Monday, April 25, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000 sec.
  A quick evening storm blew through tonight and with the sun jumping out right after, I used the opportunity to grab the fast 50 and get some macro shots of the water-dabbed flowers in my front yard.
  This particular shot really shows the speed of the 50mm lens. The wind was blowing the rest of these purple flowers around but with the focus dot squarely on the one, the shutter caught it absolutely crisp.


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, 3 Exposure HDR @ f/16
  Continuing with my jaunt into the Bald River Gorge this past Friday, I found an overlook that was basically a cliff over the Bald River that gave a wonderful view of how the river turns and heads down toward Bald River Falls.
  This view is spectacular. There was an enormous cascade right underneath this spot that I would desperately loved to have shot but the 30-40 ft cliff dispelled any ideas of getting down to water level.
  This tree in the foreground  stands like a beacon over the water.  I thought it was neat how the branch of the tree curved the same as the river even though it was pointing upstream. It was like the tree was pointing the way I needed to go.  As a matter of fact, the large amount of white water you can see just under the branch is where I had just taken several photos including a panorama scene of the river. That will be in a later post.
  Used HDR Express to process the image and touched up a bit in Photoshop Elements.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 400, f/22, 0.3 sec
  Good Friday sure was good to me.
  With the day off of work, I used the morning to explore a new path.  I have posted several photos from Bald River Falls in the past and it is very easy to stop there and shoot because it is so picturesque and beautiful.  This morning, however, I decided to do something different. I have always known that there was cascades and waterfalls up river from Bald River Falls but have always been leery of exploring them because I thought the only way to them was to climb the rock wall next to Bald River Falls. This is very slick and I am no daredevil.  Last week, though, when my daughter and I were driving around the area I noticed a path next to the large parking area and wondered where it led.
  This morning I gave the path a try and not only did it take me above Bald River Falls, it winds down and through the entire Bald River Canyon. It is an awesome trail and very easily traversed. The view back down from the falls was incredible. I didn't venture very far down the trail but loved what I saw and someday will explore it even more.
  Right above Bald River Falls is this little beauty you see today.  This is Kahuna Falls. I know this from a book I own by Gregory Plumb called Waterfalls of Tennessee. Mr. Plumb describes and locates all of the waterfalls in the state and for most has photos and this one was very easy to match up with the shot in the book.
  Once again, without a wide angle lens I had to piece 3 shots together. Went through several different sets of stitching before I arrived at one I liked. My first couple of tries were with trying to use shots with the same aperture and they just didn't work for me. I finally went and used shots with the same shutter speed and that worked a lot better. 
  Also was very excited to use my new Dolica Carbon Fiber Tripod. What a difference it is compared to the cheaper Targus model I've been using. Much easier with a ball head and legs that can lay out flat or straight up. A lot lighter on my backpack too.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, ISO 125, f/2.8/1/100 sec.
  Sometimes you just get lucky.
  Back in early April I was out photographing the rough water on River Rd in the Cherokee National Forest when my Rebel XS locked up on me with a SD card reading error. This happened right after taking the shot for my earlier post VIOLENT WATER. The error was fixed the next day when my friend Gareth Glynn Ash asked me to pull out the battery, let the camera sit for a few minutes and then put it back in. It worked. WOO HOO! Gareth saved the day because I was on the verge of sending it off for repairs.  He said that his Canon does a similar thing what seems like at least once a year.
  When the camera failed, however, I still had a couple of hours of good light left and wanted to photograph some of the beautiful spring wild flowers and trees that were blooming along the road.
  When I finally climbed back up to the road, I pulled out the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 phone and started pointing it at these wonderful purple flowers blooming on the trees right by my truck. After pulling the files off my phone I found this little surprise.  The flowers I shot wound up this small tree and formed a "Y" shape. Beyond the tree, though, the white wash of the river formed a similar "Y" shape and was luckily positioned right above the flowers in the tree.
  Some of my favorite photog's like Ian Plant and Richard Bernabe instruct us to look for shapes in nature.  I wasn't actually looking for it, but I will definitely take the accident that Mother Nature gave me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens, ISO 100, f/3.5, 1/160 sec.
