A Photo Walk At Hells Hollow

There’s nothing quite like taking a stroll through mother nature to get rid of a ton of little stress. The birds are chirping, the breeze is cool, and gnats are flying into every orifice. I’m not much for taking photographs of wildlife but if that’s your thing then the forest is the place to be. I enjoy looking for ways to create interesting landscape photographs in the forest, it can be rather difficult because of all the distracting elements.


Today I took my Nikon Df , tripod, and a neutral density filter to Hells Hollow Trail… I knew there was a fast-moving creek and some waterfalls so the neutral density filter would come in handy. The shot above was taken in aperture priority mode with auto ISO (the same settings I use when practicing Street Photography). All of these photographs were taken with the Nikon 16-35mm f/4lens. I didn’t bring the circular polizer because I find that I use it less and less when in the forest. I can see how it would come in handy after a fresh rain or if you were trying to eliminate reflections in the water but there wasn’t much water on the greenery and I wanted the reflections on the water when I shoot with the neutral density filter (it makes the water look like a mirror).

The shot above was the only one taken with auto ISO, when using a tripod I shoot at ISO 100 almost 100% of the time.


It had rained a little the night before and earlier in the afternoon so as the temperature began to rise again it created a little fog. I took advantage of the fog as much as I could, I think it gave the images a unique look. The fog added a sort of dreamy look to the photograph and made the highlights look more creamy rather than harsh.


I’ve really been trying to capture in my images what draws me to a scene. I had to do a double take as I was walking down these stairs because I felt like I really enjoyed the view but couldn’t quite put my finger on why. As I back tracked back up the steps I realized it was a combination of the stairs and the stone path-way that grabbed my attention (among other things). I set up the tripod, set the camera to mirror lock-up, added the six stop ND filter, and fired away.


Once at the bottom of the stairs I again noticed the fog in the distance and wanted to take advantage of the look it gave. When I reduced the highlights in post processing it also reduced the fog in the distance which I wasn’t thrilled with. The trade-off would have been less detail in the leaf canopy overhead where the bright sky was.


The waterfall is beautiful. Instead of getting up close and personal with the falls I chose to shoot from behind some foreground elements. I generally try to capture some sort of foreground when possible because I feel like it really gives the photograph some depth.


If you’d like to visit Hells Hollow it’s located in the McConnells Mill State Park in Lawrence County. It’s not the easiest trail head to find but you can get to it from either the covered bridge in McConnells Mill or from the trail head located off of Shaffer Rd, Ellwood City, PA 16117. I like to park at the trail head off of Shaffer road because it’s a beautiful, short, hike to the falls and all along the trail is a meandering creek.

I always value your feedback, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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