Last month, my family and I took a few days to go visit one of our favorite places in the U.S., the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My work schedule wasn’t going to allow us to be there during the peak of Autumn when the colorful leaves are at their most vibrant but even that early in the season it’s still beautiful. During the day it got pretty warm but the long, cool mornings and evenings made up for it. In the higher elevations, with the temperatures up there being 10-15 degrees cooler, the leaves had started to show their colors a little.
While hiking up to the peak of Clingman’s Dome, an isolated storm passed over the distant valley.
At lower altitudes, the forest was still very green with only a few scattered leaves giving any hints at the coming splendor.
I could set up a lawn chair and sit right there all day.
Not quite a waterfall, this trickling stream highlighted with bright yellow leaves offered a pleasant scene worth photographing.
This beautiful field in Cade’s Cove was full of big, bright yellow wildflowers. Some of the stems reached higher than my head. In order to get above them and to offer a perspective that drew the field out higher into the frame, I used a 3-section monopod held overhead. After setting an exposure I switched the cameras shutter release to the 5-second timer then heaved the camera up as high into the air as the monopod would allow. To get the composition right it took a few tries but I did eventually get the result I was after. I love all the contrasts in this image: Bright yellows against dark blues, sunny foreground against a storm cloud background and a flat valley ending in the rise of the surrounding mountains. Such a peaceful spot to enjoy while making this photo.
Every trip I’ve made to Cade’s Cove, I can’t leave without getting another photo of this lonesome tree sticking straight up out of the rolling fields around it. In my family, we calls this area the Mario Hills. They have such a pleasant roll to them, looking like the emerald green hills you’d see in the Super Mario Brothers video games. Truth be told, they’re savage to the flip flop-shodden feet of anyone walking over them. The dry, hard-stemmed grasses that cover these cartoonish hills are quick to draw blood if you’re not well protected. Our feet and ankles were trashed by the time we got back to the van. Still a good memory…
After climbing to the top of one the Mario Hills, we got this shot of the whole family. I forgot my tripod in the van so we had to shoot two images (one with me holding the camera and the other with my wife holding it) and blend them together in Photoshop.
I love this portrait of my oldest daughter sitting with my youngest daughter inside a historic church in Cade’s Cove.
Evening time in Cade’s Cove is always so peaceful. This historic cabin set back in the woods made for a neat shot. Years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a big black bear on the porch of this doorless cabin. We just kind of looked at each other in a moment of shock and then went our separate ways.
One of my kids spotted this pile of sleepy, little brown bats clinging to one of the rafters inside the cabin. The exceptionally dim lighting inside the cabin was addressed by the A7RII’s very impressive low-light performance, requiring ISO 40,000 to get these little guys properly exposed. They look like kitties! Evil, blood-sucking, winged kitties!
A warm glow from the setting sun in this forested area of Cade’s Cove.
The combination of the Minolta Rokkor-PG 58mm f/1.2’s magical bokeh and the A7RII’s vast dynamic range made for a pleasing, spur-of-the-moment portrait of my Squishybear.
If you’re a regular follower of OutFor30, you’ll know I’m a sucker for old trucks. This old Ford was parked in the grass out front of a Moonshine shop.
A patch of morning sun landed on this tiny, dew-covered spider’s web carefully strung between blades of grass.
Too early in the season for the full show, I resorted to narrower perspectives to capture the colors of Autumn.
THAT’S A HUGE LEAF! Nearly 10 inches tip to tip!
The day we drove back down to Florida, we made a quick pit stop to visit Mingus Mill on the North Carolina side of the Smokies. This fully-functioning grist mill from the 1880’s is a great way to see in action the ingenuity of the people who once lived here.
I hope you enjoyed the photos! If you’ve never visited the Smokies, it’s worth paying these ancient mountains a visit. I still think it’s one of the prettiest places in the world.