|Smoky Stream. 8 @ f20, ISO 100, two graduated ND filters stacked.|
When I started the drive that morning I knew that the photo probably wasn't going to happen. It was drizzling and visibility was not good, and that was at the bottom of the mountain. Well sure enough when I reached the overlook at 5,046 foot right on the Tennessee - North Carolina border, it was socked it. I don't give up easily while on location, however after two and a half hours of waiting, I was pretty sure that it wasn't going to clear up.
|While the clouds blocked any chance of a view from the Newfound Gap overlook, just below it there were short glimpses of the mountainside. 1/400 @ f9, ISO 400.|
I came across a stream running down the mountain that looked like I would be able to access it from a pull-off a short distance away. Photographing a stream was also the perfect opportunity to work with my Cokin Z Pro Series ND Graduated Filter Kit in order to slow the shutter long enough to achieve the silky look of the running water. Because these filters are 4x6 inches, I was able to use them in an unconventional way, to cover the entire front of my 24-70mm lens. Further, I doubled up the filters in order to slow the shutter speed to between 4-10 seconds, but still maintain a proper exposure. In a future post I will go into much more detail on using these filters.
|When something on the side of the road catches your eye you have to make a decision as to whether or not you are going to make a u-turn and photograph it. I urge you to make more u-turns. 1/300 @ f8, ISO 200.|
Right after leaving the visitors center my plans changed when I was confronted by a closed Blue Ridge Parkway. I wrote in my original post about doing research before a trip and I did plenty on the Great Smoky Mountains, but the extent of my research on getting to Boone from Gatlinburg via the Parkway was to simply look at a map. When I finally had cell coverage and pulled up their website, I saw that many of the sections I wanted to drive were closed during the winter of 2014 - 2015 for repairs. (There is also a real-time road closure website.)
|Along the very short section of the Blue Ridge Parkway I traveled there were plenty of scenic overlooks, without much of a grand view, but these trees still proved interesting when taken from a low angle with a 14-24mm, 1/125 @ f22, ISO 200|
Now that a nice leisurely drive along the Parkway was out, I still tried to stick to back roads on the drive to Boone, but it wasn't the same. The only positive was this happened during the middle of the day, a time that I typically take a break from shooting.
|Originally when I stopped at this lake, I didn't think there was anything special about it to photograph. With a little exploring however, I found these nice patterns in the ice which makes the photo. 1/250 @ f20, ISO 200.|
|Once again it pays to turn around from the setting sun. This sunlight kissing the tops of these trees lasted only five minutes. 1/80 @ f9, ISO 200.|
If you get the chance to visit Great Smoky Mountain National Park, even for a day, make every effort to do so. If you are a photographer, I would plan on spending a minimum of three days so that you can cover a few different locations during different times of the day. There are also plenty of hikes, some short, that will get you away from the crowds and offer you even more opportunities to make wonderful images in the second most visited National Park.
Previous posts in this series:
PHOTOGRAPHING THE GREAT SMOKIES - THE PLAN AND THE GEAR
PHOTOGRAPHING THE GREAT SMOKIES - DAY ONE
PHOTOGRAPHING THE GREAT SMOKIES - DAY TWO