Tag Archives: Places

Great Smoky Mountains in the Spring

The usual Great Smoky Mountains suspects – Cades Cove and Tremont – photographed in late April with the Hasselblad X1D and an IR-converted Sony A6500. The weather and atmospheric conditions were ideal, with early morning fog and great clouds. While the dogwoods were just past peak, I was able to capture a few remaining blooms. This park is one of the gems of the US National Park system and a photographer’s dream destination.

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Photographing the Great Smoky Mountains with the Hasselblad X1D

One of my favorite southeastern US travel destinations is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I try to time my trips to the park to coincide with either the peak of dogwood blossoms in the spring or with the peak of fall color. Sometimes I hit a home run and sometimes I strike out. I just missed (by one week or one storm) the dogwood peak and there were only a few blooms left on the Tennessee side of the mountains. Not to worry. Photo ops abound around Townsend, Tennessee in Cades Cove, along the Little River Road (from the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg to the Townsend “wye”), and in the Tremont area. I spent four days at the end of April and had great weather for photography – morning ground fog, a thunderstorm, an afternoon with no wind, periods of muted sunshine and periods of full sun. Late April is also a good time to visit the park ahead of the crowds that descend after Memorial Day when schools are in summer recess.

Hasselblad X1D | Lens: Hasselblad XCD 45mm f/3.5 | Focal length: 45 mm | Shutter speed: 40.0 sec | Aperture: ƒ / 16 | ISO: 100 | Exposure bias: N/A

This was my first road trip with the Hasselblad X1D medium format camera and XCD lenses. I had used the camera and the three XCD lenses enough close to home to be confident in the system as my primary kit for this trip. The last item on my “wish list” for the trip was a spare battery and I managed to get three spares just prior to hitting the road. I anticipated using the camera from a tripod and shooting at ISO 100 as much as possible. Being familiar with the territory helped in this regard, as did understanding the likely weather conditions. For water cascades and river shots, I needed both 6-stop and 10-stop ND filters in a couple of filter sizes. I also wanted to try the Xume (now Manfrotto) magnetic filter adapters to evaluate their ease of use in the field. And I’ve been conditioned to always carry circular polarizers and a rain cover.

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Crowds at Popular Photo Destinations

As a landscape photographer primarily, I’ve been a keen observer of the increased popularity of digital photography and its effects on popular photo venues. Iconic locations like Mesa Arch, Antelope Canyon and Schwabacher Landing have become so crowded with photographers, that squeezing into a row of tripods has become a struggle (or an impossibility depending upon how early you arrive). That’s good news and bad news. The good news is that photography as a hobby or profession is vibrant and growing in popularity. Everyone with a smartphone is a potential photographer. The bad news is that the crowds have discouraged some visitors and, in some cases, ruined the experience for others who follow. Some have blamed the crowds on tour bus operators who bring bus loads of eager tourists to popular spots. Others have blamed the ubiquity of the smartphone – a camera in everyone’s pocket.

After reading a few blog posts by well-known photographers and workshop leaders addressing this subject, I came across an invitation to join The Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit, which invited 200 photographers and 15 workshop leaders to the very small town (one traffic light) of Townsend, Tennessee during the peak week of fall color. While the surrounding area is extremely popular (the adjacent Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most heavily visited National Park in the US) for recreation (hiking, biking, kayaking, sightseeing…) and photography, it seemed ironic that the same people who had expressed concern about crowded destinations were inviting 200 people to descend upon a tiny area of the GSMNP during peak season.
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Where is the Edisto Island “Boneyard”?

The Edisto Island “boneyard” is located in the Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area near Charleston, SC. The park was opened to the public in 2008 and is managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The boneyard is a maritime forest and is one of the least visited but most photogenic features of the South Carolina coast. It is seldom photographed by the casual photographer because it is about an hour’s drive from Charleston and the directions to the park aren’t prominently posted.
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Where is the Old Patriarch tree?

The Old Patriarch tree in Grand Tetons National Park is one of the iconic images of the park. But it is seldom photographed by the casual photographer because it isn’t visible from the Teton Park Road and it takes a short hike through fairly thick sagebrush to get to it. Good directions to the tree are available in a thread in a Yellowstone Net forum, but I wanted to supplement those directions with GPS coordinates and a Google Earth view. Hence this post.

After finding the tree on a September 2008 trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone, I used a DIY GPS receiver with my Nikon D3 to pinpoint the exact location of the tree. I’ll describe the GPS gadget in another post. You can set these coordinates in any of the common GPS receivers to find the tree: 43° 47′ 0″ N, 110° 41′ 51″ W.

Here’s a photo of the Old Patriarch framed using PrintEXIF v3.1. The GPS information is displayed, and the photo is a link, so you can click on the photo to see a Google Earth view of where it was taken.

Old Patriarch Tree

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