New Croton Dam

Photographing the Waterfall at Croton Gorge Park

By John Haywood

Ever since I saw the magnificent photos of the waterfall and dam at Croton Gorge Park, I’ve wanted to go there. Years had passed as I spend the majority of my time in the Adirondacks surveying for waterfalls for Russell Dunn’s guides and Dig the Falls database. I had a vision of what I wanted as an end-result and last November, I finally made it a reality.

We started out early on a rainy day, which was fine since it worked for the photo I was hopeful to make, and headed south on the Taconic State Parkway. I figured this would be easier and more direct. Turns out, it was terrifying as I got closer to New York City! I forgot the lanes get a little narrower the farther south you go and with rush-hour traffic… yeah, nah.

As we approached the entrance to the park, I could see the massive structure through the trees to my left.

We drove down the small hill and over the bridge where the full view of this grand sight became awe-inspiring.

I parked, got my gear, and walked straight to the base of the dam near the Croton River where a spectacular waterfall adds to the beauty of the dam’s architecture.

The massive structure was the tallest dam in the world upon completion and stands at 297 feet high and 266 feet wide. The curved section leading along the spillway completes a length of 2,188 feet.

I set up a few shots from there, then made my way to the bridge for a few more. I wanted to incorporate as much of the architecture around the falls as I could. The bridge at the top of the dam stretched across the spillway with a larch arch with several smaller arches appearing in it. The stones of the dam created a simple yet eye-catching pattern as the wall wrapped around the large curve, blending seamlessly into the falls.  What a sight!

The shot I had envisioned was a moody black and white photo and the weather did not let me down. The clouds held until just before we left allowing me to get exactly what I had planned for. I made a few exposures at differing shutter speeds as I wasn’t favoring the silky look for this shot. I wanted to show the flow and force of the water to match the mood. In the end, I chose the photo made with the faster speed.

Exposure details:

Camera: Nikon D750

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/20

ISO: 100 Exposure bias: 0

For more information about waterfall photography, please visit our “Photographing Waterfalls” article.

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