Monthly Archives: August 2012

Central Ohio Metro Parks

We are fortunate here in central Ohio to have a great Metro Parks system that is strongly supported by the community.  The Metro Parks system was originally established in 1945, and today is made up of 16 parks with more than 175 miles of trails, 26,000 acres of land and water in 7 central Ohio counties.  Each year more than 6 million people visit the parks to escape the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives to discover and experience nature.  For nature photographers, it’s wonderful to have all these parks with almost unlimited photographic opportunities available without having to travel very far!  In today’s post I feature images from Slate Run Metro Park and Inniswood Metro Gardens.

Restored 1800’s era covered bridge – Click image to enlarge

The image above is of a restored 1800’s era covered bridge in Slate Run Metro Park taken in the fall.  With the name “Slate Run” you’d think that the land beneath the park was slate rock, but the early settlers mistook the dark soil for slate.  It’s actually shale, a softer rock made from clay deposited millions of years ago.  The park covers 1,705 acres and has about 12 miles of trails that take you through open fields, forests, ravines and grasslands.  The park also features the Slate Run Living Historical Farm where visitors can learn about and help with chores on a working 1880’s farm.  To find out more about Slate Run Metro Park, visit their website here.

Below is an image from Inniswood Metro Gardens and is taken from inside the Herb Hut looking out into the surrounding herb garden.  I like the picture within a picture effect of this composition as you look through the circular window covered with vines out into the surrounding garden.  It reminds me of the round doors and windows of the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional Middle-earth described in his “Lord of the Rings” novels.

Inside the Herb Hut look out – Click image to enlarge

Inniswood Metro Gardens is set within a scenic nature preserve and features many special gardens filled with beautifully landscaped flowerbeds, rock gardens and lawns.  The park boasts more than 2,000 species of plants, specialty collections of hostas, daffodils, daylilies, and several theme gardens including the rose, herb, and woodland rock garden.  To find out more about Inniswood Metro Gardens, visit their website here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Posted in Metro Parks, Weekly Column Tagged , |

Ohio Farm Sunset

Like many places in the USA this summer, central Ohio has been very hot and dry.  At last count, we’ve had 4 100+ degree days for a total of 43 days with temperatures over 90 degrees, WHEW!  We’ve been lucky in my area and have gotten some rain from a few late afternoon pop-up thunderstorms that passed over us.  Unfortunately there haven’t been very many nice sunsets with clouds turned red, orange, and pink by the setting sun, but this past Saturday we were blessed with just such a sunset so I thought I’d share it with you.


Rural Ohio Farm sunset – Click image to enlarge

This scene is of a farm in southern Union County Ohio surrounded by many acres of soybeans just a few minutes after sunset.  While driving in the area one day I spotted it and made a mental note that it might be a good location for a sunset shoot!  I got there about 30 minutes before sunset and as I looked at the scene I could tell that the sun would set right behind the farm houses from my vantage point.  The sky had nice puffy clouds that were already beginning to show beautiful pinks, oranges, yellows and reds.  The sky is what I wanted to emphasize in my image, but I had to decide how much of the rest of the landscape I wanted to include.  I could show the whole dynamic range of the scene using graduated neutral density filters or HDR processing techniques, but with acres and acres of soybeans in front of me, showing a lot of detail in the soybean field would really distract from the beautiful sky.  I finally decided to show just a little detail in the soybean field and the farm buildings.  To accomplish this I used a combination of several graduated neutral density filters for a total of 6 stops of filtration to maximize the sky’s colors and give the soybean field and farm buildings just enough exposure to show some detail and the warm glow of the sunset.

For about 30-45 minutes after sunset, the sky changes every minute and you just never know what you might see so don’t pack up your gear and leave too soon, the show might not be over!  The second image below was taken about 30 minutes after sunset, and in it you can see some unusual faint orange-red beams of sunlight against a darkening sky.   Not more than a minute or two after I took this image all the color was gone.  I really enjoyed nature’s show and was glad I made the effort to go out and experience it.  It was a very peaceful and beautiful end to the day.


30 minutes after sunset – click image to enlarge

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Posted in Photographic Technique, Weekly Column Tagged |

Tennis anyone?

USA’s Serena Williams – Click image to enlarge

My wife and I are big tennis fans so this past Tuesday we travelled to Mason, OH. (just north of Cincinnati, OH) to take in the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament.  The tournament, played at the Lindner Family Tennis Center is a top tier tour stop for both the men and women of the ATP and WTA tours.  All the top players like Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Sam Stosur were there so if you like tennis and photography, this is the place to be!

