Winter is now here, having held off till mid-November. Last weekend I headed in to Pine Creek Falls, hoping to find an entrancing combination of ice, snow, water, and rock, as I had last year at this time. That’s when I had the first inklings of waterfalls as a potential subject. As I gear up for another round with Jay, attempting to come to grips with what that subject means to me, it seemed a good idea to return to the source.


I was disappointed. A week of cold had done more than I expected to encase the falls in ice. Ice climbers had already been out; they left behind an orange strap, though I wished it had been a pair of crampons. Getting to the top of the falls, pictured above (that’s less than a quarter of the total drop), was not without a slip or two. [Viewing note: if you can’t see detail within the dark areas, you should adjust your monitor brightness.]

One thing I’d been thinking that waterfalls have come to be about is the yin and yang of light and dark, flowing and fixed, soft and hard, perhaps even deeper things. But in this season the terms are at least upended, if not reversed. The pale ice is, to all appearances, as static as the rock. The more abstract detail below might almost be of a dark stream falling past snowy obstacles.


As for the stream itself, visible below the falls through gaps in the ice, it is actually the darkest element in its setting.


Maybe that’s the deeper lesson of yin and yang, that they can partake of and even transform into each other. Any eastern philosophers out there to shed enlightenment? Be that as it may, and whatever role it plays in my photographing of waterfalls, ultimately water is just one of those instinctual fascinations, like fire, its opposite…