Watkins Glen State Park, New York, USA by Patrick McNeill

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Picture Story

The classic view of Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. I came through the Finger Lakes in the fall, hoping for some great waterfall shots with autumn foliage but many of the gorge hikes had little water at the time. However, Watkins Glen did not disappoint. I arrived in the afternoon and took a hike through the gorge, but since it was a long weekend it was crawling with tourists. I had to come pretty early the next day to get a shot without any other tourists in it; luckily my hotel was just down the street and it was easy for me to walk over early in the morning.

To handle the bright sunrise light in the background and the contrast between the water and the dark gorge, I underexposed the image for the highlights and brightened the shadows during post processing. I used a smaller aperture than I would normally use; f/16 can be small enough to lower sharpness due to the effects of diffraction. But I had to balance sharpness with the ability to get a good amount of depth of field, getting everything sharp from near to far.

I would highly recommend Watkins Glen State Park as a travel destination. The gorge hike takes you to tunnels through the cliffs, over old stone bridges, and you even walk behind a waterfall; it's an amazing place. There are other waterfalls and hikes in the area, and the town is surrounded by wineries and quaint restaurants. Add to that all the museums, coffee roasters, locally made ice creams, and all the other wineries that can be found nearby as you drive north along the Finger Lakes.

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