Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

(WF) cubed + G cubed

with 47 comments

Today’s title is a coded description of the land that is upstate New York: WonderFully Well-Formed WaterFalls and Gorgeous Gorges Galore. In fact the pictures from those kinds of places make up the majority of all the ones I took on the trip. Rather than going in chronological order, which would mean that for a time you’d see post after post with the same types of photographs, I’ll maintain variety by interspersing* gorge and waterfall pictures from New York State with those of other subjects in other places.

Although I grew up on Long Island and visited various sites upstate during my childhood and later on, somehow until July 27th of this year I’d never made it to Letchworth State Park, which bills its Genesee River gorges as the Grand Canyon of the East. Having been to the Grand Canyon of the West, I find the claim a bit of a stretch. Still, there’s no denying that Letchworth is a worthy place to visit. It’s home to three large and impressive waterfalls that truthfully go by the names Lower, Middle, and Upper, along with dozens of smaller falls. Today’s pictures come from the vicinity of the Lower Falls, which we saw first.

How about the strata in the walls of those rocky gorges?

The angularity of some structures made me think I was looking at the ruins of ancient buildings.
And as always, some plants find rootholds in seemingly unlikely places.

Look how wide the Lower Falls are. I wanted to shoot from further left but I haven’t learned how to fly.

* In current English we can intersperse and disperse and even asperse but we can’t just sperse; in early modern English sperse was a synonym of disperse.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2019 at 4:43 AM

47 Responses

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  1. Wow, how amazing are these !


    August 17, 2019 at 5:44 AM

  2. Great to hear you made it to Letchworth Park, Steve. We have Africa to thank for the right angle fractures.


    August 17, 2019 at 7:41 AM

    • I’m glad, too. By coincidence I spent a day in Raleigh, North Carolina, with the childhood friend from Long Island who first told me about Letchworth after his family visited the place in the 1950s. It took me only another 60 years to get there myself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 8:01 AM

    • I didn’t know about this specific connection to Africa, but I’ve heard about other cases in which parts of a geological formation end up far apart due to continental drift. The father of another childhood friend in the 1950s was the first person who showed us on a map how the northeastern bulge of South America fits so nicely into the great gouge on the west side of Africa.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 8:38 AM

  3. Thanks for taking us to a new and, yes, very worthy place. I’ve been concerned, too, about not being able to get the views and angles I need to realize my imagination’s flights, so I’m on the brink of adopting a drone. There are so many out there now, at a considerable price range, that it takes a lot of research to decide on which one to try first. And there are so many criteria to consider!


    August 17, 2019 at 7:51 AM

    • You’re welcome. Plenty of other people were there, too, as it was the height of the tourist season, and unfortunately for us a Saturday.

      For a nature photographer a drone may well be the next best thing to flying. However, if I remember right, this state park joins many (probably most) others in prohibiting drones. I suspect that out west you could find places that allow drones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 8:14 AM

      • But of course! I’ve ordered my drone and am taking care to inform myself of all the appropriate rules and regulations, as well as courtesy concerns. I am aware of the ban on their use in national parks and neglected to make that connection when I saw your post. I won’t be making that mistake when I’m afield!


        August 18, 2019 at 8:18 AM

  4. I have always heard of the beauty of upstate New York, and this striking series of photos certainly bears that out. I am particularly drawn to the second one showing the angular rock of the gorge. Amazing. ‘K I’m going to go sperse now.


    August 17, 2019 at 7:56 AM

    • Hold on to your metaphorical hat, ’cause photos from other scenic places in upstate New York will be spersed your way over the next few weeks.

      The angularity shown in the second pictures appeals to both of us, and for you who weren’t there the presence of trees in the photograph gives you a sense of the scale of the place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 8:19 AM

      • Yes. Sometimes I dream of buying myself a van, converting it to a rolling studio, and hitting the road. I would love to see in person the things you share here. I feel a gypsy rising in my soul!


        August 19, 2019 at 9:09 AM

        • I know people who’ve done what you propose (minus the rolling studio part). Even on a smaller scale you can take short trips.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 19, 2019 at 11:28 AM

          • The rolling studio would be great because I could create art and sell it on the spot. Also, I could run workshops in cool places. The idea terrifies me and is also very appealing.


            August 20, 2019 at 8:45 AM

          • Did they like it, the people you know who did it? It would be interesting to know what sorts of things they ran into.


            August 20, 2019 at 8:47 AM

            • I don’t have a lot of details. When we visited our friends in Lubbock two years ago they were in the process of selling their RV. They’d traveled around in it for some time but then felt it was enough. A general impression I’ve gotten about RVing is that it’s important to be handy at rigging and fixing things—something I’m not good at. Neither of the couples I know were trying to make money during their travels, so I have nothing to report on that score.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 20, 2019 at 9:03 AM

  5. Very impressive photos, Steve! What I find so fascinating is that plants and trees find a foothold to grow in the barest rock.

