View 447: Taughannock Falls: Then and Now

What a difference a year makes. About a year ago I visited Taughannock Falls State Park near Ithaca, New York. It was a warm Autumn day a few days after some rain. The Great Fall in the Woods had a good water flow surrounded by Fall colors.

Taughannock Falls 2019
Taughannock Falls with good flow at Taughannock Falls State Park near Ithaca, New York on Saturday, October 14, 2019. Nikon D750/24-120VR, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 50mm Focal Length, Tripod, HDR Image.

Fast forward to last weekend and Taughannock Falls water flow is extremely low. Probably does not help it has been one of the hottest and driest years on record. Whatever rain we do get, soaks into the ground before running off into the waterways.

Taughannock Falls 2020
Taughannock Falls with little flow at Taughannock Falls State Park near Ithaca, New York on Saturday, October 10, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, f/16, ISO 800, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

While yearly weather does vary, seems each year has become hotter and dryer. Statistics back it up as the Earth has experienced five of the hottest years on record since 2015.

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View 446: Adirondack Autumn

Autumn in the Adirondack Park is both colorful and quick. This year seems to have been accelerated and is about a week ahead of past years. This past weekend, I took a drive up through Boonville through Old Forge and ended up at Arrowhead Park in Inlet.

First stop was at the Hawkinsville Dam near Boonville, New York. Being on the south edge of the Adirondacks, the colors were about 60% changed.

Hawkinsville Dam
Autumn colors surround the Hawkinsville Dam on the Black River near Boonville, New York on Sunday, October 4, 2020. Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/4s, f/16, ISO 64, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length, 3-stop ND Filter, Tripod, Cropped.

Even with using a 3-stop Neutral Density filter, I set my ISO below the Nikon D750’s native 100 to an ISO of 64. This allowed me to get a 1/4 second shutter speed to blur the water flowing over the dam.

The trees became less vibrant and full the farther north and east I traveled. At the planned lunch stop at Arrowhead Park in Inlet, New York, I waited patiently for the Sun to break through the cloud cover to light up the colors seen around Fourth Lake.

Arrowhead Park in Inlet
View of Autumn color from Arrowhead Park on Fourth Lake in Inlet, New York on Sunday, October 4, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 160, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

The colors popped with the sunlight and the October blue sky added to the beautiful scene.

Hope this finds you well and safe. Being able to travel around and enjoy the outdoors while photographing has kept me from going crazy.

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View 445: Stanley Cup Champions

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars on Monday night to win the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals Series, 4 games to 2. 18 of the players with the Lightning in the NHL Playoff bubble have played for the Syracuse Crunch. As the photographer for the Syracuse Crunch since the 2012-13 American Hockey League (AHL) season, I have photographed and gotten to know many of those players.

In ice hockey, if you do not have a quality goaltender, you will not go far in the playoffs. Tampa Bay does not have to worry. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) is one of, if not, the best in the NHL. After playing in the Russian league for a couple of seasons after being drafted by the Lightning, he came to the Crunch in 2014. After a rough start, he quickly caught on to the North American game and eventually graduated to the NHL and took over as the number one goalie for the Lightning.

Stanley Cup Champion goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy

He was 7-0 in games after a loss in the drive to the Stanley Cup Championship. He was the closer most teams dream of.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak came to the Crunch in 2017 after a trade with the LA Kings which sent former goalie Ben Bishop to the Kings. I remember a few Kings fans who were upset with losing Cernak. I watched him get better and better during his rookie year with the Crunch. At the start of the 2018-19 season, he was called up to the Lightning after 9 games and never looked back. He is a smooth and deceptively fast skater, has learned to read and defend against the league’s best offensive players and brings a physical game needed in today’s game.

Stanley Cup Champion Erik Cernak

During his time with the Crunch, he always wanted to see the photos I took of him. He would share them with his friends and family back in his home country of Slovakia.

Back in 2012, the Crunch changed their NHL affiliation to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay moved their players from the Norfolk, Virginia area to Syracuse. Having just come off a Calder Cup championship run there, Syracuse fans were very excited.

