01.19.20: Leaves on the water

Fallen leaves rest on water in a stream in Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, Ohio.

Fallen leaves rest on water in a stream in Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio.

Streams fill with color when autumn leaves fall

The challenge was to get the shot without stepping in the water, which would disturb the leaves. The pool was too wide to straddle and much too wide to bridge with the tripod.

‍When I left the house well before sunrise one late October morning in 2007 I expected to spend the day photographing fall colors on trees that blanket the hillsides throughout the Hocking Hills region of Ohio.

‍I didn’t expect my favorite autumn shot from the day to be taken looking down at water.

‍I was strolling along a trail in Hocking Hills State Park when I noticed a collection of fallen leaves that had gathered in a quiet pool in a stream. I liked the various shades of red, orange, yellow and brown that floated nearly motionless on the water. I even liked the few small patches of blue where the sky reflected.

‍The challenge was to get the shot without stepping in the water, which would disturb the leaves. The pool was too wide to straddle and much too wide to bridge with the tripod that would hold my camera for the two seconds that the shutter would be open.

‍After a few minutes of studying I found a rock, hidden by leaves toward the right side of the pool, just below the surface. I could put one leg of the tripod on the rock with the other two legs remaining on the ground at the edge of the pool.

‍This allowed me to point the camera straight down at the leaves, getting the photo I wanted showing edge to edge leaves.

‍The various parks and preserves in the Hocking Hills are great areas for photography. The terrain is much different from the mostly flat land in other areas of Ohio. Blame it on the Wisconsin glacier that covered Ohio from 85,000 to 11,000 years ago. It flattened the area, but southeastern Ohio (about an hour’s drive from my house) was outside the glaciation of the ice age and remained ruggedly hilly and forested.

‍The same glacier that flattened much of Ohio is responsible for creating the Hocking Hills, one of the most geologically unique – and photogenic – areas in Ohio. The ruggedly hilly section of southeastern Ohio features gorges, cliffs, caves and waterfalls created when torrents of water from the melting glacier rushed through that area.

‍According to Wikipedia: “When the glacial torrents found cracks in the hard capstone, the water poured through to flush out the soft middle layer. This left long tunnels where the gorges are today. Eventually, the weight of the tops caused them to come crashing down. The ‘slump rocks’ in the gorges today are what’s left of the hard top layer. In just a few centuries, the rushing waters of the glacier carved the soft middle layer of sandstone into the myriad dimples and wrinkles that decorate the cliffs and grottos today.”

‍The waterfalls, deep, rocky gorges and towering, forested hills make Hocking Hills State Park one of my favorite areas in Ohio for photography. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house, but it’s worth the trip.

‍Old Man’s Cave Trail, where I found this scene, is named for a hermit who lived in the large recess cave in the gorge around 1800. It’s a beautiful gorge that features several large waterfalls, a series of rapids and small waterfalls and the gigantic cave that gave the park its name. The cave is located on a vertical cliff about 75 feet above the stream and measures 50 feet high, 200 feet long and 75 feet deep. The trail, like others in the region, is filled with large slump rocks in and around the stream.

‍Tech specs

  • Date/time: Oct. 29, 2007, 9:53 a.m.
  • Location: 39°26'3.912" N 82°32'25.391" W (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 40D
  • Lens: Canon EF 28-135mm          f/3.5-5.6mm (41mm) 
  • Aperture: f/16
  • Shutter: 1.6 seconds
  • ISO: 200

‍Streams fill with color 

‍when autumn leaves fall