Category Archives: Ohio State Park

Upper Falls In The Winter

 

Upper Falls In The Winter - Click image to enlarge

Upper Falls In The Winter – Click image to enlarge

 

Upper Falls at the east end of Old Man’s Cave Gorge is a beautiful sight in the winter with snow covering the ground, but it’s a hard subject to photograph because the area around the base of the falls is very plain and doesn’t have any rocks or other objects to add interest to the scene. Despite temperatures close to zero degrees on a recent visit there, I took the time to look for a more interesting view, and found this composition right at the bottom of the stairs that lead down into the gorge. I’ve walked past this spot many times and never thought to photograph this view. Framing the falls with the footbridge at the top, and a nice view under the footbridge of Upper Falls Cascade, some icicles at the upper right, and the snow covered tree roots at the bottom creates a much more interesting image of Upper Falls.

The Upper Falls Cascades, shown below is just above Upper Falls where Old Man’s Creek begins its run through Old Man’s Cave Gorge. Over thousands of years, Old Man’s Creek has carved many unique features such as The Devil’s Bathtub out of the gorge’s Blackhand Sandstone. This image was captured about an hour and a half after sunrise, and as you can see the warm orange glow of the rising sun is reflecting off the water flowing over the cascades.

 

Upper Falls Cascades reflects the light of the rising winter sun - Click image to enlarge

Upper Falls Cascades reflects the light of the rising winter sun – Click image to enlarge

To see more of my photography of Old Man’s Cave Gorge and Hocking Hills State Park, please see my gallery 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.

Tall Pines In Fog

 

Tall Pines in the fog near Rose Lake – Click image to enlarge

 

As I’ve mentioned many times in this blog, one of my favorite photography destinations in Ohio is Hocking Hills State Park about an hour’s drive southeast of Columbus.  Until recently, one area of the park I hadn’t photographed is Rose Lake which is mid-way between Old Man’s Cave gorge and Cedar Falls.

Art Wolfe is one of my favorite photographers and the evening before my trip to Rose Lake I was watching one of his Travels To The Edge episodes titled “The Southwest: Zion and Canyon de Chelly.” At the end of the episode Art is photographing a grove of aspen trees in the fog which he said were perfect conditions for photographing the aspens.  As it turned out, the day of my trip to Rose Lake was very foggy, and when I arrived at the trailhead just before sunrise the area surrounding the lake was completely fogged in.  The hike to the lake from the trailhead is about ½ mile and passes through a forest of tall pines.  As soon as I saw the tall pines I immediately thought of Art photographing the aspen’s so I was very excited to be able to photograph in these conditions.  The fog acted like a giant lightbox providing very even lighting, and as you can see in the image above the fog gave the scene depth and a sense of mystery.  Since this image was taken in the fall, the red, orange, yellow and green leaves added a nice touch of color.  I spent close an hour photographing in these tall pines before finally making my way to the lake.

To see more of my photography of Rose Lake and Hocking Hills State Park, please visit my gallery 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.

Saltpetre Cave Cave Nature Preserve

Interior of Cave 2 with waterfall – Click image to enlarge

 

Saltpetre Cave Nature Preserve is a small but beautiful area located in Hocking State Forest, Hocking County Ohio.  The preserve gets its name from the fact that the mineral saltpetre was mined from the caves a long time ago.  Potassium nitrate is one of several nitrogen-containing compounds referred to as saltpeter.  The major uses of potassium nitrate are in fertilizers, food additives, rocket propellants and fireworks; it is one of the constituents of gunpowder and why it was mined from the caves originally.

