Craig's Photo Blog

Don’t Look…See!!

Rock Pool, Weston Beach, Point Lobos, CA
Rock Pool, Weston Beach, Point Lobos, CA

When exploring a new location it is often easy to be taken by the grand beauty of an area. The consequence is the certain temptation to grab your camera and begin firing away, at times worrying the light might quickly change, dashing hopes for that epic image capture. I’ve been there for sure. And there will no doubt be times when the light is changing so fast that the necessity for quick response is in order. However, what I often see during workshop sessions are students, even after admonition to the contrary, quickly grab their camera and tripods and rush to the a given spot and start firing away. What is the result? Often this will lead to mediocre shots and at minimum lost opportunity to really explore the full potential of available subject matter.

Take a Walk

Alternatively, It will often pay dividends to explore an area without camera in hand. Walk around. Take time to observe things like quality and direction of the light. Would a different time of day make a big difference? Soft light? Backlight? What lens would best tell the story or communicate your vision?


Compositional Aid

Much like I did when I shot 4×5 I will often carry a viewing card (sometimes now called a viewfinder card) to approximate potential compositions. This can be quite useful in fully exploring image possibilities without the burden of equipment hanging around your neck and back. As you hold the card with the cutout closer to your eye, it resembles a wide-angle perspective; the further from your eye, a telephoto perspective.

Quite easily made as well. I use some scrap 4×6 black mat board and cut out a 3×2 (35mm or our DSLR aspect ratio). The 4×6 size will fit in many pockets or easily in your camera bag.

Rock Pools, Weston Beach, Point Lobos

You should also look all around. It is not just about that beautiful rock formation or rushing waterfall. What about the detail at your feet? What is behind you? Look up! Fully explore your surroundings. You may find gems many would never otherwise notice. You begin to “see“…not just look.

Abstract Patterns and Seaweed


Lichen Covered Cypress, Point Lobos, CA

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Conkle’s Hollow in Hocking Hills

Conkle’s Hollow Gorge Trail

Conkle’s Hollow is comprised of 87 acres of lush Eastern Hemlocks, birch, ferns, wildflowers and towering Black Sandstone cliffs that surround what is said to be one of the deepest gorges in Ohio.   There are two trails at Conkle’s Hollow; Rim Trail and the lower Gorge Trail.

Small Flowing Water Fall in Conckles Hollow Sony A7R IV, 24-105mm G

Years ago, I used to photograph this area in both the Spring and Fall, mostly preferring the Rim Trail in the Fall because of its beautiful view of the valley adorned in fall color and the sandstone outcroppings along the gorge’s rim.  During these times I would seldom run across other hikers, having the place almost entirely to myself, especially during the early morning hours.

Two hundred feet below is the Gorge Trail, which on this short visit I explored to re-acquaint myself with this, one of the many photographic gems of Hocking County.

The Gorge trail is about a mile long and a very easy hike along an improved trail that even accommodates those of lesser abilities.  The trail is will offer numerous photographic opportunities during your hike, including various macro photography subjects such as ferns and wildflowers in season.  The gorge is strewn with rock from years of erosion of the sandstone cliffs and one large boulder, known as Slump Rock, located about ¾ mile down the trail.

Small Hemlock takes root on slump rock Sony A7R IV, Sony 24-105mm G

The trail slowly narrows to as little as 300 feet as you approach the end where you will see the small waterfalls.  On this occasion there was very little flowing water because of the time of year, and it was already beginning to ice over after a very cold few days and an overnight temp of only 3 degrees.  During the Spring, water flow should be much higher and can make for same great waterfall images.

Hope you can join us as we explore this entire region during our Hocking Hills Photography Workshop, May 11 – 15, 2020.    Could make an excellent Christmas Gift and would beIt will be an experience to remember.

Please feel free to leave comments. We love to hear your thoughts