Tag Archives: Marsh Creek Lake

Hot Dam Night

I have always enjoying looking up into the night-time sky, and following the rhythms of our solar system is something I follow daily online.

Lately, I have been keeping my eye on the rare alignment of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury in the west-northwest about 30 minutes after sunset. The next time this will happen, is in 2026.

Being Friday night, I had to go out and try to see this!

The whole week has been hotter than normal for this time of year, and I hoped the cover of night would help.

The dam parking lot had two other cars when I arrived, and as I unpacked, a jogger going downhill, turned and entered the park.

MCSP Sunset & Fishing
MCSP Sunset & Fishing

Because of the heat and humidity, I packed my equipped vest into the daypack, and threw it over my shoulder, along with my camera and tripod, and headed into the park.

Heading down the hill, it got darker because of the overhanging trees and leaves, but the light grey colored maintenance road made it easier to follow with the ambient light.

When I got to the opening at the bottom of the dam, and I could see I was a little late in getting there, but I still had time.

I took the steep dirt path through the tall grass to the south-eastern corner area of the lake. The ‘flea and tick season’ phrase kept repeating itself in my head.

I finally reached the dirt road at the top, panting heavily and thinking that I should have brought along a second water bottle, while the jogger I had seen earlier, passed by me, and off into the increasing darkness.

Once setup, I could see that most of the sky was clear, but there was a thin bands of clouds, hovering in the distance, just above the treetops, in the northwest sky, right where my compass was aimed at 300°.

I was a little bummed, but as the 30 minute mark began to approach, I did see a bright spot right where it should be, and not moving. Could this be one of the planets?

I took numerous pictures of the sunset, and rising ‘planet’, and then started to focus my attention on the various fishing boats with lights, motoring silent around the lake.

Light Fishing at MCSP
Light Fishing at MCSP

As one boat crossed in front of me, I heard –

“You can not take his picture. He is in the witness relocation program.”

Followed by chuckles from the boat.

Responding back, with a smiling tone, I said that my camera did not have the resolution, and that they were going to fast.

Little do they know… Tee hee…

I also followed the various airplanes crossing my vision. It did not seem like a very busy night, especially compared to other times I have stood in the boating parking lot, staring up into the night sky on other photography expeditions.

As 9:30 approached, and fending off the mosquitoes was becoming impossible, I packed up, crossing over the rest of the dam, turning sharply to my left, and down the diagonal road.

Jupiter and Venus over Marsh Creek State Park
Jupiter and Venus over Marsh Creek State Park

Walking next to the marshy area, I saw fireflies signaling their presence, and at the bottom, I could see that I was going to need my headlamp, as I started back into the darker section of the road. I had not been here before at night, so I did not know what I might encounter.

When the light flashed on, I was greeted by a thin fog that reflexed back the bright light, making it more difficult to see. I turned the lamp down, be it did not help. Maybe next time, I’ll get the headlamp with multi-colors.

Finally, I reached the brown swinging gate at the top of the trail, and headed into the parking lot, where I threw my gear into the car, and headed home.

Note to Self – Next time, bring two water bottles and bug spray…

- Andrew
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Updates

After processing several series of images, it seems that I might have ‘caught’ Venus and Jupiter in my captures, with Jupiter being just too faint to see with the naked eye.

We’ll try again in 2026!

Spring – Day 5 Snow

Woke up this morning, and there was 2-3 inches of snow on the ground…

The 5th Day of Spring… Go figure…

Got the kids on the bus and headed to the Marsh Creek Lake Dam area for maybe the last snow of the season.

In the woods, I was getting bombarded by snow, as it fell from the trees.

When I finally reached the Dam plateau, the snow was coming down hard, and it was nearly impossible to keep the front of the lens clean, so most of the shoots are looking south, with the wind at my back.

After about an hour of wondering around, I headed home…

I am so ready to get some real colors!

- Andrew
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South of the Boat Ramp (Day 5)

I parked in nearly in the same spot as I did some ten days ago, when I was exploring the northern side of the boating launch on that foggy morning.

Today, there is more activity and the temperature is finally starting to reflect that it is late December…

While gathering my gear, I saw several people walking, some dogs running, and once I was ready, I headed toward south-east, along the shoreline.

Swimming Hole 01
Swimming Hole 01

As I walk in the sand, I know, just to my right, there is a very well-worn path that I have walked countless times before, but today, it is difficult to even recognize the “beach” where I have been many times before.

