Photographing 40-foot Falls in Archbald, PA just after Hurricane Ida

40-foot falls is a waterfall I had no idea existed until just this year despite living in this area of Northeastern Pennsylvania for the majority of my life. I heard about it from a YouTube video by Dale Keklock, a local historian of sorts that is painstakingly documenting the now moribund coal industry in our area – everything from the abandoned town of Edgerton to the manmade reservoirs and waterways created during that time period.

Once I had heard about 40-foot falls I knew I wanted to photograph them. Little did I know that Hurricane Ida would be dumping an enormous amount of water on our area just a few days later.

But first, a scouting mission with my Dad.

My father Robert

After just a short hike we found the falls relatively easily – thanks to Keklock’s video on YouTube. I had brought a few cameras along but knew that I wouldn’t photograph the falls unless they were really showing well. Spoiler: they weren’t.

Beautiful? Yes. But not worth exposing on film just yet. Have you seen film prices? But I made a mental note that the next time we had a good, decent rain (which, during the summer of 2021 was almost weekly) I would return with my drone and film cameras to capture a few images.

Just 11 days later, this happened.

Image credit: John Hickey, WNEP Meteorologist on Twitter

The remnants of Hurricane Ida spilled inches of rain per hour across the US including our corner of Pennsylvania. I told Eliza we needed to get up early and hike to 40-foot falls to get some photos.

Me, setting up a shot. Photo credit: Eliza Devroe

Well, this time the falls were putting on a good show.

Both lower and upper falls
Upper falls

It was time to expose some film.

Upper falls
Lower falls
White Oak Dam, just downstream from the falls

I’ve added these photos to my portfolio as well. I shot mostly with the Mamiya 645 Pro TL but also a bit with the Canon AE-1 Program. It was my first time using brand-new Kodak Tri-X. I have to say I’m really liking this film stock.

I’m glad Eliza and I returned so soon after Ida. The images were well worth the effort to get the timing right. I plan on making some prints of these images – and others captured on that day – this winter in the darkroom.

Last Updated:

Powered by Hubbub Pro