An Eye for Light - A Photoblog: Ohio Caverns

I had free day recently and decided to go take on a new challenge. 

Just northwest of Columbus is a place called Ohio Caverns. I have always loved caves and thought this would be a cool way to kill a couple of hours.

Killer reflections!!

I was not disappointed!  As you can see above, this place was great. Very colorful. I had a blast.

Located in West Liberty,  Ohio Caverns is billed as "Ohio's Most Colorful Caverns".  The caverns, the part that I saw, didn't disappoint.

You can see more in the reflection than you can looking at the ceiling.

I say, from what I saw, because I think that i only saw about a third of the accessible cavern. I believe what I took was the winter tour.  They have longer tours depending on the season and what you want to see.  There is an historic tour that starts at the original entrance.  There is a limestone tour.  It is an impressive network of caverns.

As you can see from the above photos, the is a lot of color in these caverns. The different minerals and formations give the place a ton of character.

This is just a small section of ceiling.

The colors were amazing.  There is, in a lot of places, a small river running through the cavern that gives up great reflections when you look down the waterway. There isn't really a river per se. There is always water seeping into the cavern and they have tried to channel it and manage the flow. So it looks like there is a river.

The tour itself was an hour long tour.  There is a lot to see down there. Including, if I remember right, 2 views of the Crystal King, the largest and most perfectly formed white crystal stalactite found in any cave. He is shown below.

This crystal has to be 5 feet long and hangs in a natural frame.  It is said that 90% of the stalagmites and stalactites are still active and growing. So I assume that the Crystal King is still growing. It is really impressive up close.

You can click on any picture to see it larger.

As part of the largest cavern system in Ohio, the part I toured was about a mile of cavern. The overall system is huge.  Discovered in 1897, the cavern maintains a constant 54 degrees. For me, that was quite comfortable. Open all year, I am looking forward to going back in the summer.  Might evern take the grand kids.

The above pic is of a seam. When you are standing there looking at the cave features, it sometimes seems like you can look forever. There are spots that it seems like it goes back so far that you can't see the end. Most caverns are divided into rooms and this room had a seam that looked like it went for miles. Very cool!

Overall, I would heartily recommend a trip to the Ohio Caverns. Interesting tour. Knowledgeable guide. Great experience.

I want to thank the staff there, they were patient and helpful.

Thanks again for a great experience.



More pics.

An Eye for Light - Real Life Drama

The wife, Vickie and I recently had a front row seat for a real life drama. One evening, Vic called me down to the basement and said, "Bring your camera." I love it when she talks like that. She says the sweetest things.

We got to watch a spider take down a stink bug. This was cool. I must have spent 45 minutes sitting on the basement floor watching this. Took like a hundred shots.

We saw the whole thing from almost the beginning. The spider spent a good bit of time hovering in the web above the stink bug. Waiting it out...

It was pretty cool. Have you ever seen a huge spider like in the Hobbit? When they wrap up the victim? It was great, we could see the arms wrapping and twirling around. Just like in the movie. Shelob couldn't have done it better.

A close up. She is so cute!!

I think it was a she.  It actually looked like she was laying eggs in the bug.

The right tools for the job were the secret to shooting this.

I use a Tamron 90mm macro lens. It gets up real close and captures a great image. That is actually the easy part. Even though I had a lamp trained on the spot, I still needed a consistent light source. I have a ring light for  my macro lens. This is huge!!

I will eventually go over the techie details but for now just he highlights. This ring light is a rather cool flash for up close work.  It is a flash that goes around the end of the lens and casts a very nice even light.  It even meters the scene so that it delivers just the right amount of light. Only what is needed. An it was only like a $75 flash. Incredible.

Another view of our diva.

It is amazing, if you keep your eyes open, there is always something to shoot.

It is part of developing an eye for light. Keep shooting.


An Eye for Light - Tara for Thanksgiving

This year we are doing something special for Thanksgiving...

