Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The first shall be last

with 49 comments

The first and mightiest of the waterfalls we visited during our trip to the Northeast is now the last to put in an appearance here. On the morning of July 25th we left the Toronto area, came around the west end of Lake Ontario, and in under an hour and a half found ourselves at Niagara Falls. People generally consider the Ontario side more impressive than the New York side because they get to stand right at the edge of the place where the Niagara River pours over a long curving cliff to form Horseshoe Falls.

Skylon Tower

Because Niagara Falls is such a tourist magnet, I decided to do something unaccustomed today by showing pictures that prominently include human elements along with natural ones. Intermittent posts over the next couple of weeks will feature views of nature in its own right at Niagara Falls.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 24, 2019 at 4:39 AM

49 Responses

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  1. Pretty sure I’d buy out the ship’s store of all its Dramamine for that boat ride. Did you line up the tree and tower or is that something they do like some cell towers?

    Steve Gingold

    September 24, 2019 at 5:00 AM

    • I know what you mean about those cell phone towers, having seen one along a parkway in Westchester County (NY) two months ago. The tower in the second picture isn’t like that. As soon as I caught sight of the tall evergreen I knew I had to line it up with the tower. I searched the Internet last night and found one photograph that includes the tree and the tower apart from each other, but none where they’re lined up. Surely someone else must have thought to line them up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 6:57 AM

      • They are pretty obvious imitations.

        Well you never know. It might be that no one else has thought to do that as the majority of photographers’ first impulse is to fill the frame with the subject.

        Steve Gingold

        September 24, 2019 at 2:37 PM

        • I guess it’s possible I’m the first. Let’s hope so. I’ve come up with phrases for which Google finds no match.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 24, 2019 at 2:59 PM

    • Like you, I’m susceptible to getting queasy on rocking boats.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 7:03 AM

  2. We need to visit the Canadian side of the falls. Most impressive.


    September 24, 2019 at 7:33 AM

    • Yes, you should go. We spent a few hours on the Canadian side, then crossed over to the American side and spent more time at the falls later in the day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 7:53 AM

  3. Niagara Falls is one place in the country I’ve never wished to visit. I suppose aversion to huge crowds is part of the problem. Even though a search brought up plenty of photos of the falls sans humans, the ones I come across usually are filled with people. I’ll be interested to see your other photos of the area. The tower-and-tree combination is fun.


    September 24, 2019 at 7:58 AM

    • Niagara Falls is up there with the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone, and some other super-scenic places that get mobbed by tourists in the high season. If possible I’d visit at a different time of year, but it’s not always possible. Even then, in spite of the crowds I’ve managed to enjoy those places and get good pictures that don’t show any people. As promised, examples for Niagara Falls are forthcoming.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 11:49 AM

    • If you don’t mind cold weather, the Falls is a blast to visit in the winter. You won’t be able to ride on the “Maid of the Mist” boats, etc. but the ice formations make up for it.

      Robert Parker

      September 24, 2019 at 5:57 PM

      • I’ve seen pictures of the frozen falls, and as much as I don’t like the cold (which is one reason I left NY), I’d put up with it briefly for the sake of those ice formations.

        Steve Schwartzman

        September 24, 2019 at 6:04 PM

      • I don’t want to live in cold weather through a whole season, but I don’t mind it, and I think a winter trip would be great. One of my readers ended up in the area for a February conference a few years ago, and visited the falls at night. He’d been there in summer, but said he far preferred winter. Of course, he’s a born-and-bred Canadian, so he was in his element.


        September 24, 2019 at 6:47 PM

  4. Amazing place! Having lived in Canada for more than 50 years it is equally amazing that I have not been there yet. Great photos, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    September 24, 2019 at 8:08 AM

    • My mother spent almost her whole life in and around New York City without ever going to the Statue of Liberty. At least you have distance as a reason: it’s hundreds of miles farther for you to go to Niagara Falls than it is for me in Austin. I’d still recommend you go. There are plenty of other places to visit in that part of Ontario and adjacent New York, as you’ve seen here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 11:55 AM

  5. I used to take day trips to the Falls before we needed passports. I believe the crowds are bigger and the tall buildings cause a lot of mist, but the Falls used to smell bad and that is cleared up. I was disappointed on my last trip that the Maid of the Mist no longer used those oil cloth type raincoats. They did not seem to have kid sizes, so we were bundled in giant coats. It has become a lot more touristy.

