Chasing Waterfalls at Ohiopyle with Photographer Rusty Glessner

Whoever said don’t go chasing waterfalls must not have seen Rusty Glessner’s photography. He’s a Pennsylvania native who’s grown a supportive following through his nature photography, namely his knack for capturing waterfalls. As you can imagine, this makes him no stranger to PA’s state parks, and so we jumped at the opportunity to chat with him about one in particular; Ohiopyle.  

Before we turn green with travel envy, let’s meet photographer Rusty Glessner and hear about his Ohiopyle State Park adventures, along Pennsylvania’s cherished National Road:

Q1. How long have you been in the photography industry and what do you enjoy most about it?

I’ve been interested in photography my entire life, but I’ve only been selling my landscape prints for the past three years. The thing I enjoy most about landscape photography it is that it satisfies my wanderlust. I love to travel and explore new areas. The further off the beaten path the better.

Q2. Ohiopyle seems to be one of your go-to photography destinations. What keeps you coming back to photograph and experience the wonders of Ohiopyle State Park time after time?

At 20,000 plus acres, Ohiopyle State Park offers an incredibly diverse palate of options to see and photograph, from mountain vistas like Baughman Rock to all the waterfalls in the valleys below. And the same subjects change so much from season to season, no two trips to the park are ever the same.

Q3. For the past year, you’ve been chasing Pennsylvania’s waterfalls beautifully through your camera lense. Can you share your 3 favorite photographs of Ohiopyle waterfalls with us?

Certainly. One of my favorite images from Ohiopyle would be this shot from Ohiopyle Falls, taken November 1 of 2014, because it was my first magazine cover (Pennsylvania Magazine, September/October 2015).

Another would be this shot from June 2015 of Upper Jonathan Run Falls. I loved the way the early morning sunlight illuminated all the green foliage along the stream.

A third would be this shot from the Cascades along Meadow Run, shot during the spring thaw in mid-March 2015. The contrast of the rushing white water against the dark shadows of the hemlocks and laurel along the stream made for a very compelling image.

Q4. A 12 month waterfall chase seems like an awesome photography assignment. What attracts you the most to these natural phenomena?

Waterfalls are a fascinating subject to me for several reasons. By their very nature, they generally occur in rugged terrain where you have dramatic changes in elevation. So tracking them down takes me on road trips to some of the most scenic parts of America. There are also many ways to photograph each waterfall, from fast stop-motion shots, to the longer exposures that give the water a “silky” appearance. So trying to figure out the best way to frame up and capture the character of each individual waterfall is both technically challenging and exciting from an artistic standpoint.

Q5. For those who have never been to Ohiopyle, can you share 3 things every traveler must do during their visit?

Ohiopyle Falls are certainly a must-see when visiting the park. They can be viewed most easily from the observation decks located next to the Visitors Center, or from the Ferncliff Trail on the opposite shore of the Yough.

Nearby Cucumber Falls is also a required stop, arguably the most “classical” of all the waterfalls in the park.

The Baughman Rock Overlook would be my third recommended stop. If you’re an early riser it’s an especially great vantage point to catch a sunrise.

Q6. There is something so special about photographs, whether its competition worthy or taken with a dusty polaroid. What do you hope to achieve through nature photography in 2016?

My goal is to visit at least 50 new-to-me waterfalls in 2016. Which is the same goal I’ve had (and met) for each of the past several years. There are still large areas of Pennsylvania where I’ve only begun to scratch the surface in terms of waterfalls.  I’ve also started venturing south of the border into Maryland and West Virginia towards the end of 2015. I’m always looking forward to new road trips and new adventures.

Q7. Do you have a trip planned to return back to Ohiopyle? If so, what can we expect from your adventure?

My next trip back to Ohiopyle State Park will probably be in February, once the deep freeze of winter has taken hold. Frozen Cucumber Falls and some of the tall ice formations along the Great Allegheny Passage bike path are always a sight to behold and photograph.

Our short Q&A style interview with Rusty Glessner is a testament to the wonderment that awaits at Ohiopyle. We always say our Road has a story to tell and this is surely one of them. It’s now your turn to experience this waterfall-filled park and create your own!

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