Saturday, July 30, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 400, f/16, 0.5sec.
  My mother came to visit us this week and one of her requests upon her visit was for me to take her to some of the waterfalls that I have been photographing.  Who am I to turn down my mother?
  We got up early Saturday morning and made our way down River Rd and visited Bald River Falls first and then Baby Falls before turning down N  River Rd and driving to the Rock Wall Waterfall. Mom fell in love with the Cherokee National Forest and it's wonderful waterways.
  While heading back to the car from Baby Falls, I happened to notice the cascade slightly upstream from the falls.  I may have seen it before but it hadn't registered until this morning when this large log from a fallen tree was wedged right in the center of the falls.
  This log was shiny from being wet from the rushing water and because of that the red and orange of the tree shown through where the bark was missing.
  I tried to position myself to use this log as a leading line from the lower left of the frame and lead the eye to the waterfall and the huge rock that divided the river.  The raging water flow followed right along side the log downstream working in tandem to provide visual flow for the image.  Those combined with the water flowing on the left side of the large rock forms an "S" curve that carries the eye all the way through the shot.
  The trees in the tall mountain tops in the background were being struck by the morning sun and casting a beautiful green reflection of those trees on the river just upstream behind the cascade.  The overhanging trees to the right of the image bounce a reflection off of the rushing water onto the rock on the far right hand side of the shot as well. These reflection make the photo for me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/250 sec.
  While catching some dewy rose bushes at the Tellico Plains KOA on Saturday, this little bumblebee decided to land and grab breakfast from the exact rose I was photographing.  He wasn't concerned with me at all.
  Normally, when you get closer and move yourself into better position, insects will nervously fly away thinking you are a danger to them. This one let me move all over and get better angles at him. I took several shots and this one was my favorite.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/640 sec.
  Saturday morning both a disappointment and a success.  The disappointment came early when I drove less than a mile down the Cherohala Skyway from our Kabins at the KOA in Tellico Plains, TN to photograph a beautiful rocky cascade only to find out that any path to it from the road or river was either snaky looking or covered in poisson ivy.  After my bout with poisson ivy earlier this year I will take no chances anymore.
  The success came when I returned to the Kampground (KOA starts cabin & campground with K to be cute I guess) and after coming out of the shower noticed a bush of pink roses absolutely covered in dew.  There were other flowers there too, just not as photogenic as this bush was. I ran back to the Kabin and grabbed my gear with trusty 50mm on the mount.
  Couldn't believe how much dew covered these flowers. It was awesome.
  A few minutes later a bumblebee set down on one of these flowers and added some extra photo opportunities that I will share in a later post.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 30mm, ISO 400, f/11, 0.5 sec
  As I was inching my way out of the jagged rock cascades at Wildcat Overlook, I happened to take a look upstream along the shoreline.  I noticed this neat curved branch with little or no leaves on it turning over and pointing down at the river.  That tree combined with the tree overhanging directly over me created a natural framing of the scened.
  Between me and the branch was a pool that created a separation of rock formations that was reflecting the lush green leaves from the trees on both banks of the river.   This reflection was beautiful so I placed a small cascade of water in my foreground and my frame was made.
  The bright green of the leaves and reflection contrast against the dark rocks perfectly.  As I have said many times, the rocks and their formations along the Tellico River are what I love about the place. All these waterfalls and cascades are formed by them and they give the waterways in the forest a personality. I love 'em.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 400, f/11, 0.5 sec., 3 Image Panorama
  My daughter keeps fueling my photography fire. Jocy begs every day to go swimming in the "creek" which actually is the Tellico River at the very beginning of the Cherohala Skyway. She doesn't have a problem at all with swimming a while and then driving somewhere to photograph some cascades.
  Last night, after swimming, we made the short drive from Tellico Beach to Wildcat Overlook.  Wildcat is one of many overlooks on the Skyway and the second of three overlooks, Tellico River & Oosterneck are the other two, that are passed before the right turn onto River Rd. 
  Overlook means there is a dedicated pull off and parking area to view the spot from the road.  There usually a board posted at each overlook that has some history or background behind each of the spots. Wildcat Overlook is the only of those 3 overlooks before River Rd that has photogenic cascades.
  After scaling the small path down to the water from the road, I thought that Jocy might walk in the water but not do too much in it because there are several jagged rocks and the depth is not like that of Bald River Falls where you can actually swim in. I was wrong, however, and she played in a small pool that resembled a natural jacuzzi located just below a beautiful cascade.
  Today's image is a 3 shot panorama showing some of those jagged rocks and the wonderful cascades pouring over them. I purposely positioned myself so that I could place this gorgeous spot of water to the left of the frame and pano to the right with the shape of the rock formation carrying the viewer's eye from the left and front to the back and right finishing with the cascade where Jocy's jacuzzi was formed.
  May have a couple more posts from here but not before the weekend where we are spending two nights in a cabin at the KOA just down the road. This is way too close to avoid getting shots this weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 1.6 sec.
  Every photographer runs into an image that he/she is extremely excited about and tries to take only to have something wrong with it when they go to processing it.
  Today's post is a result of this happening not just the one time, but twice before a third attempt resulted in what I was looking for.
  A few weeks ago, when Tim Owens and myself were at Bald River Falls, I set this shot up and was so excited about it that I couldn't wait to view it on the computer. When I got there, the lens had been covered in water droplets and the shot was ruined.
  The next week we were back there and I set up and shot it again. When I processed the image I wasn't happy with the way the foreground cascade came out. Strike two.
  Tonight, Jocy and I were back at the falls and I set it up again. Third time is a charm.
  I only think I've run into the same situation from another vantage point tonight that I was extremely excited about only to see a large water droplet on the lens in the shots. Oh well, on my next visit,....