   I came home the other night and on my walk from the driveway to the front door I happened to take a look at my wife's flower garden between the sidewalk and the porch.  My brother Jim says he used to have these purple flowers at his house and they are called flox (correct me if I am wrong Jimbo).  These flox are a bushy type of flower that grow and bloom as a huge group. 
  Melissa, my wife, has 3 or 4 of these flower groupings in a few spots in the yard and they are very densely populated.  You could imagine my surprise when I noticed this single dandelion poking up and standing tall against the purple flox. What a beautiful contrast it provided. It was like nature was giving me a freebie. "Here's your picture, Jerry, just point and shoot". How could I resist?

Friday, April 15, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, f/22, 1.3 sec.
  Reached back in the archives for today's post.  With the rain outside here in East Tennessee I couldn't get outside this evening a catch all of the green spring foliage being displayed.
  Once again, this is from River Rd in the Cherokee National Forest and was pulled from last summer's archive.  The sun was streaming very bright against the upper part of the trees on the opposite side of the river and with a long exposure, created a great reflection.  With the sun not shining down on the river, the rocks to the left reflected the blue tint of the clear blue skies above.
  Kinda like the way the tree branch frames the shot as well.
  Hopefully, this weekend will allow me to capture the green-ness that is spring right now, but for today, this will just have to do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/400 sec.
  Saturday evening all of my wife's flowers were blooming and there wasn't a whole lot of wind so I put the fast 50 on the old Canon and went out into the front yard to get up close and personal with them.
  Much to my surprise, a bumble bee was moving between all of these yellow flowers.  If I moved much to get close the bee would leave the flower, circle, and then come back. After a few minutes I think it realized that I wasn't a threat and let me get a little closer while it was inspecting the flowers.
  I got several shots of this colorful scene but really fell in love with this one. The bee was about to take off again when I snapped it and caught the inner part of it's wings in focus while the outer part of the wing was blurred from the flapping motion.  It also looks like the bee is looking at me. Which might explain why it was taking off.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, 3 Exposure HDR @ f/11
  Did a little experimenting this evening. While shooting this wonderful waterfall on Sunday morning I couldn't fit the entire fall in my shot at once so I shot it halves.
  Tonight I had the idea of processing HDR images out of each half and then using Canon's Photostitch software joining them back together for a panoramic view.
  The only problem I had was that when I photographed the right side with the intention of splitting the photos, I got spray from the falls on the lens and spots everywhere.  I had to join two sets of shots that were uneven height-wise and then crop the image after joining.
  All in all I am extremely happy with the results despite the cropping. Will try this again with other waterfalls knowing how well this one went together.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 400, 3 Exposure HDR @ f/8
  Today's post might be my favorite shot that I have taken so far.  Even if it isn't the best photo, it was by far the most fun I have had trying to capture it.
  On my excursion to N. River Rd on Sunday morning, I noticed a small, feeder creek that passed under a bridge to the left of the main river.  The creek was mostly about 12-15 feet wide but about 50 yards away from the road, there was about a 3 foot cascade that was funneled down to about a 4 foot width on both sides by large rocks.  This bottleneck of water flow created a large amount of force through this funnel.
  I donned my hip waders and entered into the creek about 20 feet down stream from this spot but was not happy with being that far away.  I crept closer and closer to this rock funnel.  I take the Ian Plant attitude about shooting water and waterfalls, get as close and as low as you can to the falls for dramatic effects. 
  When I got to within about 10 feet of cascade, the force was incredible.  My tripod was shaking considerably and even though I tried to hold it down, the water force shook it too much to get a clear photo.
  With the fear of my tripod and camera being pushed away by the water, I climbed up on one of the side walls of the rocks and set up on top of the rocks.  This gave me a great vantage point where I could still capture the mayhem created by the bottleneck of rocks but still confident that I wouldn't lose me or my gear.
  When I was done shooting, I slowly lowered myself back into the water and started back across the creek to make my exit.  About 5 feet from the shore, I took a step into a spot that was roughly 3-4 inches below what I anticipated and the water level rose above my waders on my left leg soaking my shorts and my socks on that side.
  This is the first time my waders failed me since I have had them, but it was well worth it.
  Processed a 3 image HDR in HDR Express around ISO 400  and f/8 to capture the movement of the water. Used the Natural Style rendering after tone mapping which brought out the color and detail of the rocks as well as the texture of the moving water.  Am seriously considering purchasing this software when my 30 day trial is over.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, 3-Stop ND Filter, ISO 100, 3 Exposure HDR @ f/14
  Boy what a GREAT Sunday morning of photography!
