Shadow River

Flying a drone makes me think a lot about my xyz position in space. Dark stone and glossy water and fuzzy trees seem to occupy orthogonal dimensions: the trees point along the z-axis, the striations in the stone along the y-axis, and the ripples and rapids in the water along the x-axis.

Shadow River

Town by the Dam

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.

Town by the Dam

Stone Valley: Rapid Stairs

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).

Stone Valley: Rapid Stairs I

Farther along the river, the effect again repeats: stone ledges turn the rushing water into less-metallic slinky.

Stone Valley: Rapid Stairs II

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.

Stone Valley: Rapid Stairs III

Exploring

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.

Exploring I

Living in this Adirondack-ish reality of the region presents opportunities to stand face-to-face with nature.

Exploring II

Quiet contemplation of the future is at the end of the trail.

Exploring III

Pestle Stone Sunset

Summer hiking in nearby Colton’s Stone Valley is rapidly approaching, and with it, opportunities to see some of our odd (to me) local geology. Those enormous hollows are created by the movement of trapped pestle stones in the rapids water; the scattered evening light reveals their depths.

Pestle Stone Sunset

“Secret” Island “Fort”

An almost-island was hiding in the background of this photograph of Stone Valley. Most of my childhood adventures involved sorties from some kind of tree-based fortress; this formation silhouetted against the setting sun reminded me of those adventures. Or maybe just the fort from a particular film. (Even it’s neither truly secret, nor a fort.)

"Secret" Island "Fort"

Kinds of Water

When chemists study water, the molecular-level view offers a lot to consider. Bulk water takes on two fluid phases and seventeen (depending on who you ask) solid phases, from a physical scientist’s perspective. That’s my normal mindset. Even when I see liquid water in a photography, however, I’m astonished to see wispy white tendrils and glassy surfaces that are all created by reflection and scattering from the same material.

Kinds of Water

Stone Valley Before Sunset

Except perhaps in winter, I’ve always hiked when the sun was high in the sky and settled in before sunset. I have always wanted, however, to capture some dramatic nature scenes with a crazy sky, so this weekend I went sunset hunting. This shot, appropriately, is from early in the night. Later in the week, I’ll be showing more of the shots as I hiked on and the sun disappeared.

Stone Valley Before Sunset

Exploring Stone Valley

If the weather is just right and recent rain has the Raquette River running high through Stone Valley, a summer hike is just the thing. A geologist would have the technical explanation of the valley’s odd geometry. The hydroelectric dam secretly controls the scene (or the water release, anyway).

Exploring Stone Valley II

The scale of the setting doesn’t really become apparent until you try to spot the tiny people (chemists and physicists, in this case) on the rocks. Bob Ross would be proud.

Exploring Stone Valley I

Along the Cliffs

Students hike the cliffside where geological formations collide. On July 4th, let me compose an overly-ornate sentence about the season and the nation.

“Summer hiking in the North Country of America, at the edge of the Adirondacks: stripes of chlorophyll and aluminosilicate and tanninful water.”

Along the Cliffs

Small Mushroom and Stones

Backing up from grand views of public spaces in modern, urban settings, I present some photographs of small yet appealing shapes from a recent hike. I like the way these stones have carved pillars beneath them where erosion was prevented.

Small Stones

The living things make their own little shapes in Stone Valley, too. The moss hasn’t grown as much in the shadow of the mushroom.

Small Mushroom