Looking at Rental Complex (North-East)
Looking at Rental Complex (North-East)

It was one of my easier walks to the end of the blunted point, that almost points due south, where I was once again greeted with more wood pilings (Woodhenge) sticking out of the lake’s bed.

In the mouth of the Cove
In the mouth of the Cove

From there, I started into the cove, and I knew from previous walks along the dirt path, off to might right, that I was entering a heavy vegetation area, but once again, walking the shoreline made it look so different, and I did not expect it to drop off so quickly.

Deep in the Cove Looking East
Deep in the Cove Looking East

Finally, I reached the end of the cove, or at least as I was far as I was willing to go.

I was not having to have another mud adventure!

Empty Ramp
Empty Ramp

Walking back, I took this final capture, knowing I had to get back to the real world, and do some holiday shopping.

Tech Notes

  • Canon XTi  ISO100  f16-f22 with a ND 3.0 filter
  • HDR Capture with 3-4 captures between 15-120 seconds (raw)
  • HDR Processing – Lightroom 4.3 > Photoshop CS5 > HDR Efex Pro 2 > Viveza 2
  • B&W Processing – Photoshop CS5 > Lightroom 4.3

- Andrew
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Reference

Foggy Morning at the Boat Launch (Day 4)

We woke up to a very foggy morning that had engulfed our area during the night.

With nothing pressing on my agenda, I got my kids off to school, packed my car with my photo gear, and headed off to try to capture some of this elusive weather.

Morning Fog near Boat Launch
Morning Fog near Boat Launch

Not knowing how long the fog would last, time was of the essence, but I also knew that I had to be careful on a day like today.

In the back of my head, I heard my inner voice, my wife and a recent conversation with Joe all going off, so I drove down to the mega-sporting goods store in Downingtown, looking for orange apparel, only to find a very limited inventory, and in only youth sizes.

Do I drive over to Exton? Or just head on out, being extremely careful?

MCSP Boat Launch
MCSP Boat Launch

Personally, I think I looked more like a bear, carrying a tripod, but that is another conversation…

I left the store, I jumped into my car, and headed north on Creek Rd, towards the boat launch area of Marsh Creek State Park.

As I drove along road, I could see areas of fog along the Brandywine that were beginning to thin out, and I begun to wonder if this day was going to be a bust of a trip, but I continued on.

Root Squid 01
Root Squid 01

When I turned on to N. Reeds Rd., and was looking over the horse pasture, and on to the lake, there was nothing but grey-white fog, and I knew I was going to have some fun!

I parked at the main lot at the bottom of the hill, where normally, the bumper of your car to the water is may be 40 feet, but now because of the drawdown and gradual slope to the ‘underwater’ terrain, the nearest lake water is easily over 100 feet away!

As I get out of the car, and I am packing my photography vest, getting ready for my walk, I can easily overhear three guys yelling between themselves about what to do about a boat.

I could not make it all out, but what I could, sounded was rather comical, and they where definitely making the best of it.

Root Squid 02
Root Squid 02

It is hard not to be amazed at this new landscape the 8 foot drawdown has revealed, and with the shallow slope of the southern launch area, the water seemed miles away.

The fog had receded a little bit, and condensed a little into a light mist, which would accumulate into water droplets when it hits such things as your lens.

Note – I just read a story earlier in the week how harmful acids in your breath can actually damage your camera lens.

It was not until I rounded the corner of the barbecuing point, did I realized why those three gentlemen had been so excited in their earlier conversations.

The launch ramp where normally one would back their boat down into the water, was now a mixture of sand, mud and rocks, and the water was well over 100 feet away.

No easy task, and the risk of getting your vehicle stuck was rather high.

Root Squid 03
Root Squid 03

The three gentlemen had used their truck to move their boat to the grassy area next to the launch.

From there, they dragged their boat over firmer sand and mud, and finally into the water!

Talk about dedicated fishers!

I continued north of the launch area, and rounded another small little point, where I saw a series of beautiful old tree stumps that had weathered over many years of being underwater, and now the roots look more like the tentacles of an squid.

As I continued to walk along the shoreline, I was greeted with forrest present-day fossils of shapes that were once living trees.

After some time of collecting more images, I finally reached the Chalfant Rd entrance to the park and proceeded along the coastline a little bit more, until I reached a very peculiar outcropping of rocks, that just made me stop.

