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Hocking Hills, Ohio: waterfalls + fall weekend

  • Oct 3, 2014 · 7:00 PM
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Hocking Hills State Park is tucked away in the SE corner of Ohio, in the foothills of Appalachia. Why do I love Hocking Hills? Waterfalls, cliffs (in Ohio-- really!), boulders, hemlock trees, ferns, and maybe even a star trail shoot at night if the weather cooperates-- these are just some of the reasons why HH is a fav. destination spot for photographers and tourists throughout the year.

Here is a rough draft of the shooting itinerary:


7 – 10 AM  Old Man’s Cave, Lower Falls

10 – 12 noon  Old Man’s Cave, Upper Falls

noon – 1   lunch break

1 – 2:30   Ash Cave

2:30 – 5:30  Conkle’s Hollow

5:30 – 7:30  Cedar Falls

7:30 – 9:30  potluck dinner back at the cabins

9:30 – 11  Optional night shoot: star trails (probably no Milky Way visable, but we should have dark skies and treetops for foreground)


7 – 9   Rock Bridge  A bit of a hike to/from

9 – 2  Reshoot locations from Saturday that people want to revisit, esp. if the light was too harsh in the middle of the day on Sat.

*or* we can visit a new location: Cantwell Cliffs would be a pleasant, long hike, and we can shoot it if people have had enough of the other locations. But I find more eye candy in the Sat. location list… I’d rather reshoot something spectacular in a different light than do a lot of hiking to see less locations with less interesting photo opps. The Cliffs are interesting—check them out at and we can decide Sunday morning where to go!

Highlights on our shooting itinerary: dawn shoot along the lower falls at the Old man's Cave (iso misty "Rays of God"); the upper falls at Old Man's Cave and "The Devil's Bathtub"; Cedar Falls (sunset); natural Rock Bridge; Ash Cave;  Conkle's Hollow; and Ash Cave. I also reserve the right to shoot the section along the Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls more than once. If we have clear skies, I will make arrangements with the park rangers to do a start trails shoot at an approved area-- there are dark skies and some large trees to frame the trail shots (need a tripod and intervalometer to shoot star trails). 

What should I bring?  Boots or hiking shoes, a hat, raincoat or poncho, umbrella, light gloves, bug spray, etc. If it rains, we will shoot anyway-- I actually prefer the textures on the rocks and ground when it rains. There are hundreds of stairs along some of these trails, so attendees and their footwear should be able to hike up and down a rocky, muddy trail 1-5 miles each day (round trip). 

Some recommended camera gear includes: a tripod, ND filter, circular polarizer, flash, remote shutter release, intervalometer, flash, etc. And, of course, a modified Ziplock gallon baggie or other camera cover to keep raindrops off your camera and lens in the event of rain. You might not want to bring all of these things with you, but they're worth considering.

$50 Meetup fee: lodging only (non-refundable) Two nights in a cabin at the Ohio State campground at the heart of Hocking Hills, very close to where we'll be shooting. Two cabins, five people per cabin. Each cabin has two twin beds in one room, a double bed in the other room, and a sleeper-sofa. Two people would need to share the double bed or sleeper-sofa, or someone would need to bring a sleeping bag and sleep on the floor. The cabins have bathrooms and hot showers; a kitchen with oven/stove/refrigerator, pots, pans, plates, utensils, and an assortment of silverware; an enclosed porch with a picnic table that can be a good place to leave wet tripods or other gear out to dry; basic cable TV; and many power outlets to recharge camera batteries.

Suggested Travel Timeline: Leave A2  on Fri., 10/3, 3PM. Leave Hocking Hills at 12 or 2pm on Sun., 10/5. We will be carpooling —passengers should split fuel costs with their drivers and fellow passengers: two in a car 50/50, 3 in a car 33/33/33, etc. I’ll estimate people set aside $25 for fuel costs. I’ll need a ride and will be keeping track of the carpool arrangements as people sign-up. 

Food: Bring your own in a cooler, buy groceries at a Wal-Mart in nearby Logan, OH, eat breakfast or lunch at the lodge (buffet and other options) or at a  local restaurant. Whether you make a sandwich or cook something at the cabin, there are several choices available that won’t break the bank.

Instruction: We aren't planning on giving lengthy camera instruction or lectures on technique for this trip. That said, we will have several experienced photographers in this group and we will be able to provide planning / gear advice prior to the trip for anyone who asks for pointers, and we will give hands-on tips and info. before each shoot. Plus we will debrief at the cabin Sat. evening. Our main focus will be to enjoy nature, create images that we can add to our portfolios, and have a good time shooting and socializing over meals and after shoots. 

If you have any major questions about shooting, equipment, or anything else, please ask us prior to paying the $50 registration fee. The fee is non-refundable, so if you can't attend, that will mean that there will be more space in the cabin for others (organizers will not be working to find a replacement for cancellations).

