Sunday, January 29, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/13, 10 seconds
  It's been two weeks since I have been out exploring and shooting the waterfalls and streams of East Tennessee. Saturday provided the first opportunity for me to get out play around in the Cherokee National Forest and do some photog'ing.
  The morning started at around 6:45am at The Boils along N. River Rd. I have been there several times and the river was swelling with incredible amounts of water. I will cover this in a later post with a shot from there.
  This post, however, was taken off a trail that branches off of N. River Rd and a small creek that empties into the N. River.  I have shot along this creek before (ROCK FUNNEL) but hadn't ventured very far down the creek or trail.  I decided to continue on along the trail and there were several spots along the way that I would have loved to try and photograph but the Rhododendrons were so thick I could not make my way down to the creek bank.
   I came to this outcropping and luckily had my waders on. I took a vantage point out in the middle of the creek and was really trying to accent the awesome green, moss-covered wall on the opposite side.
  I also noticed that as the stream made it's way passed the rocks on the left, a small Eddy formed just past the corner. I have been quite obsessed with catching Eddy's lately and have been extremely lucky in finding them.  I had to apply the ND8 filter on the lens to get a longer shutter speed to take advantage of this. The long exposure really helped accent the rocks under the water by creating a glassy look to it. It also helped carry the streaks of the water all the way down to the lower right side of the frame so I could use it as a leading line through the shot.
  I have several more images from my trip along N. River Rd to share in future posts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 24mm, ISO 100, f/20, 30 sec., ND8, ND400, Polarizer
  My way home this evening included a stop by one of my favorite landmarks. This little red barn sits across this pond from highway 411 and next to Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, TN. I have taken an HDR of this on a foggy morning in September last year. This stop, I wanted to capture a long exposure with my ND8 & ND400 fader filter as the sun was setting to the southwest.
  I was rewarded with a few 30 second exposures and these little clouds rushed by to provide a little blur effect along with the flattening of the rippling water of the pond. The golden weeds in the foreground were being lit by the sun as well as being blown by the wind and provided a neat foreground.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 800, f/16, 8 sec.
  Continuing with my Styx titled images from Sunday morning. Tim Owens and I stumbled upon this absolutely gorgeous waterfall approximately 4 miles past Bald River Falls on River Rd in the Cherokee National Forest.
  Normally, the farthest I would drive would be to turn on N. River Rd which is app. 1 mile before this spot. I am so glad we continued to this spot. There were at least 3 waterfalls within a 1/4 miles stretch that were accessible and beautiful.
  This is actually the first shot that I set up and photographed with the rocks in the foreground drawing my eye. Thus giving the title "Rockin' The Paradise" from the Paradise Theater album.  They bend around and point directly to the back eddy swirling in front of the waterfall and the large log leaning up against the waterfall.
  I had to bump the ISO up to 800 and still registered an 8.0 second shutter speed at 6:45am.
  This will be a very targeted spot come next fall. There is a tremendous amount of foliage surrounding this waterfall so color should be abundant at that time.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @19mm, ISO 200, f/14, 1.0 sec. 3 exposures (-2)
  As I stated in yesterday's post, GRAND ILLUSION, I tend to try and keep the sky out of my waterfall & cascade pictures. Yesterday, however, I bucked my own system and was really drawn to the sunrise that was occurring right behind where I was shooting along River Rd in the Cherokee National Forest.
  In this image, I positioned myself so that the large tree to the left of the frame and the pine trees in the background create framing around the small waterfall and the golden sunrise in the background. I knew that there was no way I was going to expose for the foreground and retain the blue sky and the golden sunlight striking the clouds in the background so I did some auto bracketing at -2. I enlisted the help of my brother Jim to apply his HDR expertise to the frames and viola.
  Even without me giving any instructions Jim seems to process my images exactly how I was looking at them. Really love the way this one turned out. Thanks Jim.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 400, f/13, 0.5 sec., 4 shot panorama
  VH1 Classic had a Behind the Music - Remastered episode featuring the band Styx this afternoon. They have always been one of my favorite bands. In fact, one of my favorite teenage memories is my twin brother, Jim, and I getting picked up on a weekend by our brother Larry and his wife Lee Ann in Larry's Pontiac LeMans and him playing the Paradise Theater cassette loud and all of us singing to it. I absolutely loved that album and we had a ball jamming and singing along with it.
