Thursday, May 31, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 0.6 seconds, 19mm
 Last September, Tim Owens and I found a goldmine of a shooting spot in Tremont of the Great Smoky Mountains. In November I found out that a photo by professional photographer Ian Plant, Vernal Impulse, inspired me to approach photographing waterfalls and streams from different angles than the norm. On that September day, in Tremont, I took a shot that I was terribly excited about and found out it was only about 4 ft from where Ian Plant took his in Vernal Impulse. Here is mine from September.
  On Monday morning, Tim and I once again were milling around in Tremont and we stopped at the same spot again. I did find some new compositions to shoot from, but I also went back to the same spot I had photographed in September and tried to get a similar angle. With it being Spring, there was a lot more water in the river and could not get the same angle as before. I actually got more of the angle that Ian Plaint did in Vernal Impulse. Not exactly the same, but close.
  I will probably take more shots from this very rock in the future, especially at different times of the year. Also because it is kind of trophy to me as an inspiration for my photography.


ISO 100, f/20, 30 seconds, 24mm
  Something I haven't done in a long while is take some long exposure photographs. This afternoon, on my way home form work, I passed by this awesome windmill that is only about a 1/4 mile from my house. I placed my ND fader filter on the lens and started shooting.
  The fader filter at full strength did a fairly good job of even blocking some of the bright sunlight at 5:15. I got a 30 second exposure before the clouds started thinning out and the sun was too bright to get any longer shots.
  Entertained the idea of processing this as a black and white but when I saw the green leaves being struck by the light and glowing a bit I knew that leaving it in color was the way to go.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


  I want to apologize to the family I woke up while acquiring this photograph. An early morning last week I drove into Toqua Campground in Vonore to catch this angle at the sunrise. It looked like this family was not only camping, but actually moved in.
  They had shelving covered with tarps and were spread out pretty well on the shore. When I drove up, their dogs barked at me and woke them up. I felt bad about that, but it didn't curtail me from setting up and taking this shot. After all, it is a public campground.

Monday, May 28, 2012


ISO 800, f/14, 0,8 seconds, 19mm, 3 Image HDR @ -2 EV
  My buddy, Tim Owens, and I took a return visit to the Middle Prong Trail in Tremont of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this morning. We hiked this trail previously in the fall at the height of fall color. It is a fantastic trail. Easy to walk, lots of water and beautiful waterfalls.
  The one place along the trail that we were late getting to in the fall was Lynn Camp Falls. The sun had already came up and was shining down extremely hard on the waterfall so we really couldn't get any quality images from there.
  On this morning's hike we bypassed all of the other stops so that we could get to Lynn Camp Falls before the sun got up. We spent the better part of 2 hours climbing around this waterfall that is broken into 2, 2 tier waterfalls. Most of the time it was so dark we were shooting at high ISO's so that we could a decent exposure without blowing out the water highlights.
  Today's image was the last one that I took before leaving and starting back down the trail. The sun was poking through the trees and begging for a neat sunburst in the background. I bracketed a group of shots so that I made sure and got the waterfall, forest, and sunburst all exposed in the shot.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 9 seconds, 19mm
  I love shooting fireworks. It is relatively easy. Point the camera in the right direction, have the manual focus at infinity, click and hold the remote shutter release, and viola! Not even a great deal of post processing. Mostly cropping out what you don't want.
  Another reason is that each explosion is different and unique. I try not to crowd the shot with too many different fireworks and leave the shutter open long enough to try and get anywhere from the simplest single explosion to a big grouping depending on the layout of the fireworks. There are no real rules here. It's just what you like.
  This particular shot is one of the last I took last night at the Spring Festival Fireworks in Big Sandy, TN. For a little town, they really put on a great display with some of the largest and loudest BANGS you will hear or see.
  I often wish I could get a neat composition with part of the town in the shot, and someday I might, but the main reason these fireworks are so enjoyable is that the whole family loves them and it becomes an outing. Granted, I still take pictures, but I am sitting with my family and just take what I am given in order to enjoy the time with them. Last night we were joined by a couple of friends that we used to hang around with when we lived in Big Sandy and that made it even more fun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/3 second, 24mm
  Above is a shot of Hooker Falls in the Dupont State Forest near Hendersonville, NC. From the front point of view there is not a great deal of interest to photograph. I took a few from here and decided to crop it as a panorama. I then applied the Blue Dawn effect from Perfect Effects 3 Free software from OnOne.
  I really like the effect and what it did to enhance the waterfall.