  I got out of the house a little later than I wanted to this morning. I thought my daughter, Jocy, was going to go out photog'ing with me so I waited a little later leave.  Unfortunately, when I tried to wake her, she declined to come along.  She missed out.
  My intentions this morning were to explore N. River Rd.  Even though I did make it there, and have some great shots from there, I was detained somewhat when I came to a couple of new places just past Baby Falls, which is on the way.
  The first stop didn't yield the results that I was looking for mostly due to the sun peaking and creating a glare on the 6ft falls I was shooting.  Will visit those again when I can get out earlier.
  My second stop, however, was about 100 yards past the first one and it yielded one of my favorite shots that I have ever posted.  This large moss-covered rock was forcing the water flow to either side of it.  The flow on the right side was bottle-necked by another rock that made the water almost pour between the two.
  I was able to sit on a huge rock that rested about 10 feet down stream but allowed me to have a vantage point similar to being in the water.
  By putting my 3-stop Neutral Density Filter combined with my Polarizer Filter I was able to negate the morning sunlight and get some lengthy shutter speeds.
  I am really loving using my 30 day trial of HDR Express.  I used the Vivid styling in Express after processing the images and it really added some texture while retaining color.  I processed an almost identical image with the Dreamy styling and really loved it but it wasn't as realistic as today's post.
  What a fun morning.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, 2 exposure HDR @ f/16 & f/8
  With it being spring break here in Monroe County, TN I am able to go out in the morning and shoot some sunrises that I would normally miss due to driving kids to school.  This morning was an unknown dock in Vonore just before you reach Ft. Loudon State Park.
  The dock really intrigued me against the still water in this little cove.
  I was really disappointed early on because it was overcast and I thought I wouldn't see any color of the sunrise.  After a few minutes though, the clouds broke and the sun peaked through. This turned a normal reflection, which actually was very nice on it's own, into a special one. 
  I changed my position so that I could fit both the dock and sun in the scene at the same time and started firing away.
  I processed the HDR using the 30 day free trial of HDR Express. It was a wonderful change from my free downloaded HDR program.
  I originally tried a 5 image process but received an error and instead went with the shots at f/16 and f/8 which were at the opposite ends of the brackets.  Did a little cleaning up in Gimp and Picasa and viola.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, Polarizer Filter, ISO 400, f/11, 1/3 sec.
  I love my daughter!
  Most of the time I am on my own when I photograph and I never realize how much more fun it is when someone comes along.  Jocy loves to go with me on my little excursions to the Cherokee National Forest and today was another one of those times when she tagged along.
  We drove a little while down River Rd when we noticed a zig-zag shaped little waterfall on the opposite side of the road from the river.  We turned around and pulled off to photograph it.
  After I climbed up to a higher vantage point, where I took the photo in today's post, I noticed that Jocy had put my waders on and was having a fabulous time stomping and splashing all through the small stream.  She was making me laugh at how simple a thing like splashing in the water in those boots entertained her.  It was great fun in addition to a finding a wonderful place to photograph.
  When we left that spot we were on our way to Bald River Falls. We both had to use the rest room though and drove past them on to Baby Falls where there were some rest rooms. When we finished I let here take some shots of me on the rocks by the river.  She then posed for me to fire off several shots.
  When we finally got to Bald River Falls, the mist being blown off of the falls was too much for me to shoot any photos without the front of the lens being covered by water.  Even on the bridge.  It was raining at the falls even though it was a sunny, blue sky day.  We did enjoy the climb down under the bridge to water level even though I never took the camera out of the bag.
  With darkness falling, we headed back home after about 2 hours of exploring, photographing, and goofing around. 
  The phrase "Time flies when you're having fun" sure did apply this evening. 
Jocy posing for me
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/60 sec.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 32mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/3 sec.
  Sunday morning I made my usual trek down River Rd in the Cherokee National Forest.  I was bound and determined to take some more photos of Baby Falls when I wasn't getting soaked by rain.  Mother Nature was much more kind to me this time. Sunny skies!  When I left the house it was a nippy 38°F though so it was a bit chilly to start. By the time I came back 3 hours later, it had warmed up to a comfy 68°F making the morning wonderful.