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 32mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/25 sec.
  One of the great things about working for a boat manufacturing company is that we have direct access to Tellico Lake.  With our docks facing the east, the sunrise always comes up opposite us and over the Smoky Mountains visible in the distance across the lake. A lot of my sunrise photos have come when I arrived at work and fire off a few shots before going in. It is quite a nice perk.
  Last week, there was a great deal of hustle and bustle at our place due to our sales and marketing group conducting their photo shoot of the new 2012 models.  18 boats and 12 personal watercraft had to be photographed as well as accessories and apparel. They are usually gone on the water around 5:30am and are not done until the sun goes down at 9:00pm and constantly pulling boats in and out of the water. It is very hectic.
  Wednesday morning there was a fantastic sunrise happening as I was driving to work. When I arrived there was fog hovering above the lake and it blocked the sunrise that I was after. A friend of mine that was involved in the photo shoot stopped and talked with me and we agreed that I missed the best part of that sunrise.
  When we got done talking I had started to turn and head into work when I noticed that the fog rose just enough to defuse the bright sun but allow a very bright reflection of it on the water across the lake. So I set back up and caught a few shots. I positioned myself so that the dock became a leading line into the frame.  The boats docked ready for the day's shoot took on some of the wonderful light that was being diverted under the fog.
  I may have missed the colorful part of the sunrise, but did catch a very dramatic light show caused by the fog. Just one more wonderful sunrise shot from a wonderful vantage point as I arrive at work in the morning.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/16, 0.5 sec., 5 image panorama
  This is an image I took a couple of weeks ago along N River Road. Was actually driving with the intention of returning to Bald River Falls when I spotted this small waterfall.
  What really attracted me was the reflection of the forest I was getting in the large pool of water that emptied into the waterfall. It was beautiful.  As with the rest of the Cherokee National Forest, the enormous natural rock formations in the rivers are incredible.
  A couple of weeks later, Tim Owens, Jocy, and myself took several pics here and Tim actually slipped on the big rocks in the bottom of the shot and fell in the water. I just happened to latch onto one of his tripod legs before it and his camera took a dip. Tim was uninjured thank goodness, but was chest-deep in water after the fall. Thus giving us all a lesson that when exploring around these streams and waterfalls, be extra careful. The rocks are extremely slick even if they are dry.
Jocy on the Rocks - A couple of weeks later

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 400, f/11, 0.5 sec., 3 image panorama
  Last weekend's jaunt down N  River Rd was quite eventful in that we found several spots for future exploration in addition to the beautiful areas we did stop at. This road has cascade after cascade littering the river.
  Our first stop that morning was at this 3-tiered cascade that consisted of a wonderful fan-shaped fall at the top with a shelf right below and smaller cataracts just further down stream.
  It was just barely light enough to see where we were going. and I found this little area in the shelf where a fallen tree, a very curved tree, and a set of rocks created a natural frame for the right side of the falls.  Had a very difficult time controlling shutter speed here with a light rain falling and very little light to deal with. Ended up bumping the ISO up to 400 to get a 1/2 second shutter.
  Like the shots of Bald River Falls I posted earlier in the week, the green moss was unbelievably bright and stood out.
Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 400, f/11, 0.5 sec., 4 image panorama
  The above shot is the entire scene of this beautiful waterfall captured in a 4-shot panorama. This was a dangerous shot because the water flow was very fast and hard to move around to find an angle. I really liked this vantage point for the rush of water at the bottom left of the frame.
  Will definitely come back to this spot to get closer and capture some intimate shots, water flow allowing.

Friday, July 15, 2011


  Our vacation cruise to the Bahamas was about traveling together and enjoying being a family without the everyday trials of work, school, practice, etc.,. We had such a fantastic time. I thought I would share some of my favorite images of my family from our vacation. Some of you who are friends of mine on Facebook might have these in my album already.

