Tuesday, July 31, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 0.6 Seconds, 19mm
  Monday morning provided an opportunity form me. I had to drop my daughter off in Knoxville at cheer camp. She would be there from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and I had 4 hrs to kill.
  I decided to drive 45 minutes down to the Smokies and do some photography. I went through Townsend, TN and decided I would try and capture some pictures in the Little River only this time I would explore between Townsend and Cades Cove. I had never done any photography along this stretch of the the Little River and had noticed several spots from the road while driving to Cades Cove the last couple of times.
  The only obstacle that presented itself was the sun that was already up fairly high in the morning sky and shining on the water, ruining photo ops in those areas.
  After a long set of shots at West Prong Falls just past Tremont, I found this neat set of cascades. Lots of green rocks and a really large flow of water at the bottom of the falls made for a great little composition. I got my camera low near the water to accent the large amount of splashing the water created. Shooting at ISO 400 allowed me to get the shutter speed I liked at 0.6 seconds and catch a lot of the detail in the water.
  I bracketed a set of shots so that I could get some definition in the background where the sun was shining brightly. The HDR brought out a great deal of detail in the rocks as well.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 5 Seconds, 19mm
  The only other icon of Cincinnati that I was dead set on getting shots from was the Union Terminal & Museum on the west side of the city. When we arrived, and finally figured out how to get in the parking area, a third storm of the day was creeping up to the south.
  My first initial composition was directly in front of the building with the water fountain in the foreground. After processing, I really liked this long exposure from an angle better. Especially with the clouds from the storm providing some added mood to the shot.
  In processing I started using Adobe Lightroom 4 a bit more and am really starting to like the adjustments it provides. In particular, the tone curve adjustments.

Friday, July 27, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 2.5 Seconds, 19mm, 5 Image Panorama, HDR @ -2 EV
  The night after I took the picture for CITY LIGHTS, we were right back down in Covington, KY eating at Wunderbar, a fantastic German restaurant. After eating some great food and taking in some great drink, we were headed back to east Cincinnati when I saw a tremendous sunset developing.
  After complaining that the night before didn't look like that, we made our way back down to the riverfront.
  I wanted to catch the beautiful sunset with the Roebling Suspension Bridge in the foreground so I positioned myself on the east side of the bridge. I also wanted to catch the entire cityscape of Cincinnati in the shot, so I took 5 vertical images so I could do a panorama. The sunset was going down just behind Paul Brown Stadium, which happened to be seen just under the bridge. For those who don't know, Paul Brown Stadium is where the Cincinnati Bengals play NFL football.
  I went as far to the right as to fit Great American Ballpark, where the Cincinnati Reds play Major League Baseball, in the frame. By doing so I luckily fit this neat little boat that was docked on the Kentucky side of the river in the shot as well.
  Processed 5 separate HDR images in Photomatix Essentials and stitched together in Photoshop Elements. Did some fine tuning in Lightroom 4 and viola!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


ISO 200, f/20, 20 Seconds, 19mm
  I never realized how pretty a skyline Cincinnati, OH has.
  Last evening, Devin Hensley and I took a trek down to Covington, KY just on the other side of the Ohio River from the Queen City. We are in town all week for some CAD training just east of town.
  We had intentions of eating at a German place and when we found out it was closed, made a jaunt over to The Cock and Bull English Pub where we ate fish & chips and took in some great atmosphere. It was a very nice alternative.
  After we ate we managed our way down to the riverfront so I could get some skyline images. I had seen some images that included the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in them and just had to get a vantage point that included it. I loved the brick towers and it was the only bridge out of many in the city that had lights on it.
  The bridge did not disappoint and neither did the Cincy skyline. Got to the waterfront just as blue hour was finishing up and rattled off a few shots from both sides of the bridge. This particular one is a 3 shot, vertical panorama so that I could get the near tower large in the foreground and still bit the row of lit up buildings across the river in the distant background.
  The great thing about it all is that I didn't do much other than stitch them together and patch a couple of dust spots in Picasa.

