I could not get that log out of my field of view.  After stepping back to think about it, I decided that a portrait composition would work best, but I would need to set up as close to the edge of the dam as possible without falling over. As I do not have an “L” bracket for this orientation, I used the tripod and tilted the camera on its side.  When I was taking the landscape view shots, I did so with my Lee ND Big Stopper filter in place.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Lee filter system, the 4 x 4 filters are placed in a filter holder that freely rotates on your lens.  Although not a necessary feature when using an ND filter, it is very useful when using either the hard or soft graduated filters.  With one of the tripod legs close to the edge, it still would keep the center of the tripod and me safely away from the edge. With the camera securely mounted on the tripod, I begin to rotate the camera on its side when all of sudden I heard three strange sounds. Two of them were the sounds of optical glass hitting the concrete and the third was the distinct sound of something hitting the water.  With a terrible pit in my stomach I looked over my camera to the front my lens and saw that the Lee filter is gone. As I rotated the camera with the filter half in the holder, it slid out and fell the twenty feet down into the brown, murky water.  My heart sank and knew that this shooting session was over. With no choice left, I packed up and headed home.  The next step was to get on the B&H website and order a new ND filter.  While there are cheaper alternatives, the Lee system is made from optical glass and has no color cast issues and very worth the additional cost.

Fast forward two weeks, with a new ND filter in the backpack, I headed off to the Aqueduct Falls. I walked around to the other side to position myself on top of the dam and much to my disappointment, the darn log was still stuck in the falls.  As you recall from my last attempt, I lost my Lee ND filter over the side of the dam.  In order to avoid this costly mistake again, I swapped out the column to my Induro tripod to a longer column so that it would give me plenty of room to position the camera into a portrait orientation.  Once in place, I add the filter holder and inserted the Lee ND Big Stopper filter.  After a few test shots, I sat back and waited for the sun to crest the local hills to get the right light and…success!  The image at top of this post was taken with the Nikon D7100: Nikon 10-24mm @ 24mm – 120 second exposure at f/13 with ISO set at 200 and Lee ND, Big Stopper filter.

Just as you enter the park, there is bridge below the locks that provide a great and different perspective of the falls.  This next shot was taken from the top of a bypass bridge and for this image, I used a Nikon D750: Nikon 70-200 @ 200mm – 120 second exposure @ f/13 set at ISO 200.

Aqueduct at Macedon/Palmyra

As we begin to move into winter, I am looking forward to some wilderness landscape adventures that will take me off the beating path. As I am going in for a knee replacement in a couple of weeks, I’ll have to hold off until February.  My rehab time will provide plenty of opportunity to research cross-country ski or snow shoe trails to plan out my next adventure.  Happy Holidays!

1 thought on “Lee ND Filter: The Aqueduct Falls Adventure

  1. Frank…beautiful pictures once again…”beautiful” isn’t a strong enough word…more like spectacular! Beauty hidden off the beaten path. When I saw the first picture, I knew you must have bought a new filter by the look of the water and then I read your post and learned you did get a new lense…worth every dollar you spent!

Leave a Reply