May 2003. I was not that far removed from the multiple-day trips I made while living in Utah, to photograph the national parks out west, which for a landscape photographer necessitated much more then the simple day hike. I had learned to love and appreciate the soft, even light that lies within the margins of the day. Dawn and dusk is the natural habitat of the ethereal light that moves the soul of the visual artist. I had returned to my home of Dayton, Ohio and was anxious to get back to the area where I first explored the creative outlet of nature and landscape photography – the edge of the Appalachian foothills in the Southeastern part of a Midwest state better known for flatlands of corn and soybean fields. More specifically, Hocking Hills State Park. But where in Hocking Hills could I stay where I would have the access to the landscape at those hours of the “good light ?”
Every photo outing I undertake – whether it be down the street to Sugarcreek MetroPark or all the way to Southern Utah – there’s one photograph that usually stands out from all the rest. That almost perfect image that best communicates artistic vision while achieving an optimal balance of light and subject.
The following landscape photograph is that “stand-out” from a very productive day trip to Hocking Hills State Park, on May 13th. I’ve titled it “The End of the Trail.” It was captured in mid-morning at the end of the lower trail through Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve. No HDR here. Just a single exposure captured in raw file format. The only adjustments applied were curves and a slight toning down of highlights. At the particular moment of the shutter release there was a light falling into the gorge that provided a natural vignette within the frame, thus emphasizing the subject without completely losing detail to clipped shadows in the foreground. Camera used was a Canon 5D Mark II. Lens was my old standby for landscapes, a Canon 28-70mm f2.8 L. Bogen 3021 tripod and Kirk ballhead. Canon cable release. ISO setting was 400. I can effectively get away with such a high ISO for landscape photography due to the superb, full-size image sensor of the Canon 5D Mark II.