Monday, May 21, 2012


ISO 200, f/5, 1/200 second, 50mm
  Got to playing around with some remote strobes yesterday to kill some time and experiment.
  This is my wife's Yamaha acoustic guitar that I purchased for her 12 years ago. Most of the time it hangs on the wall. My wife tells me that over the 12 tears that she has owned it that it has never fallen out of tune. That is amazing to me. Granted I work for Yamaha (sport boats) and they pay the bills, so I should be a bit bias. But, to know that every time she pulls this off the wall she can just start playing shows the expert craftsmanship that Yamaha puts into their musical instruments. They are truly top notch.
  I placed a black fitted sheet on a spare bed and laid the guitar on the sheet with a chair holding the sheet up in the background to keep it dark and black.  I placed my flash with a remote receiver mounted on a stand directly over and turned it straight up to reflect off of the ceiling and spread out the light. A single chrome knob caught the light just right and reflected brightly. I thought this provided a neat touch (that's just my opinion).
  Can't wait to play a little more with the remote strobe lighting. This is a lot of fun.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


ISO 100, f/2.0, 1/400 second, 85mm
  I love playing around with new techniques and tools in photography. About a month ago I downloaded OnOne Software's Perfect Effects 3 Free software. Since then I have really gotten attached to the border, "Thin Mint" from this collection. I haven't really used the true effects though.
  My wife's flower garden is starting to wither with the warmer temperatures of May with the exception of her Lillies.  She has a set of Yellow Lillies, 3 sets of Day Lillies, and this set of Orange Lillies that are just exploding.
  I wanted to catch these Orange Lillies right after the rain the other day but my timing never worked out.  This evening, as the sun crept near the horizon, I decided to photograph them with the 85 mm lens and experiment with some large apertures  to try and achieve a macro effect.
  One of the first shots I took is in today's post.  The sunlight was just getting a touch on the upper petals of the Lilly and made for a neat effect when I applied some heavy contrasting to the shot.
  I then used Perfect Effects 3 Free to apply the Dreamland  effect which softened up the image a great deal just like a dream (hence the name). I really liked the way it gave the shot a sleepy effect.

Friday, May 18, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.5 seconds, 19mm, 3 Image HDR @ -2EV
   One of the best things about spring is the end of the school year.  When the school year ends I don't have to drive kids to school so I can spend the morning shooting sun rises.
  Yesterday I got a late start and almost missed the early morning fog that clung to the ground. I lucked out and found this awesome barn (I'm on a barn kick right now) with the fog in the background. The sun had just peaked over the trees on the horizon and made for a great sunburst.
  Bracketed 3 shots and processed in Photomatix Essentials. Cleaned up and refined in Photoshop Elements.
  Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, 26mm, 3 Image HDR @ -2 EV
  While traveling back home from a high school softball game I had the opportunity to photograph a spot that I have driven by several times but just haven't had the chance to shoot.  This red barn just screams "Take my picture".
  I had a wonderful sky behind it and the pond in front to mirror the whole scene.

Monday, May 14, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.5 seconds, 19mm
  This is Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Brevard, NC. This is a fantastic waterfall that is only .2 miles from the parking lot in front of Graveyard Fields. The pathway is canopied by a Rhododendron Forest that is just utterly beautiful. Lined with pink blooming Rhododendron and patches of Trillium. It was fantastic!
  Then you arrive at Lower Falls and you see a miraculous waterfall surrounded by all of these gold color rocks. As I was descending down the trail to the falls I saw this small cascade that I knew had to be a foreground in one of my images. It ended up being one of my favorites of the day.
  While processing this and noticing the gold rocks all that came to mind was the movie "The Outsiders" from the 80's. A couple of boys kill another boy in self defense and run away from town to keep from being arrested. They change their hair color to keep from being recognized and the character named "Pony Boy", played by C. Thomas Howell, changed his hair to blond. This was quite different from the "greaser" boys he hung out with. As his best friend lay on his death bead, he told Pony Boy to "Stay Gold" and keep his blond hair. Hence the title of today's post.
  We could have spent all day at this one spot, but the workshop had to move on to another spot. Hopefully, in the future, we get to return here and get to photograph it again.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


  One of the most breathtaking waterfalls I have ever seen is Cullasaja Falls near Highlands, NC. It is a 200ft waterfall that if you aren't looking for it, will miss it along US Highway 64.
   Tim Owens and I scaled the side of a rocky mountainside to get this vantage point on Friday. This goes back to the nature photographer's philosophy that if you think you are close enough, you aren't thing. Most people would have just taken the shot they could from the road.
   If you look on the left you will see a huge cliff. At the top of that cliff is the road so you can see how you might miss this glorious landmark.
   The sun was uncooperative on Friday and caused me to work an HDR to try and keep some of the blown out highlights from the bright sun striking the white water.


