Frank Kapusta Photography

"Images for Lasting Memories"

Posts from the ‘Photo Adventures’ category

Exploring the Mill Trail

Let’s begin by understanding that the name of the trail is not “The Mill Trail” rather it is a trail that is dotted by numerous mills that have been mostly abandoned.  The actual name is the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail and is part of the Crooked Lake Canal system. The holidays came and went and as cabin fever was setting in, I decided it was time for a winter hike that would be rich in photographic opportunities. After looking through my typical online sites such as AllTrails ( , Waterfalls of New York State ( and google earth, I found the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail ( ) that would provide the perfect opportunity to incorporate a winter hike and a photo adventure. The trail begins in Dresden, NY and seven miles later ends in Penn Yan, NY. As one of my favorite subjects to photograph are waterfalls, I checked out the trail map to find the best opportunities.  I decided to enter the trail at the visitor center off of the Outlet Road which is about the midpoint of the trail system. From this location it was within easy hiking distance to two of the mill sites that I wanted to see and of course, they were in opposite directions of each other.

The trail system is very good with parts paved with asphalt and most a combination of gravel, dirt and ballast from the railroad bed.  This time of the year, it was snow packed, but well-travelled.  As a life-long outdoors enthusiast, I have a solid inventory of hiking skills and necessities, so this would be more of a test for my camera gear. Let me begin by what I decided to carry and what I learned from this adventure.  My backpack of choice for this type of day hike on a well maintained trail system is the LowePro Pro Tactic 450.  I have owned this pack for about two years and has served me well, however, in my opinion, the only negative feature is the waist belt.  I ended up modifying the pack by replacing this waist belt with a Steroid Speed Belt from Think Tank. It was the perfect combination that provided better support and allows the addition of other system pouches.  I further modified the pack by changing out the tripod straps from a side mount to a bottom mount which afforded a better balance in carrying my Induro tripod. My camera kit consisted of the Nikon D750 along with Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0, and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens, along with a set of Lee ND filters and my favorite Big Stopper filter.  Miscellaneous gear included lens cleaners, lens air blower, etc.

The trail was well-groomed and well-traveled by other hikers and cross-country skiers so I didn’t need my snowshoes but definitely took my trekking poles. The warmer temperatures made the snow soft and made it feel like you were walking on beach sand.  So I geared up and took a left turn at the trail head and headed off to my first destination, Cascade Mills and falls. As temperatures were rising, I knew that I had overdressed for this hike within the first half a mile.

Cacade Mills

First stop was the site of Mallory Mill. This was originally a grist mill built in 1827 just below the twelfth and last dam built on the outlet.  It is completely abandoned at this point.  While time has taken its toll on these buildings, there are still plenty of opportunities for some excellent shots.

Out of Business

A side view shows the open door ways and windows allowing the elements into the interior of the building.


Someone decided to use the interior as their canvas for graffiti.

Hole Plug

This hole patch system appears at several different locations and heights on the building.  Makes you wonder what kind of piping passed through these walls and what they were used for.

Mallory's Mill

Just downstream is another part of the mill.

Mill Remnants and Falls

In a complete opposite direction of the Mallory Mill is Seneca Falls.  I had to back track on the trail and go past my original entry point to arrive at this site. Seneca Falls is part of the Crooked Lake Canal system that was opened for navigation in 1933. The remnants are part of the first mill was a saw and grist mill erected in 1790 with a 26-foot overshot wheel and two runs of stones brought all the way from Connecticut. There were several mills within close proximity of each other.  One of the owners of the mill on the south bank was a carpenter who built ten of the Crooked Lake Canal locks.

For this time of the year, the water was intensely fierce and the mist was being carried throughout the air for quite some distance.

So, what did I learn about my gear? The weather was perfect for a winter day hike with the sun shining and the temperature sitting around 40 degrees. As I stated in the beginning, this was also a test of my photography gear and I learned that I carried far more than I actually needed or used.  For starters, I had too many layers for the weather.  More importantly, I carried way too much gear for this type of hike.  While the backpack system is excellent and I am strong enough to carry what I brought, time and distance will begin to wear anyone down and then it wouldn’t be enjoyable.  In the end, all my shots were taken with Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0 which is an excellent light weight lens.  Not once did I take out the Sigma 50mm Art f/1.4 or the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.  To put this in perspective, between the Sigma 50mm and the Nikon 70-200 I carried over 5 ½ pounds of lens that I did not use. In addition, my Induro tripod and ball head are over 6 pounds. While the tripod is a necessity for long exposure photography, I started researching for a light weight replacement. What I found is that carbon fiber is very expensive. The cost per pound to shave off about 2 ½ to 3 pounds for a new tripod doesn’t make sense to me at this point.  I would reconsider purchasing a carbon fiber one if I were take longer and overnight hikes.  Besides, by moving the tripod from a side carry to a bottom carry, it has resulted a better balanced and more comfortable back pack.  On a groomed trail type hikes where reach is not a necessity, I feel that I am well served with the current Nikon 16-35 and a mid-range zoom.  Since this hike, I have added the excellent Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 which will round out my lens kit. In the end, this experience and research will dictate the camera kit that I will pack for future adventures.

