GSMNP

Water...Of Course!

With all the storm damage in Cades Cove, especially to the trees along Sparks Lane, I was searching out other interesting compositions along Sparks.  

Initially, we had gone down the road a bit and photographed directly down the road in the fog, which was a great scene, but I was still looking for something else.  Then I turned around.  The water from the creek was flowing across the road at a pretty good rate.  Then the sun was trying to break through the fog a bit, too.  I knew I wanted to use the water as a strong point in my composition, so I got down at a low angle and included as much of it as I could.  I adjusted my circular polarizer to knock off the glare from the water, then I set my aperture to F/16 so I could get a long shutter speed to blur the water.  The sun lighting up the right side of the frame a bit was just a bonus.

Aperture-priority, 1.3 sec, f/16, ISO 100, 24 mm

Everything came together for this scene....the fog, the water, the light.  It was a great morning.

Image created with my Canon 5D Mk IV and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  All supported by my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20x Ballhead.

Spruce Flat Falls

Here's an image of Spruce Flat Falls located in the Tremont area of GSMNP.  This is a really nice waterfall with the upper section being about 30 feet tall.  It is about a mile hike to get to, however.  The trail for this fall begins at the Tremont Institute.  

I took this image using my Tamron 15-30mm lens and just got as close to the water as I could.  You can't shoot these waterfall scenes without a circular polarizer.  I used a special filter mounting system designed for the Tamron 15-30 by Vu Filters.  It allows me to have a polarizer on that lens.  I can also add additional filters if needed, like a neutral density or graduated filter.

Sony A7R II, Metabones Adapter, Tamron 15-30, VU Filters Polarizer, Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead.

Aperture Priority, F/16, ISO 100, 2 seconds, 16mm

 

Smoky Mountain Black Bears

One of the most popular areas in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cades Cove.  In the spring the black bears are easily found there.  One afternoon while in Cades Cove we ran across this mother and cub.  They were in the wooded area for a long time then came out into this field and eventually worked their way over to more woods on the other side of the field.  They were very fun to watch and photograph from a safe distance. They seemed to like performing for all the photographers that were watching. 

You can see here they have just came into the field.  The bear cub could care less about anything except eating and playing.  In fact, when they were crossing the field the cub got a little behind mom, then quickly ran to catch up doing a double front flip to stop.  

This image was made using my Sony a6300, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter and Tmaron 150-600mm Lens.  Everything was resting atop my Sirui tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head, which made it very easy to follow these guys with my camera and long lens. 

Aperture Priority, F/6.3, ISO 6400, 1/1250th second, 280mm

Showy Orchis

While in The Great Smoky Mountains last month, we were on the lookout for various wildflowers in the area.  One of my favorites is The Showy Orchis.  According to the US Forrest Service website, the showy orchis only gets between 4-8 inches tall.  The showy orchis also has to maintain a relationship with a certain type of fungi in order to grow.  They also prefer moist soil, like somewhere near streams...The Great Smoky Mountains is a prime spot for them.

Here's an image a I made using my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 90mm Macro Lens.  I shot this in Aperture Priority at F/4.  I wanted a very shallow depth of field so the background would fall off quickly.  Macro photography is much easier with a tripod.  I used my Sirui W-2204 and K-20 Ballhead for this image.

Here's all the EXIF info:  Aperture Priority, F/4, ISO 100, 1/50th second, 90mm, Exposure Compensation 0. 

You Shot That With A What?

One of the days we were in the smokies my teaching partner, David Akoubian, was going to be using his NIkon system for the day, so I decided to borrow his Canon 5D III for the day.

That's right using a Canon.  If you have followed me for any amount of time you know I used to shoot Canon before I switched to the Sony MIrrorless system.  So, I'm no stranger to the system.  I decided to give it a whirl on some of the macro images of the pink lady slippers.

The conditions were great for shooting macro shots of these flowers on this day.  It had rained the evening before and everything was still wet causing the colors to look more saturated.  It was also still very overcast, so there was no harsh light falling on any areas, which made for great light.

This is another one of those macro instances where I wanted to totally isolate the subject from the background so I shot wide open at F/2.8.

I shot this using the Canon 5D Mk III and Tamron 90mm Maccro Lens.  I always use a tripod when shooting macro and this time was no exception.  I had my Sirui W-2004 and G-20 Ballhead combo and it worked great, like always.