  After shooting at Baby Falls for a while, I found a new spot from the road that I had to explore.  The climb down to this spot was very dangerous. Slick rocks on a steep hill.  The night before we watch "127 Hours" and don't think that being wedged between a couple of rocks for 5 days didn't pass through my mind on the way down.  My wife also made me tell her where I would be at and what time I would be back just in case something bad did happen.  But carefully and slowly I safely traversed my down to water level.
  When I found my perch on a massive rock right at the water's edge, I realized that the water flow was incredibly violent.  I mean roaring and fast.  This was the same condition as I noticed last weekend at Baby Falls, but there hadn't been any rain in a couple of days and this wasn't a waterfall.  The sights and sounds of the river when it is like this are jaw-dropping.  I loved it.
  With the sun already up, I was still using my 3-stop ND filter and was getting 8-10 second exposures. I will post an example of those longer exposures in another post.  What I wanted though, was to capture the violence of the river so I bumped up my ISO to 400 and took the ND filter off the lens.  When I shoot water I tend to shoot in apertures of f/8, f/11, f/14, f/16, and f/22 then change the ISO and reverse my order.  I followed suit here and found that f/8 at ISO 400 still provided some silky smoothness to the water but also caught the splashing and rage of the river.
  The trees haven't all completely filled out yet so there really wasn't a lot of color other than the blue tint of the water, so I converted the image to black and white to kind of even the playing field.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, 3 stop ND filter, ISO 100, f/22, 1/2 sec.
  The second stop on our jaunt down Little River Rd on Saturday was at a gorgeous waterfall that was right next to the road and actually ran underneath the bridge.  I could have taken shots right from the road if needed.
  One thing I noticed was that they didn't have the name of the falls posted anywhere.  As large as these falls were, you would think that they would have a name.  When I got to work today, I checked on my Tennessee Landforms web site and looked along the road for where these falls were and couldn't find them there either.  So I am claiming these falls for myself. JERRY'S FALLS.
  I took several shots of the kids sitting up on the rocks from right at the base of the falls almost underneath the bridge.  My wife and kids were walking back to the van and I was going to fire a few from the bridge when I noticed all of the green moss-covered rocks about 20 feet further up the falls.  I scared my wife by climbing up because she thought I was shooting from the bridge. When she looked back and saw I wasn't there the fear that I fell in made her send my son, Casey, back to check on me.
  So glad I made the climb.  found a huge rock in the center of the falls and perched there with the tripod and got as close to the water as I could.  What a beautiful set of falls.
  The mid-day sun made shooting these falls very difficult.  Even with the 3 stop ND filter the sun was extremely bright.  I ended up auto-bracketing some shots and using one of the -2 shots and brightening it up some.
  My wife and I are going to spend our anniversary later this month in Pigeon Forge and when we do I will come back to this spot early in the morning and take more with proper light.  Can't wait.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II, Polarizer Filter, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/250 sec.

  Saturday was mine and my brother Jim's 45th birthday.  My wife asked me that morning, "Where do you want to go and take pictures today?"
  What a wonderful woman I am married to.
  I have always wanted to drive the entire length of Little River Road.  This is a scenic road that starts in Townsend, TN and winds through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and ends 18 miles later in Gatlinburg, TN.  The entire way, the road follows different branches rivers with several cascades and a couple of waterfalls. 
  After I got a alternator installed into my truck, we went to Shoney's and ate breakfast.  We then drove to Townsend and began our journey.  Even though it was in the middle of the day, and the light was not ideal, I relished the idea of shooting the river and taking shots of my family along with it.
  Our first stop along the river was just outside of Townsend before the entrance of the park. I was attracted to some small cascades so we pulled over.  Thank goodness for my 3 stop Black & White ND filter.  It combined with the clouds occasionally blocking the sun allowed for enough shade to get some 0.5-1 second exposures. It was great.
  When we were about to leave the spot, I was standing on the rocks that lead down to the water when I noticed the blue sky and white clouds reflecting in the water when the sun was behind the clouds.  I had never seen the true blue sky reflected in such a way so I naturally stared shooting.
  When thinking of a title for this post, Stevie Ray Vaughn's "The Sky Is Crying" popped into my head.  I liked it, so I went with it.
  What a great birthday.  More posts from this trip to come.