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    Ricketts Glen State Park Waterfalls USE THIS ONE

Ricketts Glen State Park Waterfall Photography

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go here without your Neutral Density Filters and Circular Polarizing Filter.

We highly suggest buying Promaster Circular Polarizing Filters and Neutral Density Filters. We use it on all of our images here in the magazine.  The link to purchase is under construction.  Check out lessons and workshops by Extra Eyes Photo Tours.

Read all about Neutral Density Filters, which one to choose and why you need them.

Ricketts Glen State Park Information:

Waterfall Route is on Falls Trail: 7.2 miles, most difficult hiking.
Lake Rose Parking Lot is the closest access to Falls Trail. The entire loop of this trail is 7.2 miles if hiking both the upper and lower sections. The partial trail is a 3.2-mile loop and can be taken by going on the Highland Trail and the Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen sides of the trail. We took the 3.2-mile circuit and took 9 hours to photograph correctly. You can do the full route if you are more about hiking than shooting and doing it right from multiple angles.

Precautions to take at Ricketts Glen State Park:

To do this waterfall day, you must be in good physical condition. There are several precautions you must take.

  • Always wear proper hiking boots. If you want to bring along water shoes to stand in the water for your shots, be prepared to take them off and put your hiking boots back on. Sandals and water shoes will cause a fall on these slippery rocks you will encounter.
  • Bring water or a survival water pump and food. You will be out all day. Eat right before you go.
  • Check the weather before you go, and make sure you plan to get out before dark.
  • Let someone know where you are hiking and when you should return. I asked the Park Ranger. They are not allowed to leave at the end of the day if a car is in the parking lot and a person is unaccounted for.

Maps of Ricketts Glen State Park:

Be sure to stop by the office and get a map or print one to bring with you. We needed it. At one point, we actually went the wrong way—good thing I had my map.

Ricketts Glen State Park Map
Glens Natural Area Enlargement Map


Winter Photography at Ricketts Glen State Park

Photography Information:

The gear for this hike is more than just camera gear. If you chose to do it this way, it would be an all-day event, so be prepared.

Gear:  Bring your widest-angle lens. The most important thing to bring is your set of Neutral Density Filters. If you don’t have them, don’t go. Buy them first.  Here is the link to purchase our favorite filters and the ones we used with our pictures above.  A good sturdy, but light tripod to carry all day is a must. We recommend a VANGUARD Alta+ 203AP tripod.  Bring extra batteries. We recommend you have three camera batteries if you are doing the 3.2-mile loop or the entire loop.  You will be shooting in live view mode all day, and nothing drains the battery as fast as live view. Do not run out of memory cards. Shoot this raw so you can remove blaring white highlights if the sun pops out.  Raw takes up way more room to bring extra cards. Bring them in a waterproof carrying case, just in case.

Bring water and food. A light backpack is good to have on. Thank you to my new friend for saving the day. We were out of snacks and starving when we met fellow photographer Brian Kerr and voila. He offered us power bars, which got us through to 4:45.  The story’s moral – Don’t forget your power bars!! A super cool guy who saved the day! My assistant is now fired. She was in charge of the snacks.

When to go:  This is the most important thing to remember. Bright sunshine is not our friend when doing waterfall photography, but even the slightest drizzle will make the rocks slippery as can be hereTiming. I got it right — cloudy skies with occasional sunshine and zero precipitation. I watched the weather and left the night before I saw perfect conditions. The park is closed for the winter except for those with the proper ice shoes. Be sure to check the exact details with the park on that. Do not do this on a holiday weekend; that is the best time if you can do it mid-week. I think Brian and I were the only ones there at 7 a.m. There was one other car in the parking lot when I arrived.

Setting up your Shot:

Step 1: You will need to put your camera on a tripod. You will also want to use a remote shutter release to expose the image. You can also use the camera’s 2-second self-timer if you don’t have one. This will not work unless you use a tripod, so if you are new to this, please know that a tripod is an absolute must.

