Tarrytown Abandoned Well

May 07, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

In 2015, we moved north of New York City to Sleepy Hollow (yes, that Sleep Hollow) and suddenly I had different types of subjects to photograph instead of just city streets. Eventually, I found my passion for night sky photography, which the city lights always polluted out, and long exposure photography.

A year earlier while house hunting, we drove around the Tarrytown Lakes for the first time on the way to what would eventually become our home, and I saw an old structure in the water. The well looks like a tiny home and it sits on an island in the lower lake, just off the shore line. It is a creepy site, especially on cold-wintery days when the trees around it are bare. I've photographed the well a few times, but I had a picture in my mind I wanted to capture of a dark, haunted-like image, and needed to wait for weather conditions that would support what was in my head.

I started using the Lee Filters System for daytime long-exposures, mostly to create a smooth water effect when photographing the Hudson River, streams in Rockefeller State Park Preserve, and the Atlantic Ocean. After a few uses, I knew their filters would allow me to get the longer exposure needed for the kind of shot I wanted to create of the well and lake.

So, on a day I had been working from home, we were experiencing one of the classic river-town foggy days that people think of in relation to the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I remember debating to myself if I really felt like going out in the December elements to try and capture this image. Thankfully, I sucked it up and went for it. When I got down to the lakes, the fog was dense and hovering just above the water, but you could easily see it moving very quickly. View a video of it on my instagram page here @aperlmanphoto

After getting to the spot I wanted and setting up the Lee Filter System, I was able to take a 4-minute exposure that didn't just blur the water, it blurred the fog, leaving it transparent enough to create the haunted feeling I had envisioned. When I did some light editing on the contrast in Photoshop, I remember being excited at how cool I thought the photograph looked, but it wasn't until I started showing others that I realized I had captured something unique and special. Much like most of the night time shoots I do, sometimes it really is worth it to be in uncomfortable conditions.

My photograph was awarded 1st place, Specialty category, at the 2020 International Photography Awards, and was selected by professional photographer, Rachel Talibart, as 1 of 5 images she critiqued on the Lee Filters website. You can purchase framed print, metal, and canvas products of this photograph (minus the watermark) in my shop.

Shot with a Nikon D610, Nikkor 50mm prime lens, Lee Filters 0.6 ND Medium Grad and Big Stopper filters: 240.0s exposure, f/11 and ISO 200. Taken December 21, 2018

Long exposure of an abandoned well that sits in the middle of the Tarrytown Lakes in New York. It was first constructed in 1887 and remains in this state today.

Tarrytown Lakes Park - Old WellTarrytown Lakes Park - Old WellThe old well was built in 1887 when the reservoir was constructed. It sits on a tiny island in the middle of the eastern "lake."


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