The River Towns Photo Project

Back in February,  I got a slew of Facebook private messages and emails from my friends, regarding a project that was in the newspaper and online.

Photographers Wanted For Delaware River Towns Project

“The intent of the Earth Day Weekend-long photo shoot being held April 22 and 23 is to capture the unique character of the towns that border both sides of the Delaware River from Riegelsville in Pennsylvania to Lambertville, according to a news release.
Photographers are free to roam and shoot anywhere within the boroughs boundaries in Riegelsville, Milford, Frenchtown, Stockton, Lambertville and New Hope, Pa.”CRAIG TURPIN

I took a look and thought, okay sounds like fun and I sort of forgot about it. But those emails kept coming, so I thought well, why not? So I asked the person in charge, who is another photographer named Bill Brokaw, and decided to go for it.

When I do these type of excursions, I like to pack as light as possible. I dress in layers, bring only one camera, one lens, 2 cards, an extra battery, sunblock, a reusable water bottle, snacks, good hiking shoes(I love Salomon trail running sneakers that are waterproof), my cell phone, solar powered charger, wear a hat(for some reason I didn’t bring one that day), my Nook Glowlight eReader, and other small essentials that fit in my Think Tank Modular Belt system. I have the belt and all of these attaches to it, Hubba HineyR U Hot bottle holder, I have the older version of the Speed Changer. That day, I only brought my Canon 6D and the Canon EF 16-35mm 2.8 L lens, this camera combination is much lighter than if I had my Canon 5D Mark III.

The first day of Earth Day Weekend, it was pouring, and I mean torrential all day. I decided to stay home, but the next day, Sunday was perfect. My husband and daughter had stuff to do at home, so I took a drive on the Pennsy side up to New Hope. It was packed with people because the day was so beautiful. So I crossed the bridge to Lambertville and kept going up north along the river. I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go, so I just kept driving, seeing what was around. Living where I do, I know the area pretty well, but further up not as much. Around Stockton, I got a little hungry and saw that the Delaware Canal Towpath and town wasn’t overrun by tourists. I got a sandwich at a local deli, sat on a bench underneath a tree and just enjoyed my surroundings.

Afterwards, I started wandering around looking. I didn’t take any photos yet, I just wanted to get the feel of the area first. Then I found the direction of the towpath that felt right, and I walked.  There were families on bikes, people walking their dogs, the path was even, not bad. It got pretty warm, so I was really glad that I had my water with me. Then I found what I was looking for, I mean I didn’t know it until I came upon it. My process started by taking some shots from the bridge, and then I looked to see if I can get closer to the water in the canal. Yep, there was a way.

Selfie by Deirdre Ryan Photography iPhone SE

Took a few shots, really loved the light, and I felt like I could stay there the rest of the day and read with snacks.

I honestly felt like I got The Shot, but since I came up all that way, why not explore?

I decided to cross the Delaware River using Centre Bridge. It has quite a history, here’s a quote directly from Wikipedia:

“For many years, the route was called Old York Road, as it was the principal route from Philadelphia to New York City. Originally, the Centre Bridge–Stockton Bridge was a covered toll bridge of wood construction was located at the former site of Reading’s Ferry. First built in 1814 as a covered bridge with six spans and a total length of 821 feet built under contract by Capt. Pelig Kingsley and Benjamin Lord. The construction was faulty and the contractors were penalized $1,200. One of the piers soon gave way and had to be rebuilt.
In 1830, the entire bridge was reconstructed by a contractor Amos Campbell, the father of Henry Roe Campbell.  At that time the Raritan feeder on the New Jersey side, and the Delaware Division canal on the Pennsylvania side had not been dug. At first, the canal companies built and maintained the bridges over their respective ditches.
The flood of January 8, 1841, carried away three spans, two piers and the stone toll-house all on the New Jersey side. It was only one of many bridges between Easton, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey, that was destroyed in the flood. However, the Centre Bridge–Stockton Bridge was rebuilt well enough to be one of the few bridges not washed away by the flood of October 10, 1903.
In 1923, the bridge was twice damaged by fire and then on July 22, 1923, lightning struck the bridge and the resulting fire totally destroyed the structure.
For two years after the disaster, the Centre Bridge–Stockton Bridge saw no repairs. Eventually, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission gained control of the remnants of the bridge, and began rebuilding upon the same piers and abutments on which the first bridge had stood. Having been built higher than before, it escaped damage in the flood of 1955, which damaged many other bridges along the Delaware River. The current steel truss bridge was completed in 1926 and opened to traffic in 1927.”

These bridges are up and down the river, and have a walkway either on the left or right side for pedestrians. Bikes are allowed, but you have to walk to over. It was really cool being on it while cars, motorcycles and some small trucks drove by. The thing shakes and vibrates, but I’m not afraid of these things.

Selfie by Deirdre Ryan Photography iPhone SE.

Once across I was in Solesbury Township, PA. The Delaware Canal and Towpath are are both sides of the river. Here is an example of a barge and underneath the bridge that connects to Centre Bridge you see the nest of Cliff Swallows. I played around in editing to see what certain images looked like in both colour and in black and white.

I had some ice cream at a place that’s right on the other side of these buildings. They also serve hamburgers, hotdogs and other delicious meals.

Once again, I made my way down to the water and large boulders, or cement blocks. It was here that I also focused on the garbage that collects along the shore. Living on the Delaware River in Bordentown, we have the same problem. I did quite a bit of climbing up and down that day.

This is part of the towpath in PA in the other direction. Notice that the time of the day I’m in full sun and it’s right above me just about?

Selfie by Deirdre Ryan Photography iPhone SE.

I really like the above image in black and white.  After returning to Stockton, NJ, and was crossing the bridge, I saw some colour and went to explore.

The final image that I put in the show was the first one, which is my favorite next to the black and white of the motorcyclists crossing the bridge.

Photos Showcase What Make Delaware River Towns Unique

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to either showings, the one in Frenchtown or in Lambertville. Previously scheduled events and family obligations made it difficult. It wasn’t the first time that I’ve had work up in a show, and it won’t be my last. The two images below, you can see my image on the top row, in between what looks like two different viewpoints of the same red and beige buildings.

Photo by Carol Manger

Photo by Bill Brokaw

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to do this, I had a lot of fun!

All photographs appearing on this site with the exception of those given photo credit to, are the property of Deirdre Ryan Photography. They are protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Deirdre Ryan Photography. Copyright ©Deirdre Ryan All Rights Reserved.

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