**If this trip doesn't work for you, don't despair! The Shutterbugs are planning on making at least two more treks to HH through early 2015. One will be a day trip in 2014, and the other will be a winter shoot (the waterfalls and landscape looks great with snow and icicles). With just under eleven hundred members, I think we'll have enough members to fill them all.

Potluck: Saturday night we’ll have a small potluck, so we’ll ask for folks to bring or cook a dish to pass. I’ll post a sheet for people who sign-up to make sure we have a few small dishes, soda/pop, dessert, etc. covered. 

If you haven't been to Hocking Hills or haven't heard of it please visit their website:

"The Devil's Bathtub" at Hocking Hills

Here is a link to some images I've shot on my last few trips to Hocking Hills:


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  • Patrick M.

    Thanks all for the awesome weekend! We did not have water, but we had soooo many things to shoot. This was an exceptional group and I learned a lot about finding and even making interesting subjects. I look forward to seeing others' pics too.

    A special thanks to Frank for all the logistics, Amy and Linda for the awesome food, and to Benny, Alexandra, and David for good company and shooting ideas!

    1 · October 7, 2014

  • Frank K.

    The falls were dry (probably diverted, construction), but this was a fun meetup. Some yellow (color), abstract forms, texture, creativity... really fun shooting with this group. Thanks for making it a great weekend! And a special thanks to Linda, her husband, and Amy for feeding us so well! Everything was delicious. And the pie rocked, Pat.

    1 · October 6, 2014

  • Debbie M.

    and if it does rain you'll get other awesome pics!

    1 · October 3, 2014

  • Chris S.

    Have fun guys! Stay dry and warm b

    1 · October 3, 2014

  • Frank K.

    The latest forecast for Sat.: Rain, high of 54 deg. Far., low of 38-- it will be brisk before dawn! Dress for success-- rain coat, hat, rain/waterproof pants, light gloves, umbrella, cover for your camera (whether you have a special rain cover or a modified gallon-size Ziploc bag), microfiber cloths to dry off your filter or lens face if it has raindrops on it, boots to help in the mud/walking on wet rocks, headlamp or flashlight, etc. I love shooting in the rain there-- smaller weekend crowds, more texture on rocks and the wet earth, and more water for the falls (I have seen Cedar Falls only trickle, drip, drip, drip, one fall before it rained). If we dress for conditions this should be a great shoot!

    October 1, 2014

    • Frank K.

      I am charging my batteries and starting to pack today :)

      October 1, 2014

    • Frank K.

      Weather update-- rain Fri., should help the falls! Dry and partly cloudy Sat. and Sun., high of 55 Sat. and low in the 38-44 range both nights. A chilly start, but we should have good flow on the falls, less crowds, and perfect fall shooting conditions!

      October 2, 2014

  • Yanet S.

    Frank, I have a very bad cold and I'm unable to go. Sorry for the late notice... I will change my RSVP just in case somebody wants to take my spot.

    October 1, 2014

    • Frank K.

      Rest up and feel better, Yanet. I sent Patrick and you an email when he sent me an email about your situation last night. If you find someone to take your spot, let me know and I can add them. For sleeping arrangements, they would either need to share the double bed or possibly sleep on a sofa that folds out into a double in the living room.

      October 1, 2014

  • Frank K.

    I sent everyone in the RSVP "Yes" group an email with info. about lodging, a potluck, and carpool needs. Please check your email and send me a message is you somehow missed it (check your Spam folder first, just in case). Thanks!

    September 9, 2014

  • Debbie M.

    I can't make this trip, but I have to say this is an awesome price and a wonderful itinerary! And the cabins are a great idea! Have a fun trip everyone.

    1 · September 4, 2014

  • Shelly

    Joshua, it will be great to see you! I'm really looking forward to this trip. One of my favorite Meetup events was our spring time trip to Hocking Hills. Can't wait to see it in the fall.

    2 · July 5, 2014

  • Patrick M.

    This is great Joshua! As the event draws nearer, we all can touch base. Cheers, pat

    2 · July 2, 2014

  • Ua C.

    I've put this in my calendar. I can meet up with you guys when you get into town and depending on when you get in and everyone's energy level - I could take you to some cool spots on Friday night that are perfect for light painting. I can definitely hangout on Friday night, but not sure about on the weekend. I wouldn't be staying in the cabin, just so you know. :)

    2 · July 2, 2014

    • Frank K.

      Excellent, UA! I was going to ask you if you'd like to do a joint meetup with the Columbus group on the same weekend... if you are, I always enjoy meeting "local" photographers and folks from other places. The last several years I've only covered the "basics" at Hocking, so your additional exploration and knowledge of the area will be much appreciated. Plus it would be great to shoot with you. I'll build the itinerary for our little trip and then we can hook-up whenever... Friday night light painting sounds like a plan. Looking forward to seeing you and shooting together!

      2 · July 2, 2014

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