Friday, August 31, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/4 second, 19mm
  I've taken numerous images of Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest. Today I had the day off and wandered into the Forest and found myself right back at Bald River Falls. The water levels were low, which is normal for this time of year, and the green moss on the rocks was showing through bright and beautiful.
  Then I ran into a challenge. I wanted to photograph the falls without getting one of the same shots that I have captured before. I could have framed a shot up very easily from a previous location or from up on the bridge that passes in front of the falls. I didn't want a shot that someone else has taken though.
  It is an enormous challenge to find something unique at Bald River Falls. Hundreds of people visit this waterfall in a day's time and take their normal photograph from any of a dozen easily accessible vantage points.
  I chose to wade out into shallow part of the river and find this composition.  The lower water levels allow for easier mobility in the river and also create new smaller cascades downstream that would normally be underneath the flowing water 75% of the year. This small cascade was flowing over this beautiful red rock and between two moss-covered rocks and it was new angle at the falls that I have not shot at lower water flow.
  I am glad that I challenged myself this afternoon and I am very happy with the new composition.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/5 Second, 19mm
  It's amazing what happens when you just change your point of view while shooting a subject. My last post was of the Huntingdon Beach Pier with the sun at my back and bathing the pier in golden sunlight.
  Today's post is of the same pier only I have walked to the opposite side of the pier and shooting slightly into the sun. The bright sunlight that was casting the golden glow on the pier is now shining as a back light or technically a side light. The pier is completely in shade on the side I am shooting from.
  So now I have posted 3 separate shots from Huntingdon Beach Pier and they each are different as far as light and color. It really pays off to explore each subject and shoot from as many angles as possible.

Monday, August 27, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, 19mm

  Huntingdon Beach Pier just before sunset last Tuesday. Even though it was cloudy (it was cloudy the entire week on the beaches last week) the sun broke through and provided some gorgeous light.
Huntingdon Beach, CA

Sunday, August 26, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 4 Seconds, 26mm
  Spent the last week in Cypress, CA doing some training for work. I always love going to the west coast. The beaches are very different from the ones on the east coast (not that I don't love the beaches on the east coast, I do). Rocky beaches, tall ocean cliffs, dark sand, there's just something different about the California Coast.
  When I found out I was traveling to the Los Angeles area I contacted one of my new friends on Google+ by the name of Mark Esguerra. He helps curate a weekly photography theme on Google+ called Thirsty Thursdays. Anything with water in the shot. My kinda theme.
  I asked Mark if he would be interested in getting together and shooting one evening while I was there. We met at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Palos Verdes, CA. Mark and another photographer friend, Rob Lopes, met me and my colleague, Devin Hensley, at the park with hopes that we were going to get some long exposures of the sunset with the rocky surf and possibly some tide pools.
  Abalone Cove did not disappoint us. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't cooperate. Instead of an epic sunset we were treated to complete grey cloud cover. Zero color. We waited patiently for some light but nothing ever happened.
  All was not lost, though. Even though we didn't get the epic sunset, the beach, rocks, and surf were there for us to photograph. I placed the variable Neutral Density Filter on the lens and combined with the overcast conditions, made for some great long exposure effects.
  After shooting the large rocks & surf, I found these two lonely guys off to the side. I positioned my tripod and camera low to get the rocks large in the foreground and took a few shots. What I found is that the effect of the water going back away from the shore was a more pleasing effect than when it came crashing onto it. With this particular shot, a 4 second exposure caught a little of both but the recession of the water back into the ocean was the dominate effect.
  The lighter color of the rocks against the dark brown sand contrast well against the white water surf and the sand formed two curves that conveniently led from each of the foreground corners to the rocks.
  Really appreciate Mark and Rob taking the time out to shoot with us. They were great fellas and a lot of fun to hang around. Maybe next time Mother Nature will cooperate.

Friday, August 24, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1.3 Seconds, 19mm
  Long exposures with water make for some very neat effects. In this photograph, the 1.3 second exposure makes the water look misty and foggy as it crashes over the rocks at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Palos Verdes, CA.
  It was completely cloud covered which cast a blue hue to the clouds with a long exposure.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, 19mm
  From underneath the Huntingdon Beach Pier in Huntingdon Beach, CA. Gotta love the tall legs under the pier at HB. The sun was setting to the right of the shot and cast a wonderful yellow glow to the pier.
  A 1 second exposure allowed for some blurring of the water and a nice reflection of the pier in the sand.

