Posted by: kerryl29 | August 5, 2014

Hocking Hills Day 3: Cedar Falls and Rock House

As mentioned in the last installment covering May’s trip to southeast Ohio, I spent some time scouting the Cedar Falls area of Hocking Hills State Park on Day 2.  While the main feature is Cedar Falls itself, I noted some other potentially photogenic scenes during the scouting session.  The light was not suitable for photography when I was scouting, so I planned to return first thing in the morning on Day 3.

I arrived at the Cedar Falls parking lot at daybreak; as anticipated, it was deserted.  It was an almost entirely cloudy morning which, given the subject matter, provided ideal soft light with no need to feel rushed.  If there was to be any issue dealing with crowds this morning, it would be at the main attraction–Cedar Falls itself–so I decided to photograph there first.  Then I would turn my attention to secondary features which would be of less interest to any tourists that might wander into the area.

Cedar Falls, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Cedar Falls, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Cedar Falls is a uniquely shaped waterfall; it splits in two around a large, protruding rock and then rejoins, forming a kind of oval of moving water.  It makes for a compelling center of interest, but the area immediately around the waterfall’s spillway makes it difficult to obtain anything but a straight forward composition.   There’s quite a bit of clutter in the splash pool below the falls and the layout of the area makes it effectively impossible to use the downstream creek as a foreground.  And the pool around the falls becomes quite deep very quickly, making getting close another impossibility.

Cedar Falls, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Cedar Falls, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

I climbed into the pool, at one point, and shot the waterfall from a slightly more dynamic perspective than that of a traditional “head on” shot, but I’m not sure that it made all that much difference in the end.  I also played around with different focal lengths, with the intention of converting some of the images to monochrome.

Cedar Falls black & white, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Cedar Falls black & white, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

After shooting Cedar Falls from several spots with a couple of different lenses, I turned my attention to other photo opportunities.  I was immediately captivated by some maple leaves that I was able to isolate (sort of) with a long lens and a wide aperture.

Maple Leaves Intimate, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Maple Leaves Intimate, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

I then moved to an unnamed waterfall that was flowing from a tributary of the creek that is created by Cedar Falls itself.  While this waterfall was less impressive in isolation than Cedar Falls, in a way I liked it better, because superior accessibility made it possible to experiment with more meaningful perspectives.

Unnamed Waterfall, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Unnamed Waterfall, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

This waterfall was in a fairly tight hollow which provided interesting sandstone walls–some of which were heavily covered by moss and lichen–to use as a foreground interest and/or leading lines.  It also made tight vertical shots workable.

Unnamed Waterfall, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Unnamed Waterfall, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Wandering along the gorge creek, downstream from both of the waterfalls, more subtle compositions were available.  The walls of the gorge were at least 50 feet high in this area.  Every so often a bit of heavily diffused sunshine would partially filter into the scene, which made for an enchanting glow in the hollow that buttressed the creek when coupled with the spring greenery.  I wandered into the shallows of the creek bed to compose the image you see below, which to me felt like something out of Middle Earth.

Magical Hollow, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Magical Hollow, Cedar Falls Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

It was still overcast and threatening to rain when I finished up in the Cedar Falls area and made my way roughly 20 miles to the northeast to the Rock House section of Hocking Hills.  Rock House is a fascinating cavern that nature has carved out of a towering (approximately 150 feet) sandstone wall.  It was starting to rain lightly when I arrived at the empty Rock House parking area, but I simply put on a light jacket and hit the trail.

I wandered down that trail through thick forest, and after 1/2 mile or so, arrived at a bridge that crossed a small gorge, leading to a rocky staircase that lay astride the towering cliff.

Rock House Trail Bridge, Hocking Hills State Park

Rock House Trail Bridge, Hocking Hills State Park

After following the staircase several hundred feet, I came to what appeared to be the entrance to Rock House.

Rock House Entrance black & white, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Rock House Entrance black & white, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

The rain had stopped some time ago and other park visitors were starting to show up in significant numbers, so I had to work around these folks after entering Rock House itself, but the effort was undoubtedly worth it.  Initially, it was almost impossible to see inside the cavern, except for those areas immediately surrounding portals and “windows,” but after a few minutes my night vision started to kick in and features became discernible.  Given the presence of several openings and increasingly bright light streaming in, the contrast inside the cavern was tremendous.  Exposure stacking was imperative and exposures necessary to reveal shadowed areas inside the cave were quite long.  Below is a shot looking out one of the “windows,” opening on the forest area.

Rock House Window, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Rock House Window, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Given that I was bracketing exposures, with some of them lasting more than a minute, I had to wait for the cave to clear to shoot an image that looked from one end to the other (Rock House is approximately 200 feet long).

Rock House, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Rock House, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

I converted the image to black and white as well; I think it may bring out some of the details of the sandstone better than the color version.

