Sunday, September 30, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 4 seconds, 19mm
  It's amazing what a difference a week makes.
  Last week, Tim Owens, Alex Banakas, and I set up at Clingman's Dome to try and catch an epic sunrise that just never happened.
  This morning, Tim and I took a journey up to Newfound Gap with the hope of better cooperation from Mother Nature. Mother Nature did not disappoint us this time.
  We drove just past the Newfound Gap pull off to an unnamed parking are that gave us a tremendous view down the gap with layers of mountains in the background and beautiful fall color in the foreground. The clouds were exploding with pinks, yellows, reds, and oranges against a brilliant blue sky. It was awesome!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 2 seconds, 19mm
  On the way to Abram's Falls we stopped a couple of times to photograph some of the beautiful cascades along Abram's Creek.
  Today's post is the from the first stop we made on the trail. I noticed the reflection happening with the yellow & orange trees across the river. Peak fall color is about 2 weeks away but there is plenty of colors happening early in the Smokies. Especially in the higher elevations.
  I think I surprised John and Lynn by jumping into the stream to achieve the composition I wanted so very early on our hike. There was no way I could get what I wanted from this reflection from the bank though and I assured them that I do this all the time while hiking and so far have never dealt with blisters on my feet from hiking in them wet.

Friday, September 28, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 8 seconds, 19mm
  Took a day of vacation from work today to meet my friend John Deas and his wife Lynn and hike to Abraham's Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  The hike was amazing. 5 miles round trip up and down the mountain sides and along Abraham's Creek. As moderately difficult as the hike is there are tons of people who make the rocky trek to a gorgeous waterfall.
  About 1/2 way along the trail, we were just talking away while I was watching the ground to avoid rocks and roots in the trail. I happened to just pick up my head and about 25 feet in front of me was a Black Bear munching on something in one of the dead tree trunks in the brush. We all stopped and started backing up carefully and in a minute or two the bear just wondered away and we continued on.
  This was the first time I had ever come face-to-face with a Black Bear on foot. It was scary, exhilarating, and cool all at the same time. The bear acted like he didn't even notice us and didn't have a care as to what was going on.
  After we arrived at Abraham's Falls, I waded into the creek to catch a couple of compositions and then worked my way up close to the falls where John was.
  As I was leaving I noticed these yellow leaves swirling in an eddy between these rocks and knew I had to get that shot.  I took two exposures, one for the eddy swirl and another for the waterfall that was overexposed in the eddy swirl shot. I then combined them in Photoshop Elements. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/3 second, 19mm

 Sometimes you just get lucky.
  This morning, once again after I dropped off my daughter at school, I was nearly out of gas in my Jeep and was frantically trying to get somewhere that I could capture an epic sunrise that was happening right in front of me.
  I pulled into the Rocky Top station in Vonore and pumped a quick $30 of gas into my truck and then quickly drove down Highway 360 to a spot that I have taken shots from several times. When I arrived there, I noticed fall colors starting to push through on some of the trees across the lake from me. The fog was creeping along the water and the sky was split in two with some white, streaking clouds to the left and spotty, magenta & yellow hued clouds to the right. It was one of the most epic sunrises I have ever seen right before the sun rose up.
  I bracketed 5 shots in a 3 step panorama and then processed in Photomatix Essentials and then stitched together in Photoshop Elements. Some minor tweaking in Lightroom and viola!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/4 second, 35mm
  Tim Owens, Alex Banakas, and I made an early morning trek to Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this morning for sunrise. We made the trip with the hope that we would see some early morning fog or an epic color sunrise. Unfortunately, there was no fog on the mountains and virtually no clouds in the sky but that didn't stop us from capturing some beautiful color from the tallest peak in the Smokies.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/12 Second, 19mm
  Drove down Highway 129 (The Dragon as it is commonly known) towards Chilhowee Dam on Friday evening hoping to see some early signs of fall color.
  Even though there were scatterings of yellows and reds in places there just wasn't enough to make for a grand reflection in the river, which is what I was after. I did find this neat little maple tree that was turning red already. The leaves were being wonderfully back lit by the evening sun.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 60 seconds, 20mm
  On my way home from umpiring a middle school softball game this evening I couldn't help stopping by this church to take some blue hour shots. I have been wanting to photograph Friendship Baptist Church for a long time now but have never passed by it when the light was right.
  Tonight there weren't any clouds in the sky and that almost stopped me from pulling in. The light striking the church from a street light, however, quickly changed my mind.
  As I was shooting I noticed the moon hovering to the south and shining bright and had to take an angle with it in the shot. It barely fit into the frame and still allowed me to use the sunburst from the parking lot light right over the corner of the church as well. It wasn't until I started processing the image that I noticed the sunburst off of the moon as well.Bonus!
  I did get some traffic lights of the passing by cars in the shot which I would have liked not to have included but couldn't successfully crop them out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/5 second, 19mm
  Goldenrod runs rampant throughout Cades Cove. It looks more like a weed than a wildflower but is really quite beautiful when it grows in large masses like it does here.
  This shot was taken in between Sparks and Hyatt Lanes on the front part of the Scenic Loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The misty fog laying in front of the mountains just made us have to stop and shoot this vista. The Goldenrod made for a nice foreground.