Monday, July 23, 2012


ISO 200, f/20, 2 Seconds, 19mm
  Boy, it sure was like coming home to spend about an hour on the Tellico River on Sunday morning. Been doing so much in the Great Smoky Mountains that I almost forgot about the Cherokee National Forest and, in particular, the Tellico River.
  I actually went to a couple of spots that I have been before but wanted to get something completely different. Instead of capturing the the cascades and waterfalls I concentrated on reflections.
  Normally, this is reserved for the fall of the year but I couldn't resist when the reflection of the green trees started showing up on the smooth parts of the river. The rocks were really reflecting a blue tint from the bright blue sky. It was beautiful and made me feel good shoot the river a little different.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


ISO 200, f/8, 1/4 Second, 35mm
  For the first time in a long time I spent a morning doing photography in the Cherokee National Forest instead of the Great Smoky Mountains. It was a welcome change of location. Not that I have gotten tired of the Smokies, I just welcomed the familiarity of the Cherohala Skyway, River Rd., and the Tellico River.
  Something that I almost always forget to do when I'm out shooting is thinking in the abstract or out of the ordinary. I usually get so caught up with capturing the big picture that I neglect to look for subtle details, mirrored compositions, funky shapes, etc., that are very cool, I just don't look for them that often.
  This morning was the exception. In today's post the rocks at the top of the frame are actually closer than that of the opposing hillside. By zooming in and putting the reflection of the hillside in the bottom part of the frame, I abstractly flipped the composition and used the hillside as the foreground.
  I really like these type of images. I am going to have to remember to look for them more often.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.6 seconds, 19mm

Just when I thought I was done with my images from Wednesday's sunrise pictures from Kefauver Park I run across this one. I really love the lamp post in the foreground.

Friday, July 20, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.6 Seconds, 19mm
  I spent the biggest part of shooting the sunrise on Wednesday morning capturing the beautiful colors in the same direction as the sun was coming up. When the sun rose above the horizon the colors quickly faded away and I started to make my way back to my Jeep so I could pack up and go into work.
  After I walked roughly 3/4 mile around the pond and over to the parking lot, I turned and looked in the opposite direction and noticed one of the most beautiful blue skies that I have ever seen. The puffy white clouds were dancing around wonderfully against that awesome blue sky. I couldn't leave with this kind of sky going on in front of me so I set up and took a few more shots.
  Two things really set this image off as much as the sky and reflection.is that I got use the small dock in the picture and shooting in this direction is the only background at Kefauver park that doesn't have a building, ball field, or parking lot in the view. Just a clean row of trees behind the walking trail on the opposite side of the pond and the dock on my side. By far my favorite reflection image I have ever gotten.
  Processed this as a 3 shot HDR in Photomatix Essentials and then minor post processing in Photoshop Elements.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 8 Seconds, 19mm
  The clouds this morning for sunrise were absolutely incredible! I made it out to Kefauver Park in Madisonville and walked around the walking trail until I found a couple of neat compositions to capture a reflection in the large duck pond.
  My original comp was to use the geese as silhouettes on the pond with the reflection around them. Unfortunately, they weren't very cooperative and I had to move elsewhere.
  This comp is very similar to the last pic that I took from here from behind a bench looking across the pond. This time I was on the opposite side of the pond. This is actually facing slightly south of the sunrise. These clouds facing this direction were really exploding from right to left across the frame.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 1/25 Second, 35mm
  I thought yesterday was going to be a bust when I left the house a little later than I wanted to catch the sunrise. I just thought since there weren't very many clouds in the sky that there wasn't going to be a dramatic sunrise to shoot.
  Boy, was I WRONG!
  There was a great fog effect happening that I wasn't aware of until I got out driving around. I drove down a road thinking I could get a barn and rolling pasture to accent the fog but just couldn't either find the right spot or a way to achieve a good composition. The sun was coming up rapidly and I knew that if I didn't find something quick, the fog would be burnt off as it got higher.
  More or less giving up I started my way on to work. As I passed by this field just a short distance away from my house, I saw a tremendous sight. There are two trees that stand alone in the field and the sun was peaking above the horizon but being blocked bye the smaller of the two trees. This creates a "God's Rays" effect as it shines through the tree into the rising fog. I have always wanted to capture this effect but until yesterday had not had an opportunity.
  I parked across the street from the field and walked a 100 yards or so in the field and tried to get as close to the trees as possible to help fill the frame. Not wanting to wast the moment, I finally just set up and started shooting.
  I bracketed a few shots and really loved the way this one came out. Granted, it isn't the show stopping composition I would have loved, but overall it made for a beautiful scene.