Step 2: You can use the live view mode we suggest for this location. The mirror automatically locks up when using this mode. Shooting from a lower angle does make more dynamic images.

Step 3: Put your neutral density filter on your camera. Even on a cloudy day, you will want to use a Neutral Density Filter. It’s like sunglasses for your camera. You can do a more prolonged exposure, which is what makes the milky effect of the water movement. The darker the ND Filter, the longer you can expose it. See how to use a neutral density filter and which ones we suggest. 

Step 4:  Camera Settings – Set your camera to Manual mode, then set the aperture to the smallest one (most will be f/22, some f/29). Set your ISO to 100, or the lowest it will go on your camera. Looking through the camera, roll the shutter speed so the exposure level indicator goes to ‘0’ on the exposure scale. Without a filter, you may not get lower than 1/15th sec. or even that low on a sunny day.   This is why a neutral density filter is so important. We have a 3.0 filter. We can do a 30-second exposure at noon in bright sunshine with that bad boy.

Step 5: Set your Camera on a 2-second timer or use your shutter release to expose the image.  Evaluate the image. If your idea has hot spots (areas of overexposed spots), slow your shutter speed down to a stop and test again until it is just right. Remember, the darker the filter, the longer the exposure.

Where to Eat and Stay Near Ricketts Glen

Ricketts Glen Waterfall

Announcing our Photography Contest

All of the winners will have their photo featured in our Magazine  Lots of Prizes

 See all of the Details on our Photography Contest Page.


Camping Near Ricketts Glenn:

Ricketts Glen State Park –  Visit the website here.

Red Rock Mountain Campground is Just down the street from the State Park

Waterfall Photography Map

Ricketts Glen Map

New Freinds at Ricketts State Park

Here are our new friends we made on the trail, Chris & Melissa McGonigle. We had them hold their breath since they mentioned getting the water to blur in the background, and we did a two-second exposure.  The sun was not our friend here, but I didn’t want to make them wait for a cloud. Thanks for letting us take your picture, Chris and Melissa. We hope you had a great hike too!

Ricketts Gleann State Park Pa.

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Ricketts Glenn State Park Photography


Lens: Wide Angle but you may find a bird or two. Not much wildlife here.

Gear List at a Glance: Circular polarizing filter, neutral density filter, tripod, shutter release, wide-angle lens.

When to Go:  The only time not to go is when they close the road down due to winter conditions. Check with the park before you go. Fall is ideal.


If you have moving subjects, you will want to shoot in shutter priority to assure your shutter speed is high enough to have your subject in sharp focus. For people walking by, approximately 1/250th of a second is appropriate, and adjust your ISO accordingly. If they are running fast, increase your shutter speed to about 1/500th of a second. A fast bird flying by would be shot at about 1/1000th of a second. If it’s a bright sunny day, go as high as  1/1200th of a second. Remember, the higher your shutter speed; the less light comes into the camera. It should not be an issue outside during daytime hours. For More Details, see our Shutter Priority Page.


You have moving waters here. You can do your long-exposure running and milky water shots. You will have to use a tripod for this effect. Your settings will vary depending on the lighting and your neutral density filter. You will shoot in manual mode for the milky waters. ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow. The aperture is f22. Your shutter speed will be the only variable depending on the light. Roll your shutter speed until your meter reads zero. (In the center)  Use your shutter release or your 2-second timer to prevent camera movement when exposed. You will want at least a 2-second exposure for milky water. If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you may not get more than 1/15th of a second in the sun. 

If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you can buy one here. We highly suggest you do not go anywhere without one. It makes all the difference between lifeless images and outstanding, dynamic images.


Aperture Priority is often used to blur the background of your images and control your depth of field (how much from the subject to the background is in focus). For more information on this – see our Aperture page 


The higher you set it, the more light comes in when exposing an image. The higher the number, the more digital noise, so if possible, stay below 800. If you need to go higher to get the shot, you can use Topaz Denoise to filter out the digital noise later.

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