Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Inanimate and animate on the brink of the abyss

with 21 comments

So it’s our first close approach to Niagara’s American Falls on July 25th, and I’m noticing a tree limb on the brink of the waterfall. Eppur non si muove, and yet it doesn’t move, despite the rushing water.

And these Canada geese are calmly sure of themselves so close to the abyss:

Thanks to Shannon Westveer for identifying the birds.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2019 at 4:37 AM

21 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. The first photo’s intriguing, and the second one’s amusing. It’s hard to believe that the limb wouldn’t be swept away, and it’s fun to imagine those geese playing like kids at an amusement park.

    I started thinking about people who’ve gone over the falls in various ways, and discovered this list of things that have gone over the falls. It makes for some interesting reading. Not all of the tales involve humans. I found this: “At one point, a tourist was grazed at the Cave of the Winds when a salmon was swept over the falls and hit him. Instances of waterfowl being swept over the falls have been recorded, particularly when disoriented in foggy weather.”


    September 29, 2019 at 7:19 AM

    • Mostly what the geese were doing was feeding, or looking for food. In different frames one or another of the several geese had its head under the water. I can see how at night or in fog or both a bird could lose enough clues to get caught in the current at the edge of the precipice.

      That’s quite a toll in the Wikipedia article you linked to: “An estimated 5,000 bodies were found at the foot of the falls between 1850 and 2011, and an estimated 40 people are killed each year when they are swept over the falls—most of which are suicides. Other figures suggest that the number of suicides is between 20 and 30, many of which are not publicized by officials. The majority of jumps take place from the Canadian Falls, which account for between 55% and 70% of suicides.”

      Speaking of Wikipedia, I learned just this morning that one of its co-founders became disillusioned with it and started an alternative:


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2019 at 8:57 AM

  2. Excellent. I prefer the second photo due to the geese.


    September 29, 2019 at 7:23 AM

  3. Have you seen the falls frozen? They used to shine colored lights on them.

    automatic gardener

    September 29, 2019 at 8:30 AM

  4. I observed this phenomenon at smaller waterfalls and I think that close to the edge there must be a powerful undercurrent that allows objects to stay put. Just a guess, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    September 29, 2019 at 9:02 AM

    • I don’t know what held that log in place. My assumption is that it got caught on some rocks. I didn’t know about undercurrents, which could have added to the log’s stability in such a seemingly precarious place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2019 at 10:43 AM

  5. Those silly geese are far too numerous here in my area for me to appreciate. It is shocking, how many bodies have been found at the foot of the falls. We didn’t stay late enough to see the lights on the falls either but when I was a child they used to play lights on falls on the Columbia. So long ago…was it a dam? Maybe. I think on the 4th of July they would do that.
    The alternative to Wikipedia is pretty cool~I hadn’t heard of it before.


    September 29, 2019 at 9:10 AM

    • Like you, I had no idea how many dead people have been found at the base of Niagara Falls. I knew about daredevils, who obviously wanted to survive, but not about all the suicides.

      The Columbia River is one of the places on my list to visit, along with others in the northwest.

      I became aware of Everipedia less than an hour before I mentioned it in my reply, above.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2019 at 11:00 AM

  6. I’ve always seen the gulls and hawks swooping in at the base of the falls, scooping up fish that I imagine are a tad disoriented, after going over the falls on a dare, but I absolutely had no idea that they were finding that many bodies! Seriously, I wonder if some of them were people attempting to take selfies?

    Robert Parker

    September 29, 2019 at 11:29 AM

    • Ah, that sounds like you: fish going over the falls on a dare. I imagine it as a part of one of your posts.

      If you look back at the first picture in my introductory post about Niagara Falls,


      you’ll notice at the left edge of the photograph a guy holding a selfie stick to photograph himself and his girlfriend/wife. If you look farther to the right, close to the center of the picture, you’ll see something that troubled me: a little girl standing on the embankment holding on to the rail. Even though I assume those were her parents standing on either side of her, little children are known to do impetuous things like run out into the middle of a busy street without looking. What if that girl leaned over the railing for a better look and lost her balance? I don’t think the parents should have let her climb up there unless they were actually holding on to her the entire time. The father seems to be busy taking a picture with an iPad (meaning both his hands were busy), and the mother appears to be smiling at the father rather than keeping her eye (and at least one hand) on the girl.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2019 at 11:56 AM

      • I’m subject to an overactive imagination about such things, and when in charge of kids, am probably annoyingly overprotective. Yeah I would keep a hand on that kid’s shoulder

        Robert Parker

        September 29, 2019 at 12:11 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: