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Glens of New York — Buttermilk Falls

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

The gentle waterfalls of Buttermilk Falls State Park were perfect subjects for a certain type of photography.


More of a water slide than a waterfall, this is fairly typical of a number of the falls in Buttermilk Falls State Park in New York State. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes


Buttermilk Falls State Park protects the watershed of Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the steep hillside of siltstones and shale on its way to Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. Compared to Glen Creek in Watkins Glen, it's more famous neighboring park to the west, Buttermilk Creek follows a gentler and less raucous course down the steep hillside.


Buttermilk Creek slides down a modest slope of layered stone in the lower section of Buttermilk Falls State Park. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.



The hydrologic result is a creek that slides down steep slopes rather than dropping off ledges. The photographic result was less abstraction and a more straightforward depiction of a familiar, comfortable, and lovely scene. In other words, many of the scenes were appropriate for the Iris Arts audience.


The first part of the well-worn path up Buttermilk Creek was quite steep with little access to the water. The terrain later becomes more flat before and parallels a gorge.



Buttermilk Creek drops and slides down a series of ledges as the walkway marches upward. Photo © Donald J. Rommes.


In our photography for Iris Arts, we strive for open shadows and controlled highlights. Our intent is to create an inviting, natural scene that people in a hospital environment will feel comfortable exploring. Harsh contrast and deep, dark shadows work against that goal.

We prefer to work in conditions where the light is soft, but directional. Heavy cloud cover works well too, but lacks the directionality of light that helps reveal form and 3-dimensionality.


High cloud cover produced the even, slightly directional lighting in this photograph of the woods along Buttermilk Creek. Photo: © Nancy E. Rommes.



For a series of photographs of Buttermilk Falls State Park and other Glens of New York State, please visit our personal website here:


For Iris Arts photos, click on any of the images in this blog to take you there. Other related images can be found using the search function.

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