Rock House Photograph at Hocking Hills State Park


I lived in Columbus, Ohio for a few months and one of the definite highlights of my time there was a visit to Hocking Hills State Park.  That is why I have enjoyed seeing the work of Jeffrey Tadlock, who has been posting some awesome images from Hocking Hills over the past couple months.  I wanted to share some of his work to bring some more attention to this little-known, but awesome location.  The image below is of a location within Hocking Hills called Rock House.

Rock House

Jeffrey describes Rock House and his trip as follows”

Rock House is one of six major areas within Hocking Hills State Park in Southeastern Ohio. The Hocking Hills region of Ohio is one of the gems of Ohio. The park is located within a 90 minute drive of Columbus and has a wonderful network of hiking trails and landscape features ranging from towering sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and various recess caves.

 Rock House is particularly interesting because unlike the other caves in the park, it is closest to a full cave. The ceiling is approximately 25’ tall, 30’ wide in sections and about 200’ long. The cave has been formed out of Black Hand Sandstone that is predominant in the park.

 A long history is behind the Rock House. From use by early Native Americans to robbers and bootleggers to an early hotel being near the start of the trail to the Rock House, the area has seen a variety of uses.

 There are many signs directing you to the major areas of Hocking Hills State Park, including signs for Rock House. It is towards the northern end of the park and located just off State Route 374.

This image was taken on my second trip to Hocking Hills State Park for the fall this year. My daughter had come with me on this trip. I typically like to get an early start to trips to the area to avoid the large crowds that come later in the day. (I used to call this area the hidden gem of Ohio, but it isn’t nearly as hidden as it used to be!) Earlier we had visited the Upper Falls and Lower Falls of the Old Man’s Cave area of the park and had great success there.

 We headed to Rock House hoping we could get one more opportunity for photos before more people arrived. The parking lot was a little more crowded, but not to the point of being discouraging. We grabbed the camera bag and began our hike from the parking lot to the cave.

 The hike is fairly short, right around a half mile from the parking lot. When we reached the cave there were several other people at the cave doing their own exploring. My daughter and I walked around and enjoyed the view from various spots.

 I was getting a bit discouraged and less confident I’d be able to capture an image without people in it, but my daughter encouraged me to just setup my tripod and see what happened. So we moved to one end of the cave and got the tripod and camera setup.

The Shot

 Jeffrey tells the story of the shot as follows:

“I setup my camera and tripod at one end of the cave. I kept things close to the ground and only had the camera up about 2.5’ from the floor of the cave. I had a 35mm lens attached to the camera.

 While there were people in the cave I took several shots to gauge the exposures I wanted, test shots where it didn’t matter that there were people in the shot. I knew I wanted to capture several exposures so I could expose for the darkness of the cave, but not blow out the areas where outside light flowed in. I would then blend the exposures together in Photoshop later to get the lighting the way I wanted it.

 After a short wait the cave was empty save for my daughter and I. With the knowledge from the test shots I captured 3 different exposures ranging from 20 seconds to 1/200th of a second (at f/11 and ISO 400). I had just enough time to get those exposures before more people entered the cave!

From there we hiked back to our Jeep and headed home! Later that day I did some work in Photoshop to merge the 3 exposures, doing some blending by hand to get the lighting I wanted in the otherwise dark cave. And here we have the image featured here!”

gear used

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.

Jeffrey Tadlock

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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