As spring is slowing arriving, I look forward to returning to explore the rest of the Crooked Lake Canal System and its series of mills that dot the trail.  Happy trails!




The Colors of Letchworth

We had hoped to make it into the Adirondacks several weeks ago when the colors peaked. The original plan was to do an overnight at Big Moose Inn, spend the day in the Moose River plains looking for fall photo opportunities at its many trails and ponds and then exit the other side at Indian Lake. We would have continued onto Lake George for another overnight and then back home.  That didn’t work out and so we missed the Adirondack colors this year. I was bound and determined not to miss the colors around the Finger Lakes, so our next photo adventure took us to Letchworth State Park.  As most you know, Letchworth is billed as the Grand Canyon of the east.  It’s been at least 10 years since Kathy and I had last visited Letchworth.  There are so many scenic overlooks in the park that it was hard to pre-plan specific shots, with the exception of the Middle Falls, which was a planned hard stop. The old railroad bridge is scheduled to be replaced and I wanted to have the opportunity to capture the falls with the original bridge.  The colors were in full bloom, but unfortunately, we had so much rain the previous week that the river was a murky brown. Not much you can do about that, other than work around it. So as we went through the park stopping at each of the overlooks along the way. If the scene “spoke to me” I would return to the car and grab my gear and start setting up for the composition I had in mind.

The park was extremely busy and the traffic very slow going. It was amazing to see and hear the many different cultures that came to see this wonder of New York.

Nikon D7100: Nikon 10-24mm @ 15mm - 20.0 sec @ f/16 - ISO 100 Lee .6NDSF

Down Below

This image is from our first stop. Looking upstream, you can see how the river cuts to the left and there is a definitive separation in the hills that outlines the gorge. In an effort to disguise the murky water, I used a Lee 10 stop neutral density filter with a 20 second exposure at f/16. This effect smooths out the motion of the river to give it a milky effect.


Nikon D7100: Nikon 10-22mm @ 1/20 sec @ f/11 - ISO 100 Lee .6NDSF Filter

Razor Back

The view through the trees with what appears to be the backbone of some prehistoric creature jutting out of the river certainly captured my imagination!  This image was featured in the Power of Photography.

Nikon D7100: Nikon 10-22mm @ 20mm - 1/45 sec @ f/13 - ISO 100 Lee .6NDSF Filter

Around The Bend

As can be seen throughout this series, the wind moved the clouds around quite a bit. Often, I would setup the shot and just wait for the right moment when the wind moved the clouds around and opened up the blue skies.  Here I caught the sun hitting the right side of the canyon, while the rest laid in the shadows of the clouds. The rolling carpet of colors were amazing, but noticeable missing in this region were the reds.  Many say it was due to the recent extensive and hard rains.


Nikon D7100: Nikon 10-22mm @ 24mm - 1/30 sec @ f/13 - ISO 100 Lee .6NDSF Filter

Thru the Trees

The canyon walls were alive with colors that are dominated by the yellows and golds.  While the colors of the leaves are not balanced throughout, the sporadic speckles of reds gave it a nice contrast.

One of the major attractions of Letchworth are the falls.  In order to get to the lower falls, you have to descend 127 steps and then hike about 100 yards or so to get to the falls. These are not just normal stair steps, but a combination of stone steps with wide dirt landings.  Some steep, some narrow and many of the dirt areas were muddy due to the rain which made it a little tricky.  Now for a guy with a really bad knee lugging a tripod, cameras and a small bag of assorted filters and accessories, the descent was painful.  I should have put everything in my backpack and just carried it that way! By the way, Kathy played it smart and she stayed at the top and told me take my time!  After getting down to the bottom, the excitement started to build as the roar of the falls got stronger. I found what would have been the ideal spot to set up, however, the wind and the volume of  water coming over the falls created a strong misty rain.  Although my camera is weather sealed, it is not water proof.  While I have been researching and looking for the right camera rain cover, I still had not bought one.  So I tried an alternate spot in front of the falls and off the trail. While I took several shots, I was not happy with them as there was too much vegetation in the way that took away from the falls. So, sorry no shot of the middle falls!   As a side note, I have since ordered a rain cover that will cover my camera along with my longest 70-200mm lens which will also come in handy for some winter adventures I have in mind.