Monday, July 16, 2012


ISO 200, f/20, 1 Second, 19mm
  As Tim Owens and I were leaving the Cable Mill in Cades Cove yesterday, I noticed a little stair step up to the trough that feeds the water wheel. I immediately knew I had to get a shot from straight down the trough to the mill.
  With all 3 legs of my tripod standing in the rapidly flowing water I fired off a few brackets and was extremely happy with this angle. Don't know if I've ever seen a shot from here before. Not that there hasn't been any, I just haven't seen any. Tim actually climbed into the trough himself and sat on one of the cross beams to take his shots.
  Really like the way the low hanging branches frame around the shape of the mill in the background. I applied the Dreamland effect from Perfect Effects 3 Free at about 40% opacity on those leaves and branches to soften them up and darken them compared to the bright wood of the mill.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 0.8 seconds, 19mm
  I gotta say that it doesn't get any better than a friend lending you a camera to use while yours is on the DL. That's just what my good friend and photog buddy Tim Owens did. With my DSLR out of commission, he lent me his Canon EOS Rebel T2i til I can get mine back up and going.
  Tim and I initiated the T2i to my work flow by taking a photography loop around Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  We arrived at the entrance to Cades Cove at around 6:25am and they had not opened the gates and let everyone in yet so we were one of the first 6 or so cars to enter when the gate was opened. Which really bothers me. Beings that they don't let anyone driving into the park after 6:30, it is impossible to get a sunrise picture which would be absolutely incredible! The one and only flaw I have seen with the Smokies so far.
  A place that I have always wanted to photograph but have never had the opportunity is the Cable Grist Mill at the Cades Cove Visitor's Center. The only other times I have been here there were teams of people all over the place so catching a good shot of the mill was difficult. Well, this morning we had the place to ourselves and took pic after pic of this awesome landmark.  The only complaint is that the mill wheel wasn't spinning with the water so it just kinda poured out of the sides instead of into the wheel. That wasn't such a bad thing because it made for some nice silky looking water beside the wheel.
  The mill was built in 1868 by John P. Cable and restored to decent shape in 1937. To learn more about it's history and restoration go HERE.
  More to come from the mill and throughout our trip to Cades Cove in future posts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 1/5 second, 19mm
  I am a complete sucker for barns and hey rolls! My mornings before I go to work are usually spent diving back roads looking for one or the other. Or both.
  Tuesday morning it looked like there were gonna be some nice clouds out for sunrise so instead of driving toward Vonore and closer to work, I took the old 68 highway towards Sweetwater. I did this knowing there were 3 or 4 barns along that road that were image worthy.
  What I found was a very familiar barn that actually had hey rolls in the field next to it. Cha ching! The beautiful sunrise was coming up directly behind the wonderful old barn so I took shots from a couple of different angles and then moved over into the field to catch the hey rolls.
ISO 100, f/14, 1/3 second, 19mm
  I will still look for barns and hey rolls in the mornings even the hey rolls won't be around much longer. It was a stellar morning being able to catch both of these subjects in one stop though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/20 second, 19mm
  If you have never been to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are really missing out. I have been missing out for the past 12 years! But not any more.
  I have been living in East Tennessee for 12 1/2 years now and yesterday was the 3rd time ever I have ventured into Cades Cove. It was the first time I explored for the interest of landscape photography. A couple of months ago I shot my son's senior pics there but didn't do any landscape photog'ing.
  Cades Cove is a large valley surrounded by the Smokies. There is an 11 mile, 1 way road that loops completely around the cove and has several parking areas for pulling off and viewing the incredible scenery.  This road is well traveled and very crowded so be prepared to press on the brakes.
  Along the road you not only can see great views of the Smokie, old homesteads, and numerous hiking trails, but you can also experience all the wildlife the Smokies have to offer. Yesterday, +John Deas and I saw several deer and two black bears along the roadway.
  There are two gravel roads that span the width of the loop road and provide you with the opportunity to either shorten your trip or go back to spots you missed. They are Hyatt and Sparks Lane. We drove a bit down both of these roads yesterday and the picture in this post is from Hyatt Lane. It depicts a lot of what you will encounter on both of these paths. Lone trees, vast fields, wire fences, and great views.
  Going to spend a lot more time in Cades Cove in the future. Can't wait til the fall colors come in.

