I believe this was my 12th trip to the Smoky Mountains. Some ask, “why go back so many times?” My response is, I love the Smokies. It is one of my favorite east coast locations. The conditions are different each time I go. I bring photographic maturity each time I visit. I bring my evolving vision which allows me to see things I had not seen before.
I believe the two images in this post provide a good example. Most of you have seen the tree in fog (below) from my last trip two years ago. What a magical gift that was. This year we did not see fog in the cove. A few lessons here. I could have had an expectation for fog and been disappointed. Students could have had the same expectation based on countless stunning fog images of Cades Cove on the internet. And they could have gone home disappointed, but no, we found another right answer of the same tree! We waited patiently for the sun to light up the tree while leaving the background hills in shade. If there was full sun on the whole scene it would not have been nearly as successful. The dark background helps to give dimension and separate the tree from it. A big shout out to my tour partner Dan Sniffin who helped me to see this type of scene many years ago.