Now it was time to get to the prize of the day….the Upper Falls.  This was the most challenging due to the openness of the area and sheer number of people all trying to a get a shot of the falls.  I was patient and waited in front of the spot that I wanted to setup to clear out.  Throughout the day, I have to say that all the people were very friendly, polite and patient.


Nikon D7100: Nikon 10-24mm @ 24mm - 30 sec @ f/11 ISO 125, LEE .6NDSF Filter

Upper Falls

Upper Falls at Letchworth State Park, NY.  Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, the Genesee River cuts through the gorge and over three major waterfalls. In the background is the original 1875 era train bridge. It can no longer support modern train loads and current train travel is limited in weight and speed.  New bridge construction has started and will provide the Norfolk Southern Railway Southern Tier a modern bridge.

This image was taken with a Nikon 10-24 ultra-wide angle zoom at 24mm. The water effect is created using a 10 stop Lee Big Stopper neutral density filter with a 30 second exposure at f/11 and ISO 125. This filter, through the use of long exposures, impacts motion creating the smooth and milky effect on the water. In this image, it also smoothed out the fast moving clouds.  This image has been featured in Redbubble in the Power of Photography group and Exploring America group.

It was another great photo adventure that Kathy and I enjoyed and certainly made up for missing the Adirondacks!



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Road Trip

After selling our country home, we seriously downsized to a two-bedroom townhouse in the outskirts of Rochester. We exchanged vistas from the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes of New York. You would think that after giving up all those domestic chores of mowing 3 ½ acres and maintaining a 186 year old home we would have all the time in the world to do whatever we wanted. After all our new place does all the maintenance for you.  In addition to welcoming into the world our new and second grandson, the summer flew by.  We finally were able to carve out some serious time for my passion…photography!  Kathy was a good sport in that she got up “zero dark thirty” as we ventured off to chase the light on what turned out to be a 165-mile adventure.
Urger Resting


First stop was the Erie Canal in Seneca Falls, NY.  This area is rich in photographic opportunities.  Although I preplanned the locations and specific sites, I was surprised by an unexpected opportunity of a very historic tugboat docked on the canal.  Built in 1901 in Michigan this tug was sold in 1920 to the NYS Canal System and renamed the Urger.  Urger was retired in 1980 and called back into service in 1991 as a teaching tug. In 2001 it was placed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Canal Boats

Canal Boats

A bonus photo opportunity were these European styled canal boats docked in Seneca Falls, NY.
Right across the canal was one of my preplanned sights, the Knitting Mill. This limestone structure was built in 1844 and ran continuously for 155 years, until it closed 1999.  It is now the future home of the Women’s Hall of Fame.  Seneca Falls, NY.
This limestone structure was built in 1844 and ran continuously for 155 years, until it closed 1999. It is now the future home of the Women’s Hall of Fame. Seneca Falls, NY.

Knitting Mill

The next stop was to find the Trinity Church, but along the way found this funny looking red house.
D7100: Nikon 10-24mm @ 20mm - 1/90th sec @ f/11 - ISO 100

Funny Red House

Right across the street is the Trinity Episcopal Church.   After 50 years of service, the congregation decided to build a church across the canal at its current location. Construction began in 1885 and the first service were held in 1886. The limestone used came from Fayette and Onondaga, NY.  Of particular note of this church is its Gothic influence and the numerous stained glass windows.
After 50 years, the new Trinity Episcopal Church was built across the canal in 1885. The limestone used came from Fayette and Onondaga, NY. Seneca Falls, NY

Trinity Featured in: Power of Photography

This wonderful timber-framed pergola was located right next to Trinity
D7100: 10-24mm @ 13mm - 1/90 sec @ f/11 - ISO 100

See Thru

It was time for some coffee and we decided to try the XIX Café.  Best cinnamon buns in the world!  They were so big, that we decided to split one.  Between the pastries, selection of coffee and excellent service, this is on our top list to revisit again.  It worth the trip just to go there!  Now it was time to get back on the road and on the way to Geneva (USA!).
First stop in Geneva is the waterfront!  Captured this shot from a floating dock near the jetty. Using a Lee Big Stopper Filter (10x) created the smoothness in the water.
(D7100: Nikon 10-24mm @ 24mm – 10.0 sec @ f/11 – ISO 100 (Lee BSF)

Stone Jetty

You never know what you will find along the way.  I saw this site several months ago when I didn’t have my camera with me and was bound and determine to capture this image.  I wonder what he uses for seeds to plant this bicycle garden?
Bicycle Garden

Bicycle Garden

South Main Street in Geneva is the most significant Historic District and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Most of these homes were built between 1825 and 1850.


