2016 Smoky Mountain road trip - Recap

April 18, 2016  •  Leave a Comment
Greeting everyone!
 April 2016 I took a road trip to Tennessee with the intent of photographing the great Smoky Mountains.  Being a photo trip, I knew that meant relaxation would take a back seat to waking at 4am every day just to catch the perfect lighting conditions.  Hiking miles up mountains carrying photo equipment in the the dark isn't always the most fun thing to do, but that's the cost of doing business.
 
 For 5 days a small group of photography lovers got together to follow a grueling agenda in a variety of weather conditions. It rained on several days, but that didn't stop us... we just put bags around our cameras and kept on shooting!
 
 Although it was a great trip, I did have a bit of bad luck. The first day and a half of shooting was lost to a corrupted memory card in my camera.  Although that was discouraging, I still think I got some decent shots! Expect to see some of these in a future email as I plan on entering them into upcoming photo contests at the Cleveland Photographic Society.
 

 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains

Morton's Overlook using a tripod and long exposure.

 

Taken from Morton's OverlookTaken from Morton's Overlook
Morton's Overlook using a few on-camera filters and a long exposure.  I like how you can see the headlights from the cars driving on the road in the valley.



Morton's Overlook using a few different on-camera filters and a long exposure.



Cades Cove - Smoky Mountain National ParkCades Cove - Smoky Mountain National Park
​Cades Cove on a rainy morning.
 


 
Cades Cove - Smoky Mountain National ParkCades Cove - Smoky Mountain National Park
​Cades Cove with some photoshop magic.
 


 
Cades Cove - Smoky Mountain National ParkCades Cove - Smoky Mountain National Park
​Cades Cove using my Lensbaby lens - On the surface, this is just a field with some trees and mountains hidden behind the fog.  When I look at this, I'm reminded of being an awkwardly shaped kid, and being singled out by angst filled youths.
 


 
Cades Cove - Smoky Mountain National ParkCades Cove - Smoky Mountain National Park
​Cades Cove using my Lensbaby lens - I really like this one... the mountains are hidden behind the fog... it was surreal seeing the fog roll over into the valley.
 

 

​Cades Cove and some photoshop magic
 
 

 
Cades Cove - Smoky Mountain National ParkCades Cove - Smoky Mountain National Park
A settler's ranch in Cades Cove.
 


 
Shot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky MountainsShot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mountains
Taken from the observatory at ​Clingmans Dome... the hike was short but tough, and well worth it!  The mountains were holding back a sea of clouds.
 


 
Shot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky MountainsShot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mountains
​Sunset - Taken from the observatory at ​Clingmans Dome
 
 

 
Shot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky MountainsShot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mountains
​Taken from the observatory at ​Clingmans Dome
 


 
Shot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky MountainsShot from Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mountains
​Taken from the observatory at ​Clingmans Dome

 
 

 
The cabin I stayed in under a stary night!The cabin I stayed in under a stary night!
​The cabin I stayed it!  This shot is composed of about 100 shots to capture the rotation of the earth.
 



 
Grotto Falls in the Smoky Mountain National ParkGrotto Falls in the Smoky Mountain National Park
Grotto Falls - this was the site of a new nickname due to some idiocy on my part... explanation is further down
 
 


 
Below Grotto Falls in the Smoky Mountain National ParkBelow Grotto Falls in the Smoky Mountain National Park
​Grotto Falls from a distance
 
 

 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​Clingmans Dome on another day
 


 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​Clingmans dome with a few on-camera filters in the evening
 
 

 
Night shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KYNight shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KY
​On the road back from Clingmans Dome, there's a corcscrew in the road where you loop around go back under the road... Looked like the perfect place for some long night shots!  This was about 30 to 45 second exposure.
 
 

 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​​Oconaluftee overlook
 
 


 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​​Oconaluftee overlook
 


 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​​Oconaluftee overlook!!!
 


 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​​Oconaluftee overlook - so quiet... so beautiful!
 
 

 
Waterfall in NCWaterfall in NC
Mingo Falls - North Carolina
 


 
Night shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KYNight shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KY
Alone in the park, waiting for cars to pass... photo achieved by taking a 30 second exposure at night.
 
 

 
Night shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KYNight shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KY
I remember whistling loudly to scare off wildlife as I was waiting for cars to pass every few minutes.
 
 

 
Night shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KYNight shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KY
​That cork screw again... just different angles... It's amazing how scary it get when you're standing on the side of the road in the pitch dark waiting for cars to dive by... every crash in the woods and howl from wildlife made my heart beat a little faster...
 
 
 
 
Night shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KYNight shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KY
 
 
 
Night shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KYNight shot of the road heading from Clingman's Dome towards Pigeon Forge, KY
 


Llama train near Grotto FallsLlama train near Grotto Falls
Llama train near Grotto FallsLlama train near Grotto Falls
Llama train near Grotto FallsLlama train near Grotto Falls
Llama train near Grotto FallsLlama train near Grotto Falls
Llama train near Grotto FallsLlama train near Grotto Falls
​Grotto Falls again - with a Llama train taking supplies up to a resort that's only accessible via this trail.  This is what caused my new nickname for the trip... When we first went to this spot, we were closely followed by the train, so I didn't have enough time to setup and get the shots I wanted.  Even after I warned my party members to check their camera settings, I failed to do so in time. We had taken night photos the evening before, and I hadn't had a chance to change my settings to something more appropriate to daylight. That being the case, the 3 photos I was able to fire off ended up taking about 10 seconds each, which yielded completely white photos.  This meant that I had to come back on my own a few days later to capture these shots. That spawned the nickname "Redo-Dan", because there were a few other places I went back to on my own to retake shots I had failed at on previous days... good times!



 
Below Grotto FallsBelow Grotto Falls
Somewhere down the road from Grotto falls... this shot took far too long to set up, as I was standing in the middle of the river, trying to position the tripod in such a way that my gear didn't spill into the rushing water below.
 
 

 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​Mortons Overlook again!
 
 

 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​Mortons Overlook
 
 

 
Somewhere in the Smoky MountainsSomewhere in the Smoky Mountains
​Mortons Overlook
 
 


All in all it was a great time, and I'd recommend going at least once in your life!!!

Have a great day!

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