Thursday, January 31, 2013


ISO 100, f/11, 1/30, 19mm

A week ago last Saturday my flight to Orlando got canceled at 9:10am and they didn't get me rescheduled until 5:45pm that same day. I had to kill time so I drove back home. On the way home the frost that had settled from the night before was starting to melt and turn to fog with the morning sun.
As I passed by this truck between Greenback and Vonore, TN I noticed how the sun was shining through the fog behind it and had to stop and shoot it. I tried to get low and capture the frosty grass in front of the truck as well.
Converting to black and white just seemed the way to process it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


ISO 400, f/16, 90 seconds, 21mm
  Back in September, Tim Owens and I got up extremely early to go to Newfound Gap to shoot the sunrise. Just before we got to the Newfound Gap pull off we found this spot where the full moon was shining bright opposite the sunrise.
   We had to stop and take a few shots. Before we knew it, we noticed the fast moving clouds overhead were creating some neat effects with long exposures against the shining moon.
I was intending on trying to get a "moon" burst through the trees when we noticed the halo the clouds and moon combination was creating around the pine trees. It was awesome!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


ISO 800, f/11, 0.6 seconds, 28mm
Today I was sitting around and felt like I was doing myself a dis-service by not getting out and shooting any pics. Missed a fantastic frosty sunrise this morning due to not feeling quite well and I regretted it very much.
So around 2:30 this afternoon I decided I wasn't going to stay in the house anymore. I ended up not getting to River Rd til about 4:30 so I only had around a
n hour to find a spot or two and take some shots.
Once again I managed to find some spots I had not photographed before. It took some clever maneuvering to get to the river bank but was well worth the effort.
This neatly patterned rock was so cool to catch the raging river running by it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


ISO 100, f/20, 120 seconds, 19mm

From the World Showcase at Epcot. I know this is an iconic shot by Trey Ratcliff but Couldn't resist taking it when I saw it. This is looking across the lake from the World Showcase back at Spacestation Earth (the big golf ball) just after sundown.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


ISO 100, f/16, 1/15 second, 24mm
  I wonder what Dory is telling Crush right here? Possibly, what a great sunrise we were treated to this morning.
  Got to drive over to Disney's Art of Animation Resort early this morning and photograph some of the fantastic statues that they have planted all over the resort. It was quite fun. I have to thank Ali Elhajj, Scott Thomas, and Gene Bowker from over on Google + for helping me figure out where to go to find some neat things to shoot at Disney. Would have never went, or even known of this resort if they hadn't clued me in.
  For those of you who have not been to DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida I highly recommend this resort if you have young kids. All of Disney's resorts have a basic theme to them. This one is based on the successful animated movies that Disney has made. It is split up into 4 separate areas: The Lion King, Finding Nemo, Cars, & The Little Mermaid.  Each area has play areas for the kids, pools, and photo spots throughout the quads between buildings that have these enormous statues of the movie characters.
  I have to hand it Disney. I've been here for conferences and on vacation 6 different times and even though everything is overdone and it is pretty expensive at the parks they do a great job of making sure that a family can have a great time even if they never step foot into one of the theme parks.
  These themed resort hotels are a prime example. The first time I took my family with me on one of these conference trips, we were here an entire week and only went to the Animal Kingdom park while we were here. While I was at my conference during the day, my family spent a lot of time at the pool, which had water slides and play areas to keep them occupied.
  When my day was over, we'd go over to Downtown Disney or Boardwalk and eat,  shop and just sight see. 
  I guess I could never get tired of this place. It brings out the child in all of us. I just wish I could have brought my daughter, Jocy, with me on this trip. The last family visit here was when she was not even 2 years old yet and haven't been able to get her back. She would love it here and really enjoy the theme parks as well as the themed hotels.

Friday, January 18, 2013


ISO 200, f/32, 3.2 seconds, 70mm,
  Took the afternoon off to try and capture the unbelievable amount of water that is flowing from the 5 days of rain and snow we have had in East Tennessee this week. I went to Bald River Falls and tried to photograph it but the spray from the falls kept me from getting a clean shot without water drops on the lens.
  So after shooting along the river on River Rd I was on my way home when I noticed some beautiful reflections on the water on Highway 165 going back to Tellico Plains.  I pulled off and mounted the 70-300 lens on the camera to get some close up shots of the reflections on the water.
  Then I tried something different. I focused on one of the trees that lined the bank of the river and exposed for the tree with the brightly colored water in the background. Holy Cow! I loved the results.
  Turning the polarizing filter to get a bright reflection really enhanced the color as well as the white water created by the turbulent water. Love these type of abstract type images.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


