A ‘Swerve’ In The Road

I had heard that temperatures can be extreme when comparing the lowlands of the Smokies to the top of Clingman’s Dome and on our second full day we experienced just that. Deciding to be there for sunrise meant we had to leave early the next morning since it’s over an hour away from where we were staying. The weather forecast for the morning was clear … cold but clear. I think wake-up time was around 4:30. This would be where we’d get our layered distant mountain shots at an elevation of 6,643 ft. After several miles on Newfound Gap Road we noticed a few flakes and rounding a corner in the semi-dark we could see that there was a frosty coating on the peaks. We made a right onto Clingman’s Dome Road and enjoyed the spring surprise when the jeep went out of control. We swerved one way, then the other (and back again) before we were thrown into some spruce trees on the side of the road, barely missing a cement culvert to our left. We were tilted to the side and the front end was covered with branches. My friend, behind the wheel and quite frightened yelled, ‘what are we going to do!?!’ Quick thinking as I am, I reached for my phone and called 411 … I know, it’s 911! Reception was good on top of the mountain and I was connected with the police who said they would alert the park rangers. Just then two park road crew guys stopped and said they’d get us out of there. They braced the car because of the tilt and had my friend put it in 4-wheel drive and back up. We felt like the luckiest people alive to learn the only damage was some cracks in the bumper cover. We waited on the side of the road until the salt truck came through and then followed them down and they closed the road. We jokingly apologized to some other photographers, taking full blame for closing Clingman’s Dome Road that Monday. Sadly, we never did get back up to the Dome but now that gives me a good reason to go back!

(Scroll down to the previous 2 posts to see how different the scenery looked the day before!)

‘Unexpected Turn’ © Denise Bush
‘Foggy Frosting’ © Denise Bush
‘Spring Surprise’ © Denise Bush
‘Salty Rescue’ © Denise Bush

Waterfall Favorites & Shooting In The Rain

My favorite waterfall shots from a recent trip to Smoky Mountain National Park are those shot along Roaring Fork Motor Trail on that first, misty/drizzly day described in the previous post. The greens were astonishing and the moss on the rocks seemed neon and surreal. It was easy to get the silky water effect with the soft and diminished light. Apertures of f/14-f/22 and a 100 ISO paired with shutter speeds slow enough to achieve the correct exposure and result I wanted.

Being prepared for the weather meant everything to the success of the day. Here’s what you need to photograph in the rain:

1. A good rugged raincoat. My knee length raincoat kept me dry and comfortable. I always take it with me on trips and often use it when it’s not raining because it’s roomy enough to wear layers under-neath while acting as a wind-breaker. Hoods and ball-caps get in the way so wear a waterproof hat with a brim that doesn’t bump the camera when looking thru the viewfinder.
2. There are several products out there to keep your camera dry, including raincoats for your camera. I think the clear plastic (disposable or reusable) Rainsleeves by OpTech work great. They fit over your camera and lens and allow for tripod use. It does take some patience to work the controls thru the plastic but it’s doable. There’s a cord to tighten the sleeve around the lens and an opening to secure around the viewfinder.
3. Have an extra, soft towel handy to dry off your camera if it gets wet and an extra lens cloth for water spots. I’ve had my camera in the rain on several occasions and it’s weathered well. Try to keep you lens pointed down as much as possible and check it from time to time to make sure there are no water spots that will show up on your images.

Now, I don’t recommend an outdoor session if it’s pouring rain but photographing in a light rain can be fun if you have the right attitude. Spring is a perfect time for a shoot in the rain … try it!

‘Mossy Cascades’ © Denise Bush
‘Roaring Fork Cascades’ © Denise Bush
‘Spring Rush’ © Denise Bush
‘A Different View’ © Denise Bush

Outside (& In)

On the first morning of a recent trip to the Tennessee side of Smoky Mountain National Park, my friend and I were greeted with a fine, misty rain. Equipped with rain sleeves to keep our cameras dry, we worked the cabin scenes along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, capturing the soft light and ultra-saturated greens. At each site there was a plaque telling of those who had lived here, deep in the Smoky Mountains. I could almost hear the banjos and fiddles playing while imagining how it was, not so long ago. The cabins were open and offered a nice respite from the rain so I went in and photographed from the inside too. And, since the weather kept other tourists from venturing out, we enjoyed the quiet mood of the day.

‘Roaring Fork Cabin’ © Denise Bush
‘Cabin View’ © Denise Bush
‘Bale’s Place’ © Denise Bush
‘Shelter From the Rain’ © Denise Bush
‘Ephraim’s Place’ © Denise Bush
‘The Back Door’ © Denise Bush