My son, Casey, and daughter, Jocelyn with drink a non-alcoholic Strawberry Daiquiri in their souvenir monkey head glasses. They got a big kick out of drinking the non-alcoholic drinks all week. They sure did beat the heat.
This is my wonderful & beautiful wife, Melissa, relaxing in Charleston, SC right before we left to go get on the ship.
Jocy cooling off in the Carnival Fantasy pool. This is where she spent most of her time
This probably my favorite pic of Casey. We were docked in Nassau and waiting for Melissa to finish breakfast before we headed out on shore. He looked at me all serious like  but seemed very natural.
Jocy poses for me on the beach at Port Lucaya, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. These rocks made for a great photo spot.
Casey being Casey at Paradise Island Beach, Nassau.
Melissa enjoys the cool, clear surf at Paradise Island Beach.
We dressed for dinner on our last night on the ship and we took several photos out on deck. The port deck never looked as good as it did with Melissa's gorgeous smile on it.
Group shot. The quality of the image went down hill once I jumped in. Definitely look better behind the lens.:-)
Casey and Jocy pose for a shot on the big staircase in the center of the ship right before we went to dinner.
Jocy took control of the old Canon and caught a shot of Melissa and me on the rocky beach at Port Lucaya. I love this shot despite me being in it. My wife definitely overcompensated for me.
   I hope you enjoyed my vacation family shots. I sure enjoyed posting them. I love my family and sure hope we don't wait another 5 years before we can vacation again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/11, 1/6 sec.
    I don't know how many times I have taken shots of Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest but every time it is different. Whether it is the leaves on the trees, the color of the water, the amount of water flow, or like today, the bright green color of the moss on the rocks, it is a new image every time.
  The image in today's post is different for a combination of things. Not only is the water just milky white, and the moss covered rocks emerald green, I maneuvered myself to a spot that I have never photographed from before.
  Tim Owens and I met this evening out at Bald River Falls and while we were shooting the water level in the river allowed me to wade without issue to within about 20 feet of the falls. I found this beautiful set of rocks over to the right that I hadn't even noticed before due to staying back so far. The rocks created a great foreground for the falls and from here the angle made the falls look completely different. Like a different waterfall all together.
  I used 3 images and through Photoshop Elements Photomerge Panorama, blended them together.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 4 sec.
  Back to Morris Island in today's post. One of the very first images I snapped off that morning was one of my favorites.  A sliver crescent moon hung over the horizon just before the sun peaked over it.
  Some beautiful pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows spread across the horizon as well.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 0.8 sec., 4 image Panorama
  What a fantastic morning I had this today. My good friend and photog buddy, Tim Owens, my daughter Jocy, and I did some water exploration along N River on N River Road in the Cherokee National Forest.  Earlier in the week I read an old Outdoor Photographer blog from Ian Plant titled Be A Photography Rebel and in it, he explains to break rules and don't settle for the shot from the road like everyone else. I normally try to do this when I shoot but reading the article really enforced it when we set out this morning.
  So instead of my normal cargo shorts I donned my swim trunks and was determined to get wet to get my shots today.
  The last place we stopped was at Bald River Falls. Now I have taken several shots of this incredible waterfall but wanted to do something completely different. Unfortunately, beings that it was the last stop I had already changed into some clean clothes and dry shoes as they were starting to hurt my feet so I was not as tempted to get wet as I did at previous locations we visited this morning.
  Thank goodness Tim came along and reinforced the "rebel" attitude. He waded out into to river and was telling me how wonderful the spot was.  I couldn't help but drench another set of clothes and join him in the river. I am so glad I did. I ended up shooting this 4-shot panorama from an angle I had not shot from before and the moss on the rocks was an incredible shade of green.
  Getting wet also allowed me to get very close and photograph a tall, thin branch of the falls that I will post later.
  Thank goodness it was cloudy as well or the sun would have already drenched the falls and ruined the light here.  As it was, there was a neat little spot of sunlight striking the falls at it's base that I thought added a neat little touch.
  So being a bit of a photography rebel like Ian Plant suggests got me what I though is the best shot of Bald River Falls that I have taken. Also let me have a great time getting soaked with my daughter in the river and that is worth way more than any photograph to me.
Here is a shot of Tim at our first stop this morning setting up a shot in the river.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 1/4 sec, 5 image panorama
  Had the sunrise happened more in front of me, the clouds would have caused some awesome color. That didn't happen though so I had to find a way to get them both in the frame. No better way than to do a panorama. Really loving doing these with Photoshop Elements Photomerge Panorama. It does a great job.
  Caught a woman who was walking the beach taking a snap shot of the beautiful clouds against a wonderfully blue sky.
  Right after I shot this my daughter and I saw some bottle-nosed dolphin swimming around not 30 ft from the shore. Capped off a wonderful morning for us.
  Still more to come from Morris Island. Stay tuned.


