Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Keeping and not keeping to the unstraight and narrow

with 42 comments

Here are a couple of pictures from July 30th showing how narrow and sinuous some parts of the gorge are at Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region.

In other places the gorge widens and its high walls curve more broadly:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2019 at 4:39 AM

42 Responses

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  1. I’ve never been there. It looks really interesting. Did you go for the races? My oldest brother attended a long time ago.

    Jim R

    September 4, 2019 at 6:27 AM

    • No, just the opposite. From what I’ve read, the place becomes a madhouse then, hardly conducive to communing with nature. When we visited, it was probably the peak of general tourism, with lots of people in the state park, and at times I had trouble taking pictures because of that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2019 at 8:12 AM

  2. The delicate curves of the vegetation in the last photo are a nice complement to the massive block of rock. It’s interesting how the arc of the tree branches continues the line of the curve, despite the gap.

    The first two photos brought something quite different to mind: the earth wind map that shows the flow of air currents in real time. You can spin the globe, then zoom in. Click on the map for a specific location. The way the striations in the first photo seem to be streaming away is quite an optical illusion.


    September 4, 2019 at 6:52 AM

    • That website is quite a find, and you’re right that the wind curves seem to mimic the rock strata in the first two photographs. The strata don’t blow, but the wind at Watkins Glen now is blowing toward the northeast.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2019 at 8:19 AM

  3. So beautiful. We are studying nature’s curves/ light/ angles/ reflections paired with calculus and some science right now. That 2nd picture is especially fabulous with all its curves..


    September 4, 2019 at 7:19 AM

  4. The power of water over eons created this deep and twisting gorge in the rock. Impressive shots, Steve! They demonstrate so well the tooth of time (another German expression).

    Peter Klopp

    September 4, 2019 at 7:44 AM

    • That’s a new expression for me. I understand how the sound and rhythm and partial repetition of “der Zahn der Zeit” appeals to people. It seems that the metaphor is of time chewing things up. In the case of this gorge, the chewing was very slow, as you pointed out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2019 at 8:28 AM

  5. Oh, my! Your gorgeous photos take me back many many years ago to the then oft visited Watkins Glen State Park. Hiking the entire Gorge Trail was not for the faint of heart or foot, but the Rainbow Falls was worth every step every time! Thank-you!


    September 4, 2019 at 8:38 AM

    • You’re welcome. I’m happy to hear that for you it was a trip down memory lane. In a way it was for me, too, because I lived for six months in the Finger Lakes in 1971. On the other hand, if I ever visited the Watkins Glen gorge back then, I don’t remember it, so this recent encounter will have to do double duty. Last week I did a post about one of the waterfalls there, Cavern Cascade.


      and will have at least one more post about Watkins Glen in the weeks ahead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2019 at 10:25 AM

  6. These are beautiful, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    September 4, 2019 at 8:57 AM

    • Yes, it’s a great place to see and photograph. If you never saw it during your time back east, it’s not too late for a visit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2019 at 10:26 AM

  7. Sinuous, yes. I especially like the last one. Reminds me of a spot in Switzerland that you might see in a few days on my blog. Watkins Glen is one of my favorite places to go when it is not overpopulated with OPOPs. (Other People On the Planet.)

    Michael Scandling

    September 4, 2019 at 9:43 AM

    • It was pretty crowded when we visited. Oh well, better some OPOPs than not seeing Watkins Glen at all.

      Your mention of the last picture made me notice that the upper boundary of the green plants there is more sinuous than the rock strata above the plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2019 at 10:37 AM

  8. What a gorgeous place. I’m sorry to hear that it was crowded. Isn’t it cool how the water carved that stone? I always am awed by the sense of time when I see something like this.


    September 4, 2019 at 10:51 AM

    • Gorgeous it is, and crowded in the summer. Oh well, that’s when we were traveling so we had to put up with the crowds (to which we of course added our two selves).

      You’re right that formations like these get a person thinking about time on a different scale from the one in our quotidian lives.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2019 at 11:10 AM

      • I’m thankful I grew up in an era that respected science, and the scale of time. Thinking of the relative ages of mountain ranges, for example, adds a layer of enjoyment to them. I shudder to think of the classrooms that now teach children that the earth is only 7,000 years old, or whatever it is.


        September 6, 2019 at 8:18 AM

        • My impression is that only a tiny percent of schools, all of them religious, teach that the earth is just a few thousand years old. Some people in every era have strange beliefs. It’s also often the case that a strange belief from one era is the orthodoxy of a later era, and vice versa.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 6, 2019 at 9:10 AM

          • True.


            September 8, 2019 at 8:29 AM

  9. Interesting rock formations!


    September 4, 2019 at 6:52 PM

  10. The first photo made me feel slightly dizzy but I did eventually figure out where the water met the rock. At first glance even the water seemed like rock.


    September 5, 2019 at 12:05 AM

  11. Watkins Glen is one of the treasures in New York. I say that having never been there. I will soon though. The stratification revealed by centuries, or millenia, of water coursing through the narrows is very nicely captured. I would think one would be totally awestruck while exploring all the curves and lines in those structures.

    Steve Gingold

    September 5, 2019 at 3:44 AM

    • If you go there this year, you’ll be happily past the main tourist season. If you go next year, it’s best to avoid the summer. Of the places we visited on this trip, Watkins Glen alone had stretches of canyon like those shown in the first two pictures (unless I missed them elsewhere).

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 5, 2019 at 5:08 AM

      • We’re heading to Acadia soon so it won’t be this year. Maybe the next. I always try to avoid the more popular periods at the park. Last year was unusual to visit in August and I won’t do it again.

        Steve Gingold

        September 5, 2019 at 6:06 PM

        • Understood, if you control the date. We had to be in New York City on August 4th for a cousin’s 80th birthday bash, and that’s why we ended up visiting these places in the height of the tourist season.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 5, 2019 at 6:26 PM

          • Same here, although I wasn’t going to the occasion. My brother and his wife and son and his fiance were in Maine for a wedding and they planned a visit for several days to Acadia. Since I don’t fly and can’t find the time for the drive across the country, I haven’t seen my brother in a while so the opportunity could not be passed up. I wasn’t able to do my usual sunrise/sunset shooting on top of Cadillac Mountain but, as you know, there is much else to see. I had six great sunrise mornings despite the lack of altitude.

            Steve Gingold

            September 5, 2019 at 6:34 PM

  12. What formations! Only they can teach a sculpture class!


    September 7, 2019 at 7:30 AM

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