Into the flow

Hey folks, here is a follow up shot from my trip to RIcketts Glen. I was knee deep into some pretty strong currents during this shot. Whenever I take a trip that involves water of any kind, I always bring with my hip and chest waders. Depending on the water temps, the need for the waders isn’t always there, but I prefer to have them along just in case. The currents were extremely strong this particular morning but I was still able to navigate out into the stream using my tripod as a means to stabilize myself. I felt comfortable doing this because I was in a section of the creek that was a good distance from a falls and a relatively gradual grade. Had I been further downstream, perhaps closer to the 92′ Ganoga Falls, I would not have taken the chance. The heavy rains and low clouds were dominating the area with an occasional separation which presented the rising sun and some crepuscular rays of light. I wasn’t able to take full advantage of the scene but still came away with some images I was really happy with. A landscape version of this shot is already on order to hang up in the house. This image really depicts where I enjoy shooting from – right in the middle of things. Hope you enjoy…
Technical details: Nikon D810, 17-35mm F/2.8 lens, Exposed for 1/2 Sec at F/16, ISO 400. Induro Tripod, Really Right Stuff Ball Head & Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer.  

Summer Flow along Kitchen Creek Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey
Summer Flow along Kitchen Creek Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey

Weekly inspiration

Hi everyone,

During the 4th of July holiday, I visited family in North East PA. As one would imagine, I can’t go to PA without including plans to visit Ricketts Glen State Park with a fellow photographer and friend Ian. With everything we had planned, the only day we had open to visit the park was Saturday the 4th. Ian and I watched the forecast and as luck would have it, it was sketchy at best during the early morning. We didn’t let that stop us and got up early to make the 2 hour trek to the park. We arrived with gloomy skies which included intermittent rain and periods of downpour. Still not wanting to be deterred, we pressed forward. The recent increase in rainfall had the water at a level that I had never seen before. I was amazed at how much flow there was even in the smaller tributaries that feed into the main runs. We parked in the Lake Rose trailhead parking lot and headed down the Ganoga Glen side of the falls trail. The rain continued to be a menace making getting any shots challenging. We made the best of it and trekked down the falls trail all the way to the top of the 94′ Ganoga Falls. I stopped at each falls along the way and took in some shots. Most of my time I spent in the middle of the main run, shooting upstream in various spots. Here is one of my favorites from the trip of Oneida Falls. The amount of flow was so much on this falls that there was a wind driven spray even 50 feet from the base of the falls. At this particular location, the falls is exposed to the open sky, where the stream is mostly shaded by the canopy of trees along the edge. I don’t often process my images as monochromatic – it just isn’t my cup of tea. I played around with the highlights and shadows on this image and finally settled on the conversion. I think it evokes the mood of what we were experiencing that morning. If you are looking for a good place to shoot in the coming weeks, I highly recommend a trip here. The flows are likely still very high and will make for some fantastic waterfall photography. Thanks for stopping by to have a look at my work. Hope you enjoy! 

Tech details: Nikon D810, 17-35mm f/2.8 lens @ 25mm. ISO 400, .7 sec at f/11, Singh Ray LB Polarizer, Induro Tripod.  

Morning Mist at Oneida Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey
Morning Mist at Oneida Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey

Springtime bliss

The first day of spring? Depending on where you are, it may not have looked too much like spring. Social media exploded with pictures of snow in the Northeast. Although spring is officially upon us, some areas take a bit longer to really feel like spring. I myself am looking forward to the fresh spring air, melting snow and budding trees. A trip to the mountains of central PA will be in order to some of my favorite waterfall locations. The best time for getting amazing shots of these locations is to be there before the sun is up. Crazy I know, but worth every minute. This is really important if you want to get some long exposures and don’t have those expensive neutral density filters. Being on site early allows you to spend time in the forest before the harsh sun gets too high and starts putting hots spots all over the place. High contrast images of waterfalls just don’t work that well in my opinion. If the day is going to be overcast, then you are in luck and can spend even more time getting excellent images. Make sure to bring a sturdy tripod and look at the scene from several different angles. This is a shot from last spring in Ricketts Glen State Park. The sun was just getting to the point where it was a problem. One trick I often use is to position myself so the sun is just behind a tree, branch or just at the top of the  frame.. With just a tiny fraction of the sun showing and a small aperture, the sun turns into a starburst and can give a really nice effect. A little post processing to expand the tonal range and enhance the colors and you have something to hang on the wall in your home. Happy shooting!