This tournament and Cincinnati have quite a history.  Since 1899, just 25 years after the first recorded playing of the sport in the United States, tennis tournaments have been staged in Cincinnati, and what is now known as the Western & Southern Open is the country’s oldest professional tennis event still played in its original city.

Having attended the tournament for a number of years, I had a good idea of where I’d be shooting from so I knew what lenses would be the best to use.  Except for Center Court and the Grandstand Court, all the other courts are smaller so a zoom lens with a focal length range of 70-200mm is perfect.  For the Center and Grandstand courts a 300mm lens or longer is best.  Having carried around 2 lenses all day at the tournament in the past, I knew that 2 lenses get really heavy by the end of the day so this year I opted for a lighter load and only carried one lens, the Canon EF 300mm f/4 IS.  I was also excited to give the 61-point auto focus system on my Canon 5D Mark III a workout, and it was impressive.  Out of almost 1000 images there was only “one” slightly out of focus.  I used “Case 2” of the 6 available AF Configuration Tool Prests.  Case 2 is set up so that even when a subject momentarily moves from the selected AF points, the camera will continue to focus-track the subject.  The camera will also continue to focus-track the subject even if another object gets in the way.  This is prefect for tennis.  For the most part, I set the camera to aperture priority mode (Av) with an aperture of f/5.6, ISO at 400 and shot away.


Great Britian’s Andy Murray, currently ranked #3 in the world – Click image to enlarge

You can see more tennis images from the tournament my Tennis Gallery here.  If you have any questions about this website or my photography, please click here to email me.

Posted in Photographic Technique, Sports, Weekly Column Tagged , , , |

Middle Prong of the Little River

Cascade and rocks along the river – Click image to enlarge

On the Little River Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park going towards Cades Cove about 100 yards west of the intersection of the road from Townsend, TN., (known as the Townsend “Y”), take a left turn at the sign pointing to the Smoky Mountain Institute and you’ll enter the Tremont section of the park.  Many people visiting the park miss this area completely since they are on their way to Cades Cove, one of the Park’s most popular spots.  I think the Tremont area is one of the most beautiful areas of the park, and definitely should not be missed.  If you want to escape the crowds in Cades Cove and other popular areas and treat yourself to a little solitude and great photography, this is the place!


Boulders in the river – Click image to enlarge

On your left will be the Middle Prong of the Little River, and you’ll immediately see many opportunities for great photography.  Stay on this road and after about 2 miles the road turn to gravel.  This is where the best photography begins.  Take your time once you reach the gravel road because there are many “photo ops” along the river.  The best light is during the morning or evening “magic hours” or on an overcast, foggy, misty kind of day.  Make sure you have a polarizing filter with you, it will be needed to control reflections and saturate colors in the foliage.  The gravel road ends after 3 miles with a beautiful elevated view of the Middle Prong that you see below.  This image was taken in October 2011.


Fall along the Middle Prong of the Little River – Click image to enlarge

You can see more images of the Middle Prong of the Little River in my Great Smoky Mountains Gallery here.  If you have any questions about this website or my photography, please click here to email me.

Posted in National Parks, Photographic Technique, Weekly Column Tagged , |

Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls – Click image to enlarge

Located in Hocking Hills State Park in southeastern Ohio, Cedar Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls in the park.  Since the park is only an hour and a half drive from home and a great place for photography, I tend to visit often.  If you park at Old Man’s Cave gorge, you can hike through the half mile long gorge, which itself features 3 waterfalls (Upper, Middle and Lower Falls),  and then hike about 2 miles from the lower end of the gorge to Cedar Falls.  Old Man’s Cave gorge is a beautiful place so take your time as you hike.  In addition to Upper, Middle and Lower falls there are several cascades and many other photographic “opportunities.”  In winter, the gorge is a fantasy land of icicles and frozen waterfalls.

Just past Lower Falls at the lower end of the gorge, follow the well-marked trail along Old Man’s Creek for about a mile and Old Man’s Creek will merge with Queer Creek.  At this point, the trail makes an abrupt turn to the east and enters a new valley laden with Hemlock trees bounded by steep rock walls with many grottos and waterfalls.  See my previous post titled “A Hidden Gem” here to see one of those waterfalls.  This area is a spectacularly beautiful place and well worth the time and effort to see and photograph it.

A intimate view of Cedar Falls – Click image to enlarge

Cedar Falls itself is the greatest waterfall in the park in terms of volume.  The falls were misnamed by the early settlers who mistook the Hemlock trees that surround the falls for Cedars.

Tributary waterfall near Cedar Falls – Click image to enlarge

You can see more images of Cedar Falls in my Hocking Hills State Park gallery here.  If you have any questions about this website or my photography, please click here to email me.

Posted in Ohio State Park, Weekly Column Tagged , , |