Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blue Smoke, Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has two distinct characteristics setting it apart from any other park in the eastern United States. The first becomes apparent as you slowly travel throughout the mountains, valleys, rivers and forests of this park. Surrounded by wilderness for countless miles and miles, you quickly learn to appreciate the huge expanse of this national park.
The second characteristic is unmistakable as you stand peering down at the mountain ranges at Newfound Gap Overlook. The ever constant blue smoke saturates the mountains leaving a misty blue landscape to dominate the scene. ENJOY!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Trail, Ramsey Cascades

Allow me to take you back to the Smokies once again where you will find me on a brief walk along the Ramsey Cascades Trail. There were so many wonderful photo ops this year in the Smokies and this trail and the road to reach it were stunning.

This image does not fully convey the feeling you feel as you stand at this trail head, deep in the forest, 
miles from civilization, surrounded by stunning Fall foliage. Pure magic.  

On the way to the trail head, I had stopped to photograph water and by the time I had finished several settings, I was sweating and pretty spent. And while hiking wasn't on the agenda on this day, the trail to Ramsey Cascades was so inviting I couldn't resist walking a half mile in at least.

Deep in the forest, I walk along the trail, and suddenly I hear a familiar sound. The river is speaking to me.
I walk toward the sound and peer down to find this scene. The beauty of it overwhelming.

Keep in mind I love to hike, but this trail is four miles in and it was later in the day. I did check the elevation chart for this trail, and wow do you climb up in elevation, although most of it is in the last two miles. Hmm, but isn't that the hardest part of a hike. To have to make that elevation climb at that point has to be strenuous.

I reach a small clearing in the forest. I look over and find this bench carved from dead trees. 
I think about all of the different people from all walks of life who have stopped here to rest a spell. I move on. 

Now that I know how beautiful a drive to the trail head is to Ramsey Cascades, I am sure I will be back. I know further exploration will net me even better waterfall images.

I hike back along the trail, the same route I hiked in, and round a bend in the trail to find this scene.
I know now that I have taken 'the road less traveled' and I am a better person having done it.

The snow from Monday's storm has melted and the temps have climbed back to something more bearable. I hope this finds you safe and warm as Winter has come early here in the States. ENJOY!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflections, Cave Hill Cemetery

Several times a year I visit Cave Hill Cemetery which is located in the center of the city of Louisville. Cave Hill is not your average cemetery. It is actually a Victorian era cemetery and an arboretum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are over 120,000 people buried in the almost 300 acre cemetery with a signicant number of military as far back as the Civil War. It's an amazing place to visit. What I enjoy about this cemetery is not only the ornate headstones with their architecture and the sculptures adorning many of the headstones, but the many sizes and shapes. Some are large enough to be small houses. Did I mention the individual mausoleums scattered everywhere throughout the cemetery. Their fascinating, every one.

I visit Cave Hill Cemetery to see the beautiful ornamental trees and bushes of every variety imaginable which grow throughout the acreage. Spring is gorgeous with all of the flowering trees and bushes and flowers. Fall is just as beautiful with reds and oranges and yellows everywhere. This year my visit was a tad late and most of the foliage had fallen.

After driving through the entrance of the cemetery, I followed the map I had up on my iPad, and made my way to the back of the cemetery where a small lake sits hidden away from most visitors. A large limestone cliff butts up against the lake on all but one side. I had hopes that there might be a photo op there and as luck would have it, I was right. A beautiful tree covered in yellow leaves hung over the lake. Even better was the diffused light as the sun was hidden behind cloud cover which allowed for some beautiful reflections on the water.

Before I leave you, I might add that if you live anywhere in the central or northern United States, you have snow on the ground or are getting snow this week as we are here in Kentucky tonight. Fall has given way to Winter, in mid November no less, which is not typical, but not surprising after the Winter we had last year. I hope this finds you safe, warm and nestled warmly on the sofa with a warm drink in hand. I leave you with this parting thought. I did not want to become up close and personal with the 'polar vortex' but obviously I didn't get a vote. ENJOY!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winter, Kentucky's Scenic Byway

Early February in Kentucky, I find myself driving the beautiful scenic byway which runs along the Ohio River in Louisville.
Taking a quick detour, I visit the horse farm area of Oldham County, just north of the small town of Prospect.
A significant snowfall, followed by an equally significant ice storm had just taken place a few days prior.
When two major winter weather events combine, I know there are surely photo ops to be had. 
It is amazing what Mother Nature's fury can do and how it transforms our landscape. 
I hope you will find your way outdoors this Winter to capture scenes such as this. ENJOY!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fall, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fall painted such a gorgeous landscape as I maneuvered my way around every twist and turn and bend in the road as I slowly made my way toward Newfound Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in late October.
All along the road the landscape was blanketed in beautiful oranges and yellows and reds, as well as the remains of the dead trees which fell victim to the ash borer. It is sad that there are so many dead trees that dotted the landscape, but simply stunning to see the contrast of colors around them. A simple effect in my software brought more detail to the scene. ENJOY!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall, Meig's Falls

Meig's Falls is simply beautiful in Fall with its cascading water crashing over the cliff into Meig's Creek.

Fall leaves framed the waterfall as I stood on the pull off to capture this image in Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few weeks ago. ENJOY!

PHOTOGRAPHER'S TIP: My first thought was to post this image as a horizontal image, but I ended up choosing this vertical image instead. If you are not quite 'feeling it' with an image, crop it differently. Perhaps a close up, maybe even a major close up, or a vignette will get you what you are looking for. Or, as in this case, change the orientation. Sometimes when I take a photo, I pull back slightly on the image to include a tad more background. Why do I do this you may ask? Because you just might be glad you did when you drop it in your software and realize you want to crop the image and having that extra background was exactly what you needed. ENJOY!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Back Road to Ramsey Cascades

Sometimes one must take the road less traveled. On this particular day, I chose, not only the road less traveled, which takes you through the Greenbrier section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but I also took the side road leading to Ramsey Cascades trailhead. This road is traveled even less.
And I was ever so glad I did take this side road. Words that came to mind as I traveled slowly down the gravel road were beautiful, gorgeous and even at times stunning. As I drove I stopped numerous times to capture images. One time I stopped when a deer had stepped out of the woods. Several other times I stopped to photograph the small waterfalls rushing over the boulders as the water flowed down the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. But some of the most beautiful images I captured were of the road itself surrounded by all of the gorgeous Fall foliage. ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Beautiful Forest Floor

As I hike the trails in the woods and forests, I oftentimes look down to take in the many elements that have fallen to the forest floor. The leaves, the twigs, the branches, the seeds, the berries. The forest floor lays covered in millions of leaves and twigs waiting for its moment of glory. This Fall I was rewarded many times over with beautiful images of leaves not yet devoid of their reds and yellows and oranges. And, of course, I felt it my duty to share these beautiful images of nature that so often we fail to take note of.

As Fall comes to a close, I find myself remembering Winter's past of snowfalls and ice storms and cold dreary days. Yet, I know with Winter there will come new opportunities to get outdoors and capture this beautiful world we call Mother Earth. And fortunately, we have fantastic holidays ahead to entertain us and get us through the Winter months. I look forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day before we eventually find our way back to Spring and the rebirth of our beautiful natural world. ENJOY!