Chester County Covered Bridges Filters HDR Long Exposure Nature Photo Journal Photography Rivers Streams Water

Looking for water

It has been very dry in Chester County for a while now, and when it did rain last night, I had thoughts of where to find some water to finally take pictures of in the area.

Early in the morning, I put my photography gear in the car, along with drinks and snacks and I was off.

By the time I finished my quick errands around town, it was overcast, 85°F+ with slightly high humidity, and I knew I really wanted to play with my new 10-stop neutral density filter, and I knew my first stop.

Downingtown Dam

The Downingtown Dam, which is just west of the center of town, along Rt. 282/Creek Road was my first stop.

I parked in the little spot near the road, packed up my vest, grabbed my tripod, and was off along the little path through the woods.

120727 Downingtown Damn HDR 06
120727 Downingtown Damn HDR 06

Tech Note – The Downingtown Dam image is a HDR collection of (3) three images taken at 180 sec, 120 sec and 60 sec (f22 ISO100), combined in Photoshop, with Tone Mapping done with Nik Software HDR Efex 2.

I had been there a day or two earlier with my kids, when we took advantage of the swimming area just above the damn, and I also knew I could get a good measurement of what to expect further up-stream for possible later shoots.

The water level was definitely higher, my guest 2-3 inches, and most of the concrete on the damn was cover, with places blocked by small branches.

On the downside of the damn, it was still easy to cross the river with all the bare rocks still visible, and I quickly situated myself on the one large concrete slab near the middle.

As I setup, and looked around, I knew I was not going to get much, but I pushed on with the session.

During my time, I did finally get an exposure into the 4 minute range with the sun nearly right over head, but still not slow enough for somethings I want to do.

After about 45 minutes of shooting, I headed back to the car, and headed further upstream.

I stopped at several more places along Creek Road, checking the water levels. On several occasions, I had to deliberate, if it was worth the walk through thick poison ivy and oak, for a mediocre shoot.

When I reached the west side of Glenmoore, I turned around, and headed back on a GPS drive to my next adventure.

Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge

I first photographed the Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge back in 2010, and lately, I have been reviewing my images, with a desire to try again.

In Chester County, there are many wonderful, scenic roads, and Pughtown Road, off of Rt 100 (Pottstown Pike) is one of them, and along the way, one will find Hollow Road, on which Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge can be found. The best place to park, in the little area on French Creek Road.

Sheeder-Hall (1850) - Looking Downstream
Sheeder-Hall (1850) – Looking Downstream

Tech Note – A series of (5) shots ranging from 1/15th to 1 second (f25 ISO100), combined in Photoshop, with Tone Mapping done with Nik Software HDR Efex 2.

Once again, I got my vest and tripod out, and headed down one of the little paths that lead to the downstream side of the bridge.

I waded into the water, and took some more documentary style images, looking upstream, and then headed back to capture some more interior shoots.

Eventually, I crossed the bridge, took some more shoots and headed back, and as I did, I turned, and saw this view. The traffic was lite, so doing the required multiple exposures for HDR work was easy, and then I was done for this session.

Rapps Dam Covered Bridge

Rapps Dam Covered Bridge in Phoenixville was another bridge that I photographed back in 2010, and since that time, Rapps has been restored, and I finally got a chance to visit to see the new construction!

120727 Rapps Covered Bridge hdr 12 - Under the Bridge
Rapps Covered Bridge hdr 12 – Under the Bridge

Tech Note – The Underneath shoot was another series of (7) HDR shoots, taken between 1 second and 60 seconds at f22 ISO100. Combined in Photoshop and tweaked with Nik Software HDR Efex 2.

When one is walking near the bridge, you can still smell the fresh new wood, combined with a pitch smell as you walk underneath.

120727 Rapps Covered Bridge hdr 18
Rapps Dam Covered Bridge hdr 18 – Looking Upstream

Tech Note – The Underneath shoot was another series of (6) HDR shoots, taken between 8 seconds and 180 seconds at f22 ISO100. Combined in Photoshop and tweaked with Nik Software HDR Efex 2.

It is very easy to see that the renovations that started on January 17 2011, were a success when the bridge reopened on Monday, November 21, 2011.

PennDOT took 10 months to replace the 4 steel support beams, remove and replace the cedar roof and redwood timber and siding, along the 106-foot span. The project cost $1,527,257, which was paid for by state funds, and was managed by Bi-State Construction of Easton, PA. The last time the bridge was reconstructed was in 1978.

