Tag Archives: Devils Bathtub

Polarizing Filters

The polarizing filter is probably the single most used filter in a landscape/nature photographer’s bag because of its ability to cut glare and increase color saturation.  I find that I have the filter on my lens more often than not when I’m out in the field.

Polarizers are best used with normal to telephoto focal length lenses.  Regarding using a polarizer with wide angle lenses, I would recommend that you use caution because you may get uneven effects across your frame.  This uneven effect is especially noticeable if you have a lot of clear blue sky in the frame, and how noticeable the unevenness is depends on how much polarization you’ve dialed in.  Do some experimenting to see what you can get away with.  A polarizer relies on what’s called Brewster’s Angle as described in Brewster’s Law, discovered by a Scottish physicist named Sir David Brewster. For photographers, Brewster’s work gives us a simple tool to predict how a polarizing filter will affect the scene.  Using your thumb and forefinger, point your forefinger at the sun and point your thumb straight up.  As you rotate your wrist, keep your forefinger pointed at the sun, and everywhere your thumb points is where the polarization will be most pronounced.  Look through the viewfinder of your DSLR or use Live View to see the image on your camera’s LCD to adjust the filter for the effect you want.

Mid-day normally isn’t the best time to use a polarizer, but as the angle of the sun gets lower on the horizon, it can make a huge difference.  Overcast days are actually ideal for polarizers because they cut the reflections that rob the scene of color saturation.  Anytime you’re photographing water a polarizer can make a HUGE difference by cutting glare.  As you rotate the polarizer, you’ll see the surface glare disappear and you can see what’s under the water.  This effect is very useful when there is something just beneath the surface that you want to show.

In addition to cutting glare and increasing color saturation, polarizers also cut the amount of light reaching your sensor by 1 ½ to 2 stops so they’re useful for reducing exposure in high-contrast conditions as well.  The polarizer can also be stacked with a neutral density (ND) filter for ever greater light reduction with the added benefit of polarization.

The two images below show the effect of the polarizer on images of the “Devil’s Bathtub” in Hocking Hills State Park.  The first image has no polarization and the second does.  Notice how once the glare on the water is reduced, you can see the rocks underneath the surface of the water and how saturated the colors are.


The Devil’s Bathtub no polarization – Click image to enlarge


The Devil’s Bathtub with Polarization – 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.

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Photo’s On Display

I’m very excited to announce that starting today, March 9, 2012  five of my print’s featuring imagery from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hocking Hills State Park, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are on display at Starbucks located at 1315 W. Lane Ave in Upper Arlington, OH.  They’ll be on display through Saturday March 31, 2012 so please stop by to see them.  After the 31st, my prints will be on display there every other month on an ongoing basis.  For the rest of 2012 that will be in May, July, September, and November.  The prints currently on display are shown below.  To see a larger image, click on the thumbnail.

The Cable MillThe Devils BathtubSmoky Mountains SunsetMiddle Prong of the Little RiverCape Hatteras Lighthouse


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The “Devil’s Bathtub”

The "Devil's Bathtub" - Click image to enlarge

Tens of thousands of years of weathering and erosion has created many unusual formations carved in the Blackhand sandstone of Old Man’s Cave Gorge located in Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, OH. Formed by Old Man’s Creek as it flowed through Old Man’s Cave Gorge, one of the more unusual formations you’ll find is the “Devil’s Bathtub.” The sandstone in this area was cemented together more tightly than the other nearby layers of rock, and because of this it forced the water to carve in the only direction it could, straight down. Over time, the swirling action carved out the “bathtub” shape in the rock. Legend says the swirling drain goes all the way down to Hades itself, thus the name “Devil’s Bathtub.” In reality, the so called bathtub is only a few feet deep and the water flows out under the footbridge and on downstream through the rest of the gorge.

Most compositions of the Devil’s Bathtub are made from the footbridge above the bathtub or from the hiking path for a side view. For my composition shown above, I wanted to give the viewer a feeling of the speed and swirling motion of the water as it sped down, around and through the bathtub. To create this unusual view I had to get a little wet. I stood in the creek, used a low camera angle and positioned the camera and tripod just above the edge of the bathtub. To give the flowing water the look of speed and motion and maintain sharpness throughout the image I used a small aperture (f/16) and a slow shutter speed (.8 sec). I also used a circular polarizing filter to reduce some (but not all) of the reflections on the wet rocks and water. The sun broke through the cloud cover as I was shooting and the streaks of sun added some nice contrast to the scene. I hope you enjoy this image. I had a great time photographing it, but I did have to hike back to the car and put on dry socks and boots when I was done!

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

To find out more about the Hocking Hills area of Ohio, visit HockingHills.com.

Posted in Ohio State Park, Photographic Technique, Weekly Column Also tagged , |