Sunday, May 19, 2013


ISO 100, f/16, 0.6seconds, 10mm
  Normally, when I'm out photographing waterfalls, the shining sun is detrimental to getting a good image of the water. This morning, however, I stumbled upon a scene where the sun made everything magical.
  The biggest part of my morning in Tremont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was spent trying to keep water from getting on my gear from falling rain and drips off of overhanging branches. I thought I was gonna get to photograph falls all day long from the cloudy skies.
  At about 10:00am though, the sun poked it's head out of the clouds and seemed to ruin my waterfall expectations. I gave up and got in the car and started my way out of Tremont. On my drive out I noticed a huge grouping of butterflies on the ground next to the road and I pulled over to try and capture a photograph.
  When I parked, I happen to notice some fantastic rays of light shining down through the canopy of trees on the Middle Prong of the Little River. With all of the rain that fell, when the sun started shining, it burned off the wet rocks, grass, and trees that were wet from rain. This burning off created a mist and when the sunlight strikes the mist, magic happens.
  I immediately forgot about the butterflies and scurried to find a composition to capture the sun's rays.
  The scene got better as I got closer to the water. Soon working where the rays formed a fan-like formation in the center of the river with the green, moss-covered rocks and trees with golden sunlight and shadows contrasting on them making a wonderful foreground around them.
  I did go back and shoot the butterflies, but they failed in comparison to seeing this light.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


ISO 100, f/16, 3.2 seconds, 10mm
  As usual, my plans for the evening changed dramatically. My intent was to drive into the Smokies after work and shoot some pictures. Everything went well til I stopped at Maryville's Wal-Mart to grab some new pants for the my son's graduation tomorrow night. I also grabbed some new hiking boots due to the fact that I forgot to put mine int the car this morning. They were starting to wear a bit anyway so I welcomed the opportunity to buy a new pair.
  When checking out of Wal-Mart, however, the lines were extremely long and it seemed like forever to get out. This set my mood back a bit.
  I then noticed a large grey cloud pushing it's way toward us and it looked like I would get wet. This was also a drawback considering I still had at least a half hour of driving in front of me depending on where in the mountains I wanted to go.
  I ended up losing my interest in going to the mountains. This was sad and very unusual. So I drove back towards home. I stopped at my new second home, River Rock Bar & Grill, to eat some dinner. As I was eating I noticed that grey cloud completely miss and then dissolve away from the area. So I missed out on some great skies over the mountains for some shots.
  The whole time I was at River Rock I was noticing how nice the light was and kicked myself several times for not tripping the shutter at something.
  At about 7:30 I started my way home. The skies were still gorgeous so I drove back roads hoping to catch some of this light on a couple of wheat carpeted fields I've noticed the past few days.
  Sure enough I found this wheat filed next to this barn that the roof had slightly fallen in. With the neat wheat as a foreground and the awesome sky as a background, I used the barn to connect them both and it all tied together.
  So I didn't waste my beautiful sunset after all.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


ISO 100, f/20, 0.6 seconds, -1EV, 10mm
  This morning was a morning for a couple of firsts.
  To start it off it was the first time I have ever driven into the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park past the Clingman's Dome split off on Hwy 441. Back in March, when I was going to start my trip to my buddy John Deas' house in South Carolina and then on to the Outer Banks, I was trying to figure out someplace to stop along the way to John's and shoot pics. John suggested that I go by Mingus Mill. Mingus Mill is right at the end of the National Park on 441 before entering Cherokee, NC. This sounded like a great idea except I found out that the highway was closed past Newfound Gap for a landslide. I instead drove through Gatlinburg, TN to the Roaring Fork and did some shooting in the rain.
  This morning I was going to get up at 3:00am and drive to Clingman's Dome and catch sunrise from there. I just couldn't force myself to get up that early though. After finally pulling myself out of bed at 4:50, I decided I would drive to Mingus Mill since the road was back open to through traffic.
  Turns out the North Carolina side of Highway 441 is absolutely gorgeous! Caught some great light at Oconaluftee Overlook, took some shots of some roadside waterfalls, and then arrived at Mingus Mill around 7:00am and after doing some photog'ing there, wish I had gotten out of bed earlier and gotten there in better light. What a great place.
  On my way back to good ole Tennessee I stopped at several small streams. At one, when I was leaving, I noticed my second first of the day. There were several Elk grazing in a field just off the road. It was the first time I had seen any of the Smoky's Elk and was very surprised by them. If the setting had been better, I would have taken some shots of them, but the field was boring so I just marveled at their size and beauty and went on my way.
  Had a great morning on the other side of the mountains and due to it being a lot closer than I thought will be back in the future to do some more exploring. Until then, I hope you enjoy my shot of Mingus Mill from this morning.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


ISO 400, f/16, 1 second, 10mm
  I always seem to find myself drifting back to the same places I have shot before. Take tonight for example. I finished umpiring my softball game in Tellico Plains early so I thought, I'm in Tellico already, let's go shoot some pics on the Tellico River. So I did.
  After stopping at a couple of lesser known waterfalls just past Baby Falls, I made my way to North River Rd. Once I am on N River Rd I always find myself at The Boils.
  Now I have photographed the Boils dozens of times, but tonight I had my new 10-24mm Tamron lens that I picked up from my buddy Curt Fleenor. I am so in love with this lens. The extreme wide angle creates so many new compositions. Not just that I can fit more in the frame, but anything up close in the foreground is slightly magnified and is really accented. This held true for the fresh-water grass at the bottom of the image in this post.
  The colors are rich and amazing with this lens as well. Can't wait to visit some more familiar spots with this lens.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


ISO 200, f/11, 1/2 second, 10mm
  One thing about taking photographs on the Roaring Fork Motor & Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can never run out of different things to take pictures of. There is an endless amount of cascading waterfalls and green, moss-covered rocks. Then if you get tired of those, which I never do, there are old home places, wildflowers, and lush green forests.
  And then, you can go to a place you've photographed before and try and find a new angle to shoot it from. The photo in this post is an example of that. In March, on my way to the Outer Banks to shoot pics with my brother Jim, Curt Fleenor, & John Deas, I stopped along the Motor Trail in the rain and snapped a shot of this waterfall from downstream. Yesterday, on a photo jaunt with Alex Banakas, I climbed up around and on top of the falls and was pleasantly surprised at the view and how great the water looked from beside it.
  Even with a 10mm wide angle lens I had to piece together a 3 shot panorama to fit the entire scene in.