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Recent Images~~ Smokies

I just returned from an autumn trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.  I feel so connected to the Smokies and love exploring the area with my camera in hand.  This fall was not the explosion of color I've seen in other years, but there were pockets of gorgeous autumn leaves if you spent some time exploring the area.  The combination of fall color, good water levels and overcast skies made for some great shooting days.  

Lighting up the night in Cades Cove
Cades Cove is home to many primitive buildings that are the remnants of a thriving community that once lived in the beautiful area.  I often wondered what these buildings must have looked like when they were inhabited.  So I decided to play with the Shields Cabin, lighting the inside as darkness approached.  The long exposure shot shows how the cabin might have looked when folks gathered by the fire before bedtime.  (Smoke was added in post!)
Finding my "Eliot Porters"
Eliot Porter was a photographer from the early part of the 20th century, and he is best known for his images of intimate landscapes.  He was able to find color and pattern in the often chaotic scenes that are the hallmark of wilderness.  It can be challenging to find a "snippet" amongst all the lines and shapes and colors.  Turning that intimate scene into an artistic photograph is not easy, but finding your own version of an "Eliot" turns a casual hike into a fun adventure!  

Finding this tiny but colorful dogwood tree in the woods was like getting a gift!  It was the only color around, and it almost felt like it was just waiting there to have its portrait made!

Finding beauty in small places
I enjoy looking at little details when I'm out in the woods,  searching for interesting things that tell the story of a place on a small scale.  These aren't grand landscapes, but then the Smokies aren't that kind of place.  The beauty of this wilderness area often lies in the smallest scenes.

Not a macro image for sure, but I loved the little landscape that was playing through the window of the Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cove.

Clingman's Dome--A Night to Remember!
The drive to the Dome takes over an hour from Townsend, and there is no way to predict what the conditions will be because Clingman's is very high in the mountains and makes its own weather!  So I took a chance and made the drive for sunset, and I was rewarded with a show of color and light that I will never forget.  It started with a very overcast sky and I expected a fizzle--but then suddenly the clouds parted just as the sun was setting and I was treated to a light show that had me shooting 2 cameras at one time!  The layers went from impossible blue to deep purple and then the sky turned orange and red with the sudden appearance of a sun pillar.  OK, when the Smokies puts on a show, it really pulls out all the stops!

The evening began to lose promise almost as soon as I set up my tripod.  The clouds were thick and I suspected the sunset would fizzle out.  But I came all this way, so...

The sun peaked out from behind the thick clouds and just like that, the layers turned purple and had the most glorious side lighting that I've ever seen in the Smokies!  This only lasted for less than a minute, but I was clicking away and grinning ear to ear!

As the sun got closer to the top of the mountains, the layers turned an electric blue and a sideways twisting cloud started to develop.   I quickly set up a second camera/tripod to be able to shoot wide and telephoto, I didn't want to miss what was coming!

I know what you're thinking--geez Jane, you really over saturated this one!!  But nope, I actually didn't!  In fact, I turned down the saturation just a bit to make it more believable!!  It was a once in a lifetime shot of the blue layers.  I came to the Smokies in 2014 with one goal in mind--capture the blue layers.  I have done that many times since, but never like this!

The final image from that magical night at Clingman's Dome, complete with a morning glory cloud, sun pillar, and glowing purple layers.  I felt like I had witnessed a true miracle of nature, a gift from the universe.