Springtime flow, Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey
Springtime flow, Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey


In the details



Hello everyone,

Just wanted to write a quick post to my fellow photographers and readers about a something that I feel is often overlooked when photographing a subject – working the scene or paying attention to the details. Whenever I’m out capturing images, I try to take my time (much to my family members dismay as they can attest) moving around the area before even taking my camera out. I look at the scene and think about what really made me stop and look at it in the first place. Have I seen images of this already? If so, can I tell where they were standing, was it a wide angle or telephoto being used? What time of day was it? What was the weather? All of these thoughts help me determine where to position myself to get a different position on the same subject. Often I will look closely at the little things in the area and just focus on those. In this case, a 25′ waterfall can be really impressive even with a wide angle. I have seen dozens of images of this falls, but none that I could recall that focused on the details of the water and rocks. I decided to change my lens to a 24-120mm zoom and focus on these details. With a long exposure, I was able to accentuate the water flowing over the rocks and create a very peaceful feel. Because this image was largely a high contrast scene already, I decided to convert to Black and White to enhance the elements. Next time you are out shooting, don’t forget to slow down, survey the scene and focus on the details. Hope you enjoy and as always, thanks for visiting!

© Rob Loughrey
© Rob Loughrey

Ricketts fog

Planning trips to Ricketts Glen State Park is usually based on the weather forecasts for me. Of course it is – you say, but not for the reasons you are thinking. For me, I prefer to be there when a storm has just passed or there are chances of fog in the area. Being in the forest such as Ricketts Glen during a time like this takes you to a different world. Low clouds transform the area into something so mysterious. Not being able to see distances that you are accustomed too makes that mystery. You know something is out there, you just don’t know what it is. As the sun rises, the fog begins to break, sometimes shining through in pieces, giving you crepuscular light rays or as some people like to call them – “God Beams”. Whatever your preference, this is an amazing way to experience the forest. Capturing this mood in photography is actually pretty easy believe it or not. The lighting is mostly even, except for the area of bright light where the sun shines through. All you need to do is meter your scene without the sun or rays of light in your image, lock in the exposure, recompose and shoot. If you are nervous about missing the shot, bracket your exposure both over and under. Last spring, I had some luck with the weather predicting and traveled there when the conditions looked ripe for a foggy morning. This shot is standing at the top of the 92′ Ganoga Falls looking down. I am really looking forward to spring! More to follow….

Foggy morning  at Ganoga Falls  - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey
Foggy morning  at Ganoga Falls  – Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey

Fall Color – Pennsylvania Waterfalls

Hello all,
It has been a little while since I have had time to get out and photograph and post. Summer has passed and we are in full swing of Autumn now. I made a early morning trip to my one of my favorite spots a few days ago. The weather during the week at Ricketts Glen was showing dense fog for several days. On the 3rd day in a row, I decided to make the trek North. With it being the first week of October, I figured I had a good chance at fall color as well. During the entire drive through PA, it looked really promising. The temp and dew point collided and heavy fog was slowing my drive. I was amazed at how thick it was in some places – reminded me of being in Scotland again. It was great until I made the final turn onto Rt. 487 and I literally drove right out of the fog to the top of the mountain. All was not lost as there was a good cloud cover making for some great photography during my 6 hour hike. The flows were much lower than what I have seen before, but I still made the best of it. Here is a shot of B Reynolds Falls on the Glen Leigh side of the trail. I climbed all the way to the top of bottom of the falls (very slippery conditions) and found some fresh leaves to use in my foreground. I shot this looking back towards the bottom of the falls trying to include as much as possible of the fall color spectacular that was happening. Getting low to the ground with my tripod, I was constantly wiping my circular polarizer to remove the water drops. I was getting pretty wet myself from all of the splashing water. Well worth the effort though in my book. Hope you enjoy…

