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Watkins Glen State Park, N.Y. Photography Hot Spot

Watkins Glen State Park:  The centerpiece of the 1000-acre park is a 400-foot-deep (120 m) narrow gorge cut through rock by a stream – Glen Creek – that was left hanging when glaciers of the Ice age deepened the Seneca valley, increasing the tributary stream gradient to create rapids and waterfalls wherever there were layers of hard rock.

The park features three trails – open mid-May to early November – by which one can climb or descend the gorge. The Southern Rim and Indian Trails run along the wooded rim of the gorge, while the Gorge Trail is closest to the stream and runs over, under and along the park’s 19 waterfalls by way of stone bridges and more than 800 stone steps. The trails connect to the Finger Lakes Trail, an 800-mile (1280 km) system of trails throughout New York state.

INFO - PHOTO MAGAZINE EXTRA - photography magazine extra, photography, where to do, how to do, travel photography, Pam Goodyer
Photography Magazine Extra

Photography Information:

This is a park you want to go to very early in the morning before the people arrive. I arrived at 7 a.m. and there were only a few people there. You can see people in my pictures. They started to arrive around 8 and by 9 there were so many people I could not keep them out of my long exposure shots.

I would arrive a little after sunrise here. Bring your tripod, circular polarizing filter and your neutral density filters.  Of course, there is a lot of moving water here so it is a long exposure, milky water effect heaven.  You may have to do some HDR where you see the sun glaring near the top of your photos and dark areas near the waters below.  When the people get in your way you can let them and get some ghostly effects as you can see some ghosts moving through my pictures.

Lens:  This is mostly a wide angle lens location

Gear: Bring your tripod and your circular polarizing filters. The circular polarizing filter will make your white puffy clouds burst and deepen the blue around them. It will also take the glare off of the water and replace it with reflection. Bring your tripod in case there is not a lot of light to work with to get your depth of field when desired. Don’t forget your neutral density filter to do long exposure shots of the moving water.

Gear List at a glance: Circular polarizing filter, neutral density filter, tripod, shutter release.

Camera Settings

Aperture Priority: – It is generally used to get your depth of field (control how much is in focus from your subject back). You will want to do some shots at the hyperfocal distance. That means your subject to infinity is in focus. Most formulas of hyperfocal distance, which are very complicated, lead you back to f8, f11 or f13. If your shutter speed drops to 1/30th sec. or lower you will need to put your camera on a tripod. The higher the f-number, the less light that will come in and your shutter speed will drop to let more light in.

When doing certain shots such as flowers, you might want the opposite effect. That is when your subject is in complete focus and the background is totally blurred called the bokeh effect. You will use your lowest F-number such as 2.8, or 3.5. Go as low as your particular lens will allow.

Shutter Priority: If you have moving subjects such as the birds flying by you want to shoot in shutter priority to be sure they come out clear. When people are walking through shoot at 1/250th sec. and adjust your ISO accordingly. If people or animals are running by increase your shutter speed to about 1/500th sec and if it’s a bright sunny day, go as high as 1/1000th to 1/1200 sec. to get the birds crystal clear as they fly by here.

Manual Mode:  To do your long exposure running, milky water shots you will have use a tripod.  All of your settings will vary depending on the lighting and what neutral density filter you have. You will shoot in manual mode for the milky waters. ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow. Aperture is  f22. Your shutter speed will vary depending on the light. Take some test shots to decide on your shutter speed after you put your neutral density filter on. (It’s like sunglasses for your camera to stop light from coming in). Use your live view mode to focus to lock the mirror up and avoid any camera movement. Use your shutter release or your 2-second timer to also avoid camera movement. Voila. You now have your milky water exposure. You want at least a 2-second exposure for running water. If you don’t have a neutral density filter you may

Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Captain Bill’s Lake Cruise – Dining in the Finger Lakes would not be complete without experiencing the splendor of a meal cruise aboard the luxurious Seneca Legacy. Thier meal cruises boast full course seated dining with fantastic entree selections prepared daily by our chef. 1 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen, New York 14891 – 607-535-4541    Visit The Website

When we photograph from a boat it’s different than being on land since was are always moving.  From a boat,you have to remember you are moving and have to account for the movement just as if your subject was moving. You are moving instead so it’s the same thing. Shoot in shutter priority at least 1/200th of a second, depending on how fast you are moving and how fast your subjects are moving. Up the shutter speed if you have enough light. I personally don’t go over ISO 800 to avoid noise at any given time.

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Park Information:

Watking Glen State Park


1009 N Franklin St
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Phone: (607) 535-4511

Hours of Operation

Park hours and facility operations are subject to change. Patrons are encouraged to contact the park directly to confirm operating hours before traveling.

  • Park is open year round.
    Vehicle entry fee collected from mid-May to November.
  • Trails Update: The South Rim and Indian Trails are open.

    *As of November 10, the Gorge Trail is closed for the season at Watkins Glen State Park. With any questions, please call the park office at 607-535-4511.

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Hotel Information:

Hotel Harbor, Watkins Glen – 16 North Franklin Street • Watkins Glen, NY 14891 • (607) 535-6116 – Hotel on the lake. $113.00 low/229.00 high.  You can stay here and get some nice sunrise and sunset pictures. You can also do some boat dock photography as seen here.

Watkins Glen N.Y.
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Watkins Glen State Park:  2015 Camping Season: 5/8 – 10/12 – Group Camp: 5/1 – 10/26

*Please note within the camping season time frame, some loops/sites may open later or close earlier. For more details, please call the park or visit http://www.newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com

See more at: http://nysparks.com/parks/142/hours-of-operation.aspx#sthash.bxIleyVF.dpuf
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Village Marina Bar and Grill:  It was a good restaurant with good food and good prices. Head here for happy hour.  You might find yourself going back here a few times if your here for a weekend. There is a nice spot to sit outside. The staff is very friendly and the service is fast. What more can you ask for?

  • Address: 2 Seneca Harbor, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
  • Location: United States  >  New York (NY)  >  Finger Lakes  >  Watkins Glen
  • Phone Number: +1 607-535-7910
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For this location Read here. Let’s see if the rain will be falling here in the park. An overcast sky can actually be good when doing long exposure moving water effects.


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