Showing Scale

I visited the Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York, earlier this week as part of my Memorial Day weekend.  The rugged bluffs were formed from drumlins, which in turn were created by glaciers in the last ice age.  The impressive pinnacles and cliffs rise up to 150 feet (about 46 meters) from the lake shore. Here is a photo of some of the bluffs.

The bluffs of Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

The bluffs of Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

Can you tell how tall they are?  I can’t with the blue water of Lake Ontario behind them.  There is no reference as to how big the bluffs are. My first idea was to include something with the bluffs in the frame to give a sense of scale.

A boat floats off the beach at Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

A boat floats off the beach at Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

The surrounding trees help a little though it is hard to tell how tall they are without the boat as a reference.  This is better but how can we tell the length of the boat?  We can only estimate from this distance.  We need a better scale.

Being a holiday, there were many people enjoying the park with me.  We all have an idea how tall people are give or take a few inches (centimeters).

A couple plays with their dog on the rocky shore of Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

A couple plays with their dog on the rocky shore of Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

This is much better.  The bluffs tower over the couple playing on the rocky shore with their dog.  The average height of an American man is 5 foot, 10 inches (hey, that’s my height!) or 1.8 meters.  I know what you are thinking.  These people are not standing up straight.  I have that covered.

A lone hiker studies one of the tall stone pinnacles found in Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

A lone hiker studies one of the tall stone pinnacles found in Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York.

As you can see, this is one tall stone pinnacle the hiker is looking up at.  Remember this when faced with a very large natural object or a very small one.  Put something in the frame to give someone looking at your photo a way of knowing the scale of the object you are photographing.  Now that you have an idea of the size of these bluffs, the first photo in this article should look different to you.

All these photos where taken with a Nikon D70 digital camera and the Nikon 18-200VR lens.

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80 Responses to Showing Scale

  1. kelliejwin says:

    These are beautiful!

    Like

  2. Lulu says:

    Wow! such a great view! I really love the second picture best

    Like

  3. milkayphoto says:

    What a nice way to teach the importance of scale, Scott! While all the photos are nice, it is indeed that last image that is so strong. Good thing you found a hiker wearing colorful shorts (could the blue be more perfect?) instead of the usual khaki. Nice placement, too.

    Like

  4. I’ve lived in New York most of my life and didn’t even now this place existed! LOL. I’ll have to check it out one day.

    Like

  5. fizzy says:

    The pictures are beautiful, but honestly, the peak scares me

    Like

    • It is a bit ominous in this photo and even more so in person.

      The trail where I took the second photo is on the top of the bluffs and it could easily give one vertigo. The bluffs change each year as wind, rain, snow, and ice push them back a few feet each year via mud and rock slides.

      Thanks for commenting, Fizzy!

      Like

  6. Kathy says:

    Thanks for teaching us all about scale, Scott. And congratulations for making “Freshly Pressed”. Good job!

    Like

  7. rohitmaiya says:

    Nice pictures.

    Quite educative. 🙂

    Like

  8. Mitch says:

    I can’t believe I worked there for more than 6 years and didn’t know this existed; beautiful!

    Like

    • I suppose you don’t know about the waterfalls in Wolcott, too? You do know about the lighthouse, right?

      Don’t worry, I didn’t know about a lot of the places I’ve been visiting the last couple of years. Our state government might be dysfunctional but the natural beauty can not be argued with.

      Like

  9. Wil says:

    Wow…Pointy 🙂

    Like

  10. windyscotty says:

    I had no idea the water is so beautiful back there. Makes me want to go in for a swim. What a great place for you all to go and have fun.

    Like

  11. kanniduba says:

    This is great! I really had no idea how big those things were until you took us through the shots. Great post Scott! 🙂

    Like

  12. Truels says:

    Impressive bluffs, pictures and scale-lesson. Thanks 😉

    Like

  13. sjl19 says:

    I saw the photo on the WordPress home page and immediately recognized Chimney Bluffs so I clicked to see the post. My sister has a cottage “around the corner” from there in Sodus Bay. I’ve visited the Bluffs many times from a boat so my guess is that the boat in the photo is a 16-20 ft inboard/outboard, waterski type boat. Pretty standard stuff for the bay and the lake. From a boat you can see other cottages high on the bluff. One looks like it will go off the cliff soon if it is not moved back as the wind continues to erode the face and the cottage gets closer and closer to the edge. Great photos. If you’ve been there once, you know Chimney Bluff.

