Roaring Fork

The Roaring Fork Motor Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of my favorite destinations in the park.  I love photographing water, so that automatically gives it an advantage.  The mossy greens on the rocks in the springtime are absolutely fabulous, too.  I also love that the water, in most places, isn't more than knee deep, so it's easy to get in the water and create more pleasing compositions than from the stream side.

The weather was bright overcast on the day I visited Roaring Fork.  That allowed me to shoot in that area for several hours...and I did indeed.  It's such a great area of the park, especially if you enjoy the water, and it isn't anywhere near as crowded as some of the other areas.

I used a 24mm lens here with a circular polarizer.  I never shoot water without a good polarizer.  It makes a huge difference in your images.  In this scene, it doesn't only kill a lot of the reflections off of the rocks and water, it also helps to make the greens a little more saturated.

Equipment list: Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24-70 F/2.8 Di VC USD, Sirui Circular Polarizer, Sirui Tripod and K-40 Ballhead

EXIF Info: Aperture-priority, 4 sec, f/16, ISO 64, Compensation: +1/3, 24mm

Along The Gros Ventre River

During this trip to the tetons, I saw more moose than I've ever seen there.  Of course, the ranch we were staying on had about three that would come in every morning, many times, right by our cabin.  Aside from the "ranch moose" we saw several many more, mostly along The Gros Ventre River.

This image was taken on my first evening in the tetons.  It had been been cold and grey the biggest part of the day, but for a brief second that evening the sun was attempting to break through the clouds to put a little touch of warm light on things.

Aperture-priority, 1/800 sec, f/8, ISO 800, Compensation: +1, 180mm

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

Moose are very large animals.  This means you do not generally have to be very close to them in order to fill the frame with their large bodies.  The 25 yard limit imposed by the park service is more then enough.  Often times, 25 yards is too close.  However, in this case, I wanted to give you more of a look at the moose's environment.  I wanted to include things like the river, the frozen willows, the warm light on the river and willows, all the snow and leave enough room in the composition for the moose to "move" into.  Instead of zooming to 600mm to fill the frame with the moose, I shot this at 180mm to include the moose and it's surroundings.

This image was made using my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens.

Schwabacher's Landing

I'm really getting excited about our workshop in GTNP next week.  A few days ago my teaching partner, David Akoubian, posted a bit about shooting one of the many iconic locations, Schwabacher's Landing, from different locations than the most popular spot.  David mentioned shooting it from the main parking area.  I wanted to share a few images from a different area, also.

These two images were made within feet of each other.  Honestly, I like the scene from this spot better than the more popular spot.  You don't get a good reflection of the mountains in this location, but I like the way the river leads you to the mountains.  I also like the foreground elements here a lot better, too.

Aperture Priority, F/16, ISO 100, 1/6th second, Exposure Compensation -1.0

Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100, 1/40th second

Like I mentioned, you do lose the reflection here.  It really is impossible to get because the water is flowing much too fast.  However, I love the scene with the river rocks in the foreground.  These images were made on 2 separate trips, so I liked it enough to go back twice ;)

Sometimes all it takes to bring new enthusiasm to a scene you've shot multiple times is changing your perspective.   Next time you are at a scene that you've shot several times before, walk a few hundred yards down river or lower your tripod...whatever it takes to get a new perspective.

These images were made with the Sony A7R, Metabones adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Sometimes it IS luck

Ok, so sometimes luck plays a very important role in a photographer walking away with a fantastic image or a dud.  You, as a photographer, still need to have the skills to know how to quickly adapt.  You need to be able to quickly setup your tripod, compose properly, adjust your focus, select an aperture, shutter speed, ISO...quickly, without even really "thinking" about it.  Then you can take advantage of the lucky moments.

On my first day in Yellowstone I wrote off sunrise because I got in very later because of travel issues.  My only hope for "magic light" was at sunset.  I put a plan together and took off that evening.  I knew I was going to stay in the Upper Geyser Basin that was near Old Faithful.  I shot Old Faithful at the last eruption that would occur before the sunset.  Then I started making my way down the trail to the Morning Glory Hot Spring, which is about a 1.5 mile walk.  Well, about half way on my journey the cloud cover rolled in and I had pretty much written off any kind of sunset, but I was halfway to my destination and I might as well finish the trip.  In a very lucky moment, as I got to the bridge that crossed The Firehole River, the clouds broke up just enough, the sun dropped below the horizon and lit up all of those clouds that had rolled in and created a pretty magical sunset.  I took a few images and quickly ran to Morning Glory to capture it at sunset.  Well, it was nice, but the reflections coming off of the river with the steam from the nearby geysers made a much stronger image, so after a quick few snaps at Morning Glory, back to the bridge I went.  It seems the longer I waited, the better the color got.  Well, until it gave way to rain.  That's right, rain.  I was 2 miles from my car and it's raining.  In another lucky twist, it only rained for about 15 minutes and not very hard.  I like to think I was being rewarded for suffering a horrible travel day on the previous day. ;)

ISO 100, 35mm, F/16 @ 0.4 seconds

This image was made with my Sony A7R, LA-EA4 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  All gear was mounted on my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT tripod and BBH-200 Ballhead.

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.

Smokies stream

I am writing from the road again, so I just wanted to share a quick picture with you today.  It is another one from the smokies.  This is from the Tremont area of the smokies.  I decided to go with a pano here because the widest lens I had with me couldn't capture everything I wanted.  

I wanted to make sure you saw the waterfall in the background, the water flowing off the left of the image and the entire scene to the right.  So, I had my Sony A7R and my Tamron 24-70mm Lens mounted on my Vanguard Abeo Plus 232CT tripod.  I simply mounted it in a vertical orientation and fired off 7 shots, making sure to overlap each shot by about 25%.  Then I put them together in post and ran the final image through Lightroom.  Here's how it came out.