Tips for Photographing the Upper Falls at Hocking Hills

In an earlier article, Ohio photographer Jeffrey Tadlock shared some tips for photographing  the Rock House area of Hocking Hills State Park.  In this article, Jeffrey shares his insight about another great location in Hocking Hills, the Upper Falls.  The Upper Falls is located in the Old Man’s Cave area of the Park.  The remaining text of the article comes directly from Jeffrey.

Old Man’s Cave Area of Hocking Hills State Park

Upper Falls is located in the Old Man’s Cave area of Hocking Hills State Park in Southeastern Ohio. Old Man’s Cave is likely the most popular destination within the park. It is no surprise why this particular area of the park is so popular, within the length of this gorge you can see multiple waterfalls, towering cliffs, bridges, and impressive rock formations.

 Archaeologists have found evidence of Native Americans dating back to 7,000 years ago in the cave area. But, the legend where the cave gets its name is from hermit, Richard Rowe. Richard Rowe likely arrived in the region around 1796 and used the large recess cave as his home – hence Old Man’s Cave. The story says he is buried beneath the ledge of the cave, though the exact location is unknown.

Upper falls

Upper Falls is located in the Upper Gorge. The falls can appear quite different depending on how much rain or snow melt has occurred. An arched stone bridge crosses the creek just above the falls making for some excellent images.

 Hocking Hills State Park is well signed, so finding Old Man’s Cave should not be too difficult once you get near the park. Parking for the cave is located just off State Route 664. While there is a lot of parking, the area does get very busy at peak times. Once you are there, check the outdoor boards for trail maps that show the paths to the various falls.

My daughter and I visited Upper Falls the same trip we visited Rock House. On this trip we actually stopped at Upper Falls first. The Old Man’s Cave area gets so busy that I often try to get there at dawn so we beat the crowds.

 It was early September when this image was taken. The air had the first crispness of fall, but the leaves in Ohio hadn’t started to change just yet.

 We pulled into a nearly empty parking lot just after sunrise. We gathered up our things – camera bag and tripod for me, walking stick for my daughter – and headed off to the trail head. It doesn’t take long to reach Upper Falls from the trail start, probably about a 15 minute hike at a very leisurely place.

 When we reached the Falls, we had the place to ourselves. So we had our choice of vantage point and no worries of people being in the shot.

How Jeffrey got the shot

There are nearly countless compositions to make photographing the Upper Falls. Do you want to highlight the falls and bridge, the falls and gorge or a little bit of both? To the right side of the gorge as you look at the falls there is a series of ledges that offer a great place to compose a shot.

 This image was taken from one of those ledges. I had my 35mm lens on the camera. I used a tripod for the image, set at about 3’ to 3.5’ in height. I like to use a tripod for capturing waterfalls so I have the option of getting that milky look of the water.

 I took several images from this vantage point at varying exposures, knowing I would pick my favorite at home. With these exposures captured, we packed up the tripod and headed off to Lower Falls at the other end of Old Man’s Cave.


Jeffrey captures this image with a Nikon D3100 (current model is the D3400).  He also used the Nikkor 35 lens and a Rokinon Tripod.  The image was processed in Photoshop.  It was shot at f/9, ISO 200 and .4 seconds.


Jeffrey is a photographer based out of Grove City, Ohio.  You can find more of his work on his website, on Facebook and Instagram.



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