Bent rock formation
Bent rock formation

It was very apparent that there was a layer structure to the rocks, but there also seems to be indication that the rock has bent. How?

This does not make sense, but it will be a good conversation with my wife later on tonight.

I turned around, and started back to the car, knowing that I had allot of image processing that I needed to start on…

Update

2012-Dec-17 – In doing my normal daily reading, I ran across these following links of interest at they relate to the Marsh Creek Lake/State Park water drawdown:

This Gordon’s Supply Company page, that shows the 2010 drawdown, as well as some historic images from the 1970s!

- Andrew
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Reference

Missing water – Day 3 (Milford Rd point)

I have never been to the Milford Road side of Marsh Creek before, so this is going to be very interesting.

As I entered the circle at the end of Milford Road, I saw a man standing at the trail-head dressed in orange and a gun on his shoulder.

I parked and as I got out the car, I asked the man if he had seen a lot of other people in the area, to which he said no, and then we started to chitchat.

After some time we introduced ourselves to one another, and as I read his card, I noticed that Joe Isaacs, was a drumming instructor, to which I said to him, that I had just posted earlier a video of some taiko drummers!

The two of us chatted for a little bit more than said our goodbyes, and I headed down the path to the rest of Milford Road.

Woodhenge/Pilings - South West
Woodhenge/Pilings – South West

Crossing over a pile of rocks, I started to walk along the new shoreline, which was sandy at first, then turned darker the closer I got to the water.

One could definitely see several levels at which the water had receded.

My tripod and camera were still hanging from my neck as I walked along the beach, and slowly moved into a slightly muddier area looking at a potential shot.

In fine tuning my position, I took a half a step back and was soon sinking in mud!

Within a fraction of a second, I was thigh deep in mud, and stuck.

This was not good.

Office and Rental Complex w/pilings
Office and Rental Complex w/pilings

I twisted myself so that I was facing where I had just come from, and I threw my tripod about 10 feet.

Somehow I had managed to keep my camera clean so far, as I tried to figure out a way to get back to safer ‘ground’.

Leaning forward, and on to my elbows, I started to slither back along my footsteps.

When I felt confident enough, I tried to stand up, which was easy enough to do, thankfully.

As I was standing there, re-assessing my situation, my cell phone began to ring.

I do not know why I answered the phone, but I did.

It was a customer wanting to schedule a meeting to drop off some photography that I had done for her.

Office and Rental Complex of point
Office and Rental Complex of point

I explained to her that I was not in front of my computer, but I could give her a call back at another time which she easily agreed to.

Wonder if my heavy breathing had something to do with her reaction.

Then it began to hit me.

The unique scent of fresh swamp mud…

Was I going to continue the day…

Looking into the shallows
Looking into the shallows

I was definitely having second thoughts, but decided to trudge along for as far as I could.

If there still were any bugs that were thinking of me as a snack, I definitely had the ultimate repellent for the day, and each time I tried to find some place to wash off, I still feared sinking in again.

After several hundred feet, I reached a series of more piling clumps and captured some images, and at one point snapping an image showing the boat rental facility where I had been a couple of days before.

I walked along the various shallow inlets, and as I got further along the western coast line, it became dramatically steeper, and eventually came to a place where a newly fallen tree prevented me from going any further, so I turned around and headed back.

Returning to where I had started, I decided to continue on, heading east an into the small cove.

Looking back out
Looking back out

As I approached this end of the lake, on the other side I could see more pillars sticking out of the mud, along with several big rocks that dotted the mud flats in front of me.

Finally in the corner of the cove, coming out of the woods, was a small stream of clear water, which I happily stepped in to trying to clean my legs and shoes, but there was just not enough.

Looking at my watch, it is time to head back home and greet the kids, as they got off the bus and start the rest of the afternoon activities, including some good cleaning!

- Andrew
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Reference

Missing water – Day 2 (Park Rd point)

It has been 10 days since I’ve been out shooting any of the new shorelines along Marsh Creek Lake, so in my planning I wanted to explore an area that I kind of already knew.

Being a Google Maps junkie, I pulled up Marsh Creek State Park from my Favorites, and then the “The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE)” application to check the lighting, to help me to decide where to go on this day.

Looking South-West (Start)
Looking South-West (Start)

Within minutes, I had decided on taking a look at the point where the main facilities for Marsh Creek are located on Park Road. I had walked some of these trails earlier in the summer with both kids, and remembered seeing some viewpoints that I wanted to revisit.

