Niagara Falls Frozen

March 17, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Today I’d love to share some photos I took last weekend of the (supposedly) frozen Niagara Falls. First of all, let me start by saying that my wife and I were supposed to drive up to Niagara Falls for New Years to see the fireworks over the falls that they do every year. We love to drive so this is usually a nice little getaway for us. This New Year’s about 20 or 30 miles from the house (somewhere in the Scranton Pa area) it started snowing so bad that we couldn’t see 50 feet (or approximately 15 meters) in front of us so needless to say we decided not to go this year since we still had almost 300 miles to drive.


When we heard the rumors recently that Niagara Falls had frozen over and saw on the news how everyone was excitedly making their way to Niagara Falls to see the remarkable and unbelievable phenomena we had to investigate this further to see if it was true. Of course we discovered that the photos taken were taken in a manner that made it appear that the falls were completely frozen from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls but they only appeared to be frozen and if you look closely in the background of those photos on the internet and in the news you can see the actual falls still flowing with the usual immensity and fierceness that Niagara Falls always flows with.


That being said, we decided that even just a portion of Niagara Falls being frozen over was still a huge deal and may still be a once in a lifetime phenomenon. The only time I know of that Niagara Falls has actually completely frozen over (excluding images where the authenticity has been questioned) was in 1848 due to upriver damning but this was still an adventure that neither my wife nor I could resist so off we set to do the 5 hour drive to Niagara Falls for the weekend. Actually, now I’m exaggerating, that Saturday happened to be our anniversary so we actually had plans to stay at Niagara Falls for the weekend but honestly if it wasn’t our anniversary we would have had to take the drive to see this wondrous phenomena anyway before it warmed up.


When we do drives like this we like to stay off the highways and as our 7 year old granddaughter likes to say “go exploring”. We like to experience new communities and enjoy places and events going on that we wouldn’t normally experience sticking to the highways such as tourist attractions like restaurants, state parks, beaches, etc. as well as local places and events that only the locals may know about such as wildlife observation areas. We’ve found some marvelous locations where we can get close to bald eagle nests and experience them in all their glory for example.


I’m not going to go into the drive in this article since there was nothing as unique as Niagara Falls freezing over from the extreme cold weather we’ve been experiencing this year along our route but in future articles I’ll go into our drives like when we drove to Virginia and we found the Army Heritage on our drive home where I got some awesome photos or when we drove to Maine and found Fort Knox along the way (once again on our drive home) where I had a wonderful time taking photos and getting more awesome shots.


Ok enough talk, let’s get to some photos:


Niagara Falls frozenNiagara Falls Frozen HDRNiagara Falls frozen HDR


It started snowing (just flurries) about 40 or so miles out from Niagara Falls so I decided to jump back onto the major roads to get to our destination. As a result, we ended up getting there while there was still a little daylight left. This photo was taken hand held a little before the sun went down from the U.S. side of Niagara Falls facing the Canadian side. For those interested in settings (I personally don’t put much stock in sharing settings because every situation is going to be different so minutes later these same settings may have given me completely different results but I know there are those that enjoy knowing settings so for those - enjoy) my settings were f/5.0 at 1/125 of a second and an ISO of 200 with a focal length of 75mm. I took 5 bracketed shots to really try to capture the mist rising from the force of the falls and created this HDR image. I created the HDR image in Nik HDR Efex Pro then did a little tweaking and added a vignette in Photoshop.


Niagara Falls frozenNiagara Falls_Mar082014_1009Niagara Falls frozen lightshow.


Out of all the images I took, these were the photos I had the most fun with. We left the falls to go for dinner and come back after dark. We came back after dark (to the location I picked out earlier in the light) there were quite a few people still there trying to take photos of the light show they have at Niagara Falls every night from the Canadian side. You get a cleaner, easier view from the Canadian side to see the falls and photograph them too but I really liked this spot I found on the U.S. side and expected it not to be as crowded. It turned out I had to wait a while to get to the spot I wanted to setup for the people to give up with their cell phones but eventually it got so cold (now that the sun was down) that the crowds finally dispersed for good and my spot completely cleared out so I could have room to setup my tripod and not have anyone bumping the tripod or walking in front of the camera. I setup my tripod and used a long exposure to capture this image which is my favorite from the trip. Again, for those interested in settings I shot this at f/11 for 30 seconds on a tripod. The ISO was 100 and the focal length was 20mm. You can see the falls in the background but the lightshow on the frozen parts of Niagara Falls were absolutely phenomenal. A wondrous beauty I’m so glad we didn’t miss out on.


Niagara Falls_Mar092014_1134-1145 PanoNiagara Falls_Mar092014_1134-1145 PanoNiagara Falls Frozen panoramic


From one more location from the U.S. side I took this image the next morning after breakfast before we headed out for the long drive back home to the Poconos. I didn’t use the tripod for this panoramic image, instead I shot this handheld using the same technique I use for panning which worked pretty good for a clean steady follow through allowing me to take 12 images and combine them into this panoramic of Niagara Falls. Once again, for those interested in settings my settings were f/8 at 1/500 sec with an ISO of 100 and a focal length of 28mm. Like I said, I took 12 images handheld and then I combined them in Photoshop. Instead of cropping out the edges, I built them back in using the content aware feature in Photoshop which works so wonderfully it simply didn’t make any sense to crop out any of this beautiful scene.


I hope everyone enjoyed my first blog article, feel free to register and leave comments or questions.


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