By now you must realize I love strapping a GoPro to my person and heading out into the world with my camera. Winter is no exception! Here in the North East side of the country we’ve had a below-average year for snowfall – well, unless you live in Buffalo, NY, but yeah, that’s a whole different story. 


For our destination, we chose Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s close by, but it’s also one of the US’s best-kept secrets in the National Park system. In particular, the Virginia Kendall Ledges portion of the part offers a lot of great hiking and beautiful, photography terrain. 

Being a National Park means it has better than average access during the harsher, snowy months. Even though it had been snowing fairly heavily all night and was snowing when I arrived I found that the roads leading to the Ledges area, including the parking lot, were completely plowed and fairly clear. As an aside, I went there just after sunrise. I wanted to go when there would be as few people as possible around. This paid off as there were maybe 5 people total at the park. 

There are some basic things you need to prepare for if you want to go on your own winter hiking excursion.

Be prepared for the cold.  This one is a no-brainer, but there is at least one tip that I think never gets enough attention and that is to wear the right shoes. In this case, with the snow being fresh and fairly dry, a sturdy pair of hiking boots with very warm socks is all you need. The temperature this morning was just under freezing, so that meant I could get away with heavy work pants, but I did cheat a little and wear my electric jacket. 


My camera on that day is my venerable EOS R5 and the lens was the amazing 35mm f/1.8. This lens has quickly become one of my favorites of all time. I used to walk around with my 24-70mm and just do it all from there, however since I’ve gotten the 85mm f/1.2 and this 35mm, I’ve changed things up a lot and find myself carrying these two primes most often everywhere I go. 35mm is such a great focal length, for me at least, when doing pretty much everything. This particular 35mm is also a macro, which means I can get right up on subjects, such as the fern above, and get some great close-up shots in addition to its native wide format. 

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Benjamin Lehman is a professional commercial photographer in the Cleveland, Arkon, Canton, and Northeast Ohio areas.