Rock House black & white, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Rock House black & white, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

After I wrapped up at Rock House, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the Cantwell Cliffs area of the park.  This section is set deep in a narrow gorge and is very heavily forested.  After an extremely heavy rainy period, this area might be of great appeal, but I found it to be the least interesting section of the park.  I only took a couple of shots during the several hours that I wandered around, including the intimate that you see below.

Forest Floor Intimate, Cantwell Cliffs Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Forest Floor Intimate, Cantwell Cliffs Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

The weather turned again early in the evening as some thunderstorms rolled in and at that point I called it a day.  Day 4 would bring another set of adventures.

Next:  Day 4:  Storm Light

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Responses

  1. Stunning photographs

    • Thanks very much!

  2. I’m not sure what to say, but felt I needed to acknowledge your amazing photographs, and the work you put into this post. Awestruck I think is the word. 🙂

    • Thanks, that’s very kind of you to say.

  3. Gorgeous images, as always!

  4. Gorgeous shots… 🙂

  5. fantastic photos

  6. I don’t know what else to say other than awesome photos as always.

    However, you may be happy to hear that a few of the tips that you include in your posts are starting to sink into my thick skull. I recently purchased Canon’s new 10-18 mm lens and have been looking for excuses to play with it. Nothing special, just bits of Michigan that I like. I find myself asking “How would Kerry do this?”, and taking the time to think about my photos has made a marked improvement over what I would have gotten otherwise, so thank you very much!

    • That’s terrific news, Jerry–I’m referring specifically to the fact that you’re becoming increasingly satisfied with the results you’re getting. I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t extremely gratifying to know that something I wrote might have some small role in that–the cherry on the sundae, so to speak. But I’m really glad to hear that you’re seeing progress. Thanks for letting me know and congrats!

      • Actually, I’m less satisfied with the postcard type of landscapes that I’ve shot in the past, but now I know how to improve my techniques and I’m seeing improvements, so that’s a good thing!

        • That’s one of the inevitable things about improving, I think–rising self-critical standards. As you see the fruits of what you’re capable of producing there’s an inclination to turn a jaundiced eye on much of what has come before. I’ve done plenty of this myself and am still doing it. My website refresh (which is just about done, finally) is a case in point, as I’ve culled countless images due to what I now consider to be their undeniable mediocrity. Presumably I didn’t think they were mediocre when I posted them in the first place. 🙂

  7. Circumstances have sorely limited my website activities for the past couple of months or so, and I’m struggling to catch up with what I’ve missed. I’m starting with the newest ones and trying to work backward, but we’ll see. This is an inspiration to renew my efforts. Though I spent 4 years in college in Ohio, this place has not been part of my experience; I now hope to correct that some day. Again, a portfolio of carefully thought-out and executed visualizations and a real treat, Kerry. My favorite is definitely the first window looking out from within. A keyhole glimpse from one world to another.

    • Thanks very much, Gary. I think you’d find some time spent at Hocking Hills well worth it, particularly in the spring (though a place like Rock House–home of the aforementioned window–would presumably work well just about any time of the year). Glad to see you back, BTW.

  8. You’ve captured that special shade of springtime green with the maple leaf shot. I always look forward to that particular shade of green with the arrival of spring. Personally, I think it’s as special as the more flagrant colors of autumn.

    • Thanks very much–and I definitely agree with you about the fresh greens of spring. A couple of weeks later and those leaves undoubtedly would have displayed the much deeper, darker green characteristic of summer. Under normal circumstances, my time at Hocking Hills would have been too late for that, but everything was running about two weeks behind normal this past spring (due to a very cold, very long winter)

  9. Kerry, it always is a true delight to see your stunning images and also to learn more about the inner process of “seeing” the possibilities in a scene. I especially loved the green maple leaves and the Magical Hollow scene – such color saturation! I’ve been playing lately with large aperture shots in Photoshop, using levels and sharpening to subtly emphasize the selective focus.

    • Thanks very much, Lynn. I’m quite partial to the Magical Hollow shot myself, but I have to wonder how much of that is a function of bringing back the ambiance of the moment for me.

      The latest version of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop (CC 2014) apparently has introduced a pretty powerful selective focus tool. I’ve spurned all offers to move to the Cloud version of PS thus far, but it sounds quite intriguing, particularly for close-up work.

  10. totally amazing …you have increased its beauty by presenting it in a wonderful way

  11. I came to this post many times, just enjoing the diffent graphics of the waterfalls.

    • Thanks. One of the things I try to do is “work the scene.” That’s where the different looks come from.

  12. […] 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 […]

  13. […] While still atop the boulder, I turned around and looked behind me.  I saw a glen, thick with forest growth.  I also saw the fog–which hadn’t been present around Middle or Lower Falls, but seemed to stick to the trees, plants and moss-covered rocks.  It was an enchanting scene, reminiscent, at least to me, of the “magical hollow” shot I’d made on Day 3. […]


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