By Nathan L. Walls

Bethlehem Steel Stacks

First Ave. Bethlehem Steel Complex First Ave. Bethlehem Steel Complex
Furnace Stacks/Bethlehem Furnace Stacks/Bethlehem

As a first since moving to Lehigh Valley area vs. visiting, I took a chunk of the President’s Day morning to walk around the Bethlehem Steel Stacks, what was the core of Bethlehem Steel. While the Hoover-Mason Trestle elevated walkway was closed due to snow, walking around at street level was plenty.

The warmer seasons are definitely busier here, but circling a decent chunk of the complex at street level was fairly pleasant.

My father-in-law worked at Bethlehem Steel before its closing. I am continually amazed at the scale of operation here, what work might have been like, and how, nearly 30-years after plant closure, just how much of South-side Bethlehem is occupied by parts of the plant.

Durham Valley snow

Passing Snow Shower/Durham Township Passing Snow Shower/Durham Township
Crossing Fields/Durham Township Crossing Fields/Durham Township

Both images are looking southwest across the Durham Valley from County Line Rd. E on Bougher Hill. The landscape looks fantastic with fresh snow. We expected some snow today, but received nine inches where we had been expecting somewhere between two and four.

Bougher Hill snow and fog

Trees with Fog and Snow/Williams Township Trees with Fog and Snow/Williams Township
Clean Road/Williams Township Clean Road/Williams Township
Skeletons in Fog and Snow/Williams Township Skeletons in Fog and Snow/Williams Township

Our hill along the Delaware River had a lasting layer of snow recently and before warmer temperatures and rain melted it off, we had a couple days of foggy conditions. Similar to January last year, fog changes the complexion of subject matter. Some photos from this walk used the same compositions I did last year. Some were new. The key is it’s rarely static. Having the fog is a similarity, but how the fog is and having snow on the ground are two key differences.

I am a fan of revisiting places to photograph them multiple times. Overall, they aren’t “fresh”, but they benefit from the familiarity because sometimes compositions and light work well at a particular moment and other times they do not. Relatedly, there are weather and seasonal changes that render multiple similar compositions in the same location very unique. Galen Rowell touches on this some in his book Mountain Light, concerning the compositional similarity of a photo he had taken with one Ansel Adams had. Similarly, Simon Baxter has talked about revisiting scenes repeatedly.

I’m incredibly fortunate that I have several areas very close by I like revisiting frequently. The light changes, the seasons, the weather, buildings change. Sometimes, I’m previsualizing a specific scene for a specific light quality or weather condition. But, as much, I look outside and decide that moment is one to get outside to a particular shooting spot, and then find the compositions along the way. This particular day was a mix of both. I finished a lengthy task at work and wanted a bit of a break. I’d been keeping an eye out the window at the fog conditions and measuring against how much daylight I had left before sunset. Then, it was a matter of walking out the door with the camera toward subjects I’d explored before and some light thinking about how they’d play with the current weather.

Recent Delaware River photos

Bare Sycamores/Delaware River Bare Sycamores/Delaware River
Bare Sycamores/Delaware River Silhouetted Sycamores/Delaware River

Both taken near Delaware and Lehigh Canal Path Mile Marker 52 in mid-November, 2023. I am incredibly fortunate to have this close by to go photograph almost on a whim and, in this particular case, just looking to go practice, I had these two scenes and some others to work with.

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