We are having dinner at Tara - A Country Inn.

Tara - From the outside

We made this trip 2 years ago and absolutely loved this place.  My wife, Vic, is a real Gone with the Wind fan. We were looking for a place for dinner and were looking for buffers to try out. We looked at the Ohio state park lodges and that sort of thing. Tara was actually cheaper and seem like a much cooler place.

Tara is only about 2 hours from us here in Clark, Pennsylvania. Obviously, Tara is based on the movie Gone with the Wind. It is a bed and breakfast and restaurant. They excel at holiday buffets.

Of course, as a photographer, I had a blast here. The decor and accents all had a flair for the historical. Lots of cool details.

Inside and out, there is a lot of statuary. This might be George McClellan.

All through the house, it is decorated with a civil war theme.  The Christmas trees, the sitting areas, the hallways, all of it is decorated with a genuine feel for the old south.  The next pics are ornaments from one of the trees.

Very, very cool.

They also have rooms that you can rent for the evening. All civil war themed. Looked great. A little pricey but you can't beat the location.

All that being said, we were there for the food. The buffet was outstanding. Great stuff, great variety. They had to roll me out of there after the meal. The do not do "walk up" but the do sittings. They sit the place in shifts and funnel you through that way. If you have a 12:30 sitting, be there at 12:30. No fooling around, no waiting. Take your time, enjoy your meal. It is organized, the buffet is well stocked and laid out and you do not meet the crowd at the food. All in all a very pleasurable meal.

Probably the best buffet I have ever partaken of.  We are going again this year. I will take many more pictures.

The location is a little odd.  You kind of come up on it all of a sudden. But it is located on a huge reservoir. Shenango River Lake, a Pennsylvania State Park. Very nice, picturesque. Tara is up against the southern shore.

All told a great holiday experience. The food was great, the photography even better. The only challenge for a photographer was most of the interior is on the darker side. Low light photography.  What I did was use my fast 50 lens. It is a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. Great for low light and you get great bokeh. With a wide open aperture, you get ore light than you would with a regular lens. That helps. It gives you some options for creativity. If you look at the chess pic above, you can see what i mean. You can direct the eye by narrowing the focus to a specific point. The pieces are about 8 inches apart and the whites are really out of focus. Cool effect and easy to do.  In a low light situation, every little bit helps. and you can do some fun things.

That's all for now. Here are a few more pics.


One of the locals.

This is a favorite shot. It is actually a wall sculpture reflecting the wall on the other side of the hall.

On this one you see how the focus is on "the LORD" nice effect.

An Eye for Light - The Cider Mill Bed & Breakfast

The Cider Mill Bed and Breakfast.

Every year we go down to Coshocton to enjoy 2 things, the Apple Butter Festival and the Coshocton County Fall Foliage Tour. These 2 events are always worth the trip.

This year, we decided to stay overnight Saturday, between the events. They both are held both days. But you can't really do both in one day.  After some deliberation, we decided to go down Friday evening and get a great start Saturday morning. Everything around Coshocton was, of course, booked solid. We eventually found a place in Zoar, the Cider Mill Bed and Breakfast.

From the outside.

From the outside.

We will blog on Zoar some day soon. A most charming little town.  One of the original settlements in Ohio. We have stayed there before, in and 1817 log cabin. Most of the essential buildings have more or less maintained the look from the early 1800's.

The Cider Mill B&B is the most charming place we have seen in some time.  Opened in the 1860's as a cider mill, it remained in operation until the 50's. The brick floor in the gift shoppe in the basement is the only remaining evidence of the cider mill.


This is our room that evening. The rooms are all decorated with period furniture and other antiques.  Here are pics of the bathroom. Very cool!!

His and Hers sinks

A very cool shower and a claw foot tub

Just the right touches.

For a photographer, the place was wonderful, very well appointed and nicely decorated.

However, the shoppe on the lower level is a photographers paradise!

Lots of HDR. I did a one hour photo walk without leaving the building. It was great.