  After watching the Styx Behind the Music I decided that all of the waterfall images that I took with my buddy Tim Owens this morning would be titled with Styx tunes. May not make much sense as far as the image goes, but it sure makes it easier to just give it a name.
  I chose the Grand Illusion for this shot because it was my favorite image of the day and Grand Illusion was one of Styx's best songs and albums.
  When we arrived at this location at about 6:45am, I took several wide angle shots from farther downstream. I had an idea of an image from on top of some rocks and looking down stream through a shoot of water that empties into a Back Eddy. I worked for about a half hour climbing and wading to get to the position I wanted to take this image only to find out when I got there that there was too much overhanging, dead brush I couldn't achieve the angle I wanted. I was very angry. All that work to get there and couldn't even get my shot. So I climbed back out dejected.
  I then walked down the road where Tim had been and found this spot. I really liked the cascades here and the neat rocks that I have at the bottom of the frame. I started shooting when I noticed the sun creeping over the top of the mountain in the background and shining through the trees. Normally, I try to keep the sun out of my water shots, but when I positioned it at the top of the frame, I fell in love with the sunburst and lens flare it provided to the shot.
  Something else I did that I haven't done in a long time was adjust my ISO settings to keep my shutter speed down to less than 1 second. I ended up with the ISO at 400 and at f/13 this not only allowed for some silky smooth water, but also some stop action, too.
  After I opened and stitched the 4 images together I noticed the little area of blue/green water that was collecting off to the right of the foreground rocks. I didn't notice this when I took the shots. If I had, I would have panned another time or two to get more of that awesome color.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Canon 85mm 1.8 USM lens, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/4000 sec
  After revisiting my images from the 5 kayakers going over Baby Falls last weekend, I found this shot was wondering why I didn't process this one with the other shots.
  Love the look on the face of the guy as he reaches the bottom of the falls.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 400, f/20, 10 sec., ND Fader Filter, 3 shot panorama
  Sunday was not the most ideal day to be out shooting photographs. It was overcast, rainy, and wet all day long. I spent as much time wiping the water droplets off my camera as I did taking pictures.
  The rain did slow down long enough for me to stop by Baby Falls and take some long exposures. I knew from when I first bought my camera and started shooting that the curved rocky outcropping just to the right of where the falls pour down creates a very large back eddy. With the overcast skies and using my ND fader filter, I could capture that Eddy in the middle of the day.
  The only problem I have with photographing Baby Falls is that there is really only one vantage point to shoot it from. The water is too deep and powerful in front of it to wade out in so the alternative is to climb down next to the road side and choose many of the rocky ledges that overlook the falls.
  I perched myself right above the large pool where the back eddy forms with the hope of elongating it with a portrait orientation and using it to lead into the frame. Unfortunately, my location was still too high above it for that effect to take place. I also couldn't fit all that I wanted to into the frame so I elected to take 3 panoramic frames so the rocks at the bottom of the shot surround and the Eddy.
  Something that I notice every time I come here and am absolutely amazed by at Baby Falls is how loud the roar of the water is. Baby Falls is only 10-15 feet tall but the amount of water that pours over it is tremendous and it creates a deafening roar. Just another wonderful spot along River Rd in the Cherokee National Forest that I love visiting at any time of year.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 22mm, ISO 400, f/18, 1.6 sec.
  Before making my way down to Baby Falls on Sunday, I stopped along River Rd by Buck Branch Falls. Now I have photographed Buck Branch Falls before even though it is a waterfall that I don't consider to be all that photogenic. It is a true step ladder waterfall that has about 10 steps over only 10-12 feet and is virtually straight up.  Not really anything picturesque as far as I am concerned.
  Buck Branch Falls flows under River Rd and dumps into the Tellico River and the cascades on this side are beautiful. My original intent was to stop and shoot those. When I got out of the car though I looked back up behind Buck Branch Falls and decided that I would explore upstream above the falls and see what was there.
  I am so glad I made that decision. There were some quaint little cascades and gorgeous green rocks scattered up through the stream. There was a considerable amount of mood with the rainy conditions creating foggy conditions the higher up the mountain I climbed.
  Today's post in particular was very cool in the fact that the rocks, fallen trees, and mountainsides formed several "V" all through the frame clear back to the foggy background.