Fall Color at B Reynolds Falls - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey

In the creek

Hello everyone,
On a trip to Ricketts Glen back in May, I encountered some pretty good flows in Kitchen Creek. Having high levels in the creek has its good and bad sides. The bad – the water was running so hard that at most of the falls, there was a heavy mist making it difficult to get some of the shots I wanted.  When this happens, I spend some time along the creek looking for good compositions at small rapids. I always bring my hip waders to the making it easy for me to setup in the creek and spend some time composing my shot. When shooting images using a wide angle lens (in this case a 24mm) I get as low and close as possible to the foreground interest point. This helps to lead the viewer into the scene. The one issue with this in a fast flowing creek is the water drops flying around and hitting the front of the lens. You have to keep a constant eye on the front lens element. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way on more than one occasion. Nikon D800, 24mm PC lens, Really Right Stuff ball head, Induro tripod, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer.



Early summer at Ricketts Glen

I have had the opportunity to make a few trips to Ricketts Glen over the past couple of months. Once in mid May and most recently a few weeks ago in mid June. The water levels in May were really good. Results of the snow melt off in the mountains and spring getting into full swing. Some of the falls were running so well that there was either a strong wind coming off of the pool or there was so much mist in the air it made it difficult to get close. For times when the mist is heavy, I keep a clear shower cap in my bag. I know it sounds crazy, but it is really helpful in getting your camera setup and composing a picture. You can even adjust your polarizer with the shower cap in place.  I place the shower cap over the end of my lens before going down into the water and get setup. Once I’m happy with the composition and my exposure is set, I quickly take off the shower cap and snap a few images. At this point, I am going to start getting water build up on the front lens element, but if you move quick, you can get off a couple of good clear shots. After that, I usually remove my camera from the tripod, turn around with my back to the falls and wipe off any of the water. Put the shower cap back on and try again. Here are a few shots from my recent trips to Ricketts Glen. Hope you enjoy…

Mowhawk Falls - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA

Fall in Ricketts Glen State Park

Another favorite shooting location for me is Ricketts Glen State Park in Northern Pennsylvania. This part has over 20 waterfalls on a 7 mile loop that is just fantastic. I try to visit this park twice a year and each time the park seems to have different things to offer. This year I went in both the spring and fall. I went a little early in the spring and the colors were very muted and the leaves had only started budding. Apparently there is a good 1 – 1 1/2 month difference between when Maryland Trees and Pennsylvania mountain trees have leaves on them. I wasn’t able to get there later in the spring so I waited it out until fall. I went in early October which happened to be a perfect time for color change.  There were still plenty of leaves on the trees and the color was close to peak. The only thing that I was surprised by was the low levels of water on the falls. This was my 6th trip there and was by far the lowest amount of water I have seen. Even with the heavy rains we recently had, the water was still significantly low. This has its good and bad points. The falls looked a little naked compared to what I had seen before. However, I was able to get across the streams with little or no fear of being swept downstream and sent over a 20 or 30 foot falls. A few of the falls are very tall with the largest at over 90′.
Here is a shot from one of the falls along the path. I took a different approach on this one by standing back instead of getting down into the stream. I captured the image using an image stacking technique to make sure I had good focus from near to far. Images were blended and processed in Photoshop.
Hope you enjoy…


Fall colors - Ricketts Glen State Park © Rob Loughrey

Springtime waterfall

A quick shot from a recent trip to Ricketts Glen State Park in upstate PA. I made the trek on a day off with a couple of other Photographers. We jumped the gun a bit – totally my fault though. I wasn’t thinking that springtime in the mountains happens a month or so later than it does in Maryland. Needless to say, the landscape was still a mottled brown, trees were just budding and it wasn’t as photogenic as I would have liked. Without any leaves on the trees, the sun starts causing havoc on your photographs much earlier than it would a few months later. In any case, no trip wasted, I came away with a few tight shots I liked. Already looking forward to the next adventure…
RB Ricketts Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park, PA © Rob Loughrey