Time for lunch!  We are always up for a challenge in picking places to eat and so far we have never been disappointed in trying something new. At the lower end of South Main Street was a neat look place called Beef and Brew!  The name says it all and we tried. It was absolutely great.   What did we eat?  Well beef and a brew for me and beef and a glass wine for Kathy. Based on our waiter’s recommendation, Kathy tried one of the local wines and we ended up taking a side trip to the Bellangelo vineyard.
The goal of our trip was to end up at the famous County Road 12 overlook above Canandaigua Lake. In order to get from Lake Geneva to Canandaigua Lake, we took…..Lake to Lake Road!  How appropriate!  Along the way, I couldn’t resist stopping to take a picture of this barn featuring some vintage signage.


D750: Nikon 70-200mm @ 70mm - 1/350 Sec @ f/2.8 - ISO 100

Barn Art


As we are motoring along heading west, we arrive in Naples, NY (not Italy!) with a population of 1,025, except for when we arrived. The population swelled to what appeared to be 5 times as many people with half the number of cars bumper to bumper. Somehow I found a back road at the back-end of the Hazleton winery and finally make my way to CR 12.  We arrive at the overlook and it is full of cars and people.  No chance of setting up my gear so we moved on.  Fortunately, less than a mile away I located a small pull off and was able to capture the final image of the day!


D750: Nikon 70-200mm @ 195mm - 1/45 sec @ f/16 ISO 100

Hill Side View – Canandaigua Lake


Old School…new school


I recently introduced my grandson, Vinny, as the newest 15-month old blogger hitting the social media scene.  Clearly, it may look like old school versus new school, but the style certainly spans the generations! In July, his cousin Ben will enter the world as the newest member of the new school generation and I will be blessed to impart some old school wisdom and values on both of them.  It will be cool to hear Ben say, wait until my cousin Vinny comes down!  I have a feeling that both of them together will make us all gray on an accelerated basis (grandparents) and prematurely for parents!  Anyways, stay tuned. Vinny will be posting a blog later in July on his cousin!

Beach Patrol by Vinny

While visiting Uncle Ben and Aunt Lindsay, and my soon to be new cousin, Ben, we went down to Virginia Beach. I assigned my staff photographer to Uncle Ben and Aunt Lindsay to get some new maternity pictures on the beach.  Can’t wait for my new cousin!

So, while on the beach, I had the opportunity to check out the other toddlers and strut my new beach wear.  My wardrobe staff assembled the following:  a retro Oshkosh Seersucker shortall set, sandals (for the board walk) and a real cool Trilby hat!  My staff informs me that GQ has forward a contract for review!

Kapusta_160604Beach 2_00001

Checking things out on the beach.

D750: 70mm – 1/1500 sec @ f/2.8 – ISO 100

No fear

On my way to check out the water temp. No surfing today. Waves to small.

D750: 200mm – 1/3000 sec @ f/2.8 – ISO 100

Kapusta_160604Beach 1_00001

I think I saw a mermaid….that was really awesome!

D750: 2o0mm – 1/1000 sec @ f/2.8 – ISO 100


Limo is all packed up. Where’s my driver?

D750: 200mm – 1/3000 sec @ f/2.8 – ISO 100

Kapusta_160604High Key_00001

Blogger Profile Picture

Overall, it was a great day at the beach!  Stay tuned for my next report on Uncle Ben, Aunt Lindsay and the baby bump!

Vinny is a 15-month old blogger reporting on toddler topics from his extensive travels.  His travel and lodging arrangements are complementary of MD & GP Travel, Inc. (mom, dad, and grandparents).  His staff consists of a photographer, fashion consultant, nutritionists and a couple of personal assistants.

D7100: 50mm – 1/8000 sec @ f/2.8 – ISO 100  Special Effects: Color Efex Pro 4



A very mild winter for our Upstate New York Community is vast under statement for this year!  According to our local TV weather station, we have only had a total of 14″ of snow all season.  Although I am very grateful for the obvious reasons of a cheaper heating season and not having to shovel or plow snow, it has been challenging to get out and chase the light, when there is no light, no shadows, or no contrast.  The limited number of days where the sun and blue skies appeared together I was otherwise engaged indoors. Every vigilant throughout the week and always armed with my “briefcase camera”, my first Nikon (D5100 and a 35mm f/1.8 lens), I make it a point to get out every Sunday morning with my tripod and gear in search of that perfect image.  Too often I end up just driving around the spots that I scoped out during the seek and come home with a clean memory card.   Scored today!  I was able to capture some nice images for my prime lens project and even exercised the super wide angle.  I have loaded a three image series today and will look to update the rest throughout the week.