Posted by: kerryl29 | September 2, 2014

Hocking Hills Day 5 – The Final Morning

I had one last morning to shoot at Hocking Hills and I decided to spend that time tying up some loose ends–obtaining shots that I’d seen earlier in my stay but hadn’t been able to pull off for one reason or another.  So, I headed back to the Old Man’s Cave area one final time.  Each morning during my time in southeast Ohio it had been quite humid, but on this final morning it was really humid.  I knew that low-lying fog was a possibility and, sure enough, as I drove to the park I ran into some, in the vicinity of a farmstead that I’d admired several times while making the journey to or from Old Man’s Cave.  I stopped and took a quick shot, as a tiny bit of warmth from the rising sun penetrated the fog.

Farm in Morning Fog, Hocking County, Ohio

Farm in Morning Fog, Hocking County, Ohio

When I arrived at the Old Man’s Cave parking lot it was empty, as usual.  I quickly made my way to Middle Falls.  There was a shot that I’d found on my first day at Hocking Hills but couldn’t execute successfully that day.  I’d set up on that evening and, after waiting for nearly 30 minutes, gave up.  The shot required an ultra-wide angle lens–in my case, the 14-24/2.8–which meant an extremely broad field of view and that day, with copious activity in the area, people kept walking into the shot–through no fault of their own.  I realized, after a bit of frustration, that it simply wasn’t realistic to try to obtain the shot when the park was crowded.  The people who were getting into the shot couldn’t possibly have seen what I was doing, so they were straying into my frame without knowing it.  I decided that I’d have to return when the area was empty–as it was this morning.  So, again I placed myself in between two very large fallen logs that were pointing towards the Middle Falls, carefully adjusted my position, and produced the shot you see below.

Middle Falls, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Middle Falls, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

After obtaining the above shot, I made my way down to the Lower Falls area.  I’d done a bit of work there earlier, but this time I had my rubber boots on and waded well into the pool below the falls to investigate some different perspectives.

Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

I wandered all the way to the right-hand side of the pool and played with several different foreground elements.

Lower Falls, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Lower Falls, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

I then moved around toward the left-hand side to procure another shot or two.

Lower Falls, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Lower Falls, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Lower Falls, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Lower Falls, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

When I was finished in the Lower Falls area, it was still early enough to do a bit more exploring, so–for the first time–I made my downstream from the Lower Falls.  As I was wandering down the trail I heard the unmistakable sound of falling water.  I waded across the shallows of Old Man’s Creek and found a mostly overgrown trail heading up a steep hillside, and I saw clear signs of runoff as I climbed up the trail.  About halfway up, I noticed some interesting ferns and made a note to stop at the spot on the way back down.

The sound of the running water grew stronger as I moved up the heavily forested trail and, after a few minutes, I caught a glimpse of a waterfall.  I had to do some rock hopping to get a better look.  I was intrigued by what I saw, and poked around to gain an even better look.  What I saw, when I climbed on top of a very large boulder, was a tall, narrow rock slot, with water pouring down it.  It took some manipulating, but I was able to prop up my tripod and obtain the look I was after.

Broken Rock Falls, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Broken Rock Falls, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

I later discovered that this waterfall had a name–Broken Rock Falls.  I hadn’t heard of this waterfall when I was doing research on Hocking Hills, but I was extremely glad that I had stumbled across it on this morning.  I converted the above shot to black and white to better emphasize the shapes and textures.

Broken Rock Falls black & white, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Broken Rock Falls black & white, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

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.

Misty Glen, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Misty Glen, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

As I backtracked on the trail, I first stopped to take a shot of Broken Rock Falls at the spot from which I’d first glimpsed the cataract.

Broken Rock Falls, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Broken Rock Falls, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Finally, I returned to the intimate scene with the ferns that I’d spotted on the way up.

Ferns and Rocks, Old Man's Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Ferns and Rocks, Old Man’s Cave Area, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

And with that, my photo journey at Hocking Hills came to an end.  It had been a very productive last day, with the fortunate discovery of Broken Rock Falls–and its environs–added to the shots of the features with which I was already familiar.  All in all, it had been a revealing trip to southeast Ohio and I hope to return to this area at some point in the future.

I hope you enjoyed my presentation as much as I enjoyed sharing it.  In case you missed the earlier entries in this series, the links below will take you straight there.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4


  1. Love your interpretation “Misty Glen” in the Old Man’s Cave Area!

    • Thanks very much!

  2. Your waterfalls photos are stunning, just stunning. Thank you!!!! Love, Amy

    • Thank you!

