Smokies

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.

Smoky Mountains

Last week we held our Smoky Mountains Photography Workshop.  David and I arrived on Wednesday to get a little early shooting in.  We had plans to go to Roaring Fork on Thursday morning...promptly after a sop at The Log Cabin Pancake House, of course.  When we got to Roaring Fork, we realized we were in trouble.  I was getting out of the car every few hundred feet to move limbs and branches.  One time we came across a tree that was big enough we both had to get out and move it.  Then we started seeing the trees bend in half, it seemed.  The winds were howling.  We finally came to a tree blocking the road that was too big to move, so we had to turn around and go out the wrong way.  Once we got out, we notified the park service and by the time we had gotten to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, almost everything within the park was closed due to downed trees.  Our workshop started on Friday morning.  Everything was still closed in the park until late Friday afternoon, and then the only thing opened was Cades Cove and a small portion of the road to Tremont.  We photographed at Tremont Friday evening, then spent the next day and a half in the cove.  Our group was super, though!  They all had a wonderful time, despite our limitations and, from what I've seen, they all got some amazing images!

The landscape of Cades Cove did change a bit.  There were several downed trees and limbs.  The iconic image of Sparks Lane will never be the same.  One of the trees had some massive branches that came down and virtually looks like it's half of what it used to be.

I guess because of having to deal with all of those issues (either that or as my late birthday present), mother nature rewarded us Sunday Morning with a morning full of beautiful foggy scenes.  The fog seemed to last forever and we were able to capture several different subjects in it.  One of my favorite scenes from the fog was this fence line, that I'm certain I've never noticed before.  We were parked along Sparks Lane looking for different shots, since "the shot" was not very appealing anymore, and we found this fence line off the road...and it just looked great in the fog.

Aperture-priority, 0.5 sec, f/16, ISO 100, 31mm

When I composed this scene, I knew I wanted to have a solid anchor for the foreground.  I also knew I wanted to use a fence post for that.  I picked out a nice one, placed it in the scene where I wanted and let the fence line and fog do the rest.

Image made with my Canon 5D Mk IV and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I stabilized my gear with a Sirui W-2204 Tripod and Sirui 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 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.

Smoky Mountain Cascade

Here is one of many images I shot along the Tremont area of The Great Smoky Mountains last week.  The color was good, the shooting was good and most of all it was a relaxing trip that relieved a lot of stress from the weeks before.

I know what you are asking me right now..."Did that leaf happen to fall perfectly on that rock in the foreground?".  Nope, I put it there.  I think it helped anchor the foreground and give you the feeling of Autumn much more than the plain rock without it.  Not only did I put it there, I probably even splashed water on it to give it more contrast.  Call me a cheater... ;)

ISO 100, 19mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

I made this image with my Sony A7R II, Metaobnes Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also had my gigantic Fotodiox circular polarizer rig and my Sirui W-2204 Tripod.  

One of the things i really like about the Sirui W-2204 being waterproof is before Whenever I spent the day photographing water, I'd have to come home, extend my tripod and let it dry out in the garage...well those days are over with this thing.  Since no water ever gets in the leg sections that is no longer necessary.

 

Spruce Flat Falls

I returned this weekend from a quick 3 day trip in the Great Smoky Mountains.  I wanted to visit in the Fall, since I hadn't been there during this time of year in quite a while.  The Fall Colors were in full swing, too.  

I was primary focusing on photographing the rivers and water of the Smokies.  If you know anything about the park in the Fall, you know it's beyond crowded.  So, I tried to stay away from the Gatlinburg area all together and focused more on the Townsend side of the park.

The colors along the river were really, really good.  I got several river and waterfall shots that I am excited about during my 3 days there.

Here is a waterfall that is "off the beaten path".  I first saw it in a book about waterfalls in the Smokies and I knew I wanted to check it out.  This is Spruce Flat Falls.  It is located along a trail that starts behind the Institute at Tremont.  It is about a 1 mile walk in, but there is a significant elevation gain, so it is rated a moderate to moderate-difficult trail.  The trail isn't maintained so there are some tight spots, some boulders to pass over and around and a lot of tree roots along the trail to navigate through.  The reward was worth it, though.

ISO 50, 15mm, F/22 @ 25 seconds

This falls has about 4 "layers", of sections of falling water.  The main section, at the top, is about a 30 foot fall.  I wanted to get as much of that swirl effect from the leaves in the lower left corner of the frame as I could, so I dropped my camera's ISO down to 50 and stopped the aperture down to F/22.  That gave me a shutter speed of 25 seconds.

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also had a circular polarizer for this lens that is made by Fotodiox.  Since this lens has a large front element, a specialized filter setup is required and Fotodiox is the only company I know of that makes such a thing.  I also had all of this mounted to my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead...my favorite new tripod and ballhead combo for waterfalls.

Smokies Water

I love shooting these river and stream shots in the Smokies!  The trouble I usually have at these scenes is I always want to get the wide angle view of these locations, but then I always see a little isolated cascade that I think looks good.  

When I'm using my wide angle lens, I have to switch lenses if I want to isolate any of the small cascades...and usually the lens I need is back at the car.  This year, however, I was armed with the Tamron 16-300 Lens.  It served me very well at these scenes.  I could take one lens and get the wide angle view as well as isolating a cascade in the stream.

ISO 100, 22mm, F/16 @ 2.5 seconds

The above shot was at 22mm.  I wanted to include all of the water as well as the greenery in the background.  Then I found one of those cascades I wanted to isolate.

ISO 100, 130mm, F/16 @ 1.3 seconds

This shot was made at 130mm.  While that isn't all of the 300mm lens, it was enough that would have required me to change lenses had I been using my wide angle lens.  No trip back to the car equals happy photographer.

These images were made with the Sony A77ii and Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Macro Lens.  I also used a Hoya Circular polarizer to kill glare and reflections.  All of this was mounted a top my Vanguard Abeo PLus 323 CT Tripod.

Meigs Falls

One of the mornings during the workshop in the Smokies, we had a rainy, cloudy very dark morning.  Naturally we took to photographing water.

This waterfall is right by the road going from Cades Cove back down to the Sugarlands Visitor Center.  It is very hard to miss, however, as it is tucked back into a little "pocket".  It is also very hard to photograph unless you have a dreary day like we had.   

ISO 100, 135mm, F/16 @ 25 seconds

ISO 100, 135mm, F/16 @ 25 seconds

I made this image with my Sony A7R, LA-EA4 Lens Adapter and Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8 SP Di USD Lens.  All mounted atop my Vanguard Abeo Plus 323CT Tripod.  I also used my Hoya Circular Polarizer to cut reflections.

Smoky Mountains in The Spring

Now that we've put the wraps on the first 2015 Nature In Focus Workshop, I am shifting gears and thinking about the next one on the books, Spring in The Smoky Mountains.  Spring is my favorite time of year in the Smokies!  Things are starting to wake up from a long winter and everything comes back to life.

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

Since I love to photograph waterfalls and cascades, I love the Smokies in the Spring!  The rivers are flowing with all the winter rain and the rocks offer a nice contrast of green, too.

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

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

The dogwoods start to come alive, too!  I can't wait to get back there and start creating images again!

 

There are a few spots left for the workshop.  If you are interested in joining, click here for registration information.