Monday, September 17, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 2 Seconds, 19mm
  To me, there is no better place to capture the beauty of fall than The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Even though we are just starting to notice some color changes in the trees, the ground is loaded with it. Predominately yellows taking over the late blooming wildflowers with some purples mixed in accenting them throughout Cades Cove.
 It was an absolutely gorgeous scene yesterday even though there was very little sunlight at all.
  This particular photo caught my eye as we were driving along the Loop Road. I noticed what is a drainage ditch that was filled with these yellow weeds and a large amount of Black-Eyed Susans. The ditch curved along with the edge of the tree line and seemed to point right at this small tree that stood out away, almost defiantly, from the rest of the forest line.
  The only out of the ordinary processing I did on this was apply the Dreamland Effect from OnOne's Perfect Effects 3 Free to soften and darken the forest line and background behind the defiant tree.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/3 second, 19mm
  What a great morning of photography in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with my buddy Tim Owens today!  We were hoping that some of the ground fog that had been occurring in the mornings from cool overnight temperatures would be prevalent in the Cove and make for some dramatic images.
  Unfortunately, the fog was more like a thin haze that only hung around the base of the mountains and not in the extremely colorful fields in the Cove.
  We did, however, find the wildflowers in Cades Cove were quite abundant for early fall. These beautiful yellow wildflowers were blooming in very large groups (I will have a shot of these groups in a later post) and in some cases were growing extremely tall like these in my image. Combined with the yellow weeds that were everywhere in these fields made for a complete sea of yellow and green leading back to the misty mountains in the background.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


ISO 100, f/11, 1/4 second, 19mm
  One of the "rules" of photography is to never place your horizon in the center of the frame. Usually this rule is a good one to go by.
  When shooting a reflections of the sky as in today's post, it can be customary to break this rule and place the horizon in the center of the frame in order to capitalize on the full reflection of the amazing sky.
  This was taken Thursday right after some incredible light passed through. Unfortunately, the light didn't hang around for this shot, but the clouds in the sky were incredible.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


ISO 1600, f/20, 1/125 second, 19mm
Got to start off the day yesterday with a tremendous sunrise while arriving at work. I actually missed peak color, as usual, for driving my daughter to school but quickly set up and captured the sun peaking over the horizon on a wonderful morning. Was in such a hurry I didn't realize my ISO settings were on 1600. Oops.

Monday, September 10, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/40 second, 19mm
 I'll say it again, TWI being located on Tellico Lake provides me with some of the most incredible  sunrises anyone could ask for. I took this shot back in June with an incredible set of clouds hovering over the lake as I came in one morning.
  Normally, I don't like to shoot clear shots of the sun once it clears the horizon. It usually is way to bright and over powers the scene. For some reason, this morning in June did not work out that way and made a great sunburst opposing the dramatic clouds.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, 19mm
  My first trip to Look Rock on the Foothills Parkway was an uneventful sunrise. After the sun made it's way above the horizon, though, some neat cloud formations happened through Happy Valley. From this vantage point, which is at the actual Look Rock Overlook, it looked like the clouds were all moving in the direction of the moon that was hovering just above the horizon.
  The clouds also seemed to take the shape of the mountains that framed the foggy, low-lying areas of the valley.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/30 second, 19mm
  Sunday morning +Tim Owens and I did some photog'ing along the Foothills Parkway along side the Great Smoky Mountains. After shooting some great long exposures involving the moon and some fast moving clouds, we stopped at a couple of overlooks and this one was tremendous!
  We were treated to a light show with the rising sun and some cloud cover from the rain that passed by earlier that morning.
  This particular overlook provided us with a neat lone tree to use as foreground interest as well. They had just cleared out the heavy brush underneath so that there was a clear view. Man was it awesome!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


ISO 200, f/20, 30 Seconds, 19mm
  This morning my good friend Tim Owens and I went up to Look Rock on the Foothill Parkway to photograph the sunrise. The sunrise, unfortunately, was a dud from the observing platform. The full moon, however, was a huge hit.
  The moon, although it wasn't a completely full moon, was shining extremely bright down over the foothills of the Smokies and Maryville, TN. The clouds, right after a rain shower, were moving by at very fast speeds so we used the moon's bright light to turn the darkness into daylight by taking some long exposures.
  This vantage point is looking southwest. The lights you see are from Maryville, TN. The bright skies that are normally black night shine blue like the daylight from the effects of the moon and the long exposure.