Testing at the Rexleigh Bridge

New York State has less than three dozen wooden covered bridges within its borders.  Some are on private land, others are very inaccessible, even more are barely stable.

But there are some amazing wooden covered bridges in our general vicinity, and yesterday I drove to Washington County to capture one.

The Rexleigh Bridge in Jackson, New York is one of only four covered bridges in Washington County.  It’s been restored twice, and it currently spans a tree-lined public thoroughfare.

With covered bridges in the woods, I have a couple of options.  I can capture them with the fall foliage bursting all around it, or I can capture it in wintertime when snow-coated tire tracks lead into and out of the one-lane structure.

But I can’t do any of that until I take some test shots in the general vicinity.

I packed my Nikon Df for the journey, and took three different lenses – the camera’s 50mm f/1.8G kit lens, my Irix 15mm f/2.4 ultrawide, and my MC MTO-1100 super-telephoto lens.  Between the three lenses, I should be able to get something swank.

First off … the journey itself.  You first travel through the heart of Rensselaer County, through Pittstown and Eagle Bridge and Buskirk and the like… and then you reach Washington County.  A few antique stores make for great driving breaks.

Then, after passing Lake Lauderdale…

I found it.  The Rexleigh Bridge.

Rexleigh Bridge with railroad crossing. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Luckily for me, there’s parking on either side of the bridge, as the Batten Kill that flows underneath the Rexleigh Bridge is a nice fishing spot.

Now what makes the Rexleigh Bridge so distinctive?

Well … let’s take a look.

Oh wait … I should get closer, so you can see the inscription on the bridge roof.

Rexleigh Bridge from north side. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Yeah, maybe just a smidge closer.

Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

That’s right, kids, “25 Dollars Fine for Driving on this Bridge Faster than a Walk.”  Although I don’t see anybody monitoring this little speed trap, nor do I see anybody collecting fines.  And if this bridge is part of the Tour of the Battenkill bicycle race … what do they make the cyclists do, get off their bikes and walk them across the span?  😀

Okay.  We know that the Nikon Df‘s kit lens looks nice.  Now let’s pull out the super-ultra-wide Irix 15mm f/2.4 shooter and see what we get.

Rexleigh Bridge with oncoming truck. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Yeah, that’s a truck that decided to photobomb my exposure.  No matter, these are test shots anyway.  And if I had enough sense to have brought my neutral-density filter, I could have used it to get a nice headlight trail through the bridge itself.  Again … next time I’ll think about doing that.

Okay, it’s nice from up here, but what about a shot from the Battenkill straight up to the bridge?

Oh look, there’s a nice little foot path.  I hope this foot path is stable. And I hope it remains stable if I try doing this shot in wintertime.

And here we go.

Rexleigh Bridge from the Battenkill. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Good.  Now if I come back in a couple of weeks, the foliage should be nice and vibrant.  I hope.

As I climbed back up to the road, I noticed several puddles on the ground.  Early morning raindrops.  I don’t think I can get a good reflection shot with the Irix lens on the camera … but what if I pulled out my BlackBerry PRIV camera phone and tried a shot here and there?

Rexleigh Bridge with reflection. BlackBerry PRIV camera phone. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Awesome.  So if it’s raining the next time I go up here … and the foliage is blooming … yeah, you know Chuck is excited about this.

Oh and there’s one of those New York State historic markers about the bridge itself.  Let’s get a shot, shall we?

Oh, and there’s a second marker, just over the edge here.  Let me get a shot of that one.

A little research reveals that Bernice Langlois was instrumental in saving the Rexleigh Bridge when it was falling apart.  A few years later, the bridge was restored to its current state.  Nice.

All right, now let’s test out the big gun.  My 1100mm mirror lens.  I haven’t used it in a long time, so let’s see if it can still give me some magic.

All rihgt, I’m almost at the top of the road, shooting south at the bridge, and I get…

gh Bridge. Nikon Df camera, MC MTO 1100 mirror lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Okay, okay, everybody have a good laugh at this one.  But let me tell you something… do you have any idea where I was standing when I took this picture?

I was standing over here.  WAAAAAAAY over here.

If I took any more steps backwards, I’d probably be in Vermont.

One more try for this unit, though … I walked through the bridge to the other side, went up the hill as far as I could, and aimed the MC MTO 1100-powered Nikon Df straight down at the bridge itself.

And I got this.

Rexleigh Bridge opening. Nikon Df camera, MC MTO 1100 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Yikes.  I’m so far away from the bridge that I’m picking up tree branches and power lines in my field of view … but I’m not far enough away from the bridge that I can’t get the whole thing in my frame.  Grr.

Okay, this is why we do tests.  If I do this again, I’m not bringing the MC MTO 1100 lens.  Which is fine by me, I could stand to have a lens with less weight on it.

So here’s the plan.  I’m going to monitor the weather conditions and the fall foliage.  As soon as I know the fall foliage is bursting in Washington County, I’m beelining it to the Rexleigh Bridge.  I’ll bring my 50mm f/1.8G lens, as well as my Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens … and maybe either the Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 or my Nikon 28mm f/2.8 lens as an ultrawide option.  That, and an ND filter in case there’s traffic driving through the bridge.

Yep, Chuck’s brain is in photo-shoot mode again.

And you’re joining me on this little journey.

Let’s have fun.