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Glens of New York — Fillmore Glen

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

A fall visit to Fillmore Glen State Park gave us the opportunity to photograph waterfalls and the inspiration and time for varied artistic expression.



The stream in Fillmore Glen drops gently over a ledge of shale. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.


The Finger Lakes Region of central New York State is named after a a series of long and narrow lakes that, on a map or from space, resemble the fingers of a hand. The lakes, which are oriented in a north-south direction, occupy ancient river valleys that in later Ice Ages, were deeply scoured by glaciers during their advance, and filled by meltwater as they retreated.


The southern progress of the glaciers was slowed by highlands of siltstone and shale that, after the retreat of the glaciers, were eroded by their streams into the Glens we see today.


The origin of the word Glen is from Gaelic and indicates a place similar to the deep valleys of the Scottish Highlands. In the Finger Lakes Region, the word Glen refers to a deep and narrow gorge with Watkins Glen and Fillmore Glen being representative.


Having grown up in Upstate New York, Don was familiar with the Glens and thought they might be fertile ground for the sort of restorative photography for healthcare we do for Iris Arts and the more personal work we do for Rommes Arts. In truth, there was a lot of overlap.


Fillmore Glen is a State Park. It offers plenty of space for parking and provided a paved walkway that follows the stream to the top of the canyon. Stairs and walls of stone make climbing and following the gorge easier and safer, so while the hike does gain elevation and skirts the edge of the gorge, it is not particularly strenuous or scary. In our case, with the frequent stopping for photography, the hike seemed pretty easy.


We went in October as the leaves were changing. Fallen yellow and orange leaves decorated the shale stream bed and, more importantly, provided a golden glow as light passed through the woodland canopy and reflected off the water.



Golden, almost metallic light reflects off the wet shale of this waterfall in the upper reaches of Fillmore Glen. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.



Many of our photographs of the waterfalls were fairly straightforward, recognizable as natural, non-threatening, and appropriate for the healthcare setting. Other photographs were more abstract—especially those from above, or photographed from different angles, that explored the patterns in the cascading water.



View from above of water dropping over blocky ledges of shale. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes.


The result was a series of images, some straightforward, some more abstract, that reflect not only the diversity of the glen's geology and hydrology but of our artistic expression as well.


For a larger series of our images from Fillmore Glen, click here.


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