Monday, August 20, 2012


ISO 400, f/14, 1/5 Second, 19mm
  This is courtesy of mine and Tim Owen's  jaunt along the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River along Newfound Gap Rd a few weeks ago. Lots of climbing involved in reaching this point. So much so that we didn't even bother working our way back. We just climbed up the wall to the left up to the road and then back to the Chimney Tops parking area.
  I processed this shot while waiting in McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, TN for 6:45 due to plain delays out of Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/10 Second, 19mm
  I know what you are saying, "More Hey Rolls?". I know, I can't resist these things. This field is located on Hwy 72 east just outside of Vonore, TN. After shooting in the rain on Monday I had to take some pictures with the beautiful white clouds and blue sky we were treated with on Tuesday evening.
  The excess hey that was left over and laying on the ground as well as the grooves left by the tractor and bailing machine wraps itself around the shape of the field and fence row to the right. All of these shapes work their way right back to this particular roll in the foreground. Would have loved to got a low, in-your-face composition of this guy but I wouldn't have been standing below it and the rest of the rolls and hillside would not have been visible.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/30 Second, 300mm
  I surprised myself tremendously yesterday.
  My buddy Tim Owens and I were out taking photographs by the Chilhowee Dam along the Little Tennessee River. It was raining so we had put our clear plastic camera covers on our cameras to keep them from getting water damage.
  The fog that was crawling along the river was incredible. Unfortunately, we were running short of good compositions. The entire time we were shooting, there was a lone fisherman kayaking on the other side of the river from us right through the fog. I took the opportunity to put my new 70-300mm IS USM Canon telephoto lens on the camera and try to catch some shots of this fisherman.
  My good friend, Ron Williams, surprisingly gave me this sweet Canon lens after his wife bought him an L Series 100-400mm IS lens. It was way too kind of him. This was the first time I have actually put it to good use.
  With the plastic rain cover on, it was terribly hard to see through the view finder. I was hand-holding the camera with it raining. I had to bump the ISO up to 1600 with the dim light and the long lens. I fired off several shots and even though I mustered only a 1/30 second shutter speed, the shots were halfway decent.
  I processed this shot in Adobe Lightroom and was really happy at the noise reduction I was able to do to reduce the high ISO noise. I did some creative cropping to remove unwanted items and then exported to Photoshop Elements where I did some adjustment layers and then applied the Dreamland Effect from OnOne's Perfect Effects 3 Free to darken the background and the foreground.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/10 Second, 19mm
  Went back into the archives for today's shot. This is the upper falls of Triple Falls in the Dupont State Forest near Hendersonville, NC from back in May while on Richard Bernabe's NC Waterfalls Workshop.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


ISO 400, f/16, 1/5 Second, 35mm
  Right under the first foot bridge along the Chimney Tops Trail, the West Prong Little Pigeon River is split in two by large rocks. The river then joins back together and makes a small pool before cascading back down over the rocky river bed.
  The image above is the small pool and it's surroundings before it goes downstream. I was terribly drawn to the faucet-like waterfall in the background.  When I moved over the rocks to position myself to try and capture it, I found this red/orange rock that the water was flowing over and had to include it into the shot as well.
  Instead of my normal low, wide angle perspective I found that the scene was much better photographed up tight, cropping out smaller more distracting cascades in the foreground. Especially when there was no way I could get any closer to the rocks in the foreground because of much deeper water. When I processed the image I was blown away by the simple composition of the two background falls filling the pool and the single fall in the foreground pouring over my red/orange rock. It looks like an oasis.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.6 Seconds, 19mm
  Our main objective on Saturday morning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was to hike/climb downstream on the West Prong Little Pigeon River. Mission accomplished!
  When we arrived at the Chimney Tops Trail Head, we had thoughts of just going ahead and hiking to the Chimneys. When the sun started peaking through the clouds we changed our minds and stuck with the original plan because we didn't want harsh light shining on the river when we tried to shoot the many cascades along the river.
  This was one of the toughest photoging experiences that we've done. We were climbing down, over, and around huge rocks, wading through thigh-high spots in the river, and fighting off Rhododendron as well as using them to hang on to when sliding down some of these large rocks. Whew!
  We ended up maneuvering our way about 1/4 mile down the river only to find ourselves about 20 feet below Newfound Gap Rd when we finished. Instead of climbing back, we just pulled ourselves up the hillside up to the road and then walked back to the parking area.
  This shot is one of my favorites from the day. If you look in the background, you can see just how far we are down the river because the foot bridge that crosses the river is no longer in view. This is roughly 2/3 of the distance we covered. You also get an idea of the size of the rocks we climbed over on our hike.
  I always love it when I can put a smaller waterfall in the foreground and lead around to a the larger waterfall in the mid or background.