      • You are very welcome!!! I really enjoyed your post!! Love, Amy

  3. Day 5 has been well worth waiting for. This area of Ohio is definitely on my wish list–and I’ll try to take your advice for a springtime visit!

    • Thanks very much…and I look forward to hearing about your exploits in SE Ohio. I’m taking for granted that you’ll make it happen. 🙂

  4. Spectacular shots from all perspectives!

  5. Absolutely stunning!

    Thanks in a large part to your photographs, I have decided that at least for landscapes, I’m going to have to go over to the “dark side” and begin post processing my photos. The sensor in my 60 D camera simply can not handle the dynamic range presented by even relatively straight forward landscapes.

    I’m sure that if I went back through your earlier posts that you’ve told us what software that you use for HDR images, but would you mind repeating that to save me some time. 😉

    About two weeks ago, I downloaded the trial version of Photomatix, and I’m beginning to get the hang of it, but if you know of something better before I make the purchase, I would appreciate your advise, because I can see what you are able to accomplish.

    • Thanks very much for the kind words.

      For HDR (and, more commonly, pseduo-HDR) work I use Photomatix. I hasten to point out that I almost literally always use a fairly convoluted workflow that I spent roughly five years developing; it really didn’t fully mature until late 2011/early 2012. It would take a long time to fully explain, but basically it involves tonemapping each set of exposures twice–a detail-enhanced tonemap to maximize dynamic range and a tone compressed tonemap to maximize contrast. (I’ve established my own custom presets to help speed the process.) These two files are then blended in Photoshop (using a particular blending mode). And then the rest of the optimization process gets underway.

      This probably sounds opaque (it is, I guess…I’m just so used to it at this point that it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me) and time-consuming (again, it’s not as bad as it sounds once you get the hang of it).

      Now, whether it’s necessary to do all of this at this point, I can’t say. I put this method together specifically because–at the time–there was no HDR program that produced the image I wanted in a single tonemapping pass. Is that still true? I don’t know. Once I got this workflow down I took an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude and I’ve simply implemented what I know works rather than casting about for an alternative. It’s certainly possible that there’s something out there that would accomplish what I want with less muss and fuss…but I don’t know that to be true and I guess I just don’t feel like taking the time and making the effort to find out.

      I hope that’s of some at least some help. Let me know if it isn’t.

      • Thank you very much! Another vote for Photomatix, that seems to be the most popular.

        Just like actually shooting the photos to start, how every one does post processing varies. Since I’ve just begun trying the trial version, I haven’t had a chance to do anything more than the basics so far. Once I download the full version, then I’ll come back to this and give it a try. Thanks!

        • Happy to help. You might want to take a look at HDR Efex and HDR Expose a look before making any final decisions. I don’t know that they’re “better” than Photomatix, but (depending on your predilections) I don’t know that they aren’t. I’ve dabbled with HDR Efex–it’s part of the Nik Suite, and one particular image set that Photomatix gagged on (this happens from time to time–not on often, but occasionally)–I turned to HDR Efex to see if it could establish an acceptable baseline image from which to work. It did. (The image in question is the final shot–the Lake Logan sunset image–in the Hocking Hills Day 4 post.) It can be helpful to have a second option. I have no personal experience with HDR Expose.

          I still use Photomatix more than 99% of the time, but as I mentioned in my previous note, that might just be a legacy thing.

        • Thanks again! I’m on a very limited budget, so I think that Photomatix will do me for the time being. I need to get a new computer before I begin dabbling in very much software.

          BTW, I was shooting a monarch butterfly today, and got a very good shot of it, so good that it shows the three dimensional aspects of the veins on its wings. But, the light was changing so rapidly as the butterfly moved that I missed the exposure by 1/3 to 1/2 stop. I did your cloning trick, lightening a clone of the photo, then ran it through Photomatix, and its a wow type of photo now. So thank you for all the advise and wisdom that you’ve been passing my way!

        • Great to hear that you benefited from this approach!

  6. Meravigliose foto della natura, luce per i miei occhi!!!
    Ciao, Patrizia

    • Grazie molto!

  7. Funny how, as I scrolled through this series, I kept thinking I’d spotted a ‘favorite’…. until I came to the next one… and on and on. Such a lovely spot and your images help make it so!

    • Thanks very much for the kind words.

  8. Very beautiful story! Thanks for sharing!

    • My pleasure and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. […] regularly–and thank you for doing so, not incidentally–are aware of the fruits of my May trip to Hocking Hills in southeast Ohio.  What you almost certainly aren’t aware of is the fact the trip to […]

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