    Like

    • The bluffs erode up to 5 feet a year so having a camp on them would be a dubious undertaking. There was a lot of people enjoying the day on their boats off shore. Also looks like a good fishing spot judging by the number of poles hanging out over the sides.

      Like

  14. Nye says:

    I love the second photo, looks like a painting.

    Like

  15. Dmitry says:

    LOL, when i just saw the first pictuer i was like ‘kool these are the bluffs near my house’ … later on seem like its in NY and I live in Toronto. They look very similar at in some images.

    Like

  16. Karma says:

    What interesting formations these are! Now that I’ve been reading you, Gerry and Kathy pretty regularly, I’m more convinced than ever that I need to get to the Great Lakes some day.

    Like

  17. Gerry says:

    Great explanation, Scott. Now when people ask me why Miss Sadie and the Cowboy accompany on my rounds I can just say “for scale.” That last image is truly effective, but the first is my favorite. The razor-sharp edges of the bluffs astonished me. (You’re right, Karma–we should be on your list. We call ’em Great for a reason! 🙂 )

    Congratulations on the front page, Scott!

    Like

  18. Beautiful shots Scott, the lone hiker really gives it perspective, amazing 🙂

    Like

  19. montucky says:

    You have made a good point and demonstrated it well, Scott. I sure like that second photo!

    Like

  20. flandrumhill says:

    The sandy color of the bluffs contrasts beautifully with the blues of Lake Ontario. Your last photo looks like a great background for a Star Trek episode 🙂

    Your post is helpful as usual Scott. Today, I found you on WordPress’s front page. Congratulations!

    Like

  21. zookyshirts says:

    Woah! I’ve only seen formations like these in photos of the American Southwest landscape. Thanks for sharing your great pics from the bluffs by Lake Ontario. It’s neat to discover something I’ve never seen before. And congrats on making Freshly Pressed!

    Like

  22. giiid says:

    You are showing so many interesting places from New York, that at least I didn´t know existed.
    These bluffs are beautiful, and the place looks absolutely attractive. Does the tourists know about this place, or do you keep it as a secret? 🙂

    Like

    • This is a very undeveloped stat park. No campgrounds but there is a picnic area and a couple of restrooms. The trails are there but not the easiest ones to navigate which tends to keep the park on the quiet side. Not a secret but not as well known as our other parks.

      Like

  23. Abby says:

    wow, so beautiful!

    Like

  24. thorsaurus says:

    Thank you. I would have never guessed New York. This would be an excellent photo for the Conde’ Nast geo puzzle, the one where subscribers have to guess where on Earth a picture was shot. You should consider submitting the first shot, the one with no scale. Viewers’ impressions would probably be the American Southwest or Central Asia. Nice shots.

    Like

  25. Nice photos and nice advice!

    “Remember this when faced with a very large natural object or a very small one. Put something in the frame to give someone looking at your photo a way of knowing the scale of the object you are photographing”

    good idea 😉

    Like

  26. vince werber says:

    Great photos!!! I hope you don’t mind but these pics have me digging out my sketching pencils and pad!!! Way to go Sir!
    vince

    Like

  27. Sunshine says:

    Beautiful shots! The first one is just as lovely without the scale, but it is very helpful to have people or boats in them as well. I’ve always wanted to visit Chimney Bluffs myself and these photos only make me want to go more!

    Like

  28. Tammy says:

    Beautiful. I really like the second shot. Thanks for sharing as I’m not familiar with this park.