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 1/4 sec.
  I was hoping that the sunrise on Morris Island Beach would be directly on the horizon in front of me. That way I could get some shots with the clouds, surf, and sun all in the same frame. Unfortunately, this did not happen. The spot on the beach on was on was a more southern facing beach and the sun rose over the land more than the ocean.
  All was not lost, however, There was some beach grass that was in the sand dunes just off the main beach begging to be photographed. How could I turn them down. I used them as a silhouette against the golden glow of the sun after it rose above the horizon.
  Did some cropping after editing the image to get rid of unwanted parts of the beach background. Other than that, not much done with this one.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 8 sec.
Hush now don't you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
You're lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over or has it just begun

There's a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run through in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn't realize and you were scared
It's a place where you will learn
To face your fears retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly you hear and see
This magic new dimension
I-will be watching over you
I-I'm gonna help you see it though
I-will protect you in the night
I-I'm smiling next to you in silent lucidity

If you open your mind for me
You won't rely on open eyes to see
The walls you build within come tumbling down
And a new world will begin
Living twice at once you learn
You're safe from pain in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey in your head
Master of Illusion can you realize
Your dream's alive you can be the guide but
(I) will be watching over you
(I) I'm gonna help you see it though
(I) will protect you in the night
(I) I'm smiling next to you

  One of my all time favorite songs is Silent Lucidity by Queensryche.  When I finished processing this shot that song was the first thing that came to my mind.
  As best as I can understand, the song is about dreams, nightmares, and escaping the nightmare of reality by taking command of your dreams. That is just my take on the song lyrics. I read in some other threads that it is about the fear of death and overcoming it. Who knows?
  The good part is, no matter what it means, it is an awesome song on one of the best albums I have ever heard: EMPIRE.  Can listen to that CD over and over and over again.
  Now to the photo. The night before we left on our cruise to the Bahamas, we stayed the night in Charleston, SC. Early in the morning, the day we set sail, Jocy and I woke up at 4:30am and drove north and east of Charleston to Morris Island. My intentions were to  photograph the odd shaped lighthouse there on the beach at sunrise. Even though I took some shots of the lighthouse, the the sunrise on the beach was what I photographed more.
  I struggled quite a bit with this image due to the lack of color in the sunrise. I was bound and determined to do something with this shot because of the way the water feathers across and almost mirrors the feathering of the clouds on the horizon.  It struck me to convert it to black and white and boy am I glad I did.
  The conversion gave the image an ethereal look like something in a dream. Hence the song title. The lack of color also drew attention to the mirrored elements of the clouds and surf.
  Will have several more shots from this excursion to Morris Island in future posts.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 23mm, ISO 100, f/20, 8 sec.
  Happy 4th of July everyone.
  Today we celebrate those who sacrificed everything for this great country's independence as well as those who continue to pay the price to keep us a free nation.
  Today's post is from last night's fireworks display at Vonore Baptist Church. You can actually see the back side of the Family Life Center of VBC over to the left of the frame.  VBC always put on a great fireworks show as well as inviting the entire community to a pot-luck dinner at Vonore Park across the lake from the church.  Fellowship is held, the word is spread, and music is played. It is a wonderful annual event.
  The family and I will be spending today at Dollywood Splash Country waterpark. May be crowded, but we are going to brave it.
  Have a great day everyone. Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Canon EOS REBEL XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 1/50 sec.
  The past week my family and I took a much needed 5-day vacation cruise from Charleston, SC to Freeport and Nassau Bahamas.
  The cruise was fantastic! 5 days on the open seas with daily stops on Wednesday and Thursday in Freeport and Nassau respectively.
  Nassau was by far the highlight of the two stops. We walked around in the market place just off of where we docked and then took a cab from there to Paradise Island and the beach. This is located by the famous Atlantis resort.
  The beach was tremendous. White sand. Beautiful blue-green water that is so clear you can see the sand underneath it. The water felt good too with the temperature being in the mid 90's and extremely humid. The sun beat down on us so bad that we could only take 2 hours of it.
  There were drawbacks to Paradise Island, though. The minute the cab let us out there locals everywhere bugging us to rent watercraft, banana boat rides, chairs, and umbrellas. It really deterred from the beauty of the place. As we paid attention to the urban landscape on the cab ride over and back, though, it was evident that there wasn't a lot of money to go around in this area and any way these people could get money, they were trying. Away from the resorts, the buildings were run down and dingy. There were a lot of empty buildings that were once homes to thriving businesses.
  We heard one individual talk about how the cruise lines have actually been a big reason for the demise.  Vacationers used to come and spend days in the islands and now only spend a few hours on their cruise stops. This reduces the amount of money spent in the local shops and restaurants. Hence the heavy badgering from the locals.
  It is unfortunate for the overall landscape of the area because the islands themselves sure are gorgeous. More images to come from vacation.