A week after “Superstorm” Sandy inundated the region with days of wind-driven rain, some areas remain wet. This morning I spied a place within the Cleveland Metroparks that was more reflecting pool than picnic area. The water is slowly receding from beneath the tables and grill and, in a few days, only muddy earth with remain. In the mean time it’s no picnic.
It was a cool, wet, and foggy morning in Northeastern Ohio today; sometimes that’s all right. This sight on the West Branch Columbia River in North Olmsted caused me to abruptly pull off the road, grab my camera, and shoot a few photos in the light drizzle.
This evening and for the third time, recently, I tried photographing Berea Falls from an overlook deck in the Cleveland Metroparks. The first time I tried I had my best camera with me but ran out the battery with no spare on hand! The result was only so-so but showed potential for the site. The second time I tried on a sunny evening — brilliantly-lit treetops and dark, shaded gorge did not go well together. This evening my camera (the “middle” one) had a battery plus spare, and the overcast sky evened out the lighting. A tripod wouldn’t work from this location — scrub trees growing up around the deck block some of the view — but I found a way to elevate myself above the worst of the obstructions. I settled for f/11 at 1/60th of a second, and engaged image stabilization on the lens. I think it was a winning combination! I’ll be back another cloudy day armed with tripod and hiking gear to explore this beautiful area more thoroughly.
Today was a nearly perfect mid-September day to be outdoors; I had to spend the day in the office. During my drive, however, I stopped briefly to take in the brilliant sunrise over Baldwin Lake in Berea, Ohio. Baldwin Lake is really a wide section of the East Branch Rocky River. A little farther downstream the waterway narrows and flows over a stony dam near the center of town. This morning, in the open shadows, the waters actually looked more like ice as they flowed over flat rock near the edge. Streams falling and splashing on rocks below were reminiscent, perhaps of icicles. But we’re getting ahead here… it will be winter soon enough. My respite was all-too-brief; I forced myself to look away from the sun, the blue sky, the dark and reflecting waters. I packed up my camera and headed out for my day indoors: it was a great day to be outdoors; I was in my office.
I had enough time on my drive this morning to pause at the Berea Falls Overlook in Berea, Ohio. I also had my “big” camera with me — thrown into the car at the last minute with no extra gear, including no extra battery. I walked from the parking area to the deck which extends out over a deep, rocky gorge. It was a breathtaking view, indeed, though Cleveland Metroparks needs to prune trees that have grown up around the deck partly blocking the view. So back to the car I went to grab the camera. I shot my usual image documenting where the following images were taken. Then I focused on the scene and shot my first image. I thought I got off one or two more but then the camera stopped responding. Yep… the battery was dead, dead, dead! Stupid mistake the result of a last-minute change. No chance to improve focus, use different exposures… Ugh! Later, accessing the camera’s memory card from a computer, I found only the documentation shot and one photo of the Falls. Still, the alpha/omega picture turned out pretty well and I now know a new place to revisit when better prepared!
I do love the quiet beauty of the morning and I have been long remiss in visiting David Fortier River Park in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. There I have seen the West Branch of the Columbia River in full fury — roaring waters that threatened to end anyone or anything that ventures too near or happens to make a misstep. Recent drought conditions have tamed the rivers here. On this morning’s journey I promised myself to make a quick stop for a taste of tranquility; I am so glad I did. The morning light was subdued by clouds. To spite the drought the stony valley was lush, damp, and green. The river itself was running low, there was no flowing water at all in a tributary joining it, and the peace of the place was thick as the morning’s air. I was reminded of the first time I set eyes upon the park –one of my favorite places– and wondered how I could have stayed away so long. Time passed quickly and I was expected elsewhere. Too soon departed from this lovely place.
Sometimes I spy something special during my long commute to work. A morning fog was veiling the West Branch of the Columbia River so, after crossing the bridge, I swung my car into a pull-off. As I headed on foot back to the bridge to try and capture the image I’d seen in my mind’s eye, I noticed something else. Just off the path was the remnant of a fallen tree, well on its way to returning to the soil that once nourished it. The deep colors of the rotting wood were marvelous and, as it turned out, my river pictures were not.
Since the weather was predicted to be “hot, hazy, and humid,” we decided to get out and take a photo-hike in the cooler, early-morning hours. One of my favorite beautiful places in the area is the rocky gorge of Chippewa Creek as it flows through the city of Brecksville, Ohio. She Who Must Be Obeyed had never visited the riverbed so we had a first destination. We enjoyed a bagel breakfast at the Bruegger’s Bagels place near the entrance to the metropark, and hiked down into the broad space. The last six feet or so are a bit of a scramble from an earthen riverbank to the washed stone floor, easily handled however. The steep walls of the passage bear the scars of millennia of erosion, weathering, and plant action; they are dark, often damp, and in places support abundant ferns and mosses.
Trees, atop the rock walls, form a canopy over much of the area as their upper branches join overhead. With little recent rain, the creek was low and the riverbed mostly dry — perfect for exploration. At least that’s what I thought. She found a slick spot on a smooth rock and tumbled forward, skinning Her knee, nearly damaging her new camera, and threatening to spoil the experience. She recovered, however, and seemed to enjoy the rest of our visit. We found various objects and scenes to photograph — it’s a dark place which can make picture-taking difficult — but I’d brought my tripod this day! After a while, we climbed back out of the valley and enjoyed a good, long, challenging hike on designated Cleveland Metroparks trails. The peace of the place remains with me.
I hadn’t paid a visit to one of my favorite places in a long time so this morning, on the way to work, I stopped by David Fortier River Park in Olmsted Falls. It was quiet and dark under the clear, early-morning sky. I carried my little Canon G11 camera towards the rock-lined stream and river that converge in the valley park and gingerly stepped out upon the rocks. I photographed ancient, water-sculpted rock walls and flowing streams. I took images of the rich green colors and leafy trees, light and dark reflected in the water that led to the park’s stone bridge. It was beautiful and relaxing just being there for 10 minutes. Realizing it was time to resume my trip, I carefully stepped across the damp, slippery rocks, looking down to avoid water and a sure tumble into the shallow stream. Then, either at a glance or in the still-live LCD panel of the camera, a sight caught my eye: all of the elements I sought combined, in painterly fashion, in one image. I took one shot, made my way (still dry) to my car and headed off. Only tonight looking at the photographs did I see that, for all of those carefully-composed photographs, my favorite and the best of the morning was that “accidental” vision. Beautiful serendipity.