2018 Road Trip to Niagara Falls (Mar 29 to Apr 2)

This blog is about my recent road trip from Boston to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls, the Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls (on the USA side) and the Horseshoe Falls (borders the USA and Canada). The falls have a vertical height of about 170 feet and the combined flow rate is the most for all waterfalls in North America. Seeing Niagara Falls in person makes you understand why it is one of the natural wonders of the world. Hope you like the photos.

About a month ago I was thinking about where to go for another photography adventure. So looked at Google Maps and “drew” a seven hour drive time circle around Boston, since for me, this is a comfortable amount of time to drive in one day. Several locations stood out, but it was Niagara Falls that caught my eye. Its probably been about 20 years since I’d visited Niagara Falls, and had never seen it from the Canadian side. So decided to plan a trip to Niagara Falls for the end of March, which would be a great time to photograph the falls covered in snow and ice. For some reason, the thought of cold weather excited me.

This photography trip would also be a great opportunity for me to learn how to use lens filters to adjust the light going into the camera. In the modern era of photography, the use of lens filters has diminished, since much of what they do can be stimulated by photo editing software. However, I guess I’m old fashioned and like how using filters slows you down and gives you more opportunity to “see the photo”. After doing some research on the different types and manufactures of rectangular lens filters, decided to purchase some Lee Filters including

  • Soft- and Hard-edged 2-stop graduated neutral density filters to balance the exposure across the image
  • 3- and 6-stop ProGlass IR neutral density filters to adjust the exposure time
  • Circular polarizer filter to adjust the glare and add saturation to the image

So for this road trip took the following gear

  • Canon 5D Mark IV camera body
  • Canon 24mm f/1.4L lens
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Lee Filters (as described above)
  • Manfrotto tripod and head
  • Canon remote shutter release
  • Spare batteries and memory cards
  • Cold weather clothing

Was really looking forward to heading north and learning how to use the lens filters.

Wednesday and Thursday

Left Boston on Wednesday (March 29) and several hours later arrived at Falls View in Ontario, Canada. The next day walked from downtown Falls View to Niagara Falls. The skies were overcast and the waterfalls were covered in a thick mist, with rain arriving later in the day, so decided to walk along the Niagara Parkway to scout the area for photography locations.

Friday

The next day began with overcast skies, which provided soft morning light to photograph Niagara Falls. Here’s a photograph of the Horseshoe Falls using a graduated neutral density filter which allowed a long exposure of 6 seconds. Used a long exposure to help minimize the photo by smoothing out the river below and the mist rising from the center of the falls.

A little later in the morning took a photograph of the snow and ice covered rocks at the base of the Horseshoe Falls.

The overcast skies lasted most of the day, until the late afternoon, when the clouds went away and we were greeted with beautiful blue skies and a rainbow over the Horseshoe Falls.

Looking to my left, was a beautiful late afternoon view of the American and Bridal Veil Falls with the Rainbow Bridge in the background that connects Canada with the USA.

At twilight we were greeted with “birds around a full moon”, against a beautiful blue- and purple-colored sky. Added some “electronic grain” to this photo to give it a “film-like” look.

Once night time approaches, Niagara Falls is lit by different colored floodlights ranging from red, blue, to green. Here’s a photo of the American Falls.

By now it was about 9.00 pm, and I’d been at Niagara Falls for nearly 12 hours and was getting very cold and tired. So headed back to the car park. On the way to the car, looked up and saw the Casino and Skylon Tower illuminated against the night sky. Couldn’t resist one last photograph of the day (night), so got my camera out of the bag, mounted it on the tripod, and took the shot.

Saturday

Arrived at Niagara Falls early, so could get some photographs of the soft morning light. At this time of day, the sun rises behind the Horseshoe Falls and creates some beautiful light as it passes through the mist from the waterfall and over the white capped waves below.

Experimented with the neutral density filter and slow shutter speeds to capture the beauty and power of the American Falls. Found a shutter speed of two seconds was a good balance to smooth the water and capture its texture as it passes down the waterfall, with the mist rising from the base below.

Sunday

The next day went back to the Niagara Parkway for a photograph of the Horseshoe Falls with the Table Rock Visitor Center (upper right) and the lookout hut for the Journey Behind the Falls (lower right), which gives perspective to how large the water fall is.

As I was heading up Niagara Parkway towards the American Falls, saw one of the many seagulls perched on the cliff edge looking at the Niagara river below.

The American Falls with the Observation Tower and Rainbow Bridge to the left. In these photos wanted to illustrate the effect that long exposure has on the image. The top photo is with no neutral density filter at 1/160 second and f/11, whilst the lower photo is at f/22 and 61 seconds with 3- and 6-stop neutral density filters. I like both shots, with the upper one more standard and the lower one giving a sense of movement.

As I was looking for different perspectives to photograph, I looked up, and noticed the Skyline Tower and the moving clouds behind it. So took a photo using the neutral density filters to allow for a slow shutter speed of 20 seconds to capture the feel of moving clouds. By now I was getting hungry and cold (despite the sunny weather), so headed to the visitor center for some hot soup, a sandwich, and coffee to refuel, warm-up, and rest.

During the afternoon, decided to take some detail photographs of the waterfalls. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are shown in the upper photo with some beautiful yellow-colored trees to the left. In the lower photo, ice/snow-covered rocks at the the base of the American Falls are highlighted by the sun above.

Last photo of the day. The American Falls with the city skyline behind.

Monday

Before heading back to Boston, stopped by the USA side for photographs of Niagara falls from this side of the border. Had a great few days learning how to use lens filters for landscape photography. Thanks for reading my blog about my road trip to Niagara Falls. Now back to Boston to plan my next photography adventure!

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4 thoughts on “2018 Road Trip to Niagara Falls (Mar 29 to Apr 2)

  1. Really beautiful photos. I really love the rainbow and the night show with the colors and how cool the snow/ice looks. It has been years since I’ve been there as well – they are incredible.

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