It’s amazing how things change, yet stay the same. Over a decade ago, I was walking around the trail at Mill Creek, where it meets the Susquehanna River with my Nikon D40. I had almost no idea what I was doing, but I knew enough. It’s a beautiful area complete with trails, falls, mossy rocks, and usually it’s not too crowded. It’s much the same now. The trails and falls are still there. The creek still flows exactly where it did ten years ago. But now, I see it completely differently. With time, it seems, people change more than nature does.
Now more than ten years older, and having learned much more about photography – and more importantly, myself – I often find myself looking at things in a different way, both figuratively, and literally. My trip to the Mill Creek trail head today brought with it a resurgence in my love for that area.
It had become stale in my many years of photographing it, but when I arrived today, it felt different. I started seeing things I’d never noticed before, (or maybe I should say, have never seen before). The clouds in the sky were a welcome sight, as it was sunny earlier in the day. The thick, grey clouds blocked the sun that had already sank below the ridge overlooking the creek and falls. The light was probably the softest I’d ever seen it there. I setup first at the trail head, under the bridge over the creek to get the scope out the conditions, as well as check out the level of the water. Water level was good, and the rocks were still damp from the rain overnight, which surprised me, as it was already a little before 4pm.
After settling into the shooting conditions, I set off up the trail, and that’s when I noticed I was seeing everything with new eyes. The mossy rocks presented themselves in patterns I had not seen. The water felt thicker, as if it were flowing sap. The bushes that dotted the narrow, steep banks seemed greener.
24-120 @ 24mm
Shutter speed wasn’t a problem today. I could shoot at anything I wanted, from a quarter second all the way to 30+ seconds, any aperture. Sometimes the canvas can seem bigger when you have a bigger selection of tools. I settled into 2-8 seconds around f/11, which I find to be ideal for slower moving shallow creek water, shorter falls, and smaller capture areas.
Today was one of those days where I felt better and better about what I was getting the longer I went. I utilized a lot of low angles to add dimension to what can sometimes be a flat landscape when working with such a narrow and shallow path of water. I did find myself at least attempting to compose wider, higher vantage points, but that usually proved to be fruitless.
As I started working my way up the creek, I even made a friend. I felt I owed him a decent photo having almost stepped on the little guy.
24-120 @ 120mm
The day ended when I reached a fork. In all, I spent around three hours shooting a total of 82 images.
I wonder what other familiar places I’ll visit that will seem new next time I make an appearance.