Within the preserve there are 4 caves and 7 distinct recesses. The view above is from the second level interior of cave 2 which has 3 tiers in all.  I used an external flash to light the dark interior of the cave to reveal details in the cave walls and ceiling.  I don’t normally carry flash equipment with me when I’m hiking, but since I knew I would be photographing inside the caves, I brought my flash on this hike. Without using the flash, the cave’s interior would have been completely dark compared to the bright exterior.  If you look closely at the top left of the image, you can see some saltpetre in the ceiling of the cave.  The waterfall you see at the right side of the image is seasonal and only occurs if the has been enough rainfall.  I was fortunate to visit the preserve after an inch or so of rain had fallen in the area so the waterfall was definitely a  bonus and adds a lot to the image!  Moving outside the cave and down the hill I captured the image below by positioning the camera low to the ground with a wide angle lens and close to the lichen and moss covered tree roots to create a more dramatic image with the waterfall in the background.

Lichen and moss covered tree roots with waterfall – Click image to enlarge

 

To visit the nature preserve you must obtain a permit issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  The permit should be requested at least 14 days prior to the day you want to visit.  Information about obtaining the permit can be found 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 or leave a comment.

Light Painting Ash Cave

Ash Cave after being “light painted” – Click image to enlarge

 

Located in the southernmost reaches of Hocking Hills State Park, Ash Cave is beyond doubt one of the most spectacular features in the entire park. It is the largest, most impressive recess cave in Ohio, and is named after the huge pile of ashes found in the cave by early settlers. The horseshoe-shaped cave is massive; measuring 700 feet from end to end, 100 feet deep from the rear cave wall to its front edge with the rim rising 90 feet high. When there has been enough rain, a small tributary of the East Fork of Queer Creek cascades over the rim forming a beautiful waterfall.

This image of Ash Cave was taken about half an hour after sunset in almost complete darkness. I wanted the scene to be fairly dark so I could try a technique called “light painting.” Light painting isn’t a new technique, but I’ve wanted to experiment with it for some time and decided this would be a good opportunity to give it a try. After a few test exposures, I decided to use an exposure of 30 seconds at f/11 with an ISO speed of 800.  A good friend helped me by lighting the cave wall directly behind the waterfall with a powerful spot light while I fired an external flash several times to bring out additional details of the cave during the exposure.  I’m really pleased with this image, especially since it’s my first serious attempt at light painting. Now that I’ve gotten a little experience with it, I can’t wait to try it again…. I’ve already thought of a lot of creative uses for it!

To see more images of Ash Cave and other areas of the park, see my Hocking Hills State Park gallery 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 or leave a comment.

Bieber Mill Ruin (a.k.a. Carpenter’s Mill)

About a year after Ohio became a state, the first mill in Delaware County was built at Liberty Settlement in 1804 along the banks of the Whetstone River, now called the Olentangy River.  By 1832 the community had grown large enough that it was granted a post office and the town officially became known as Carpenter’s Mill.  The post office remained until 1837.  In 1843-44 a 3-story frame gristmill was built, and a few years later James Bieber bought the mill.  Over the years the mill was very successful so a 3 ½ story stone mill was built next to the original frame gristmill that housed a sawmill on the first floor.  Unfortunately the old frame gristmill met the fate of many other mills and was destroyed by a fire.  Due to the proximity of the stone mill, it was also destroyed losing its roof, floors and massive beam structure in the fire.

Today about a quarter mile south of the intersection of US Rt. 23 and Ohio Rt 315 on the east side of the Olentangy River stands what is left of the Bieber Mill.  The skeleton of the original structure is quite impressive, with 3 feet thick walls made of cut limestone.  The side that faces the river is still intact and as you can see in the image below the mill was a very large structure.  The other 3 sides remain as well but have deteriorated.

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

Bieber Mill Ruin River Facing Side – Click image to enlarge

 

Less is More

In addition to capturing the grand wide vistas we all love, the intimate details in a scene can provide some exciting photographic possibilities.  Streams and waterfalls are perfect subjects for this.

Spruce Flat Falls in the Tremont area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park cascades over many rock outcroppings that cause the water to splash over and flow around the rocks creating a variety of patterns in the water.   I isolated part of Spruce Flat Falls as shown below with a telephoto lens at 130mm showing its “mini” waterfalls within the larger waterfall.  The yellow and orange fall leaves and wet green moss create a nice background for this image.  You can see all of Spruce Flat Falls in my gallery here and blog post here.