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2014 April 29

Apparently, an 18-wheeler decided to take on Rapps Dam… Guess who won…

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Chester County Creeks Nature Photo Journal Photography Rivers Streams

Little Elk Creek

After finishing up with my images of Glen Hope covered bridge, I turned West, and headed up the creek to see what I could find.

It was easy to see, that the water level was down, which made it a little easier for me to explore and walk.

I ended up doing 5 series of HDR captures, and this is the first one that I have processed and published.

Little Elk Creek hdr 04

Little Elk Creek hdr 04

What do you think?

– Andrew
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Chester County Nature Photo Journal Photography Photostream Rivers

Aftermath of Tropical Storm Nicole at Hibernia Park

Wow it has RAINED!

Just when you thought it was ending, another wave of rain would hit!

It was doing this well into the late night and early morning for Friday, October 1st.

This article from CBS news, “Storm Drenches East Coast, Kills 6 People“, sums up the storm.

When we finally got up to start the new day, we were greeted with a phone message announcing that the Downingtown area Schools were to have a (2) hour Opening Delay, and the local television news reports were showing segments on Road Closures and Flooding Damage in the surrounding areas.

Needless to say, traffic was BAD!

By 11am, I had Madison on the bus and off to school, and Logan dropped off at Day Care.

I was on my own!

Now to my Daily “Online Check-In” to catch-up…

On the “Chester County, PA” Flickr group, I noticed Brian Cox’s photo that he had taken at Hibernia Park, which gave me the idea.

Fungi DOF by Brian Cox
Fungi DOF by Brian Cox

So I fired up Goggle Earth and Maps, and plotted my course into my GPS, and off I went…

I had NOT been to Hibernia Park since the “Animal Planet Expo” event back on August 18th, 2007!

I got there and tried to find a Trail Map, but was thwarted because there did not seem to be folks in the Offices, even though there were cars around. (When I got home, I was able to find a PDF Trail map)

Oh well… on with my adventure!

After watching some other cars drive by, I drove down a dirt road toward the “Old Dam” area, parked, and gathered my gear…

Shooting Vest, Lens, extra Memory cards, Tripod, etc…

I was off!

What struck me the moment I turned off the car, was the loud sound of water rushing!

Just by the loud sound, you could tell there had been some rain lately!

I looked around the “Old Dam” ruins, and saw some water, but nothing really worth photographing, and started down the “Forge Trail”, toward that sound.

As I got to the first opening on the trail, this is what I saw:

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 038
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 038

Notice the the line of leaves on the right side of the image, to get an idea of how far up on land, the flood line is!

Walking a little further down the trail, and turning around, I got this the view, looking back up the creek:

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 060
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 060

Again, notice how far up the leaves are on the left side!

And from this picture, you can CLEARLY see how high the water is from all the rain!

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 059
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 059

I raised the ISO to 1600, and was able to capture these images, trying to illustrate the movement of the water as it barreled down the creek.

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 207
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 207
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 146
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 146

You have to LOVE the ability to change ISO in mid “film”!

One funny moment during this shoot.

I was setting up my tripod to take a picture, and felt something hit my foot.

When I looked down, I saw several scared fresh water cray fish jumping around, and then they were off into the creek!

“Someone” was not happy I was there!

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 041
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 041

This actually happen twice!

On my trip down and then back up!

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 283
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 283

I continued my walk down creek, past the little pond in the “Lower Damn” area, following Lions Head Drive.

About midway between “Cottage #3” and “Cottage #2”, there is a little hill, that has a barbecue stand and a picnic table, and from the top of the hill, I was able to get this view point, and take this image:

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 067
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 067

I then moved to in front of the tree to capture, these:

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 086
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 086
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 163
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 163

My last capture before “Cottage #2”, was this tranquil little image:

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 225
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 225

Looking at my watch, I started back to the “Old Dam” parking lot, and was able to take a few moments to capture these images:

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 291
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 291

and finally…

Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) - 315
Hibernia Park (10/1/2010) – 315

As you can see, there was allot of “action” on the river!

When I got to the Parking lot, there was another gentleman just getting ready to begin his adventure in photographing the creek!

Update – 5 Oct 10 – Turns out, the gentleman I met in the Parking lot was Anthony Leach, a fellow member, and he shared with me, his images from Hibernia Park via Photostream! Check them out!

I got home with about 15 minutes to spare before Madison got off the bus.


As she did her home work, I was able to begin processing the 318 images that I took.

Again, you have to LOVE the Digital Age!

Update – 4 Oct 10 – Since originally taking these images, I have managed to publish two (2) different galleries of digital pictures related to this adventure, and I invite you to take a take a look!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me!

