Category Archives: Smoky Mountains

Stop and get it while you can


This is a a grab shot with a lesson. We were doing our pre-tour scouting when we spotted this scene. Rather than get out a tripod and shoot it properly, I fired off a couple of handheld shots and we moved on.  At the moment my head was filled with things like, we need to move on and get the scouting done, eh, its not that great anyway, how do I expose for this type of scene anyway?   Seriously my F.U.D. (fears uncertainties and doubts) were creeping in. Then when I got back to the room and took a look, I immediately realized I had made a mistake. I should have stopped pulled out the tripod and taken a few minutes to think through my composition and exposure.    

The lesson?  STOP and get it while you can.


Also posted in B&W Tagged , , |

Color Versus B&W



I love this picture in color, AND, I love it in B&W.





I asked my wife which she liked best, she said, “I like them both, however, they each evoke a different emotion. They create two very different moods. The color is full of life and happiness making me want to go there. The B&W is full of mystery, drama  and wonder.  What lies beyond the fog?” I am frequently suggesting that B&W is a choice, and should be used with purpose. I believe the two versions here illustrate my point well.  Neither is better than the other, however, each creates a very different response from the viewer.  That is of course unless you’re Cole Thompson to which color is noise or Chuck Kimmerle who sees color as the anti-christ.  Which do you respond to?

A note for the Fuji fans out there.  I shot the entire trip to the Smokies with the X-E2. To say I am happy is an understatement.  I wanted to shoot the new X-T1, however, the Really Right Stuff “L” bracket did not arrive in time. The good news is they started shipping this week. This was shot with the 10-24mm zoom at 10mm which is effectively 15mm in the full frame world.  Very happy with this wide angle zoom from Fuji.

Also posted in B&W, Color, Creative Tagged , , |

Dogwood B&W #2

DSCF4813-EditBWmatted Here is another black & white image from Sparks Lane.  As I continue to explore the Smokies in black and white, I am pleased with what I’m seeing. Remember to click on the image to make it much bigger. A fun side note. We ate lunch one day at the wonderful Lily’s in Townsend. As we engaged our server in conversation, we learned that she is from the Sparks family after which this lane is named.

Also posted in B&W Tagged , , , , , |

Cades Cove Dogwood




This image was a bit of a surprise.  I liked what I saw through the viewfinder as a color image, however, when I opened the file in Lightroom, I began to play with it as a monochromatic version.  The surprise was how much I liked it as a b&w conversion.  My initial thinking was, I’m in the Smokies, an awesome place to photograph early spring color.  Why on earth would I want to try b&w?  The lesson learned once again is, b&w is simply a choice and one that should be made with purpose, regardless of subject matter.  

A note on the processing.  Ninety percent of this image was processed in Lightroom 5 with just a few minor tweaks in Photoshop to finish it off.  

Also posted in B&W Tagged , , , , |

The Smokies Being the Smokies



As we finished our first full day of shooting with the group, a gloomy, overcast, rainy, and great day got even better.  Near the end of the day, we began to see blue sky and the sun came out, basking the iconic scene on Sparks Lane with its golden glow.  Then, on the way out, we rounded the corner and found the ground fog rising around this wonderful lone tree.  The Smokies deliver yet again. 

Also posted in B&W, Tour Tagged , , , |

The Smoky Tour Begins


Tomorrow we start shooting with the group.  Looks like we will have a week of mixed weather which should be good for varied opportunities.  Looking forward to some great shooting with a great group.

The blog image is from the iconic Sparks Lane in Cades Cove.


Also posted in Tour, Workshop Tagged , , , |

Foggy Morning

I love going back through images to find hidden gems.  I’ve spoken about this before, but feel it worth another reminder.  Give yourself time from the shoot so you will be able to evaluate the images for what they are, and not what you had hoped they would be.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It would be best to craft your image in the viewfinder and feel confident you have THE shot.  That said, I still feel we are drawn to certain images when we do our review and these pop out because of our emotional and visceral reaction to them.  What then happens is, we tend to move on leaving behind other images that are also great!  With today’s image, I have already processed three others from this particular morning shoot.  As I went back to review images, now almost two months old, I had new knowledge.  I have learned more about processing this type of image and was able to review the RAW files with a new perspective.  This new knowledge helped me to see the potential in other similar images.  And then I decided to play with a crop and came up with the image below.  Another right answer!

Also posted in B&W, Inspiration, Landscape, Nik Silver Efex

2013 Tours added!

Dan and I have locked in our 2013 tours.  Just click on the tours link at the top of the page.  We hope to see you on one next year.  I am working on my local workshops and hope to have that page updated by the end of November.

The image today, is from the chimney tops picnic area in the Smoky Mountains.  With images like this, it is important to move left and right until you separate the trees as much as possible.  The image would feel clumpy if you had trees stacked on top of each other or merging with one another.

Also posted in Color, Fall Color

The Road To Cades Cove

Each time I’ve been to the Smokies in the fall, this portion of the road to Cades Cove is magical.  It feels like you are in a tunnel of lush yellow.   We could not resist stopping to get a shot this time.

Also posted in Color, Fall Color, Landscape, Photo Tour

We have POWER!


After 4 long days without power, we were back on the grid at 10PM last night.  We just don’t know how blessed we are until we are without do we?

The gang in the Smokies was tremendous and flexible.  Flexible as we needed to modify our schedule due to weather changing daily.  All in all, we did very well with lush open forest color and great graphic images.  Honestly, more interesting to photograph than a wall of color to me.   The blog image is another favorite from the trip.  My tour partner Dan Sniffin, found the scene.  I was initially not overwhelmed, however, when I processed it, it came to life and I understood what he saw.  A lesson was learned that day and I have now added this type of scene to my visual memory bank.  I will be looking for similar scenes in the future.  More about visual memory in the future!

Also posted in Color, Fall Color