Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fallingwater, falling light

with 30 comments

After decades of reading articles and seeing documentaries about it, on June 14th we finally made our way to Mill Run, Pennsylvania, for Fallingwater, the house that the architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed to straddle a waterfall rather than sit alongside it. The places where I most wanted to stand for pictures, the base of the main waterfall and the banks of the creek flowing away from it, unfortunately remain off limits to visitors. I can’t show you the pictures I might have made, so here instead are a few idiosyncratic takes on light and shadow at Fallingwater.

While I couldn’t look up from the base of the falls, I could and did aim straight down from the top.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2018 at 4:54 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Well taken. A pity you couldn’t get the photos you wanted but these are all beautiful.


    August 22, 2018 at 5:41 AM

  2. Lovely and verdant locations!


    August 22, 2018 at 6:17 AM

  3. Is it a private residence, or a tourist attraction? Are you allowed inside?

    Jim R

    August 22, 2018 at 7:47 AM

    • It was a residence for decades and now it’s open to the public. Guides lead groups of visitors through the interior of the house, where pictures aren’t allowed. It was pretty crowded the morning we were there.

      In the second line of the text I’ve just added a Fallingwater link that you can follow for more information.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2018 at 8:13 AM

  4. People throw the word “iconic” around, but this house really qualifies. It really is a remarkable structure, and in a beautiful setting. Each of Wright’s buildings has its own personality, and just needs to be visited in person. NYS has some great examples – – NYC has the Guggenheim of course, and Buffalo has the Martin House and Graycliff. And now Buffalo has built another of his designs, at the Pierce Arrow museum – – a gas station!

    Robert Parker

    August 22, 2018 at 8:30 AM

    • Pierce Arrow is a name you don’t hear very often anymore. Obviously it was way before my time, but I had a set of automobile cards as a kid and that was one of them.

      I’d been to some other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings; I think this was the last of the really famous ones that I hadn’t seen. The first I remember visiting was the Guggenheim, and that’s not surprising given that I lived in New York. A couple of years ago one of his houses got moved to the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, and we saw it the last time we were there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2018 at 9:48 AM

      • It seems kinda weird for a gas station to be a tourist attraction, but I guess why not, a building’s a building. I’m hoping to see Taliesin East sometime this fall. And then Taliesin West…sometime!

        Robert Parker

        August 22, 2018 at 9:58 AM

        • “Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” according to Kipling. Nevertheless, I hope you belie Kipling and tally up both Taliesin East and Taliesin West.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 22, 2018 at 11:19 AM

          • Thanks, Steve. My car is approaching the 186k mile Mark, and may break in Twain any day, so Arizona may have to wait a bit, but Wisconsin is looking likely.

            Robert Parker

            August 22, 2018 at 11:33 AM

            • Then let’s also hope your car imitates our 1998 Toyota Avalon, which has 211 thousand miles on it. Regardless of the car, Wisconsin and Arizona are unlikely partners for a single trip.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 22, 2018 at 12:23 PM

    • I knew that Frank Lloyd Wright designed at least one gas station, but I didn’t know about the modern construction of one from his plans.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2018 at 9:50 AM

  5. Close to where I work is a former paper mill where Marcal soda straws were once manufactured. Part of what ran the mill was Stony Brook and the building, which is now condominiums, straddles the waterfall. It is now just an attractive feature and a few units have the falls as “window dressing” but at one time it produced the energy to power a factory. It’s nowhere near as attractive as “Fallingwater” but brings Wright’s genius to mind.

    Steve Gingold

    August 22, 2018 at 4:07 PM

    • Marcal is a name out of my childhood, for napkins if I remember right. So is Stony Brook, except it was the one on Long Island. Have you taken any pictures along your Stony Brook? A search on your site didn’t turn up anything.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2018 at 5:29 PM

      • No, I haven’t. Something about it being related to work. Also, I think it goes through some less than attractive situations on its way to the Connecticut River. Actually, If I hung out at the end and was so inclined I could do some nice marina photography.

        Steve Gingold

        August 22, 2018 at 5:37 PM

  6. I’ve long wanted to visit here too. Great pictures, glad to see them.

    • Then you’ll just have to plan a trip to southwestern Pennsylvania. I’m glad you like the chiaroscuro photos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2018 at 5:30 PM

  7. I wish the Bachman-Wilson house hadn’t been the first of Wright’s that I visited. It seems to have skewed my vision of his work, or at least left me with an odd emotional reaction to it. On the other hand, compared to the houses of Burnham Block in Milwaukee, Fallingwater, Bachman-Wilson, et. al. become more appealing. But, for real fans of Wright, Burnham Block does offer the opportunity for an overnight stay in one of his houses. If I ever land in Milwaukee, that’s something I’d enjoy doing.

    The houses aside, the man did know how to work a site plan. I understand that the point is supposed to be that house and setting go together, but at least while I’m trying to develop an appreciation for the houses, their beautiful settings are there to enjoy.


    August 22, 2018 at 6:46 PM

    • Too bad we didn’t know about the Burnham Block when we visited Milwaukee two years ago. Even if we hadn’t stayed overnight, we could’ve visited. From the way you’ve put things here, I gather you’re not a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. We’ll see how further exposure influences you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2018 at 8:14 PM

  8. beautiful photos


    August 23, 2018 at 5:32 AM

    • Thanks, Shimon. I hope you get to visit Fallingwater.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 23, 2018 at 7:10 AM

      • Very kind of you, Steve. But I’m afraid my traveling days are long over.


        August 23, 2018 at 7:16 AM

        • I’m sorry to hear that. If it does turn out that way, then at least you can travel vicariously here and in the accounts of other people.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 23, 2018 at 7:34 AM

  9. Fallingwater looks like a beautiful place to live, although I bet maintenance is not easy. I’ve been to the Frank Lloyd Wright Gordon house here in Silverton,Oregon.

    Lavinia Ross

    August 23, 2018 at 9:19 PM

  10. […] may recall that on our 2018 trip we visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater in western Pennsylvania. On this year’s return to the Northeast we toured his Martin House […]

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