ISO 100, f/20, 4 minutes, 19mm
  We have had 3 straight days of rain in East Tennessee this week. It has been absolutely dreary and ugly. The rivers and streams have been swollen and flooding everywhere.
  When I got to work this morning the rain had somewhat subsided for a while and I could see some low, fast-moving clouds moving across the lake. This looked so cool to me so I grabbed my gear and ran out to the dock to try and catch a long exposure.
  When I got to the dock, I noticed that the rain had lifted the water levels to the point that the water was up even with the dock. Even in the spring time, when the lake is at it's highest, the dock sits 5-6 feet above the water. I have never seen anything like it in the 13 years I have been working here.
  I set the camera up and decided I would start out with a 4 minute exposure to gauge the light. About 2 minutes into the exposure rain started falling in very small drops. I was worried that it might ruin my camera so this 4 minute shot would be the one and only one I would take.
  When the shutter finally tripped at 4 minutes and I looked at the LCD, I was both happy and disappointed. It was still slightly underexposed and would have loved to take another shot at 6 minutes to get a bit more light.
  I was happy, however, that the two outside lights that were mounted on the building behind me had shined an amber light on the scene that I really liked. Photographers that shoot a lot at night call this light pollution but it is just a term that means it isn't natural light.
  Lightroom helped me bump the exposure up and and fine tune things and I cropped out a bit at the bottom of the image that was distracting.

Monday, January 14, 2013


ISO 400, f/20, 1/2 second, -1 EV, 19mm
"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special." - Jim Valvano

  I have always come to tears when I hear this speech by Jim Valvano. If you don't know Jim Valvano, he was a NCAA Champion basketball coach at North Carolina State University and then a color commentator for ESPN before losing his life to cancer. He was always laughing and joking and enjoying life and didn't let something like cancer change that about him. He gave this speech shortly before he died.
  The last few months have propelled me into trying to approach life more this way. Don't get me wrong, I can't come close to understanding what Jimmy V went through with cancer but his words and attitude can carry over to any troubles or hurdles you have to go through.  I have learned to appreciate everything that is important to me a bit more.
  I have learned that I have a tremendous family and some fantastic friends.
  I have also learned to appreciate my surroundings a bit more. The beauty of the fall in the Smoky Mountains. The calming roar of a river or a waterfall. The glory of a sunrise or sunset. I appreciate it all a little more now.
  The title of today's post is a perfect example. I WAS HERE!
  I went on a small hike yesterday. My first hike of the new year. It wasn't an extremely strenuous one but it was invigorating.
  I drove to Bald River Falls and hiked the Bald River Gorge trail above the falls and down behind it. I have been there several times but yesterday was like I had never been there before. The water was raging. It was overcast, and even sprinkled some rain on me which felt good on a warm 65 degree January day, perfect for photographing moving water.
  I stopped about a 1/2 mile into the gorge at The Suislides. A multi-tiered waterfall that is just awesome. I have been to photograph this waterfall 2 or 3 times and always tried to get my usual composition slightly downstream with a smaller cascade up close and large in the frame with the bigger falls in the background. I have never been very happy with the results though.
  Yesterday, while I was walking around, I noticed this neatly shaped rock in font of and to the left of the main waterfall and really liked the way it almost took the same shape as the waterfall behind it. When I got close to it, I found that someone had carved into the rock "I Was Here". Not only did this make the foreground rock a little more interesting, it kind of put an exclamation point on my new attitude towards nature and life in general. And I got a shot from the Suislides that I really liked.
    I WAS HERE! I experienced this and it was awesome!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


ISO 400, f/20, 1.3 seconds, 19mm
  Spent a great morning in the Cherokee National Forest today. I stopped along River Rd a few times and shot some cascades that I haven't shot before and then hiked into the Bald River Gorge for some waterfall shots along the Bald River.
  The very first stop on my trek involved scaling down a rocky hill side to the banks of the Tellico River. There was a lot of water in the river and the flow was awesome. This new spot featured a small shelf cascade that zig-zagged across the river. I had never been here before and wondered to myself why I hadn't. Might have been because I didn't notice this spot due to smaller water levels. The important thing is that I stopped there today.
  When I processed this, I ran a set of brackets through Photomatix Essentials and noticed the dreaminess that the image took on with the HDR process. The only thing I did not want is to make it look overly fake. Lightroom accomplished this very well.
  More to come from my exploration this morning.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