  Even though I got soaked from both the drizzling rain and from my waders not quite being tall enough in the stream I was standing in, it was well worth climbing up and investigating up there. Sometime when my buddy Tim and I are out here, I would like to go even further up this stream and see if there any more hidden gems up there.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Canon 85mm 1.8 USM lens, ISO 800, f/3.2, 1/3200 sec
  After a wonderful date night with my wife, Melissa, she asked me when I was going to go out and take some more pictures. I told her I didn't know and hadn't really thought about it. She had to work the next day and usually that means that I would stay at home with the kids. With it being Sunday, I normally spend the day washing clothes and watching TV.
  Well, after sitting around til 10:00am or so, I noticed that the day was going to be overcast all day. It hadn't rained so I made the determination that it would be some prime weather to get water and long exposure pictures in the middle of the day. So I packed up the gear and headed down River Rd in the Cherokee National Forest.
  I stopped a couple of places and it rained on me on-and-off. I then drove to Baby Falls, mainly because there was a rest room there, and figured if I used my ND Fader Filter I could possibly produce a back eddy swirl underneath the falls. The water spins very well just down and to the right of the falls so the filter would allow me enough light blockage to get 8-15 seconds of shutter to obtain the Eddy.  I will show you the results of this shot in a later post.
  After catching my Eddy, I packed everything back up and was hiking back to the car when I noticed a truck that was stopped next to the road. I said hello and they said they were waiting for a group of people kayaking down the river. I immediately  scaled back down in front of the falls and waited for them. I switched from my wide angle lens to my 85mm prime both so I could get closer but also so I could stop action with the larger aperture.
  Sure enough here  they came. The group of 5 gathered together before the first young lady took the dive over the falls. I got shots of all of them taking their dives, one of them even went over backwards with a camera mounted on his helmet, with the very first one being my favorite.
  Baby Falls is only about 15 ft tall but the amount of water that pours over it is amazing, especially this time of year with all of the rain we have been getting. The roar from the water is incredible.
  My favorite thing about this shot is that I captured her in mid-fall. You can see the tremendous amount of water that surrounds her on her way down.
  I was so lucky to both decide to go out shooting today and to be at Baby Falls when these extreme athletes came riding through. It was the perfect end to a wet and fun afternoon.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 1.3 sec
  This evening brought a rare opportunity for me. I was leaving work and driving my way to pick up my daughter from the Boys & Girls Club in Vonore, TN. 
  I often take Old Slag Road through Vonore to avoid the major highway, 411, that is usually crowded and has a traffic light that takes forever to get through. Old Slag Rd crosses a section of railroad tracks that runs over to the Tellico West Industrial Park. I hardly ever see any trains on this section of track. Today, however, there was a train sitting right next to where the road crosses them. I told myself, "If it is still here after I pick Jocy up, I will stop and photograph it".
  Sure enough, when Jocy and I came back through, the train was still there and we stopped to take some shots.  There wasn't any real foreground objects that I could place in front of the train so I elected to set up with the tracks as a lead in from the bottom right of the frame.
  The sun was golden and setting with it's light striking the train quite a bit further down the track and provided some fantastic color.
  Something I have always wanted to try was creating an abstract shot by zooming the lens while the shutter was open. I purposely added my ND8 filter on top of my polarizer and shot at a small aperture to create a long shutter speed so I could accomplish this.
  3 things really jumped out at me when I looked at the final shot. I really love the movement created by the zooming effect. This effect also enhanced the 3 lights that were on the front of the train. Would have loved to gotten a light burst here but the streaks worked out nicely. The last is the way the zoom effect enhanced the golden sunlight on the back end of the train.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Canon Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, Polarizer, ND8, ND400, ISO 100, f/20, 4 min.
  When I said that Blue Symmetry was my last post from mine and Jim's photo jaunt to the Springville Pump House, I lied. I looked back through the shots and found this 4 minute exposure that after I processed, had to post.
  The blue hue combined with the streaks in the clouds was exactly what I was after with my long exposures and didn't realize I achieved this until tonight.
  I unknowingly jumped in front of Jim to shoot from this angle with the small drainage lead in to the  rocks and then the buoy. The clouds actually got brighter right above the red light on top of the buoy drawing more attention to it.