Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not just Lucifer Falls

with 44 comments

At Robert H. Treman State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region on August 1st I didn’t only photograph Lucifer Falls and other waterfalls. Here are some non-watery scenes from the western (upper) end of the park.

I can’t not see a bell.

A hornet nest.

Living, dead, and inanimate together.

Oh, the lichens….

This reminded me of those old ruined homesteads out in the country where the only thing that’s left standing is a chimney.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2019 at 4:39 AM

44 Responses

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  1. Impressive rock features. The wasp nest blends in superbly with its environment. It also took me a while to see the wasps on the nest.


    August 28, 2019 at 4:58 AM

    • It took me a while to see the wasps, too, and I was there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2019 at 6:41 AM

      • I hope they didn’t see or bother you.


        August 28, 2019 at 8:33 AM

        • They might have seen me but they didn’t bother me. Here’s what I said about that in my reply to Robert: “With wasps and other insects that can sting or bite in self defense I’ve taken the attitude that if I go about my business and leave them alone they’ll go about their business and leave me alone. It has almost always worked. For me, the danger comes from inadvertently bumping into or stepping on one of these creatures.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 28, 2019 at 8:42 AM

  2. That wasp nest is an impressive construction – – and a little scary

    Robert Parker

    August 28, 2019 at 5:34 AM

    • With wasps and other insects that can sting or bite in self defense I’ve taken the attitude that if I go about my business and leave them alone they’ll go about their business and leave me alone. It has almost always worked. For me, the danger comes from inadvertently bumping into or stepping on one of these creatures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2019 at 6:47 AM

  3. Wasp nest looks like something from a very scary movie. Overall this makes me homesick for the Finger Lakes.

    Michael Scandling

    August 28, 2019 at 5:47 AM

  4. Your bell reminded me of the lyrics from Cohen’s “Anthem”:

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

    Even though this bell won’t ring, it does have a crack. Nice.

    The wasps’ nest is beautiful. The folds, layers, and curves reminded me of papier-mâché, and a quick image search confirmed that this might be the nest of paper wasps. The Wiki for papier-mâché noted that, in Mexico, items made that way sometimes are called carton piedra, or ‘rock cardboard’ because of their rigidity. So: you’ve given us rock, and paper, and there is a hint of scissors in the branch extending from the trunk of the dead tree.


    August 28, 2019 at 6:04 AM

    • And there’s the much wider crack in the last picture’s rock strata. When it comes to digital photography, one way is to use flash when taking a picture, though I reserve that as a last resort because of its harshness. More often I let light in, so to speak, via software after the fact to pull details out of the shadows in a RAW file.

      You’ve made me wonder whether anyone has created a rock-scissors-paper sort of game with more than three elements. With four elements you’d have to establish six pairs of dominance relationships (A~B, A~C, A~D, B~C, B~D, and C–D) and with five elements you’d need ten pairs of dominance relationships. You’d also have to come up with hand gestures to represent the additional elements. And of course finding plausible real-world objects is the killer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2019 at 7:07 AM

  5. I can’t not see a bell, either. I find the nest beautiful. I’ve been known to bring them into my studio to admire when all danger of the erstwhile inhabitants also coming in is past. It fascinates me to see them “emerge” as the leaves fall, often very close to where one has walked every day all summer, completely unaware. Your policy is the wise one. Your images of the stone are inspiring as always. I’m always sort of attracted to the idea of the abandoned farms there. Mightn’t, I wonder, be a way to live off that land today?


    August 28, 2019 at 8:43 AM

    • Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee as well as for me.

      I hadn’t noticed the nest when walking from the parking lot to the falls. After we’d arrived back at the parking lot I took more of a look around and that’s when I was surprised to notice the nest. As you said, without leaves on the trees it probably would’ve been obvious.

      Outside of Austin the derelict homesteads that I occasionally see most likely become part of a subdivision or other development once the land values have risen high enough—and they’ve kept rising. The owner can make more money selling than trying to earn a living from the land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2019 at 9:21 AM

      • That’s true here as well although we’ve actually been able to shout down a development or two, and wetland delineation has saved more than one parcel.


        August 29, 2019 at 8:57 AM

        • An occasional parcel here gets rescued. Not many. This morning I found that another piece of land where I’ve taken pictures in previous years now has a building on its eastern portion. How long the rest will hold out, I don’t know.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 29, 2019 at 12:42 PM

          • We are a plague on the land.


            August 31, 2019 at 9:10 AM

  6. The wasps’ nest is like the beehive a wonder of nature’s architectural design. Great photos of your impressions of the Robert H. Treman State Park, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    August 28, 2019 at 8:45 AM

    • There’s certainly a pleasant waviness in the patterns on the nest’s surface, aren’t there?
      If we’d had more time we could’ve found plenty more to see at Treman.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2019 at 9:23 AM

  7. Wonderful photos. I agree with you completely about the ‘bell’… And the ‘chimney’. These scenes remind me so much of our many camping and hiking adventures in the Adirondacks in upstate New York years ago.