    Peter Klopp

    August 17, 2019 at 8:39 AM

    • I’ve often seen the way plants cling to bare rock here in Austin, so the phenomenon didn’t surprise me in upstate New York. For once I had a more impressive location to show it in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 8:46 AM

  6. Yea! Great shots, a great advertisement for Upstate NY. It’s a wonderful park, as big as Manhattan, and similar shape. My sister and I had our high school graduation dinners there, at the Glen Iris Inn, near the Middle Falls.

    Robert Parker

    August 17, 2019 at 8:51 AM

    • I wasn’t aware of the name, but I see on a map now that we drove right past one side of the Glen Iris Inn as we headed west on Park Rd., and the other side on the one-way return from the Middle Falls.

      I’ll be posting more ads for upstate NY. I’m sure New York State will pay me for them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 1:29 PM

  7. Letchworth is gorgeous! We went there when we lived in Rochester, New York. I got some great pictures when the leaves were in full color and it had snowed the night before. I loved the waterfalls, the train trestles, etc. It’s lovely there … when there’s no crowds.



    August 17, 2019 at 8:57 AM

  8. The second and fourth photos are distinctly architectural, with a bit of a Greek temple feel to them. The second photo suggests the columns, while the smooth banding near the top of the fourth photo reminds me of the frieze and cornice. It’s equally interesting to see the geological differences from other places you’ve visited.

    The falls are beautiful. I didn’t realize there’s a Genesee River. In the early 1900s, the Homer Laughlin pottery named many of its shapes after features of the northeast: Hudson, Seneca, Niagara, Genesee. In the 1800s, their shape names were more Euro-centric, and the change to American names is interesting.

    I laughed at your title. My middle name is Lee, and a long-time friend always has called me L-Cubed.


    August 17, 2019 at 8:58 AM

    • Where you saw Greek, I imagined Mayan (especially in picture 4), having visited some of those ruins but never any in Greece. I don’t get tired of interesting rock formations: may more come my way.

      That’s an excellent observation about the change in pottery names from Euro-centric in the 1800s to American in the 1900s. Along with that you now know that there’s a Genesee River and that it’s worthy to visit.

      Good for your friend for algebraizing your name.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 2:44 PM

  9. I had heard of Letchworth, but never made it out there during my time back east. Looks like I missed a real beauty. I don’t think it is that far from Alfred, New York? I did visit there once.

    Lavinia Ross

    August 17, 2019 at 3:07 PM

    • Before leaving on this trip I spent hours researching our tentative route and making a list of places we could visit, knowing full well we couldn’t get to all of them. Alfred was on my list as having a ceramics museum and being conveniently close to Letchworth, but we decided to go north from Letchworth rather than south.

      If you make it back to upstate New York, Letchworth is indeed worth visiting, as are a bunch of other places that’ll show up here over the next few weeks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2019 at 3:22 PM

  10. Beautiful scenes. I am glad you finally managed to see Letchworth. Unfortunately my exploration of New York only went as far as Poughkeepsie. As for algebraizing, I will have to return to the old ‘square’ theme and sign off as K +A squared.


    August 18, 2019 at 4:17 AM

    • Poughkeepsie keeps ye fondly remembering the Hudson Valley, which also has its charms. Let’s hope someday you return to New York and visit the gorges and waterfalls you missed farther northwest, even as Eve and I did on this trip. For lack of time (and eventually energy) we had to skip many sites that would also have been worth visiting.

      If you find that the second power you used is merely square, you can sign off more powerfully as TNT, Till Next Time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2019 at 7:34 AM

  11. The waterfalls of New York are definitely must not miss in this lifetime. I’ve never been but two places I am determined to visit are Letchworth, Watkins Glen, and Kaaterskill Falls. I like the columnar rock in image 2 and image three reminds me a bit of hieroglyphics.

    Steve Gingold

    August 18, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    • On this trip we did Letchworth and Watkins Glen, along with several others, pictures of which will eventually show up here. I had still more on our list of potential sites to visit, but we had a finite amount of time and couldn’t visit them all. Like you, the columnar structures in the second picture grabbed me. I hadn’t thought about hieroglyphs, but I did imagine Mayan ruins in picture 4.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2019 at 6:48 PM

  12. Somehow I missed this post, I’ve been traveling. Thanks for directing me. PA has a gorge near Wellsboro that they also call the Grand Canyon.

    automatic gardener

    August 21, 2019 at 7:48 AM

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