Tag Archives: York River

“Stand”

“Stand”

“There is wonder in simplicity. Sometimes a mundane scene can offer more than first meets the eye.”
– Ed Lehming

Today I chose an image from last weekend’s hike along the York River. The small stand of bright birches against the deep green forest interested me. As with many of my photos, my initial perception is a simple composition, nice lines, and contrasts. Then, when I start actually processing the image, to get the colours closer to how I see them, wonderful and often surprising details emerge.

Behind the birches, the sunlight catches some balsam trunks and yields a wonderful golden light, a very subtle competition to the bright white of the birches. Some of that golden light appears on the birches as well, though it’s not something I was conscious of when I made the image.

So, a simple image of a stand of birches has become so much more.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

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“Farm Chute – York River”

“Farm Chute - York River”

“There is peace in the sound of the river’s voice. From low gurgle to roar, the sound of water moving resonates within me.”
– Ed Lehming

I’ve been quite remiss in my posting frequency. Summer has been filled with activities not necessarily conducive to photography, but I’ve been able to carve out some times to get back to my passion. Sometimes, I’m able to combine them, in the form of hiking and making photos.

On the Labour Day weekend I spent time with my family in the Bancroft area, visiting local events and enjoying the outdoors. One of my favourite spots is the York River, which flows through the town of Bancroft and into the rugged terrain east of the town.

The river begins its journey with a roar at High Falls at the southern end of Baptiste Lake. The lake was dammed to control flooding downriver and the resulting dam created a wonderful waterfall. From there the river meanders slowly through the countryside north of Bancroft in a series of beds, twists and oxbows. On exiting the town, the river forms a few small rapids and continues generally south east till it turns north once more as it enters the region known as Egan Chutes, as series of chutes and cataracts that compress the waters into raging torrents as the wide river is compressed through narrow passageways.

The first of these chutes is Egan Chute, where the water plummets some 10 meters between steep rocks. By late summer, it still rages, but some gentler side cascades form with the reduced water flow. A few kilometers past Egan Chute is the narrow but gentler Middle Chute and finally, Farm Chute.

I really enjoy Farm Chute, primarily because it’s a bit more unspoiled and the river flows rapidly through a narrow and angled defile in the rock before spilling out into a large basin, where it continues on in a peaceful flow to join the Madawaska River many kilometers to the east. Pictured her is Farm Chute looking over across the basin. The image really reflects the overall environment of the river as it flows through the chute region and highlights the narrow passage that the chute flows through. From this angle, it almost looks like a cave, but it’s really just a very narrow and steep passage.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 130 mm
1/200 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
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“York River Crossing” – Slabtown, Ontario

“York River Crossing” - Slabtown, Ontario

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
― Erol Ozan

Back to Slabtown, who’s only claim to fame, at present, seems to be the bridge that crosses the York River. In days gone by, it must have been a thriving mill town. Today, not so much. At this point in the river’s journey, it has just passed through the Great Bend. A long, fairly slow flowing section of the river.

It’s nice to be able to view different portions of the river as they pass below the roads. I’ve paddled sections of it and every bend is a new experience. Here, the river widens before entering the Conroy Marsh, eventually joining the mighty Madawaska River.

It was a great experience taking a couple of short backroad drives, to explore the area we have spent summers in for the past thirteen years. Most of that time was spend with our children and not so much just venturing out to new territory.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom
@ 70 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

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“York River Backcountry”

York River Backcountry

“I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land.”
― Aidan Chambers

The York River, in Central Ontario runs from Baptiste Lake, meanders through the region and changing its aspect several times along its course. It is inaccessible, other than by canoe through much of its journey.

I’ve hiked to many of the chutes and paddled several sections of this beautiful river. Yesterday, I went for a back-country drive, looking for a diversion from wildflowers, though I found many of them too.

During this drive I came across a road named Iron  Bridge Road. The name got my attention and I proceeded to see where this “Iron Bridge” was, hoping I was not committing to a long drive, only to find that there used to be an iron bridge.

The bridge itself was not far down the road and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it cross the York River and offered a nice view of the river as it wound its way through the back-country as a gentle flow, with lily pads and arrowroot growing along the shores. From my maps, it would appear it continues this way for several miles, before entering into a series of rapids and chutes.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200 mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200

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“Zig-Zag” – High Falls, Bancroft, Ontario

"Zig-Zag" - High Falls, York River

High Falls, pictured above, is the result of a dam built at the terminus of Baptiste Lake to control the flow of the York River, which begins at this point. The river, while very useful for logging, used to cause catastrophic flooding in the town of Bancroft a few miles below. The dam sits atop a large mass of rugged rock above a valley with steep banks. I would love to have seen this area before the dam was built. It must have been quite a sight to see all that water rushing through this valley. While I imagine the lake was lower too, it would still have seen a significant flow, especially in spring.

The nature of the rock below the dam creates some pretty unique flow patterns, especially on long exposure, and it changes with the flow of the water. In spring, when there is a higher flow of water most of the central rocks are obscured. As summer progresses, the flow is reduced and small rivulets of water create intricate patterns between the rocks.

I spent an afternoon shooting a series of photos that cover many aspects of this cascade that I will  share from time to time, each offering a different vantage point and conveying the varied nature of this wonderful place.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm, f/2.8 @ 165 mm
1/8 sec, f/32.0, ISO 250

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“High Falls Dam”, York River, Bancroft

“High Falls Dam” - York River, Bancroft

Another visit to High Falls, the outlet of Baptiste Lake and the beginning of the York River. I keep trying to imagine the waterfall as it would have been before the dam was built above it. That would have been a sight to behold. As I noted in an earlier post, the dam was built to protect the town of Bancroft, some 5 miles down river, from being flooded in the spring (it still happens, but to a lesser extent).

This was simply an opportunity to do a hand-held time exposure of the water spraying out between the logs. My maximum shake free exposure with my Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 is 1/8 of a second. It still amazes me just how good the Vibration Reduction technology is these days. I closed the aperture a bit on this to keep everything in focus.

I liked the way the spillway naturally framed the image, the texture and colour of the wood, and how the spray stood out against the dark background. I may have to try this as a black and white at some time as well. There is something calming in images with soft flowing water that I really enjoy in this busy world.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm @ 90 mm
1/10 sec @ f/14, ISO 250

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“Choices”

“Choices” - Duck in York River below High Falls Dam

You really never know what you will come across in your day. This past weekend I drove to High Falls, the source of Bancroft’s York River and  the terminus of Baptiste Lake. The dam there was built to prevent flooding of the town of Bancroft in the spring and features a beautiful, complex waterfall below the dam. There is a bit of a pool of water immediately above those falls.

That particular day i was surprised to find a family of ducks standing on the rocks and swimming in the fast moving water. Every now and then one of the ducks would venture into the faster moving currents. Some would be nearly swept over the edge, only to fly away at the last moment. It was interesting to watch and I was surprised that none ever got overtaken by the current. There must have been food in the water because the duck could have moved a few yards up river into calm water.

This particular fellow seemed to be contemplating his next move, standing right next to the fast flowing current. Eventually he made his choice and flew over the current to a calmer section.

Nikon D300
Tamron 700-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm

1/13 sec @ f/14.0, ISO 250