One of the players was Tyler Johnson. An undrafted, smallish player at 5′ 8″ who took to Syracuse and lead them to a trip to the AHL Finals for the very first time. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, too. Not bad, eh?

Stanley Cup Champion Tyler Johnson

In 2015, he lead the Lightning to the Stanley Cup Finals with 13 goals. If he had not injured his wrist then, maybe they would have won it that year. I was thrilled to see him finally win it this time.

Ondrej Palat was Tyler Johnson’s Robin. In fact, the two have played on the same team and often on the same line since 2011. This season, Palat anchored a line with Superstar Nikita Kucherov and budding Superstar Brayden Point.

Stanley Cup Champion Ondrej Palat

The line lead the Lightning in goals and points for the playoffs. Ondrej scored 11 of those goals. Seems every line he is on does well. Which is not a coincidence.

Lastly, the one player who I have enjoyed photographing and getting to know since he arrived on the Syracuse Crunch roster in the middle of the 2013-14 season is Yanni Gourde. Another smallish and undrafted player who’s Professional tryout (PTO) contract had just ended with another AHL team when Tampa Bay offered him a full contract. He ended up playing 215 games for the Crunch over the next 4 seasons. Over those seasons, his skating got stronger and faster, his shot became more accurate, his vision of the ice improved and his leadership skills grew. He was named an AHL All-Star and helped the Crunch to its second Calder Cup Finals appearance in 2017.

Stanley Cup Champion Yanni Gourde

He made the Lightning the following season and was a key to a line in this year’s playoffs. The Gourde line used Yanni’s speed and tenacity to forecheck the opposing team while his teammates, Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman used their size to hem the puck in the offensive zone.  Their play and netting key goals to help out the top lines was something the other teams could not handle at all. Not bad for a little guy from Saint-Narcisse, Quebec, eh?

And to all the other Crunch players who are celebrating the Stanley Cup Championship, congratulations and I hope to see you again when I photograph the Lightning in the future. Keeping a fresh incentive for those young players back in Syracuse to keep playing hard and they’ll be rewarded.


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View 444: 50th Anniversary Cinderella Castle

To celebrate Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, Cinderella Castle inside the Magic Kingdom got a makeover. Disney Imagineers added some pink blush and gold accents to go along with royal blue roofing tiles. She looked great!

50th Anniversary Cinderella Castle

50th Anniversary Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Sunday, September 20, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

As you can see, it was a rather dreary day. I decided to take a High Dynamic Range of exposures from -2EV to +2EV in 1 stop intervals at an aperture of f/11. Using Skylum’s Aurora HDR software, I merged the photos together and choose a Vivid preset. Bringing the image back into Adobe’s Lightroom Classic, I cropped it a bit and followed my usual processing to come up with this image.

If you are interested in more information on a Walt Disney World vacation, contact my wife by clicking her email address below 

Walt Disney World Travel Consultant

She has been booking and planning Disney trips and cruises for satisfied travelers exclusively for over 20 years.

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View 443: River Cruise II

My Brother and Sister-In-Law invited family for a cruise on the Seneca River over the weekend. Turned out to be a perfect day for one. Warm but not hot with smooth waters.

River Cruise 01

Author’s family enjoying a boat cruise on the Seneca River heading towards the Onondaga Lake Inlet near Liverpool, New York. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/8, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 24mm Focal Length.

We shared the waterway with several different watercraft from jet skis to kayaks.

River Cruise 02

Watercraft of the Seneca River from left to right: Jetski, Outboard Boat and Kayak. Photographed with a Nikon D500/80-400VR.

As you see by the caption above, I brought along the Nikon D500 dSLR camera with the Nikon 80-400mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR lens in the hopes of photographing river wildlife.

River Cruise 03

Bird life photographed on the Seneca River from left to right: Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant and Osprey using a Nikon D500/80-400VR.

These birds were not bothered as we slowly cruised by. More interested in their own concerns of survival.

You might be wondering why this post is named River Cruise II. Back in 2011, I shared another River Cruise on a slightly larger boat also on the Seneca River.

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