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An Evening Waterfront Photo Hike

The ancient saying, “red sky at night, photographer’s delight,” definitely holds true in Buffalo. As Tim Tielman has pointed out, Our Fair City is one of the few in the east where residents can watch the sun set over the water, and sunset photos here are almost a genre. So with the atmospherics looking especially promising Saturday, it seemed like a good opportunity to try out the new Buffalo Rising camera on a sunset and also do some low-light photography, at which the camera seems amazingly capable – even in the hands of an amateur.

And sure enough, awaiting me at Front Park was just the combination of clouds and color, land and water that make Buffalo’s sunsets spectacular. The sun, just sinking behind the trees on the Canadian shore, was still putting lots of rich, red glow into the sky.

I wasn’t alone in watching the sunset: in addition to several watchers warm in their cars, I found myself in the company of Commodore Perry himself. Perhaps unaware of the Treaty of Ghent, the commodore, saber at the ready, endlessly scanned the horizon as if watching for a return of the British fleet. I left him to his eternal vigil and headed north.

The next stop was the Rich Products parking lot, providing commanding views of the Niagara strait that are especially great at sunset. Although the sun had set by the time I got there, it still illuminated the cloud formations.

Heading for Scajaquada Creek, I found this scene at the “new” creek mouth that was created during the construction of the 190. The absence of wind and current had made the confluence of the creek and the Black Rock Channel an utterly flat, mirror-like surface. It was a good illustration of how the creation of the Black Rock Harbor radically affected the western end of the creek, which afterward flowed into the slack water of the Black Rock Channel rather than into the swift waters of the Niagara River five feet lower than the channel.

And as for the original mouth of the creek, now dead-ended by the expressway, I found it sporting a very new look, as the 1660 Niagara project of the Buffalo-Niagara Land Trust has taken shape this year.

After that, a walk up Wayne Street, one of Buffalo’s shortest, took me to an “urban wild” that I call the Dearborn Triangle, which I suggested toward the end of this article would make a great area for a created wetland and nature trails. That’s even more so now that the Niagara River has received a “Ramsar” designation which, according to the Buffalo News is a recognition of the importance of wetlands in the Niagara River corridor “to biological diversity and to humanity as a whole.”

What I found was a place just as amazing at night as during the day, with an almost magical quality that drew me in and made me want to linger with the camera despite the cold. The absence of foliage allowed distant lights to be visible, almost as if the woods was alive with sprites.

The low-light capabilities of the camera continued to amaze me. Aided by an all-manual mode allowing full control of aperture (with a generous 1:1.8 maximum), shutter speed, and even simulated ISO (light sensitivity), I took this picture after dark in the moonlight that could easily pass for a picture taken at mid-day in the sunlight.

But having the uncanny feeling of being watched, I turned and to my horror discovered one of the Martian machines had risen above the treeline and had me fixed in the unblinking gaze of its deadlights. Oh wait, that was in The War of the Worlds. But this was pretty much how the tower of St. Francis Xavier Church (now the Buffalo Religious Arts Center) looked to me with my glasses off, and I was delighted that the camera let me capture an approximation.

But if that wasn’t enough horror, I turned back toward the moon just as it was about to become the snack of a giant cloud monster! How did the moon escape? As Qui-Gon said, there’s always a bigger cloud monster.

It may be the most phantasmagoric thing I’ve photographed since this ice shark that nearly took my leg off when I was walking on the frozen Outer Harbor in early 2015.

Heading to the Jesse Kregal Pathway, I continued to be amazed by the ability of the camera, when set to wide aperture, long shutter time, and high sensitivity, to capture scenes like the undercroft of the Scajaquada Expressway almost as well as if it were daylight. And without using the flash.

One particular tree along the way stood out for no other reason than it was illuminated by the streetlights on the expressway above.

If the DOT can have lights above the expressway for drivers, why not under the expressway for cyclists and pedestrians?

Not far from the creek, this guy, on the right, keeps watch over a house and yard. Again (amazingly) taken after dark without flash.

When I got home I discovered a few friends tagged along. Here’s hoping you enjoyed the lovely weekend, too.

Written by RaChaCha


RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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