Hocking Hills

In April, Michelle and I took a roadtrip to southern Ohio and Pennsylvania. We spent a few days in Columbus and then headed an hour south and east to the Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills is a well-known Ohio beauty spot, and aside from a nice walk, I was excited for the chance to photograph some waterfalls (which are almost unknown up here in the flatlands) and some caves.

I knew I would want something wider than my 17-70 lens, and I decided to rent a Sigma 10-20mm from LensRentals.com. I have to say that the rental experience was great. After some quick vetting (they emailed me at my work address and checked me out on Twitter), LensRentals shipped my lens promptly in a well-padded box with all the prepaid labels I would need to ship it back. The lens was clean and in great condition. I plan to rent another lens this summer for some zoo shooting and highly recommend LensRentals as a way to try out new gear.

Ash Cave, Hocking Hills

Ash Cave, Hocking Hills
10mm, 1/50 sec at f/5.6

The thing about Hocking Hills is that it’s very far away from everything. The nearest decent-sized town is Logan, a half hour away. I called around in Logan looking for a pet-friendly hotel. The nearest I came was the Holiday Inn, who said I could bring my dog for a fee, but I could not leave him in the room unattended at any time. Since Petey barks at everything and everyone including drive-through attendants, we decided to stay in Circleville, about 40 minutes to the west of the park.

We left Columbus early in the morning, checked into our hotel, and headed for our first destination, Ash Cave. Ash Cave is a huge, semicircular rock underhang. A small creek cascades over the edge and creates a small but spectacular waterfall. We were amazed at the scale of the whole thing. In the photo above, the people standing at the base of the falls look tiny compared to the giant ledge. The trail along the upper rim of the ledge left something to be desired; it was washed out in several places with trees across the path, and the stairs going down were barely worthy of the name.

Entrance to Rock House, Hocking Hills

Entrance to Rock House, Hocking Hills
10mm, 1/60 sec at f/3.5

The next day we went to Rock House, at the other end of the park. Rock House is a natural cavern that looks something like the slot canyons you see in postcards from the American Southwest, except it’s hanging halfway up a hundred-foot-high cliff.

Inside the cave was very dark and quiet except for the soft hooting of the colony of resident pigeons. I set up my tripod and took a series of long exposures to bring out the beautiful reds and greens of the cave walls.

Rock House

15mm, 25 sec at f/14

Rock House

10mm, 2.5 sec at f/10

After two days of hiking up and down the hills we were tired, but happy to have spent time in such a beautiful and unspoiled area. We packed back into the car and headed on towards Pittsburgh to enjoy the city and photograph the zoo and the National Aviary.

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