Tag Archives: Hocking Hills

Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery

While in the Hocking Hills area for the annual “Shoot The Hills” photography contest, several fellow photographers and I visited Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, just outside Maxville, Ohio in Perry County. For its age, the gravestones and church are in amazingly good shape. Several of the residents in the area take care of the cemetery and keep the grass cut.


Gravestones under the window

Gravestones under the window – Click image to enlarge


The photo above is from inside the remains of the church and was taken in the early evening around 7:30 PM. Given the bright light outside and the much darker interior of the church, the only way to achieve a balanced exposure was to take a series of 5 exposures, 1-stop apart and combine them in software to produce an HDR image. I used Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro V2 to create the file and then converted it to black and white using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 to get the image you see here. I really like this shot of the old gravestones lined up against the wall under the window. Pictured below is a low shot from outside the church that includes the gravestone of Daniel Nunemaker who lived to be a little over 92 years which was amazing given that he was born in 1771! All the images in this post are from HDR files.


Daniel Nunemaker gravestone - Click image to enlarge

Daniel Nunemaker gravestone – Click image to enlarge


Sunstar in the doorway - Click image to enlarge

Sunstar in the doorway – Click image to enlarge


Sunset outside the church - Click image to enlarge

Sunset outside the church – Click image to enlarge


While we were there photographing, one of the residents stopped by to talk to us and gave us a brief history of the church and cemetery. The St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was started by Rev. Frankenburg July 14, 1841 in Monday Creek Township, Perry County, Ohio. Rev. Frankenburg had been preaching in private homes and barns for six year prior to starting the church. Jacob Goodlive, Wife Mary (Marie), son Henry and his wife Elizabeth were some of the very first members to sign the register.

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 General Photography, Photographic Technique Also tagged , |

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Posted in Photographic Technique Also tagged , |

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.

Posted in Ohio State Park Also tagged , , |


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.

Posted in Ohio State Park Also tagged |

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.

Posted in Ohio State Park Also 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 Also tagged , |

“Shoot The Hills” Photography contest

Lake Hope after sunset - Click image to enlarge

Last weekend for the second year in a row I participated in the 11th annual “Shoot The Hills” photography contest.  I had a great time and would highly recommend the contest for those of you living in Ohio and surrounding states.  The contest is a lot of fun, staffed by friendly people, and well organized.  At the very least, it’s a great reason to go out and photograph in a beautiful place with a lot of fellow photographers!  This year the contest reached a significant milestone, it exceeded 200 registered photographers!  “Shoot The Hills” is the official fundraiser of the Friends of the Hocking Hills State Park located in Hocking County in southeastern Ohio.  All proceeds are used to build and maintain photo-friendly wildlife blinds and habitats within the park.  These special areas include nesting boxes and feeding stations for local and migrating waterfowl and wildlife, a gazebo-style hut on Rose Lake, and a butterfly habitat and garden.

The contest is open to pros and amateurs alike, but digital entries must be captured within a specified 24-hour period (noon Friday to noon Saturday) and have been made within the four-county coverage area (Athens, Fairfield, Hocking and Vinton counties) of the Hocking Hills Region.  There are 2 major divisions, digital point-and-shoot, and digital SLR with 5 judged categories in each division; Abstract, Flora, Human Interest, Landscape, and Wildlife.  There is also a Photographer’s Choice category as well as a Print Contest.


Broad leaf grass with rain droplets - Click image to enlarge

Weather for the Friday half of the contest was beautiful with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s, but unfortunately the weather was not nearly as nice on Saturday with rain and much cooler temperatures.  Rain gear for photographers and their equipment was a necessity!

Over the course of the 24-hour shooting period I captured about 170 images, most of which I was pleased with.  My best images were captured just after sunset around Lake Hope in Vinton County and on Saturday morning in the rain at Rose Lake and Old Man’s Cave Gorge.  Unfortunately I did not come away a winner in any of the categories, but I had a lot of fun!  All the photos submitted were great, and judging a contest like this would be a tough job!  I’m definitely going back next year and hope to capture a winning photo!

To find out more about “Shoot The Hills,” visit their official website here.

You can see more of my Hocking Hills images including my contest entries in my 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

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


Posted in Weekly Column Also tagged , , |