Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The Middle Falls at Letchworth

with 37 comments

The Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in western New York State proved as abundant* as the other two main waterfalls in supplying me with pictures during our July 27th visit. Let’s begin with a scene-setter from a faraway overlook. Notice that in the distance beyond the Middle Falls you can make out the Upper Falls, which are indeed upstream and therefore higher up in altitude as well.

Now for a better look at the Middle Falls in its own right:

And here’s an even closer look at the cascade:

Given all that turbulence, the downstream view from the top seems placid:

A slight, slender, tall waterfall graced one side of the gorge:

When I looked down and to the right I was pleased to see this:

* Appropriately, the word abundant comes from Latin unda, which meant ‘wave’ (think undulate) and which evolved from the same Indo-European root that gave rise to native English water. That root also appears in Irish whisky and Russian vodka, which are, euphemistically speaking, forms of ‘water.’

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2019 at 4:41 PM

37 Responses

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  1. Excellent


    August 23, 2019 at 5:09 PM

  2. I recognize these scenes, I think including the tiny waterfall (on the west bank, right?), was the first one with a telephoto lens? And I like the final shot, kind of trippy-looking, like the rainbow is exerting a wavy force over the rock strata. I’m enjoying your Letchworth album very much.

    Robert Parker

    August 23, 2019 at 6:06 PM

    • I believe you’re right that the little waterfall is on the west side of the Genesee River. Yes, for the first picture, the one from the scenic lookout, I did use a telephoto lens. When I checked the focal length, though, I was surprised it was a modest 135mm; I thought I remembered zooming in more. While I liked the wavy strata well enough in their own right, the rainbow was a bonus. I get the impression of a second, much fainter rainbow in the lower right of the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 23, 2019 at 6:41 PM

  3. Trying to persuade family we take a year out and drive Alaska to Mexico. These photos are part of the reason.


    August 23, 2019 at 6:11 PM

    • That would be quite an odyssey. Let’s hope you get to do it. We put on a hefty 5100 miles over 26 days; your trip would be much longer—and you’d get to visit many more places in a year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 23, 2019 at 6:45 PM

  4. Outstanding waterfall photos, Steve! They seem to be your specialty. I like those etymological explanations. I would have never guessed that abundant has its roots in the Latin language.

    Peter Klopp

    August 23, 2019 at 7:18 PM

    • I’d say rather that waterfalls are a specialty of upstate New York. You’re right that etymology has been an interest of mine since I went to college. In general, multisyllabic English words ending in -ant or -ent come from Latin (often via French).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2019 at 3:00 AM

      • Having taking Latin courses for nine years, I am very fond of etymology. This ancient language upon close examination is very much alive in the English and many other languages.

        Peter Klopp

        August 24, 2019 at 12:25 PM

        • Nine years is three times as many years of Latin as I took in high school. That’s all that was offered, and I had to wait out a year until enough kids from the grade behind mine caught up so that there would be enough students to make a third-year class.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 24, 2019 at 6:24 PM

          • I wonder if Latin is still being offered in our utilitarian society. Latin was compulsory in my days 60 years ago. Without it you could not get your high school diploma.

            Peter Klopp

            August 24, 2019 at 9:15 PM

            • In my lifetime Latin was never compulsory in American public schools. Many schools still offer it but a lot more secondary students take Spanish or French than Latin.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 24, 2019 at 9:37 PM

  5. Rainbows at waterfalls always delight; it’s neat that you were able to capture a pair of them.

    That fourth photo, the downstream view, is wonderful. I especially like the way the cliff and the ‘beach’ both extend as a point into the water, showing the effects of erosion over time. The beach-like section shows the layering in an especially interesting way; it’s a nice complement to the vertical cliff face.


    August 24, 2019 at 7:12 AM

    • To continue with the rhyming:
      Rainbows at waterfalls always delight;
      It’s neat I could get a pair in my sight.