    automatic gardener

    September 24, 2019 at 8:31 AM

    • I can sure confirm how busy it was in July. Our previous visit was a long time ago, in the summer of 1988, and I don’t remember how crowded it was then compared to now. Given 31 years of population increase, I imagine you’re right in saying it’s a lot more touristy now. We did one of the boat rides in 1988 but not again this time. And yes, in the old days crossing the US–Canadian border was simple; as recently as the summer of 2001 when we visited Quebec they practically waved us right on through. Things changed shortly thereafter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 1:11 PM

  6. I was 5 years old when I saw Niagara Falls. I never forgot it.

    Lavinia Ross

    September 24, 2019 at 9:09 AM

  7. I saw it several times as a kid. That satisfied me for life. Too many OPOPs. (Other People On the Planet)

    Now I just think, slowly I turn. Step by step. Inch by inch…

    Michael Scandling

    September 24, 2019 at 10:18 AM

    • Niagara Falls still might warrant a slow (re)turn, slow enough to miss the tourist season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 1:26 PM

    • Just watched that again…Abbott and Costello, not the Stooges…and what a hoot. It’s been years. Thanks.

      Steve Gingold

      September 24, 2019 at 2:30 PM

      • I’ll look at it again later. Tied up right now.

        Michael Scandling

        September 24, 2019 at 2:33 PM

      • I didn’t recognize what you were alluding to. Now that I’ve watched it, I’m not sure I’d ever seen it before.

        Steve Schwartzman

        September 24, 2019 at 2:55 PM

        • Can’t speak for Michael, but I’ve gathered that I watched a lot more television than you did when we were young. My folks loved all the shows and movies so my brother and I spent a lot of time in front of the TV with them.

          Steve Gingold

          September 24, 2019 at 3:05 PM

          • I spent a lot of time watching television as a kid, too, but apparently with a different enough mix of programs that I don’t always catch your allusions.

            Steve Schwartzman

            September 24, 2019 at 3:09 PM

            • You do a good job of researching them afterward.

              Steve Gingold

              September 24, 2019 at 3:20 PM

              • What you said about Abbott and Costello was enough of an addition to “inch by inch” that I was easily able to track this one down. Initially I didn’t even know that anything was being alluded to.

                Steve Schwartzman

                September 24, 2019 at 3:24 PM

  8. I’ve visited the Falls quite a few times, and haven’t gotten tired of them yet. If it’s too crowded and hectic, a few miles downriver, on the Canadian side, is a lovely botanical garden, with the biggest butterfly conservatory I’ve ever been in, it must be an acre under glass, and then they’ve got first-class plays at the Shaw Festival, in the village where the river enters Lake Ontario. I know I sound like the Chamber of Commerce, but off-season it’s a very pleasant area.

    Robert Parker

    September 24, 2019 at 6:06 PM

    • I believe it. My sister happened to ask if we were going to visit the village you mentioned where the river enters Lake Ontario. I looked it up but we just didn’t have enough time to do everything we could’ve done. In Austin I’d researched plenty of things and put them on a list of potential sites, some of which we made it to and others not. You’re fortunate to have visited Niagara Falls and vicinity many times.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 7:00 PM

      • Nobody can hit every site – from your photos and travelogue so far, it looks like you covered a whole lot of ground this summer. And water, too!

        Robert Parker

        September 24, 2019 at 7:47 PM

        • That’s right, and I’m glad we covered so much ground and water. I’m gradually nearing the end of showing trip pictures, as they’re now two months old.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 24, 2019 at 9:49 PM

  9. There is a LOT of H20 in that river!


    September 24, 2019 at 6:58 PM

    • There sure is. Its erosive force is such that scientists estimate the falls will gradually precess all the way to Lake Erie and therefore cease to exist in 23,000 years. Better hurry up and see them while you still can.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 9:45 PM

  10. The color of the water is amazing!!


    September 24, 2019 at 7:54 PM

    • It is. That kind of color surprised me when I visited Lake Michigan in 2016. It’s one reason the Great Lakes are great.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2019 at 9:46 PM

  11. Did you visit the butterflies?!


    September 26, 2019 at 7:37 AM

    • No, we didn’t. I didn’t know about them, but even if I had, there were so many places to visit on our list that we couldn’t get to more than about half of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 26, 2019 at 12:32 PM

  12. […] that unlike the pictures in the introductory Niagara Falls post a few days ago, these are strictly nature photographs and show no people or human elements at […]

  13. […] so this post’s title is misleading; in fact hordes of tourists were at Niagara Falls when we visited on July 25th. Nevertheless, not many people at Niagara Falls photograph the plants […]

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