    Birder's Journey

    August 28, 2019 at 8:57 AM

    • Thanks. Like Michael (who commented similarly above), perhaps it’s time for you to make a return visit to New York State. I’d certainly been feeling that a return visit for me was overdue, and I’m glad I acted on that urge.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2019 at 9:29 AM

  8. Wow–stunning shots. The wasp nest is magnificent. As a photo, it echos the form and undulations of color that your rock photos illustrate, which is why, I suppose you included it.


    August 28, 2019 at 8:58 AM

    • The patterns on the nest and its globular shape appealed to me in their own right. Now that you mention the undulations, though, I’m amazed I didn’t relate them to all the rock strata so close at hand. Maybe I picked up on the relationship subconsciously, or maybe I was obtuse. Either way, I’m glad you brought the connection out into the open.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2019 at 9:34 AM

  9. Great Images Steve! Love the textures and colors!

    Reed Andariese

    August 28, 2019 at 9:08 AM

  10. Since the wasps’ nest seems to have invited most previous comments, why don’t I add another one? The nests I see in our neck of the wood are not usually as scalloped and ornate as the specimen in your photo. Someone with knowledge about wasps might be able to tell us which species was responsible for its construction.


    August 28, 2019 at 6:25 PM

    • Your comment prompted me to check pictures online just now. I found that the photographs with nests resembling this one got posted by companies in the business of removing nests, and they didn’t identify the species of wasp. Oh well, time for me to say once again that I’m much better at photographing something than identifying it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2019 at 5:20 AM

  11. While observing our new heating/cooling system install I discovered a paper wasp nest similar to yours in one of our rhododendrons. I wasn’t sure if it was current or abandoned. So I gave it a tap. It is still occupied. No harm done thankfully.
    Definitely a bell.

    Steve Gingold

    August 30, 2019 at 6:46 PM

    • I hope you gave your tap from a distance using something like a stick. Given that the nest I photographed was in upstate New York, the wasps could well be the same species as what you found in your rhododendrons in Massachusets.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2019 at 6:50 PM

      • Nah, where’s the fun in that. It was early and the cool weather makes them a bit logy.When a couple came out to see what was going on I was a few feet away and ready to run. Your nest looks very similar and my species is Bald-faced hornet-Dolichovespula maculata. I’ll see if I can get a shot or two. We had a nest in one of our forsythias a few years ago.

        Steve Gingold

        September 2, 2019 at 4:15 AM

        • Another commenter mentioned hornets, and the nest in my picture sure looks similar to the one you linked to. Based on the last sentence quoted below from Wikipedia, you seem to have been taking a chance:

          Dolichovespula maculata is a eusocial wasp of the cosmopolitan family Vespidae. Its colloquial names include the bald-faced hornet, bald hornet, white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, spruce wasp, blackjacket, and bull wasp. This species is a yellowjacket wasp, not a true hornet (genus Vespa). Colonies contain 400 to 700 workers, the largest recorded colony size in its genus, Dolichovespula. It builds a characteristic large hanging paper nest up to 58 centimetres (23 in) in length. Workers aggressively defend their nest by repeatedly stinging invaders.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 2, 2019 at 6:41 AM

          • I’m well-aware of their potential for inflicting pain. I was chased by a “squadron” of them once. And for their relatives the yellow jackets, I was wearing shorts while mowing one day when I mowed over an underground nest. You can imagine my pain.

            Steve Gingold

            September 2, 2019 at 6:58 PM

            • Yikes: not fun. Fortunately, I’ll plead personal ignorance.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 2, 2019 at 8:14 PM

              • Yeah, it’s not anything I wish to have happen again. No more shorts for one thing.

                Steve Gingold

                September 3, 2019 at 1:48 AM

                • For protection against sun, plants, and insects, I almost always wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants even in the height of summer down here.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 3, 2019 at 5:29 AM

                • I do now also. I’ve got light weight treated pants to keep the ticks off and treat my own stuff to repel the bugs. A wide hat treated to be SPF 50 keeps the rays off my face.

                  Steve Gingold

                  September 4, 2019 at 3:06 PM

                • As they used to say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 4, 2019 at 3:22 PM

  12. i like the rock formations in the last photo very much!


    August 30, 2019 at 7:10 PM

    • That’s another incentive for you to visit upstate New York, where formations like those in the last photo abound. I photographed a bunch of them and will probably show some more but can’t show them all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2019 at 9:14 PM

  13. Treman Park is in our “backyard”, 9 miles away and we visit frequently. There was a hornet’s nest in a tree overhanging the lot the park staff had not noticed. Good eye to have found that one.


    August 31, 2019 at 5:20 AM

    • Lucky you. I’d go frequently, too, if it were 9 miles away instead of 1500. There’s so much for a nature photographer to love up there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2019 at 5:52 AM

  14. Nice set of photos – I hope you were a distance away from the wasp nest!!


    August 31, 2019 at 12:12 PM

    • I found plenty of things to photograph to Leman State Park.
      I stayed at what I think of as a comfortable distance from the nest.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2019 at 5:14 PM

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