      Part of me wanted to center the bright rainbow against the rock strata, but the position of the sun and the fact that I was already at the edge of the cliff conspired to make that impossible. Today’s post and the two previous ones from Letchworth go to show that a photographer could easily do a whole exhibit with nothing but pictures of rock formations from gorges in upstate New York.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2019 at 7:30 AM

  6. Just, wow. What a beautiful image to end on. No wonder you saved it til last! I’d wondered where the middle went.
    My family, I’m told, once lived in upstate New York. I’m wishing they’d found a way to stay there. Oh, sure, winter. But heck~we have plenty of that here.


    August 24, 2019 at 8:54 AM

    • I think upstate New York is no worse than northern Illinois, winter-wise, and it sure has a lot of great waterfalls and gorges. All three waterfall and gorge posts so far have covered only Letchworth State Park. I’ll also be highlighting a few others. I should also point out that where you have Lake Michigan, New York has Lake Ontario and also a bit of Lake Erie—plus of course all the Finger Lakes.

      Yes, I saved the Middle Falls for last, and within its pictures the rainbow for last.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2019 at 6:16 PM

      • Just what I thought when I looked at the map of the area…plenty of lakes. Plenty of natural beauty. If Paul’s work takes us anywhere it will be to North Carolina but maybe I can get him to take a vacation there. I don’t think he realizes how gorgeous it is.


        August 25, 2019 at 8:03 AM

        • A lot of people who aren’t from New York think the whole state is like New York City. For decades I’ve been explaining to people in other parts of the country t that upstate New York is a whole different world from downstate, and a very scenic natural world, at that. From North Carolina you could drive to upstate New York in a day. Actually, now that I checked a map, it’s about the same 11-hour drive from Asheville (NC) to the Finger Lakes as it is from Libertyville (IL) to the Finger Lakes.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 25, 2019 at 8:17 AM

          • I was mentioning your and Eve’s roadtrips tonight at dinner with wistfulness. Maybe this fall we’ll get on the road.


            August 26, 2019 at 12:24 AM

            • After you’ve been on the road
              You can tell us where you rode.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 26, 2019 at 5:34 AM

              • Hahaha yeah. Or rowed…kayaking always a possibility.


                August 26, 2019 at 7:05 PM

  7. Wonderful pictures !!


    August 24, 2019 at 12:27 PM

  8. When I was looking at New York State for a vacation one year I saw this place and thought about visiting it. Instead I went to Watkins Glen, which is also beautiful.


    August 24, 2019 at 5:53 PM

    • We were fortunate to spend several hours at Watkins Glen, too, three days later. I expect to have several posts about it in the weeks ahead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2019 at 6:36 PM

  9. Nice ending with a rainbow, Steve. Pretty shots.

    Jane Lurie

    August 24, 2019 at 8:55 PM

    • Chronologically the rainbow came around the middle of these pictures but I thought putting it at the end made the sequence more dramatic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2019 at 9:35 PM

  10. I just shared your photos with my husband and we are planning to go back. On one of our visits, we had just been to Niagara Falls and stopped at the park on the way home. Our kids were young and my parents were on the trip. We really enjoyed Letchworth because we could get really close to the falls. Your photos bring back great memories.

    automatic gardener

    August 25, 2019 at 8:45 AM

    • I’m glad these pictures prompted you to plan a return to Letchworth after all those years. I wonder whether the place will strike you as similar to what you remember or different from that. There may well be more tourists now.

      On our way back to Texas we stopped in North Carolina to visit my oldest friend, the one from whom I first heard about Letchworth after his family went there when we were in grade school. Now he wants to go back, too, after 60 years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2019 at 9:00 AM

  11. Waterfalls and a rainbow. What good fortune.

    Steve Gingold

    August 26, 2019 at 6:52 PM

  12. Love the photos, especially the 4th one showing the rock formation and outline of the river – and the word origin lesson too!


    August 30, 2019 at 7:13 PM

    • I know you’d also have been happy to roam through Letchworth with your camera. And speaking of the rock formations in the gorge, etymology rocks, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2019 at 11:06 PM

  13. […] At one point I saw a rainbow by looking down, as I had on land earlier in the year. […]

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