ISO 320, f/20, 1/3 second, -1.3 EV, 24mm
  One thing that I love about living in East Tennessee is that no matter what time of year it is, I can always find a gorgeous landscape to point the camera at. Even in the heart of winter when the leaves have fallen the mountains, rivers, lakes, foothills provide numerous opportunities for photography all year round.
  Back in December, while playing with a Canon 5D Mark III, the sunset along the Tellico River in the Cherokee National Forest was amazing. I found myself standing on a bridge that crosses the river and it allowed me to pull a reflection off a still moving part of the river. The setting sun struck some nice orange/pink light on the clouds that were moving very fast overhead.
  This is actually an in-camera HDR from the 5D Mk III on the Natural setting. Love the details and color the HDR pulled from the scene.
  So if you live in East Tennessee, don't stay in the house in the winter time just because there aren't any leaves on the trees. The leafless trees have a new personality when they don't have leaves and the landscape here allows for some great photography all year long.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


ISO 100, f/20, 0.8 seconds, 19mm
  It's not often that there are boats moored to the dock at work when I get there in the morning. This morning there was and it made for a nice foreground against a gorgeous sunrise, the first of 2013 that I've gotten to shoot.
  When I arrived at work I had thoughts of taking shots of the sunrise but I had also thought the peak color had gone by because it usually does after I've taken my daughter to school and made the way to work.
  About 10 minutes after going in the building, however, there was a tremendous pink light that bathed the entire sky. I knew I had to backtrack and take some shots. It was 20 minutes to 8:00 and I had enough time before work to get a few frames in.
  Well I did catch some of that pink light, but not the intense light that I saw through the window at work. It was still a beautiful sunrise and this test boat tied to the floating dock at work provided me a wonderful break in the reflection. Beings that it was the heart of winter the water levels are down and I was able to walk out about 20 feet on to dry land that in the spring and summer will be under water. It helped get a unique angle at the dock that I haven't shot before.

Monday, January 7, 2013


ISO 100, f/20, 1/3, 19mm
  Something I learned while photographing in Cades Cove yesterday was that without their leaves, the trees there have kind of a personality.
  Alex Banakas and I had the intentions of catching some early morning fog on the trees and bushes there but Mother Nature did not cooperate. Instead of frost, we were treated to cloudy, gloomy skies and damp conditions. Not really prime photography weather. We made the best of what we were dealt though.
  I made this an opportunity to shoot more in black and white than color with the blown out sky and colorless landscape.
  Along Sparks Lane we really noticed this pair of trees and instead of photographing them from the usual angle on the road like I did in the fall with Sparks Lane Fog, we walked into the adjacent field. I really loved the angle from here. Standing slightly downhill from the trees, I was able to isolate the pair of trees above the foggy mountains in the background.
  In post-processing, I was able to pull the gray details out of the cloudy skies as well. Even got some unexpected color out of the green grass. This allowed me to keep it in color instead of the brooding black and white I expected.
  One thing that was really cool about being in Cades Cove for the first time in winter conditions was being able to see into fields and forests that are normally blocked by leaves and foliage. It will make coming back in the spring very exciting to explore from these angles with the leaves back on the trees.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


ISO 400, f/5, 1/40 second, 19mm
  One of the main things that I was intent on photographing yesterday when in Tremont of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was the heavy frost that has been settling on everything the last few days.
  After I shot the images for making yesterday's post I noticed this large log that was extending out over the river and that it was coated with that frost. I also noticed this really neat patterns on both the tree and the bark and especially at how the bark was scattered along the tree.
  The tree was oddly colored as well with a more tan and dark brown other than the usual gray I was noticing on everything else. So I maneuvered the tripod and camera right down close to the tree and opened up the aperture to get a shallow depth of field. This made for a sharp shot that captures the detail of the frost as well as the bark and trunk.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


ISO 400, f/20, 0.6 seconds, 19mm
  The last time I was in Tremont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I stopped at the very entrance to Tremont and tried to catch a shot of the Middle Prong of the Little River running up to and under the bridge on Little River Rd. I didn't have my waders with me and really couldn't get the angle I wanted due to not being able to wade out into the stream.
  Today was a different story.
  With my waders in tow, I stopped at the very same spot and waded out in the river and not only did I get the angle I wanted but the tree branches and logs that were laying in the water were covered with icicles and frost and made for a fantastic foreground. After I took my first set of shots I noticed the sun was striking the mountainside in the extreme background and was reflecting on the flat water just in front of the bridge as well. Bonus!
  I pieced together a 3 shot panorama with the branches and rocks in the lower right part of the frame and the cascades from them leading the eye through the shot to the bridge.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


ISO 100, f/16, 1/40 second, 19mm
  On my jaunt back from Englewood yesterday morning I noticed this abandoned house with some eerie looking trees surrounding along the side of the highway. I immediately thought of a black & white shot that accents the details in both the old house and the dark sky above it. The silhouettes of the barren trees add to the mood as well.