  Yesterday, May 12th, I attended Richard Bernabe's NC Waterfalls Workshop. Richard Bernabe is an award winning professional nature photographer. He is one of my very favorite and between his and Ian Plant's blogs and ebooks I have learned most of what I know about nature photography. Richard's web site is HERE and I highly recommend paying it a visit.
  The workshop started out from Hendersonville, NC and during the 10 hours we were out we visited and photographed 5 separate waterfalls. When we would arrive at each spot, Richard would give everyone tips as to the best composition and exposure for the scene. He also taught us about our camera's Histogram and how to properly use it. What a difference it makes knowing how to get proper exposure.
  The second stop on our waterfall tour was in the Dupont State Forest at Triple Falls. This is an incredible 3 layered waterfall banking down over huge, granite rocks. We were allowed to photograph on the middle and top layers of the falls but could not go down to the bottom due to the dangerous climb down the rocks. Even the top two tiers were slippery and one of the workshop attendees fell just walking on the wet rocks.
  This photo is of the second tier falls. It was the only waterfall that we visited that I didn't get the composition that Richard suggested. This wasn't on purpose. I was just attracted to this large Eddy next to the fall.
  Richard did give me some advice on this one though. When I told him that in order to achieve the eddy I had to use a shutter speed that over exposed the waterfall, he suggested exposing one shot for the eddy and another for the waterfall and blending the two together. Normally, I would have tried to work on the photo with the eddy and try and edit the exposure of the rest of the image. This worked out perfectly. I actually blended 3 images, 1 for the waterfall, 1 for the eddy, and 1 more for the foliage in the background.
  Had a great time yesterday and learned a ton. Definitely more to come from North Carolina's Waterfalls.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/30 second, 22mm,
  As I was dropping off my daughter this morning I looked right next to the school parking lot and found this scene. The cool overnight temperatures created some morning fog effects from heavy dew. Fog also developed from the lake which you can see creeping above the trees in the background of today's image.
  This is the first time that I have noticed hey rolls in this field. They were lined up perfectly in rows and when I positioned myself in front of this one they angled perfectly from left to right. The rows the tractor left from bailing the field lead from back to front as well.
  The sun peaking over the top of the trees on the left side of the frame just added the finishing touch. The rays were catching the morning fog and added followed the entire left side and back of the frame.
  Bracketed a few frames and was extremely happy with result when run through Photomatix Essentials and then post processed in Photoshop Elements.


ISO 100, f/16, 1/10 second, 22 mm
  Was on my way home from umpiring a high school softball game when I saw this barn with some gorgeous clouds  surrounding it. The sun was getting low so the light was gold and bright.
  When I got up to the fence that surrounded the yard I was greeted by a couple of inquisitive mules who weren't very cooperative about standing still. This was the only frame out of the bunch I took that they were still for. They actually walked right up to me at the fence.
  Nothing special about the processing here just some minor adjustments in Photoshop Elements.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


ISO 400, f/16, 0.6 seconds, 24mm, 3 image HDR @ -2 EV
  With my wife working and both of my kids staying the night with friends, this morning provided the opportunity to wake up and catch the sunrise. I had a couple of places in mind that were very close to the house.
  I originally started right outside of our subdivision where several hey rolls were freshly rolled up yesterday. Unfortunately, the clouds and light didn't arrange themselves so that I could get a really good composition to show them off.
  I drove about 1/2 a mile towards Sweetwater and saw the spot in the image posted here.
  Low lying fog still clung just above the ground and the clouds curved themselves to the same shape as the valley these hey rolls laid in. The barn over to the left sat perfectly on the side hill to balance against the hey and also was surrounded by the fog.
  Never got the epic light that I was expecting due to the rain clouds that started creeping in as the sun rose. Even without the epic light it was a gorgeous scene.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


24mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/5 second, 3 image HDR @ -2 EV
  I thought that I was going to miss the incredible cloud action going on as the sun came up this morning. I was driving my daughter to school and it was all just unfolding in front of me. At 7:15am I dropped her off and immediately drove to a place I had never taken photos before, the Vonore Boat Dock.
  My thoughts were to use the floating dock that dissects the boat ramp as a leading element to a reflection on the open lake in front of me. When I got there, I noticed the dock was surrounded on both sides by awesome rock formations. These immediately took priority over the dock. As a matter of fact I never got the dock in a shot.
  A lone fisherman was trolling the shallow areas of the lake and I was initially disappointed he was there. As I framed up my first shot, though, I really liked him in the middle area of the frame. It gave it a definite Vonore flavor to have him there.
  Simple 3 image HDR processing in Photomatix Essentials with a border applied in Perfect Effects 3 Free.