Updated: Aug 23
Why a Wonder: A peaceful location for photographing dramatic cloudscapes reflected in beautifully clam, blue water.
Where: Westchester County, New York – about 1.5 hours north of New York City.
When: Throughout the year. If you go after 9 AM and before 5 PM, you’ll encounter the least amount of traffic. I usually see five to ten cars on my one-hour ride, shown below as tracked by Strava, a cool biking/walking app.
Photography: You’ll find dozens of photo opportunities along the narrow road that runs alongside the reservoir. There are several pull-offs for cars, but you’ll have the most photo flexibility by exploring the reservoir by bike. You could also choose to walk around the reservoir.
No matter how you go, think safety first: watch out for cars and trucks. I always wear a brightly colored shirt/jacket and have my bike lights turned on. Off course, I always wear a helmet.
You can make nice photographs with a smartphone.
If you’re serious about getting the highest quality images, pack a digital SLR or mirrorless camera with a wide-angle lens, like the Canon RF15-35mm lens. in a bike pouch. When doing so, place a towel under your camera and wrap another towel around your camera as a cushion against bumps.
Note: The road around the reservoir is very smooth. I would not recommend packing a camera in a pouch for off-road biking.
A polarizing filter can help reduce reflections on water and darken a blue sky. DeHaze and Clarity in Photoshop/Lightroom can also add some drama to a photograph.
There’s plenty of wildlife to see! I have seen: grey and red foxes, white tail deer, great blue herons, Canada geese, coyotes, turtles, swans, woodpeckers, red-tail hawks and more. Because I only take a wide-angle zoom lens, I don’t have any wildlife photos. . . but I do have fun memories of those encounters.
When composing a scene, try to use a foreground element (which can even be a reflection) to add a sense of depth to an image. Also remember to take vertical photographs as well as horizontal photographs. Sometimes, a vertical photograph of a landscape can have more impact than a horizontal image of the same scene.
The spillway at the top of New Croton Dam is a popular location to photograph the reservoir. Bring a tripod and a neutral density filter so you can photograph at slow shutter speeds to blur the water. In springtime, as the snow melts from upstate New York, the spillway is filled with flowing water, as shown above.
As the year progresses, the water flow decreases. The photograph above was taken in July.
With a permit, which is free from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, you can go fishing in the reservoir with a rowboat, many of which are chained to trees and abandoned at designated areas around the reservoir. Swimming is not allowed.
Always be on the lookout for photographs. Above is a shot I took of a gazebo on one of the small ponds that you’ll find around the reservoir. I used the Van Gogh filter in Topaz Impression to add a painterly look to my photo.
If you are looking for a true-color polarizing filter or neutral density filter, check out the filters offered by Breakthrough Filters.
© Rick Sammon
This post sponsored by Adorama.