Three weekends back, I stayed over at my grandparent’s home in Binghamton, New York, as my family came together in the old farm house for a sort of early-Thanksgiving dinner that we called Turkey Feast. Amid several wonderful home-cooked meals and catching up with relatives, I snuck away at sunrise Sunday morning and drove the back roads down to Salt Springs State Park.

When I lived in Binghamton while attending university there, I visited Salt Springs often. Some of my favorite landscapes from that period were created at the park, usually at sunrise. I can remember making that drive in the dark any number of times, arriving at the high field in the middle of the park and setting up the tripod to capture the pre-dawn while there were still stars in the sky. I usually had a mug of coffee with me, and was often accompanied by my friend Shannon, who appreciated a good, quiet morning in nature just as much as I did.

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It’s been a number of years since I’ve photographed in the park; now living in Scranton, the park is about an hour away, and the only times I’m really “in the area” are when I’m at visiting my grandparents, which is usually around midday when the light isn’t worth making the drive over. But since I stayed the night this past weekend, it felt good to take the Jeep across the border back into PA and relive some old memories.

As usual, the morning began at the high field, with the Jeep parked off the dirt road in the grass. There were deer grazing amid the mist in the distance, and still a few stars in the sky as I began. And while it wasn’t a bright, flaming sunrise, it was lovely with its soft pastel color amid the fog.

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There have been some changes to the park; the llamas that once lived by the barn are gone, as is there pen. The park is in the process of building new restrooms by the barn now, and the parking lot is being redone. Both Fall Brook and the larger Silver Creek have been reshaped, both by the floods that came through a few years ago and the subsequent repair and reconstruction efforts.

But the parts I’ve always liked best are still there, the rural farm feel, the way the fog hangs in the narrow creek valleys. It was a good morning to hike around, including a trek up Fall Brook to the first waterfall. I had the place to myself, which is typical for mornings there.


The light went flat just after sunrise, caught in a thick fog that blanketed the area. It was a little disappointing, but I wasn’t able to stay long in any case. Gramma would have breakfast on the table by nine, and it’s a half-hour drive, so I said goodbye to the park, until next time, and drove back through the hills, breaking out of the fog and into a lovely early-autumn morning through farm country, and around Quaker Lake on my way home.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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