In the next image, you can see the original brick floor of the mill.

This is actually a working loom from the period. The gift shop was a blast.

And what is a B&B without a breakfast??

Breakfast was incredible.

Our menu for that morning. It was wonderful.

This might have been the highlight of my weekend. Stuffed french toast piled high with fruit, german sausage and french (scrambled) eggs. Oh baby!!

Although, in all honesty, the best part of breakfast was the innkeeper, Patrick. He was so cool. and well informed. His passion is the local history. He regaled us with stories of the history of the area.

He knew it all. He told of all of the local history including Zoar itself, Fort Meigs, Fort Laurens and Schoenbrunn village. He told stories about the original settlers and trailblazers. Tecumseh, Blue Jacket, Simon Kenton and Daniel Boone are all local stories here. It was great. He spent a ton of time with us.

Vic made a friend there. The place had a 3 season porch. Our favorite kind of place to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. Vic offered to share the chair with the cat and they hit it right off.

A real cuddly critter.

The outside of the place was a lot of fun too. As a photographer,  I wasn't going to get bored any time soon. I spent an hour walking around the building before breakfast.

I gotta tell ya, I love reflections. I must have a dozen shots of this spot. It is a little pond with a waterfall. This is from the back deck. Another cozy spot.

All in all, a most refreshing experience. I would obviously highly recommend the Cider Mill B&B to anyone who asks. It made for wonderful start to a great weekend.


An Eye for Light - A Photoblog

Yes, I have changed the name of my blog.

As I got to thinking about the name. Don's Thoughts, I decided the key to success is not going to be getting people to care about my thoughts. It now seems a little pompous.

That being said, this blog is about my journey trying to get all of this off of the ground.

Live and learn.

An Eye for Light, I think is much more appropriate for this endeavor.

After all, photography is all about light and learning to see it and manipulate it.

Some say that they look for the great light and then find something to shoot.

Those of us who do not have the luxury of time must learn to make the most of the light that we are given.  I will attempt to share as I learn these things myself.

Hope you like the new name. I do. Besides, it was one of the few ideas that hasn't already been done already. This is hard to accomplish.

Thanks again for reading. Here is a pic to enjoy.


It really is all about the light.

Macro Photography - Tis the season

Tis the season. The season that we all dread. The air is getting colder and the bugs are all trying to move indoors.  This is a great opportunity.

We all have had stink bugs try to get in. Last weekend, I had an army on my windows trying to get in. Ever see one up close?

Meet my leetle friend....

Among my other interests, I get a real kick out of macro photography. Macro photography is basically the art of getting up real close and personal.  You would be amazed at what the world looks like when you get real close.

A dandelion up close.

A dandelion up close.

Macro is a fascinating study.  I will be expounding on the ways and how to's as we go along. I will be revealing my equipment I use. I will tell of how to get even closer.

The above droplet shot is a lot of fun to produce. I will do a tutorial on this technique. It is easy.

One of my favorite shots.

One of my favorite shots.

The above mushroom is one of my favorite shots. Yes, a mushroom, in my flower bed. It really is a whole different world at that level.

Any idea what this is??

Any idea what this is??

The above shot is an extreme close up shot of a sea shell. Cool, huh?

Let's cuddle.

Let's cuddle.

This guy was lurking in my wife's laundry room. With his legs out, he was almost half dollar size. Huge. Cute too. She put a bowl over him, shouted for me, and I caught him and took a number of photos of him. Up close.

Keep something in mind, the world we live in is really a fascinating place when studied at the macro level. Keep the camera at the ready. Any cool bug will look even better close up.

Have fun.

Hale Farm - Shooting History

Living History

One of the things that Vickie, my wife, and I like to do is visit historical museums and homesteads.  There is something about history that keeps us coming back. Hale Farm is one of those places. It is a living museum with craftsmen and women in historical garb often crafting something right in front of you.

A potter doing her thing.

A potter doing her thing.

