home - about - trip reports - articles - contact - links
September 13th 2008 Brokenstraw Creek, Warren County PA
  Back in August I had the great pleasure of spending sometime with my photographer pal Ruthie down in West Virginia. One of the places she took me to was a small creek near her home called Deckers Creek which is just outside of Morgantown. Like must suburban streams it was sadly rather polluted but was also quite pretty if you know where to look. I am sure that most people who live near there drive by it everyday without giving it much thought, that is except for the people who use it a swimming hole, drinking spot, and a place to smoke some weed and get high.

That trip really inspired me to do more with Brokenstraw Creek. Brokenstraw Creek is a wonderful little creek that pretty much starts off in my home town of Corry, PA and works it's way down to the Allegheny River just south of the town of Warren, PA. Much like Deckers Creek, Brokenstraw is ignored by most people. It gets really popular during trout season but other than that most people do not give it much thought. I have been there many, many times over the years both to take some pictures and make some photographs, but I have never made a serious project with it. So I decided to make a project out of Brokenstraw Creek.

I awoke early on a Saturday to find a light rain was falling. It was that annoying type that was not quite rain, not quite drizzle. One of the many great things about "toy cameras" is that there is nothing electronic inside of them so you can take them out in the rain without any real issues. You just need to make sure that you don't get them wet to the point that the film inside gets wet as that makes it stick together and get ruined.

I had packed several Holgas loaded up with IR film and several Diana Clones loaded up with Ilford HP5. As it turned out it was raining just a bit to hard to use the IR. The rain would have left to many water spots on the filter. Anyway I drove down Route 426 out of Corry, past Springcreek and stopped at one of the many pull offs that people park at to go trout fishing. I had never been to this one before so I thought it would be fun to explore. It became quite obvious that this area had not been used for quite some time as it had waist high weeds and no clear path down to the creek. I had to drop down a steep little hill to the railroad tracks, cross the tracks and then drop down another steep hill to the creek bed.

Once down to the creek I was pretty shocked at how low the water was. We had had a pretty wet summer but it had been dry for the last week or so. (at least until the days rains) There was no path along the shore so as normal for me I waded in the water. It was mostly ankle to knee deep. Just as I got down the water it started to rain just a tad bit harder. I had on a rain poncho and kept the cameras around my neck but under the poncho to keep them dry until I used them. I got so hot and sweaty under the poncho I am not sure the poncho did much good however.

I walked up and down the stream about 100 or so yards in each direction to scope out what might for a good photograph. I found several trees that I thought would look cool, as well as several landscapes where the creek would be nicely framed by the surrounding hills.

My plan was to shoot a roll here, get back in the car and then drive on to another more familiar site for me along the creek.

Once I figured out what I wanted to shoot I moved in for the kill. As I often do when shooting with Dianas I bracketed for framing. One of the "features" of a Diana camera is that the viewfinder is nothing like what the actual lens is seeing. While with experience it can get you close, I have found it helpful to try several different framings of a scene and hope that at least one of them will turn out pretty decent.

All in all, I spent about an hour in this location, and shot a roll of Ilford HP5 film with my Stellar Model Diana Clone. It was quite strange as the top half of me in under the poncho was burning up, while the bottom of me standing in shorts in 55-60 degree water got quite cold. So back to the car I went. Just as I got there it began to rain even harder and I decided to call it a day, go home, get some lunch, and develop the film.

Out of the 16 frames I shot I was pretty happy with the 4 that you see here on this page.



unless noted all content copyright 2006-2008 by Wallace Billingham all rights reserved