Thanks for taking the time to read my Blog entry!

Come back soon to see what other adventures I have under taking!

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Chester County Downingtown Nature Photo Journal Rivers

Nature Walk on Struble Trail

It was another warm summer Sunday, and the kids needed to get out of the house and get some exercise.

We got our water bottles together, and I filled the back packs with them.

The three of us got in the car, and headed for the Dowlin Forge Road entrance of the Struble Trail.

Once there, we parked and gathered ourselves, and the started our walk, heading North.

Near the middle of the big long curve (2.0 mile marker), there was an older couple, looking into the creek with great excitement.

As we got closer, they called us over to take a look at the big Snapping turtle near the edge of the creek.

When we got there, and looked down the ten foot embankment, one could easily see a Snapping turtle who’s shell was easily 15 inches or longer.

The kids looked with some quiet excitement, and we continued on.

We found our little creek trail, darted into the woods, and then quickly found the cold water.

It felt so good!

While the kids played at the water edge, I setup my tripod, and did these images.

Nature Walk hdr 04 (10 Aug 08)

Nature Walk hdr 04 (10 Aug 08)

Nature Walk hdr 06 (10 Aug 08)

Nature Walk hdr 06 (10 Aug 08)

As you can see, the water level is VERY LOW!

We began to walk up the creek, following the land, an area we have walked numerous time before.

When we got near the Fishing Area, I was able to capture this wonderful image.

Creek Claw - Struble Trail (Downingtown, PA)

Creek Claw – Struble Trail (Downingtown, PA)

I have walked on and around this tree many a times, but have never seen it like this!

So it goes without saying, we need some rain, and these pictures do show it!

Eventually, we got back on the wooded trail, and on to the paved section heading to the Parking Lot.

Dinner and Bed, soon to follow.

“Good Night Moon!”

– Andrew
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Chester County Downingtown Nature Photo Journal Photography Rivers

Early Winter Walk on the Struble Trail

After spending the morning checking in with the world, I got myself ready to spend some time walking along the Struble Trail near the Dowlin Forge Road entrance.

It was an over cast day, and one could “smell” the snow in the air, something I was able to learn from living in New England for so many years!

From the entrance, I headed North on the paved trail, and after a short time, I found the small dirt trail that leads down to the edge of the Brandywine creek itself. I was definitely nice to see, that I was one of the first ones to adventure through the snow.

Once by the water’s edge, I setup my camera on the tripod, and just looked around to see how the snow had covered the area:

Brandywine (Winter) - Up Creek

Brandywine (Winter) – Up Creek

Brandywine (Winter) - Down Creek

Brandywine (Winter) – Down Creek

As you can see, the light snow that covered the trees and rocks was just enough to add a wonderful dimension to everything that I was seeing.

Then I started to focus my camera on the creek itself.

Winter on the Brandywine - Snow, Ice and Water 01

Winter on the Brandywine – Snow, Ice and Water 01

Water Wings

Winter on the Brandywine – Water Wings

More images from the creek level area can be found on my Flickr Photostream.

I started back to the snow covered land, and back in to the woods and on the small trail, were I looked around at what nature had to offer with the snow cover.

Wood Mushrooms in the Snow (#095)

Wood Mushrooms in the Snow (#095)

Finally back on the paved trailed, I started back to the Parking Lot, and encountered some large rocks that had a beautiful collection of moss, lichens and ice.

Moss, Lichen and Ice (#108)

Moss, Lichen and Ice (#108)

Moss, Lichen and Ice (#111)

Moss, Lichen and Ice (#111)

Back at the Parking Lot, I ran into another Photographer putting his gear away after his afternoon trek. We discussed different areas we had been, and additional areas in Downingtown to shoot.

Eventually, he said his good-byes, and was off.

He was late to a meeting.

Looking at my watch, I figured I has a little time to check out the Grist Mill ruins just off the Uwchlan Trail along the Shamona Creek.

After crossing Dowlin Forge Road, I started up Uwchlan Trail.

In the distance, I could see a man and a women crossing the small wooden bridge near the ruins.

After a minute or two later, I was at the bridge, and started across.


I landed on my butt!

My camera was safe, and as I tried to get up, I realized that I had severely twisted my ankle, and had to use the bridge for support!

Standing there on my left leg, I tried to put weight on my right ankle, but was greeted with great pain.

Guess, I was not going to visit the Mill ruins after all!

Using my tripod as a walking support, I was able to get back to my car, and get home.


Update – Finally, after several weeks of hobbling around, my ankle is slowly feeling better. Yeah!
– Andrew
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