Monday, July 9, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 2 seconds, 20mm
 The next few days are supposed to be filled with at least a 60% chance of rain. This is going to give us a bit of relief from the extremely hot temps we've been experiencing. By Thursday, our high is only supposed to be 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
  With the weather system coming in and one exiting out from last night there were some clouds hanging around at sunrise this morning. Instead of trying to drive around and find a spot to shoot this sunrise, I just went to work and relied on or good ole floating dock and lake access.
  There were still a couple of boats tied up from being taken out by employees this past weekend. They added an additional reflection to the image and a neat part of the foreground.
  Just as the sun was starting to peak over the horizon, the clouds formed a "U" like shape centered around it. I placed the end of the dock just under the peaking sun as well to lead the eye to it.
  I placed my 3 stop ND filter on the lens to get a slightly longer exposure and flatten out the water and make a more solid reflection.

Friday, July 6, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 0.4 seconds, 19mm
  Boy, I love Tremont!
  While shooting there last Sunday in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I started maneuvering my way downstream and found this little rocky cascade.
  The tops of the trees were covered in dust from it being so dry and the dust from the gravel road clouding up and landing on them. It was soooo dry. The day before we were shooting we had reached a record temperature in the Knoxville area of 105 degrees F and had been no cooler than 94 the last 5 days.
  Because of the heat and lack of rain, the water levels in the river were considerable lower than we were used to. With this photo, however, it actually was beneficial. With normal water levels, these rocks would have been buried under the flow of water but now the water was just high enough to splash over the rocks and create a neat cascade. The white wash spread out in 4 different directions like fingers making for a great foreground. A slightly larger waterfall in the background leads in from the upper, right with the angled larger rocks wedging in the stream to the foreground subject.
  Tremont is loaded with cascades like this one. That's what makes it my favorite spot in the Smokies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, 19mm
  You ever have one of those spots that you can go back to and still find a unique perspective and absolutely love what you get from there? There is a particular spot in Tremont of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that does this for me. It is just past the Tremont Institute and right where Spruce Flats Falls empties into the Middle Prong of the Little River.
  I have visited here now 4 times and have pulled at least a couple of keeper shots from there every time.  The waterfall in the image above is a neat part of this spot but not necessarily the main subject of most of the images from there.
 The mossy rocks in the foreground are very neat and connect with rocky wall that braces the river from the roadway and that the waterfall pours over. Really like the reflection that is cast on the water as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 1/4 Second, 19mm
  It seems like whenever I go to Tremont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park I always find a different perspective to shoot from.
  This is about the 4th time that Tim Owens and I have been to this particular stretch of the Middle Prong Littler River. We were joined by Matt Millsaps and Alex Banakas and after we hiked to Laurel Falls we had plenty of time and were traveling towards Townsend so we headed to good ol' Tremont.
  There was a considerable shortage of water due to the extremely hot temperatures (we reached 108 degrees F yesterday). That did allow us to move around in the streams better although it made for difficult compositions.
  The image in today's post is right in front of where Spruce Flats Falls empties into the stream. I loved the reflection that this pool of trapped water provided of the surrounding trees and blue sky. After running through Photomatix Essentials and standard processing in Photoshop Elements, I applied the Dreamland Effect fron OnOne's Perfect Effects 3 Free and blended it in at 45% to soften up the shot.