Monday, August 6, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 1/85 Second, 19mm
  On the ascent to the peak at Clingman's Dome, we noticed several types of blooming flowers including the bright red Bee Balm in the foreground of the above image.
  At the other end of the spectrum, we also noticed the adverse effects of Mother Nature as in the dying Hemlock Trees in the back ground.
  Over the past 3 years I have spent a great deal of time in the Smokies and the Cherokee National Forest and have grown very attached to the forests.  I have learned a lot about some of the native plants, flowers, and trees and really find myself paying attention to how I treat them and behave myself around them so I don't damage or threaten them.
  I have never claimed to be a conservationist but when I read what was happening to the Eastern Hemlock trees in the Great Smoky Mountains, because of my love for the forests, it struck a chord with me.
  I was trying to find a new hiking trail in the Smokies and found several cases where you hike through an old growth "Hemlock Forest". I had no idea what a hemlock was so I started searching to find out about them. What I found out was that these potential giants (Eastern Hemlocks can grow up to 150 feet tall and are considered the Redwoods of the Smokies) are being attacked by an insect that is not native to the Smokies but is wiping out thousands of them. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is the insect that is the guilty party. It attaches itself to the needles of the tree and feeds on the sap of the tree and steals the nutrients the tree needs to survive. The needles fall off eventually killing the trees because the needles feed the rest of the tree.
  Fortunately, the National Park is battling against this little aphid like insect by spraying insecticides and by introducing Predatory Beetles that feed exclusively on the Woolly Adelgid into the park. Both methods are showing initially positive results and hopefully will cure the problem but it will take some time to tell.


ISO 100, f/16, 1/5 Second, 24mm
  After taking in the sunrise at Carlos Campbell Overlook, Tim and I motored on towards the Chimney Tops Trail Head.
  En route to the trail head we are granted a majestic view of the twin peaks of the Chimney Tops and the way the clouds were passing over, we had to pull off and photograph it.
  If you were to hike to the Chimneys, you would gain roughly 2000 ft of elevation over a 2 mile hike. Although I have not taken the hike, I have heard that to summit the Chimneys, it is almost like rock climbing. It is very steep and rocky and you will be using hands and feet to do the final ascent. Looking forward to taking that on.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 2 Seconds, 19mm, 5 Shot Panorama
  The first stop yesterday morning for Tim Owens and myself along the Newfound Gap Rd in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was Carlos Campbell Overlook for the sunrise. Carlos Campbell was a big supporter of the establishing the National Park and wrote the book "Birth of A National Park".
  From the parking area at the overlook you can hear the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River raging beneath you and see the third tallest mountain in the park, Mt. LeConte (center mountain top on the right).
  What an inspiring view to see the sun come up. Although we weren't treated to epic light for sunrise, it was still fantastic. The clouds seemed to form and gather right around the mountains. Crisp blue skies with these white clouds pasted against them made for a simple, but beautiful morning.
  Next stop along the Newfound Gap Rd, a grand view of the Chimney Tops!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


ISO 100, f/8, 1/50 Second, 35mm
  I can honestly now say that I have been to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains! My buddy Tim Owens and I hiked up to Clingman's Dome this morning. All 6643 feet of it.
  Unfortunately, when we got to the observatory tower at the top of the 1 mile hike, all we found was cloud cover. It seemed like fog but at that altitude, the clouds covered all views from the top.
  As my good friend John Deas says, if God deals you lemons, you make lemonade. Tim and I tried to capture some moody pics of some of the neat pines, hemlock, and other trees along the trail. It was actually quite fun trying something different like that.
  This particular shot was of this neat little guy who decided to stick himself out away from the crowd along this hillside. The fog created some moody background behind my little tree and made for some nice mood.
  Something that Tim and I learned after we came down from Clingman's Dome was that the temperature difference from there to Townsend, TN was 25 degrees. It was 69 degrees on the mountain and 94 in Townsend. Wow, what a difference.

Friday, August 3, 2012


ISO 100, f/2.2, 1/50, 85mm
  We were greeted the other day with a beautiful little bloomer of a Water Lilly in my wife's pond in here flower garden. Actually, there are 3 of the Lillies that are blooming and they are gorgeous.
  This evening I had some great light with an incoming storm and grabbed the 85mm and set up the tripod to try and capture a reflection of the lone Lilly that was blooming at that time. I struggled with angles that I both liked and had a reflection. The shot above was the only angle that I liked and it just provided a touch of a reflection. I stopped the shot up to catch a shallow depth of field.
  Mostly post-processed in Adobe Lightroom 4 with a partial dreamland effect from Perfect Effects 3 Free to enhance color.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


ISO 100, f/8, 1/50, 19mm
  Tim Owens and I found a tractor graveyard between Madisonville and Englewood, TN on Tuesday. This little guy was the first old guy I photographed that afternoon.
  Like most of the tractors here, he didn't have any front wheels or tires and was propped up by his frame. His grill was very cool with the coils vertical like a smile. With the two head lights perched right above the smile and the Bull hood ornament looking like a nose in the center, all I had to do was say "smile".