When one first enters the park and looks out over the lake, one cannot be but astonished by all the missing water and new shorelines.

Remains of an old traffic cone
Remains of an old traffic cone

The parking lot that extends out the point, was blocked off, and I was forced to park in the main lot, which is self, was halfway closed.

No matter, I was expecting to do some walking today anyways, so I packed up my gear and headed into the parking lot towards the eastern trails.

When I got to the end of what appeared to be the Park, I noticed a trail heading down the hill, and I decided to follow it.

Clouds Midway - (North-East) 01
Clouds Midway – (North-East) 01

After a few feet, it became apparent that during hurricane Sandy, this trail had become a rushing stream.

At the bottom of the hill, I continued along some animal trails, and eventually made it to the shoreline.

I walked along the northern shore heading West, and as I walked, I was greeted with many items of visual interest.

The shoreline itself was a darker mixture of sentiment, and depending how far in you went toward the water, it became easier to sink. the shoreline around the dam consisted more of real sand, then this thick molasses of lake mud.

Clouds Midway - (South-West) 01
Clouds Midway – (South-West) 01

While walking and looking, I made the observation that there seemed to be more human trash, than what I had seen in my walks around the dam. I saw a lot of plastic bottles of various sizes, along with a couple of shoes, a folding chair, and even a deteriorated orange safety cone base.

As I continued, the clouds began to coalesce into a show of formations that I had never seen before, and I had a hard time capturing the magnificent shapes within the evolving jet stream.

Wood squid on shoreline
Wood squid on shoreline

At one point, there was this thin series of streams, that cut through the rest of the formation, and looks like a gigantic series of cloth folds, stretching from one horizon to the other. It was definitely one of those times when I wish I had a smaller wide-angle lens.

The shoreline steepen as I headed West, and I had to scamper up to the existing trail to the tip of the point. Eventually, I emerged to see a very rocky new shoreline, which I explored for trinkets and a shot or two.

Main concrete dock
Main concrete dock

I returned to the trail, and headed north searching for a new place to start another shoreline exploration.

The shoreline in this area was much wider than areas I have been in before, and is easily accessible because of the sand rock mixture. I also noticed many more tree stumps, which made for some interesting compositions.

it is very difficult to relay to anyone that has never been to these places, what a major change has occurred with this eight-foot drawdown.

Rental building
Rental building

Once familiar places, now looks so surreal and primitive.

As I stood on the deck of the restaurant, I took a series of panoramic shots, that I still need to process, in hopes to further illustrate this tremendous change.

Looking at my watch, I started back up the hill towards the parking lot and my car.

At the maintenance gate for the pool complex, I stopped to capture the final image of the day.

Swimming Park
Swimming Park

Winter has come…

Questions

  • Are there any local efforts to clean up the trash and debris while so much of it is easily accessible?

- Andrew
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Reference

Exploring the missing water – Day 1

Earlier in the morning, after getting the kids off to school, and checking in with the digital world, I looked out the window to see if I should make the trip back to the dam at Marsh Creek Lake.

I was not too convinced that it be a good day, but I did eventually made it up to the dam, where I had only been two days before, but this time with my tripod.

My goal was to start at the spillway gate, and head north along the shoreline as far as I could go, and maybe even get onto the concrete of the main emergency spillway.

Spillway Gate
Spillway Gate

Walking across the rugged rocks, I wondered to myself several times, if I should not head straight up the hill to the vehicle road, but decided against it, and was greeted with this view when I looked back at the spillway gate.

Looking back across the dam
Looking back across the dam

Continuing down the shoreline, I was heading towards the pilings that I had seen from the opposite shore two days before, and was one of my real quests for today.

Woodhenge at Marsh Creek
Woodhenge at Marsh Creek

When I got there, surprised to see that what looked like a dock or morning from a distance, seem to be pilings randomly placed poles into the shoreline.

Lonely Cat o’nine tails
Lonely Cat o’nine tails

I walked around the point, and onto a dry area which would have normally been covered in several feet of water, and continued looking for a way, to further explore down in the spillway.

In the Marsh
In the Marsh

It was difficult walking in the dried swamp grass and cat o’nine tails, but I could see animal tracks heading the direction I wanted to go.

Tt was very apparent that the creatures knew how to maneuver the terrain better than I could.

Eventually time was getting the best of me, and I had to head back to my car before my kids got home from school.

- Andrew
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Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA

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Reference