 

Spruce Flat Falls close up – Click image to enlarge

When it comes to photographing steams, sometimes it’s not possible to capture a pleasing image because of distracting branches covering parts of the stream or the trees along the stream may be too dense to allow you to get a good composition.  This is another situation when looking for smaller details can give you the opportunity to go back home with some nice images on your memory card!  Indian Run, not far from my home is an example of this situation.  Along most parts of the stream above Indian Run Falls, the trees are very dense and there are many low hanging branches that obscure the steam making it impossible to get a good photograph of the stream.  In the image below I was able to isolate a small cascade in the steam with just enough sunlight at the right angle to make the water sparkle a little at the top of the cascade.

 

A small Indian Run cascade – Click image to enlarge

 

When photographing streams and waterfalls, some exposure compensation is usually necessary to make the water look white.  I typically spot meter the water and add 1 to 1½ stops of exposure to the camera’s meter reading to make sure the water looks white.  If you go with the camera’s meter reading the water will look gray.  It’s also helpful to use a polarizing filter to reduce or eliminate distracting reflections.

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

Lower Falls Bridge

Since my previous post, central Ohio has continued to experience winter weather, and for the month of December 2012 we received 13.2 inches of snow, which is more than we got for the entire winter last year!  A lot of people around here don’t like winter, but personally I love it.  When it snows, an otherwise drab and barren landscape is turned into something special with all kinds of photographic possibilities, so I get the camera out and hit the trails!

 

Lower Falls Bridge – Click image to enlarge

The image above was taken last Saturday (12/29/2012) and is of the footbridge over Old Man’s Creek by Lower Falls at the very southern end of Old Man’s Cave gorge in Hocking Hills State Park.  Most of Ohio received at least 3 inches of snow the previous day so I planned to take advantage of the snow cover and photograph in the gorge.  I arrived at the gorge parking lot just after sunrise and was excited to find that I had the whole place to myself.  It was cold, but quiet and peaceful and there were no other footprints in the snow…a rare occurrence in a popular place like Old Man’s Cave Gorge.  The new fallen snow clung to all the trees, rocks and plants, making the gorge an even more beautiful place.  As I passed through the gorge, icicles were forming everywhere from the slow constant trickle of snowmelt.  In a few weeks, the icicles will be several feet long so I’ll be returning soon for yet another winter nature show.

 

Lower Falls – Click image to enlarge

For the image of Lower Falls above, I used a polarizing filter to eliminate reflections from the surface of the water revealing the rocks underneath so I could include them in my composition.  The polarizing filter also helped to saturate the color of the rocks and green foliage around the falls.

Winter photography can definitely be a challenge due to the cold temperatures, snow and ice so be prepared with the right clothing and equipment.  Some winter photography tips to keep in mind:

  • This may seem obvious, but dress warmly with layers and wear waterproof boots.  Also buy “shooting gloves” which double as mittens and fingerless gloves, and don’t forget a hat!
  • Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged, and carry a spare battery in an inside pocket to keep it warm.  Batteries will lose their charge more quickly in cold temperatures.
  • When taking your equipment from the cold into a warm car or house, it is very important to keep condensation from forming on your equipment, especially on (and inside) the camera body, lenses and filters.  If it isn’t possible to let your equipment gradually warm up to room temperature, put your equipment in a plastic bag.  Doing this will allow condensation to form on the inside of the plastic bag, and not on or inside your equipment.
  • Your camera’s metering system is designed to make everything it sees mid-toned, and this can cause problems when shooting scenes with a lot of snow.  Without some exposure compensation the snow will look gray.  The easiest thing to do is to spot meter the snow and add about 1 to 1 ½ stops of exposure.  This over exposure will ensure that the snow looks white, but it won’t over expose other objects in the scene.  Use the camera’s histogram to help you determine if any more or less compensation is needed.
  • Use a polarizing filter to help control/reduce reflections especially if a stream, lake, or waterfall is included in the scene.
  • If possible, plan your photography for the so called “magic hour” of light around sunrise and sunset.  The warm golden light at sunrise and sunset combined with the cold blue tones of snow and ice can produce magical effects.
  • Think creatively:
    • Look for interesting color contrasts.  For example, red objects against white snow always look very strong.  Frame your shot carefully.
    • Less is often more so keep your composition clean and simple.  Look for interesting trees, buildings, and other objects.  Simple, clean objects like these framed against a white background of snow make very strong images.
    • Think black and white – stark gray skies and snow covered objects can look very eerie and mysterious in a black and white image.

