03 May 2008
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was invited down to Knoxville Tennessee to put on my multi-media presentation “A Wilderness Year” for the Southern Appalachian Nature Photographers Association. While I was down in that area, I was able to get a few days shooting in at Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We really hit the weather lottery the first couple of days. It is funny most people think us photographers want bright sunny days for photography but the truth is we want different types of light for different subjects. In the Smokies, I was interested in shooting the wildflowers that were in full bloom. For that subject matter, the best conditions are bright hazy overcast conditions with intermittent light rain. This super saturates the colors and lends a nice soft even light in the hardwood forests where many of the spring wildflowers grow. We were also blessed with very light winds which is also important because often in overcast conditions it is not uncommon to shoot a 2 to 4 second exposure. Obviously if my subject is blowing in the wind during that exposure it will ruin the shot.
After a grey winter spent in Michigan, it can be pretty overwhelming to be confronted with so much green virtually overnight. It is funny, many times out in the spring woods it seems as if you can actually hear everything around you growing.
A Symphony in Green
There are many places in the park where the ground was literally carpeted in wildflowers. Featured in this next image is yellow trillium, purple phacelia, and large-flowered trillium.
A Wildflower Carpet
The other benefit of these slow shutter speeds I spoke of earlier, is that they allow running water to be rendered as a silky blur. In the image below, the shutter was open for a full three seconds. This allows the air bubbles trapped in the flowing water to paint themselves as a milky white blur. A friend I was travelling with found these violets growing in front of this small fall. I really like the way the violets mimic the shape of the main part of the falls. I shot this with a wide angle lens my lens ended up being less than six inches away from the flowers. The toughest part of this shot was getting enough depth of field (the area of sharpness in a photo) to keep everything sharp.
Waterfall and Violets
We even got lucky with a black bear one evening.
King of the Smokies–Black Bear