    Like

  29. WOW these are incredible. Honestly, when I saw the first photograph I assumed it was a picture of some mighty peak that was soaring up into the sky! I thought, perhaps this photograph was taken from a great distance and from up in the sky in a helicopter! (really, that’s what had occurred to me!) I guess in a way your pictures illustrate the way we perceive our problems: Big at first but in reality–and once we get to know them better–really not all that daunting.

    Would you mind if I used one of your photos on my page as an inspiring image of the week? I would include a reference and a link back to your page, naturally.

    Sincerely,

    Dorian Wacquez

    Like

  30. grannypants says:

    Nice photos! They remind me of the extremes you see between sky and land at Lake Mead and in Australia. Never knew NY had anything like this. I suppose I need to make Lake Ontario a stop one day! Thank you!

    Like

  31. gregw89 says:

    Nice pictures. I love landscapes. These types of pictures make one appreciate the natural beauty of our earth. Peace.

    Like

  32. Of course with the person standing straight up in the photograph, the bluff looks big. However, when removing the person from the scale, the bluff looks rather small. I don’t know why I’m seeing it in that context, because obviously I can tell that the bluff is large, but my mind is downsizing its grandness for some reason. Regardless, the pictures are beautiful.

    Like

  33. edmaration says:

    => wow, breath taking!

    Like

  34. Anna says:

    Definitely jagged and impressive. I really like the last two photos with people that not only shows scale, gives interest as photo stories. 🙂

    Like

  35. Dawn says:

    Wow! I didn’t know these existed! Great shots, love the last one best, just because of the color of the man’s shorts in contrast to the rock. Well. And the scale of course! 🙂

    Have to say a big THANKS for writing about David duChemin’s “Within the Frame.” I’m about halfway through, and it’s wonderfully inspiring as well as educational. It’s a book I’m going to have to purchase.

    Like

  36. Jessica Priest says:

    Very cool photos! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  37. kevin says:

    spectacular. i liked the first picture the best because i had to guess at the scale. call me contrary…

    Like

  38. emptymyhands says:

    The couple playing with the dog is fantastic. Gotta love it.

    Like

  39. Whew! I am a bit overwhelmed with all the comments and visitors since the post was listed on WordPress.com’s Freshly Pressed home page. I want to say “hi!” to all the new comers clicking in. I hope you come back for more of my adventurers with my camera, interactive fun and a photo tip or two.

    If you have any questions, leave me a comment! Or just leave me a comment so I know who’s visiting. 🙂

    Like

  40. kathy says:

    Glad you were able to still enjoy the bluffs. The governor has closed a lot of State parks, Chimney Bluffs being one of them. The pictures are fantastic and very informative. Great stuff.

    Like

    • The Legislature and the Governor came up with the money to open the parks again just before the Memorial Day weekend. However, this park didn’t have any time to mow or get the restrooms working the day I was there.

      Like

  41. great post on hiking on ny. it’s amazing that ny is so diverse. i’ve posted about other hikes in ny in the hudson valley that are tremendous and am always stunned by the natural beauty of the state.
    followtheleaderblog.wordpress.com

    Like

  42. Those who have not visited the US do not have this image of New York. Thanks for sharing with us these pics. It was informing.

    Like

  43. This is the first time I’ve seen drumlins transformed into such jagged shapes. I always associate them with the curvy “basket of eggs” landscape of parts of the north of Ireland.

    Like

  44. EverMe says:

    Congrats on being on FP, your work is beautiful. I do free climbing. Mountain climbing without ropes. I understand how scale can get distored in a photograph.

    Like

    • Thanks! It slipped the FP front page this morning and the views have almost stopped from there.

      Though it is against park rules, there were a few young adults free climbing the bluffs. Even got a photo of one waving to me.

      Like

  45. BEAUTIFUL shots! Great post. I’ll return to see more!

    Like

  46. Pingback: Photographing Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, New York « New York Outdoors Blog

  47. Carsten says:

    Thanks for a good and pedagogical guide to this subject. I like your images. It was pretty good weather that day. Obviously we should have used time upstate too.
    I almost gave up reading all these comments.

    Like

  48. Joe says:

    Thanks for the link to this blog. Much appreciated advice.

    Like

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