GNPA Smokies Photography Weekend / by Chris Dahl

Once again The Georgia Nature Photographers Association visited the The Great Smoky Mountain National Park for their annual fall trip! This annual event is home based in Townsend, TN with excursions throughout the Smokies. 

Weather and locatin are keys to getting good photographs. Dramatic weather contributes to dramatic photos. In the past we have had a mix of clear to poor weather. Clear days are good for wildlife and big scenes. But the sky becomes boring on a cloudless day. So a good mix of clouds and some rain is even better.

You know you are in the Smokies when you see fog in the valley. If you wake up in the morning and open the window and see fog simplay do not get back into bed! Go out and see what is in store for you. The photo below is a good example of a cloudy sky with fog in the valley. At 5:30 AM when I woke up and looked out at the parking lot, the fog looked so bad I thought to myself why go. But as you can see the reward was this lovely scenes of backlit clouds and a blanket of fog in the valley.

 Sunrise, pullout 15 on Foothills Parkway.

Sunrise, pullout 15 on Foothills Parkway.

I arrived on Wednesday night and went out at first light on Thursday morning to Cades Cove to start my photography journey. We had rain all accross the south the entire week and Thursday was no exception. I pulled into Cades Cove in a steady rain. It rained most of the day on Thursday, but I managed to find some locations to make some photos. Maybe not the best ones I have produced but some unique ones.

 John Whitehead Cabin, Cades Cove GSMNP.

John Whitehead Cabin, Cades Cove GSMNP.

There are a few spots that I visit every time I go to Cades Cove. It seems odd to folks that I go back to the same locations every time I go, but with the changing conditions you really do get a different perspective each visit. Bill Lea spoke at the closing session this year and talked about the quality of light. This was exactly his point as well. Weather plays a huge role in the quality of light.

 Off of Sparks Lane, B&W Infrared.

Off of Sparks Lane, B&W Infrared.

 Kayaker on the Middle Prong of Little River.

Kayaker on the Middle Prong of Little River.

Lots of rain will lead to lots of water in the rivers and streams. The Middle Prong of Little River was way up in Tremont, so not the best conditions for water photography. This is one of my favorite places to photography water, so I scouted it Thursday to see how high it was. As I made the drive up to the end of the road I saw small contributing streams that are usually just trickles turn into full water falls. But I also saw some guys Kayaking down the river, so I pulled out the long lens and started shooting them, Then I would race to the next curve to catch them again. Click on the image to see more.

 “I see you” A cautious deer keeps an eye on me. (First Place in the Wildlife Competition)

“I see you” A cautious deer keeps an eye on me. (First Place in the Wildlife Competition)

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This year we also had more color than usual in the trees in the higher elevations. I love finding the colors reflecting in the slower waters. On Saturday it had been dry for two days and the waters went down a good bit. The photo to the left was made on the Middle Prong of Little River.

To see more images of this trip please follow this link. GNPA Smokies Weekend.

Sunrise off Foothills Parkway GSMNP.

Here is a short video from this trip.