There are a number of options when trying to shoot a place like this. Even armed with only a smart phone, you can make great images, not just snapshots.

You have any number of things to shoot. You can shoot the buildings, old barns are among my favorite subjects. The structures, textures, colors, the buildings are usually great looking and have lots of character.

The textures can be amazing.

Of course, you will often encounter rehab specials with scaffolding and hazard fences. Just part of the fun.

You can focus on the details, both of the buildings and in the houses. Most of the furnishings in these buildings will be period pieces. Often made on site. The pottery, the rugs and other things are often being crafted on site or sold in the gift shop. Very cool!

Candles made on site.

The day we were there, a Saturday, they were making candles, throwing clay, blowing glass, making brooms and blacksmithing. In all of these places you could virtually stand close enough to touch these people. This makes for great photography. I have been working on a series about craftsmen and their shops. Great subjects. I have a couple of shots of that on the web site.

When you shoot this, try to capture not just the craftsman (or woman) but get them within their environment.

This is one of my favorite shots.

Try to catch the atmosphere, the ambiance of the location. The heat of the oven or the blacksmiths fire. And like I always say, watch for the details. Here is what you see looking under the potters table...

I think that this shot captures the essence of who she is.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the blacksmith. This is my favorite workshop of  the bunch. In any workshop, get not only the craftsman and the shop but try to capture the items being made. These almost always look best within their natural setting.

Handmade items

Handmade items

One of the things to look for in any historical location is the flowers. There will almost always be a market garden that will have vegetables and especially flowers of all kinds. You can find some picturesque flowers in a very natural setting.

One of the things that I always try to shoot is the interiors of the buildings. This is an excellent use for HDR. In short, you take 3 exposures, one at the right exposure, one 2 stops underexposed (to capture the highlight detail) and another shot 2 stops overexposed (this captures the shadow details).  Since most interiors will be dark, HDR will help you to get the shot. The best scenario is a place where you can set the camera for the shots, set the timer and get the shots. It really helps to be able to set the camera down somewhere, on a table or desk.  Some of the shots will be long exposures and most places do not let you drag around a tripod.

An interior of one of the farm houses on site. 3 shot HDR

An interior of one of the farm houses on site. 3 shot HDR

That is enough for now.

Remember, don't just take pics. Try to tell the story of the place and the people.

That's all for now.

Don't forget the check out the rest of the web site at




Here are a couple of more from that trip.


Doing his thing. He had some incredible work.

Doing his thing. He had some incredible work.

A sleigh from the vehicle barn. 3 shot HDR, camera placed on the floor.

A sleigh from the vehicle barn. 3 shot HDR, camera placed on the floor.

A humble introduction...

Welcome to my introductory blog post. This will be all about my passion for photography. This will usually be in the context of the places and events that my wife, Vickie and I enjoy.


Huntington Beach sunset

Huntington Beach sunset

I will be sharing my thoughts about photography, of course, but also on my experiences concerning creating a web site, learning the blog and getting started in the photography business. And lots of travel stuff. Reviews, critiques... I have lots of opinions.

I get out to shoot as often as possible so I will be sharing some photos and all of the details concerning how and where they were taken.


About photography...

at present, I am enjoying all types of photography. I love landscapes, waterfalls and sunsets. But I also get a kick out of macro, animals and historical sites.

I really enjoy HDR. I will be sharing my journey as I get HDR figured out. It seems to be an evolving art form. 


Church interiors and HDR. a marriage made in heaven.

I have been shooting seriously about 2 years although I have always been the one with a camera whenever we went anywhere. I can't pass by a flower bed without getting the itch.

Learning has been interesting. Thanks to You Tube, there are a million people that you can learn from.  My very favorites have been Scott Kelby, Gavin Hoey, Bryan Peterson, Mike and Browne.

Jeff Cable has the best blog. The B&H channel on YouTube is the holy grail for great videos.

Enough for now. I will be sharing as we go along.