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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
Remnants

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!

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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
Urger

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