Winter is a great time for photography so be sure to get out there and take advantage of it!

 

You can see more of my photography of the Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave gorge in my Hocking Hills State Park gallery 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.

Winter

Upper Falls Cascade in winter – Click image to enlarge

Today is the first day of winter here in central Ohio, and winter has REALLY arrived.  We’ve been experiencing snow driven by wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and after a very mild late fall it is really winter outside today!

The image above is of the Upper Falls Cascade at the beginning of Old Man’s Cave gorge in Hocking Hills State Park.  Old Man’s Creeks flows over the three cascades you see here just before Upper Falls.  If you’ve read my blog before, you know that Hocking Hills State Park  in southeastern Ohio is one of my favorite photography destinations.  A foot bridge crosses directly over Upper Falls and this view is just on the other side of the bridge.  The snow and ice contrast nicely with the green Hemlock trees forming a nice frame for this shot.  I used a polarizing filter to reduce the reflections on the water and enhance the colors.

Old Man’s Cave gorge is a great place to photograph at any time of the year, and I think it’s an especially beautiful place in the winter time.  All along its ½ mile length icicles form everywhere offering an almost unlimited number of compositions.  The image below is one such example.

Icicles in Old Man’s Cave Gorge – Click image to enlarge

If you do visit Old Man’s Cave gorge in the winter, be prepared for the cold and use extreme caution when the gorge is icy.  On my very first winter photo trip to the gorge, I fell before I made it down into the gorge….my feet went out from underneath me without warning, the camera and tripod flew up into the air, and I hit the ground before I knew what happened.  Fortunately, I didn’t break any bones and even though the camera hit the ground pretty hard it wasn’t damaged at all.  I was lucky and had a lot of fun photographing the rest of the day.

You can see more of my photography of the Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave gorge in my Hocking Hills State Park gallery 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.

Fall Color

Beautiful fall color around Rose Lake – Click image to enlarge

One of my favorite photography destinations in Ohio is Hocking Hills State Park about an hour’s drive southeast of Columbus.  While researching the internet for places in Ohio for nice fall color, I found several comments that indicated Rose Lake in Hocking Hills was a great place.  Although I have photographed in Hocking Hills many times, I had never gone to Rose Lake so I thought it was definitely time for a visit.  “Officially,” the lake is named the Hocking Hills Reservoir since it was man-made via the creation of a dam.  Rose Hollow is the valley that contains the reservoir so that’s why the lake is locally known as Rose Lake.  It is also sometime referred to as Fisherman’s Lake.  The lake is approximately at the midpoint of the trail between Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls on the Upper Gorge Trail.

The day of my trip to Rose Lake was very foggy and when I arrived at the fisherman’s parking lot before sunrise, the area surrounding the lake was completely fogged in.  The hike to the lake from the parking lot is about ½ mile which passes through a forest of tall pines.  The fog acted like a giant lightbox so I was excited to be able to photograph in these conditions.  As you can see in the image below, the fog gave the scene depth and a sense of mystery.  The red, orange, yellow and green leaves also added a nice touch of color.

 

Tall pines in fog – Click image to enlarge

I spent about an hour photographing around the lake before the sun began to “burn off” the fog.  As the fog gradually lifted I was able to see the trees on the eastern side of the lake.  Once the sun hit them fully, the trees lit up like they were on fire.  The color was beautiful!

 

Brilliant color after the fog lifted – Click image to enlarge

To see more of my photography of Rose Lake and Hocking Hills State Park, please visit my gallery 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.

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.