I’d spent quite a bit of time in the Old Man’s Cave section of Hocking Hills during the first two days of my time in the area. During the limited opportunities I had on the evening of Day 1, I had noted several potentially interesting shots, but was limited in my ability to get what I wanted because there were too many people milling about. On Day 2, I had more time to scout, but by the time I wandered back down to the Middle Falls area, hotspots–created by sunlight–were beginning to creep into the environ so I limited myself to identifying additional opportunities with the intention of coming back on a later day. This was the “later day.”
Once again I arrived at the main parking lot at daybreak and, once again, it was blissfully empty. I quickly made my way to the Upper Falls area to nab just a few additional images that I hadn’t managed to obtain on my two previous attempts.
I focused most of my attention on tighter, more abstract shots, with the intention of converting to black and white when it came time to process the trip’s imagery.
After wrapping up at the Upper Falls area, I slowly made my way downstream in the gorge, and stopped at Devil’s Bathtub again (I’d shot there previously on Day 2). Before wading into the stream again, I decided to investigate perspectives from above the tub itself. I was intrigued by the pattern of the water as it spiraled downward. There was very little color of consequence in the frame, so I converted the shot to monochrome.
Then I moved back into the stream itself to work on the bathtub again from below. The resulting image, taken at greater than 200 mm, was pieced together by focus bracketing three frames for extended depth of field. Again, there was very little color, so a conversion was natural.
On the way down canyon, in the direction of the Middle Falls section of the Old Man’s Cave area, I noticed a host of ferns, penetrating cracks in the canyon wall, at least 40 feet above where I was standing. I couldn’t resist the temptation to capture an image of one of these “hanging gardens.”
Further along, I photographed a small ephemeral waterfall that I’d noticed upon each of my entries into the Old Man’s Cave area of the park. I spent quite a bit of time checking out different perspectives; it was difficult to eliminate a number of features that I felt detracted from the ambiance of the scene and ultimately settled on the shot you see below.
From this spot it was back to the area near the Middle Falls itself. I had greatly admired an area of cascades immediately above the falls during my previous sessions in the area and I took this opportunity to capture the scene, from several spots.
It was a bit of a dicey proposition climbing down into the stream bed itself at this point. The rocks were exceptionally slippery and I had to be careful, not only with my own footing, but also with regard to the tripod itself. It was quite dark down in this small hollow, so long shutter speeds–several seconds in duration–were the order of the day.
On my scouting visit to this spot, back on Day 2, I had been intrigued by the presence of a few isolated ferns, perched on the rocky ledge above the cascades below. I’d spent a lot of time sizing the shots up–with an attempt to incorporate the ferns in the foreground and the cascades in the background.
There was absolutely no way to obtain these images with a single frame; the depth of field was simply inadequate. I ended up taking two shots of each, one focusing on the foreground and the other on the background, and then masked the shots into one manually using Photoshop.
This wrapped up the morning’s shoot. Early that afternoon, some threatening weather blew in–a tornado watch was issued for the county–so I hunkered down at the hotel for awhile. Early in the evening, I raced back to Old Man’s Cave, and came away with the shot below, showing the trail down to the stone bridge that crosses the creek immediately below the Middle Falls.
I was literally standing below the Old Man’s Cave overhang when I captured the above image and while I was doing so, I heard several loud claps of thunder. I hotfooted it out of there and back to my vehicle, and headed back to the hotel.
It was still about an hour before sunset when I got back to town, but the sky was awfully angry looking. It wasn’t raining, but it appeared as though it could pour at any moment. I kept seeing lines of storm clouds blowing in from the southwest. As sunset approached, some incredible light began to appear in the sky. I decided to see if I could find somewhere nearby to capture it. There was no point in heading back to Hocking Hills–it was too far away, for one thing, and down in the gorge the sky (and great light) wouldn’t be apparent anyway.
When I headed back to town on Day 3 from the Cantwell Cliffs area of the park I had taken a detour past Lake Logan, to see if there were any intriguing sunset (or sunrise) locations to take advantage of. I’d seen a couple of interesting spots, but I’d been frustrated in my attempts to realize any of them, by fog in the mornings and an absence of sunsets in the evening. But here was an opportunity.
It was less than 10 minutes to one of the spots I’d found alongside Lake Logan–a small area of boat slips–and I raced over there. It was getting quite dark, but when I arrived at the deserted parking area there was enough light, I thought, to attempt to do something with the and the interesting sky. I had to “make do” with the composition, but in all I was relatively satisfied with what I ended up with. I took a series of exposures and what you see below is a blend of five bracketed frames. The “glow” you see on the boats and the docks in the foreground is a function of a street lamp immediately out of frame to the right.
With that, Day 4 was put to bed. I had one more morning’s worth of shooting to go and it turned out to be a good one.