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Starting before sunrise

Up Very Early Before Sunrise

Last Thursday, I started off with two other photographers to capture a sunrise. I had scouted this location mid-morning a few weeks ago and had an idea where the sun would rise. Skyline Drive is about an hour east of Bloomington, Indiana in the Jackson State Forest. It is on a high ridge top with an overlook facing east. There is also a fire tower nearby. The road is closed during the winter and was just opened about three weeks ago. Once you start up the hill, you will understand why! One of my fellow photographers asked if we were still in Indiana. Going down on the other side, you travel through one or two switchbacks to reach the bottom.


We arrived about 35 minutes before sunrise and setup. We kept hearing cows in the distance, but it was not clear they were in a field until we had enough sunlight.

Sunrise from Skyline Drive Jackson County Indiana

Return Visit to Cave River Natural Area

Next, we headed for Cave River Natural Area near Campbellsburg. The trick to finding good light here is to enter soon after sunrise, before the direct sunlight hits the water. Once the leaves are out, I think we will have a longer shooting day.

Steven Higgs and I first found this place a few weeks ago. I could not find the location on any maps or DNR websites, so it is well hidden. It is a steep climb down and back up the hill to reach this valley that is surrounded on all sides. In the early 1900’s, this area was a resort and still has one remaining cabin to remind of us prior use. The owner in the early 1900’s offered boat rides in one or more the caves. Today, the caves are closed to protect the bats from white-nose syndrome. We were interested in Cave River because it has flowing water fall and stream. At one time, the stream provided power for a grist mill. Like all waterfalls I try to photograph, there was a log in the center of the waterfall. I preferred to focus on the stream to avoid the “logged” waterfall.




My two fellow photographers could not believe this area was in Indiana. Most folks do not realize the hidden beauty of this state. Typically, it requires a hike, some hill climbing, and a different style of photography. You do not always get the wide sweeping views that you find out west. However, the lack of these views is the challenge for a landscape photographer.

Leonard Springs Natural Park

Our next stop was Leonard Springs Natural Park southwest of Bloomington long after sunrise. There is a set of metal stairs (over 100 steps) to take you down to the trail. We found three different waterfalls in the area. Two of them make length trips down the hillside, but the lighting was not great. Once the leaves come out, it will make a better shot.



After our climb back up the stairs, we were ready for lunch. We have made plans for another trip next week to photograph one or more new areas.

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