A poster of Caspar David Friedrich’s “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” hung above my bed in college, and I’ve since then developed a love of Rückenfiguren in images. Building from my last post’s theme of self-portraiture, I thought using myself as the POV for an image in Stone Valley might add the right German Romantic vibe.
The first organisms to shift and adapt to a new season have always seemed to me like its harbingers. Here in the North Country, I’m noticing the first buds appearing on the maple trees—several weeks after their sap was harvested to make some delicious New York maple syrup—but back in the autumn, those same trees were the first to display their autumn foliage.
Earlier this week, I posted an image that used long exposure to contrast textures in a landscape. This image achieves a similar goal, but perhaps with even more drama and structure. The oblique lighting from the blue-hour sky exaggerates the sheets of stone that have been thrust forth from the Earth.
Hiking through Stone Valley to capture a vibrant sunset over long-exposure-blurred rapids really only works if the sunset shows up for the party. What I found instead was a more quiet and contemplative view of early autumn in the Adirondacks.
Stone Valley is a hyperreal place at sunset; the effect is a bit different from above but no less magical. The rapids do, I’ll grant, look a bit less steep from up here.
In the foothills of the Adirondacks, the Raquette River was dammed for hydroelectric power. The town of Colton, New York sits on the resulting reservoir; the rapids in the foreground are the beginning of Stone Valley, an area of trails that I’ve photographed extensively in the past. The contrast between placid reflections in the reservoir and the dark currents of the river proper stand out during the blue hour.
The rapids of Stone Valley in Colton, New York have a certain stair-like repeating quality to them (at least for the 363-ish days/year during which the dam above keeps its spillway gates closed).
Farther along the river, the effect again repeats: stone ledges turn the rushing water into less-metallic slinky.
This isn’t a mere trompe-l’œil where a particular angle makes stair-like shapes appear in the stones and moving water. A view shifted by 90º confirms the structure.
The end of St. Lawrence’s school year means that the hikes through areas like nearby Colton’s Stone Valley will be coming to an end for many graduating seniors.
Living in this Adirondack-ish reality of the region presents opportunities to stand face-to-face with nature.
Quiet contemplation of the future is at the end of the trail.