Aperture Priority Mode, F/2.8, ISO 100, 1/50th second, 0 Exposure Compensation

Smoky Mountain Sun Rays

While in the Smoky Mountains for our workshop we decided to go up to Clingman's Dome for sunset.  The idea was that the full moon was rising 15 minutes before sunset, so we were going to photograph both the moon rising and quickly adjust for sunset.  The weather had a different idea.  We stuck with our plans, though and waited it out at Clingman's Dome.  It's a good thing we did, too.  About thirty minutes before time for sunset, there was a small break in some clouds near the horizon that allowed these amazing sun rays to display.  They lasted for about 15 minutes or so.  There was no real sunset, but seeing these rays light up the mountain tops was a pretty decent trade off.

I shot this with my Sony A7RII, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter and Tamron 70-200mm Lens all resting on my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and G-20 Ballhead.  The 70-200 is my favorite lens for Clingman's Dome.  I use it to compress the scene and get that nice layering effect in the mountains.  

No real trick to processing this image, but I will tell you using the Dehaze slider in Lightroom CC helps enhance the rays a bit.

Aperture Priority, 1/60th second, F/11, ISO 100, Exposure Compensation -2

 

Tremont

The Tremont area of The Great Smoky Mountains is one of my favorite areas to visit.  I love shooting the water and rivers of the smokies and Tremont is a fantastic place to do just that.  The river snakes along side the road offering many opportunities for lovely cascades and mini waterfalls. 

We visited this area just after a rain, which is a fantastic time to do this type of photography.  Notice how the rocks are wet from the rain.  Everything being wet offers much more contrast than under normal, dry conditions.  Be sure to pack in your circular polarizer though.  Wet also means reflective, so you'll need that polarizer to cut through the reflection and glare.

I like to get down very low on a scene like this, which means putting my camera and myself in some unusual positions.  This is where a few things come in very handy.  First, my Sirui tripod...I can always get it in the spot I want no matter where that spot is.  Secondly, the tilt screen on my camera...sometimes because my camera is in a position that doesn't allow me to look through the viewfinder, the tilt screen comes in super handy.

Image made with Sony A7R II, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter, Tamron 24-70mm Lens, Marumi Circular Polarizer, Sirui W-2004 Tripod and Sirui G-20 Ballhead.

 

 

Spring Fever

Over the last few days here, when it hasn't been raining, the weather has been off the charts good.  That has brought on a huge case of Spring Fever for me.

I have a few trips upcoming to focus on the plants and animals coming to life again, but I'm also super stoked about our upcoming Smoky Mountains workshop.  With all the rain the area has been receiving the rivers and streams should really be flowing this year.

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16 @ 1.3 seconds

This is an image from The Roaring Fork Motor Trail.  It is always a hot spot for nice flowing water against the green, mossy rocks.  Using a circular polarizer not only helps to reduce glare and reflections, but also helps to boost contrast, which makes the greens pop a little more, too.

This image was made with my Sony A7R, LA-EA4 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.

Smoky Mountain Spring Workshop

I am getting super excited about our workshop coming up in The Great Smoky Mountains this spring.  I'm looking forward to shooting the full rivers and streams, as well as the landscapes or Cades Cove and Clingman's Dome.

I'm hoping the group can capture some images like this at Sparks Lane in Cades Cove.

ISO 100, 53mm, F/16 @ 1/4 second

Hover over the image to see camera settings used.  Click image to view it larger.

We've recently had a cancellation, so if you would be interested in joining us check out the info at this link: http://www.natureinfocusworkshops.com/photo-workshops/2016-spring-in-the-great-smoky-mountains-photo-workshop

This image was made with my Sony A7R, LA-EA3 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.

More Falls in The Fall

Here's another shot from last week in The Great Smoky Mountains.  The color was really nice while I was there.  These kinds of photo opportunities were plentiful along Little River Road and in the Tremont Area.

ISO 100, 15mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

When I came upon a scene like this I tried to take the same approach to most of them.  I was using my new Tamron 15-30mm Ultra Wide angle lens.  I knew I needed to find a foreground anchor, so I usually looked for an interesting flow of water or a rock.  A foreground anchor really helps add depth to your images.  If I chose a rock, sometimes it had a nice set of fallen leaves on it, sometimes I put some leaves on it. Once I had the foreground anchored, then I made sure my composition lead you through the image to the brilliant display of fall colors in the background.   

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30 F/2.8 Ultra Wide Angle Lens.  I can;t photograph water without a circular polarizer, so I had one of those, too.  All of my gear was resting atop my Sirui W-2204 Waterproof Tripod.