Need some thoughts for a new approach on some nature work

Jim Walczak

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Sep 9, 2004
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Lorain, Ohio
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Greetings one and all!

Those of you who frequent other forums may see this post (or similar)...please feel free to respond to it there, here or elsewhere as I'm simply looking to get a good cross section of suggestions.

Ok, I'm not a newbie (been shooting on one level or another for nearly 40 years) and I can't really even say I'm in a rut, however I could use some suggestions and advice for a "fresh approach". This is gonna take some back story and I do type 80 wpm, so thank you for your patience.

A few weeks back my wife and I did a camping trip out to the Hocking Hills region of Ohio...a trip we plan to repeat in a few more weeks. For those not familiar with the area, it's a truly lovely and scenic region of central Ohio with an abundance of forests, rocks and cliffs, wildlife, etc., etc...really great place for shooting to say the least.

Here's my dilemma...during the trip a few weeks ago, I did shoot well over 1100 images over the course of 4 days/3 nights (by the gods I love digital, LOL) and for the most part, I'm pretty happy with the majority of the images I got (barring a few blunders and a bad batch of astro shots). That said, after doing a bit of online research, I also realized that a large number of my pictures are essentially the same as images captured by...well...countless other photographers. One shot I captured of "Ash Cave" in the state park for example...I think I've seen 15 other shots from other photographers that are nearly identical...almost seems like an obligatory tourist image. It -IS- a good shot (I suspect that's why so many other people have a similar image), however looking at it now, it almost seems rather cliche and I feel very much as though it lacks originality. Unfortunately, I have A LOT of shots that suffer from this same problem. It wasn't intentional by any means, I simply let my eye draw me to the shots as I usually do, however the more I think about it, the more I find it annoying...really annoying.

Part of the problem is rather obvious...being such a lovely area and being comprised of state parks, the Hocking Hills region is a significant tourist attraction for outdoorsy folk like myself. The area is bountiful with activities such as camping, canoe/kayaking, hiking (LOTS of freakin' 3 weeks later, my heel spurs STILL ache!), yadda, yadda. The Hocking Hills region also borders Wayne National Forest, which adds greatly to the tourist factor. Likewise, the major tourist areas such as the state parks and such, are somewhat restricted (primarily for safety reasons)...paths are well marked and/or often roped off, as they've had A LOT of accidents in the region and more than a few deaths over the years, so the way that you can approach any given subject for photography is often a bit limited (at least without risking life and limb, which I have no desire to do). Hopefully you're starting to get the idea here...beautiful area, but lots of people in limited, rather restrictive areas who all end up basically shooting the same thing.

Again my wife and I are planning a return trip down to the area in a few weeks. Even if I had no interest in photography at all, it's still a lovely area and my wife and I (not to mention our 3 dogs) really enjoy camping and hiking down there. That said, I do love photography and this time of year, autumn should be in full swing...should make for some really wonderful photo ops to say the least.

Sooo...while I wouldn't consider the previous excursion to be a "mistake" by any means (I still got some really wonderful shots), I could use a tip or suggestion or two on "how to avoid the obvious". A few cliche touristy shots are fine...and I suspect they're probably unavoidable, but I'd also like to "up the WOW factor" as well. With the incredible landscapes this area presents, along with what I expect to be some intense fall foliage, one of my goals is to bring home some shots that will REALLY blow people (including myself) right out of the water...and I'd like some of those to be fairly unique, as apposed to the average shots by every Tom, Dick and Ansel.

I do have a few ideas... I'm considering perhaps trying to stitch a couple of wide angles together in post to create a pano or two and I'm almost thinking this might be a good time to take a stab as some HDR stuff as well. I'd LOVE to do some late evening, long exposures, however the parks close at sunset and since we'll be camping, there are certain pragmatic concerns that have to be considered (like making dinner over the campfire...I HATE cooking in the dark). With that I could use a few thoughts to get the ol' creative juices flowing...maybe do a bit of pre-planning this time around.

BTW...for what it's worth, I'll be shooting with a Nikon D90 and while I have a small selection of lenses (recently changed over from Canon, so still rebuilding my lens collection), I suspect I'll be leaning heavily on my 18-55mm. I -wish- I had a true wide angle or fish eye...a 12mm or better (or even something capable of hyper-focal), however that's just NOT in the budget right now....have to make due with what I already have. Likewise, I do shoot in RAW exclusively and will be doing all my post work in Photoshop.

I'm grateful your your comments and suggestions...thanks!

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