Category Archives: Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountains Through Their Eyes

Yet another installment of “Through Their Eyes.” This time, from The Great Smoky Mountains!

Patricia –  My favorite is the mountains because I was hoping to capture the iconic shot with the rolling hills and a colorful sky.


Terry – After the rain, the soothing sound of water rushing over the rocks.

Cam – April Morning:  I chose this photo because it depicts the quietude and simplicity of a spring morning in Cade’s Cove.  This restored farmhouse reminds us that people lived and farmed this land long before it became part of  one of the most visited national parks in the U.S.  The spring greens are offset by the white of the house and the flowering dogwood, with traces of red throughout.

Norma – I love the greens and the moss on the rocks.  I find I very calming and peaceful.

Robin – I chose it because the amount and variety of greens in the landscape were unbelievable.  Just incredible.

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Smoky Mountains Workshop


I just finished co-leading a workshop with Rad Drew in The Great Smoky Mountains.  When Rad and I met last weekend, the trees were predominantly green with little if any color to be found.  Suffice it to say, we were a bit anxious about the potential for color.  Then on Tuesday, the day we started, things started to change, and, by the time we finished the week, the color was glorious! 

After a much needed nap when the workshop ended, I decided to head out along Little River Road to see what I might find. The two images in this post are a result of my afternoon out. This scene got better and better as we drove by it each day.  Today it was screaming with color and offered a number of compositions. The top image was made as the sun was setting giving me gold light on the background trees.  The bottom image was made about an hour later, in softer light with no sun on the scene at all.

Grateful to have been in this wonderful park with Rad and a terrific group!

Rad and I will be doing this workshop again next fall. We will begin taking deposits in November.  Rad and I will be doing a workshop together in the Palouse in May.  Hope to see you at one or the other or both!


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Cades Cove and Amazing Light!




Rad Drew and I are finishing our pre-tour scouting as we get ready for our group to arrive today.  Yesterday we decided to end our day in Cades Cove. I’ve been to Sparks Lane many times, and, each time is just as magical. This time was no different, in fact, it might have been the most amazing light I’ve ever seen at this location. Poor Rad must have been annoyed, as I exclaimed out loud over and over again… THIS LIGHT IS INSANE!

I will be back in the Smokies in the spring and Rad and I will be doing this workshop again next fall!  We will have the details up on our websites when we finish here. You can see the details for my spring workshop here. 

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The Great Smoky Mountains Through Their Eyes

Yes, time for yet another “through their eyes” post. This time from the Smoky Mountains Tour. 


Janice – I chose this photo because it feels like an unfinished quest of any Smokies tour; trying for the most moving shot of mossy rocks, gently  cascading waters and arching trees. I’m not there yet, but with the help of the magical eyes of Dan Sniffin, who pointed this out to me, I was able to move another step closer to my goal. Super fun tour Dan and John!  Great people! Thank you so much!

Smokie Mountain Stream Spring 2016-033600184

Susan – The week we were in the Smokies, there were dogwoods everywhere. This is my favorite.

last day in smokies-2016-04-22_944

Debbie – I would call this good timing with the sun. We had just gotten to a place on River Road and the sun came out and lit the trees up with reflections down stream. I’m also including another picture when I blew it up to see if the focus was good. To my surprised there were several water moccasins sunning on a rock. This is a reminder for me to be careful in the spring because the snakes are out.



Carla – “The Smokies were magnificent in the Spring; the breathtaking colors filled my soul with joy and peace. My favorite images were of the tree lined lanes. No matter in which direction I faced, there was a beautiful image.”

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Susan –  I got to Spark’s Lane early in the morning before sunrise. I love morning light and I was not disappointed with it’s appearance on this day.

Early light on Spark's Lane-2

Joyce –  Being able to photograph beautiful flowers is the “icing on the cake” and makes for a superb photographic adventure.

Image by Scott

Image by Scott

Scott  – Trying to pick a favorite from the Smokys is pretty darn near impossible. So I migrated to what has become my favorite subject…water! This was taken on the Middle Prong of the Little River. It was shot at 1/5 @ f14, native ISO of 200 using the Fuji X-T1. Thanks to Dan and John for another wonderful week of excellent photography opportunities.


Image by Scott

Image by Scott


Elaine – I had so many favorite images from the Smokies. It was really hard to pick. Ken and I had just been shooting for several hours. I wanted to head back to the room. Ken said “Let’s go back to Cades Cove. I think the light is going to be good.” With me whining the whole way, we entered the park. The light was glorious for the next two hours. We could not tear ourselves away. I think some very wise person once said, “you have to show up!” I especially love the leading lines and the diagonal that gets repeated through out the image.


Barb – The horses showed themselves in so many good light opportunities.


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12 years and I still love it!


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. 


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Smoke in the Smokies

One of my favorite places in The Great Smoky Mountains is the Foothills Parkway for sunrise. When our group arrived early at “the” spot we were greeted by 65 others who love this spot too! Unfortunately the fog was too thick this day. After a long wait, folks were itchy for breakfast, so most left without getting much. After breakfast, a few of us wandered back to see what might be there and were given a gift. I love the subtle crepuscular rays, the strong white fog near the hill tops and light on the land.




Barclay Photography – Encouraging you to make images that make your heart sing.

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Time for the Smoky Tour

One of my favorite places to photograph on the east coast is The Great Smoky Mountains!  I adore the lush greens of early spring, the blossoms on the dogwood, the redbud trees blooming and the foggy mist in the morning. Dan and I have another great group joining us next week and we can’t wait to get started!

The Smokies is a place that makes my heart sing!






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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.


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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.

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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.

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