The Force

October 05, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

And we are back at the Niagara River Gorge to appreciate and enjoy the raw power of water again. I have had several posts from the location before so I am sure you already know how much I love the place. And while I already have a decent collection of photographs from there I always try to mix things up a bit.

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The Niagara River flows from Lake Erie in Buffalo, NY, to Lake Ontario in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada. Its 35-mile path creates the international border between the United States and Canada and is crossed by several major bridges (Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge, Queenston-Lewiston Bridge). Once the water leaves Lake Erie the river immediately narrows to a width of 1,500 feet and depth of 17 feet as it reaches a rock ledge, which naturally controls its outflow. Along its whole way the river drops about 326 feet.

The Niagara Gorge extends from the Niagara Falls for 7 miles downstream to the foot of the escarpment at Queenston. In the wildest section that we are visiting together today, the Whirlpool Rapids, the river drops about 50 feet in a little more then a mile and terminates in the Whirlpool. About 100,000 cubic feet per second (2,800 cubic meters, 2.8 million liters) of water go over the crest of Niagara Falls every second during peak daytime tourist hours and all of that water enters the Niagara Gorge and the narrow Whirlpool rapids.

And that's only about half of the water as the other half is diverted for power generation before the Falls. It's hard to imagine how twice as much water would look.

The Wave, Lower Niagara River Rapids, Nikon F4, Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White FilmThe WaveLower Niagara River Rapids

The Wave, Lower Niagara River Rapids
Photographed with a Nikon F4 on Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White Film

And now back to our photographic visit. What can be changed for a new take? I can plan to focus on different aspects of the gorge, I can bring different equipment, and I can hope that luck will throw a bonus or two my way. On my previous visit earlier in the year I used a Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera to capture the spirit of the area on the square format. For this visit I wanted to try something different again.

I traded my classic manual focus cameras for a more modern piece of equipment, the Nikon F4, and equipped it with a Nikkor 80 - 200 f/2.8 zoom lens with the intention to capture close ups of the wild water action going on here. I wanted to isolate the powerful buildup of water into large swells and waves and catch them falling over on themselves in huge water explosions.

The Crash, Lower Niagara River Rapids, Nikon F4, Kodak Double-X 5222 Black & White FilmThe CrashLower Niagara River Rapids

The Crash, Lower Niagara River Rapids
Photographed with a Nikon F4 on Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White Film

And the film of choice for the day? I wanted the water to look as clear as possible and decided to go for a black and white film. And since it was a bright sunny summer day I reached for the Kodak Double-X 5222 motion picture stock. It's interesting. It was made for filming in dim conditions but I love how it renders bright tones. And while it's increased blue and lowered red sensitivity may not always work the best for grand landscapes with big blue skies it is the perfect choice for capturing close ups whether natural or manmade.

The Swell, Lower Niagara River Rapids, Nikon F4, Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White FilmThe SwellLower Niagara River Rapids

The Swell, Lower Niagara River Rapids
Photographed with a Nikon F4 on Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White Film

On location I headed to a few of my favorite spots and spent quite a bit of time at each watching the water, learning its tricks of the day, and then watching the action through the viewfinder attempting to capture the decisive moment. But what is a decisive moment in situation like this? Is it when a huge wave tips over resulting in a huge splash? Is it just before it tips over? Or is it when the initial swell starts forming? I tired to get a few examples of each of the situations and you can see a short selection out of those here today. And my favorites? Probably not the obvious ones. As of right now, I am leaning towards subtlety and the swell formations, as in the photograph directly above.

The Shore. Lower Niagara River Rapids, Nikon F4, Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White FilmThe ShoreLower Niagara River Rapids

The Shore, Lower Niagara River Rapids
Photographed with a Nikon F4 on Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White Film

Towards the end of the roll I decided to put it all in context. Yes, it was a bit backwards and I went for the establishing shots at the end. I thought that was perfectly fine as I had already had many sets from my past visits. The river offers gorgeous rocky banks on both sides providing both great platforms to roam and explore and to point a camera at. And past these river banks are impressive tall cliffs rising high above.

The Cliffs, Lower Niagara River Rapids, Nikon F4, Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White FilmThe CliffsLower Niagara River Rapids

The Cliffs, Lower Niagara River Rapids
Photographed with a Nikon F4 on Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White Film

And then there are the trees happily growing in what seems to be a very inhospitable place. It's all rocks everywhere! And winters at the gorge are tough too. In color, it can be quite a bold palette but I really like how the Double-X film's tones rendered this landscape in shades of black and white. The light is shimmering and sparkling, isn't it?

The Watchman at Whirlpool, Lower Niagara River Rapids, Nikon F4, Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White FilmThe Watchman at WhirlpoolLower Niagara River Rapids

The Watchman at Whirlpool, Lower Niagara River Rapids
Photographed with a Nikon F4 on Kodak Double-X 5222 Black and White Film

I could not leave without snapping the Watchman Tree leaning and watching over the Whirlpool that gave the state park its name. It's here where the river widens and makes a 90-degree turn right spinning up the Whirlpool in the process.

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

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