Saturday, April 7, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/3 second, 3 exposure HDR @ -2
  I was so looking forward to this morning. My buddy, Tim Owens, and I made plans to hike the Porter's Creek Trail in Greenbrier of the Great Smoky Mountains. I met him at his house at 4:30am and we took off.
  The directions to Greenbrier state that you have to turn right into the park approximately 5 miles east of Gatlinburg, TN. Well, we missed the entrance. Not that we weren't looking, we just missed it.
  We ended up in Cosby, TN where highway 321 came to a stop and we either turned left into Cosby or right. Since we didn't know we missed the turn for Greenbrier we turned right. Unfortunately, this was WRONG!
  We did end up in the Smokies. It was just in North Carolina at Big Creek. That wasn't the bad part. 9 miles of the road was up and down a mountain with switchback turns all the way. For the first time since I was a kid, I got car sick. To make matters worse, once we found out we were in the wrong spot, we had to turn around and go right back up that 9 miles of curves and hills.
  We did however make it back to Cosby and asked directions at a gas station. They directed us right back to the entrance to Greenbrier and we finally made it to our destination. Unfortunately, it was at 8:00am instead of 6:30am which was our intended time to get there.
  The when we got on the Porter's Creek Trail, we discovered that the name Greenbrier is very appropriate. The trail was lined with ferns, moss-covered logs, and numerous wild flowers. Sometimes even wildflowers growing on top of moss-covered logs. The 2 mile hike was very similar to the Grotto Falls hike we managed the week before. It was a steady incline but provided for several flat areas to catch your breath. It also followed Porter's Creek the entire way and had we gotten there when we intended, would have provided us with several photo spots.
  Our hiking destination was Fern Branch Falls. This waterfall was very neat and rolled along the face of a 50-60 foot cliff. The bad part was that we really couldn't put together a good composition to our liking when we got there. We did take some shots, though but didn't stay long and then made our way back.
  The best part of the hike were the 3 bridges that we had to cross on our way. Two of those bridges were foot bridges that at one time were logs that the park put in place, braced up, and applied hand rails so hikers could get across. They even laid asphalt on top of them for easier walking.
  Today's image is of the last bridge on the way to Fern Branch Falls. On our way back, we stopped and easily climbed out rocks that gave us vantage points with the foot bridge in the background.
  I used auto-bracketing with the intention of using HDR in Photomatix Essentials, which I downloaded yesterday, to process them.
  I really liked the way the software handled these images and I tried to get as realistic a shot and still pull details out of the entire image as well and was very happy with the result. Especially the detail int he water.
  Well, the long morning continued with us having to make our way back home through the traffic headache that is Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. It took me 2 1/2 hours to get back home but I made it safely and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with my kids.

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