Category Archives: National Parks

All about National Parks, images, history, travel, shooting locations.

View From Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

 

View from Glacier Point, looking up Tenaya Canyon

View from Glacier Point, looking up Tenaya Canyon – Click image to enlarge

 

It’s hard to believe that it will have been 6 years this coming May since I visited Yosemite National Park. I enjoy going back through my older photos, especially my images of Yosemite so I think that makes it seem like it wasn’t that long ago. I find that looking at my older photos is a great learning experience since I take the time to look at my composition along with the exposure metadata and usually realize that I probably could have composed a better shot. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially with all the metadata that’s saved with our digital photos that can be viewed and analyzed. I know I’ve become a better photographer because of it.

All these images are taken from Glacier Point. As you can probably tell from the harsh look of the images, it was mid-day and photographically speaking not the best time of day for photography, but that’s when I was there and I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to go back so I was shooting anyway. From Glacier Point you can look down into Yosemite Valley, see Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Vernal and Nevada Falls and of course the great granite massif Half Dome. The first image is a view up Tenaya Canyon with Half Dome on the right, and the Royal Arches and North Dome on the left. The black and white conversion was done in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 from the original raw file with Lightroom adjustments. The second images is a nice view of Vernal and Nevada Falls. Climbing the Mist Trail up to the top of Vernal Falls, I didn’t realize that it and Nevada Falls were fed by the same water source.

 

Vernal Falls (lower left) and Nevada Falls (upper right) from Glacier Point

Vernal Falls (lower left) and Nevada Falls (upper right) from Glacier Point – Click image to enlarge

 

Yosemite National Park is a very special place. If you get the chance to go there, don’t give it a second thought, go and you’ll be glad you did. I can’t wait to go back for a longer time and more serious photography!

To see more of my photography of Yosemite National Park, please visit my gallery here. If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

October’s Hunter’s Moon

Hunter's Moon October 2013

Hunter’s Moon October 2013 – Click image to enlarge

 

 

Several photography friends and I went to Great Smoky Mountains National Park back in October to photograph fall color. Although we were there over the 3rd weekend of October which is typically when peak color occurs, the color this year was below average at best but we had a great time and did capture some great shots!

Our first evening in the park was spent atop Clingman’s Dome for a sunset, followed closely by moonrise of the full Hunter’s  Moon. In October, the full moon can be either the Hunter’s Moon or the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox, and in every 2 out of 3 years it occurs in September, but in some years it does occur in October. This year, the October full moon was the Hunter’s Moon. Sky conditions were partly cloudy for sunset, which helped give us some nice color as the sun sank below the horizon. Unfortunately the fog rolled in shortly after sunset and obscured the sky. We stayed for about 45 more minutes after sunset and decided that the sky wasn’t going to clear enough for us to see the moon so it was time to pack up. Five photographers have a lot of gear, and by the time we got everything loaded and drove as far as the other end of the parking lot, the wind changed direction, blew the fog away and suddenly there was the bright, full moon. Of course we stopped, got some of our gear out and started shooting. The sky didn’t stay clear very long because thin high clouds moved in before we fired our first shots. All was not lost as the wind created some very interesting patterns in the clouds lit by the bright full moon as you can see in my images. In the second image, you can see that the fog is just about to blow over us again.

 

Hunter's Moon with fog rolling in - Click image to enlarge

Hunter’s Moon with fog rolling in – Click image to enlarge

 

Please click here to see more of my images from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

In Search of Fall Color 2013

Nice fall color with vibrant oranges and reds have been hard to find in central Ohio this fall. Even in typically great places for fall color like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the color just wasn’t there!

Over the weekend of October 18-20, I traveled to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for fall color and was disappointed. In 2011 my wife and I were in the park this very same weekend and the color was fantastic, not so in 2013. After talking to several local photographers, they didn’t think the color would be good at all this year due to the wet summer and early fall and the number of leaves already on the ground. To be fair, there was some color just not the usual beautiful mix of yellows, oranges, and reds. I had an ambitious shooting schedule on this trip starting out on Friday afternoon at the Mingus Mill on the North Carolina side of the park, and a sunset atop Clingman’s Dome, followed by a full day in the Tremont area on Saturday shooting along the Middle Prong of the Little River and hiking to Spruce Flat Falls. I ended up at the Noah “Bud” Ogle homestead near the entrance to the Roaring Fork Motor trail on Sunday morning before heading back to Ohio.

Below is the Mingus Mill taken in late afternoon light. The Mingus Mill was originally built in the 1790’s by the Mingus Family who owned it until the 1930’s when the National Park Service acquired it.  The current mill, built in 1886 replaced the original mill and uses a water-powered turbine to power all the machinery in the mill instead of a traditional water wheel.

 

Mingus Mill in Autumn

Mingus Mill in Autumn – Click image to enlarge

Noah “Bud” Ogle was a Smoky Mountain farmer who first settled in what is now Gatlinburg with his wife Cindy in 1879.  Their cabin, pictured above was built in the 1880’s and consists of two cabins sharing a single chimney, known as a “saddlebag” style.  The Ogle cabin also has a very unique feature for the time…running water!  A wooden plume ran from a spring near the cabin up to the back porch.  Once there the water poured into a double sink made from a large log.

 

Noah Bud Ogle Homestead - Click image to enlarge

Noah Bud Ogle Homestead – Click image to enlarge

 

To see more of my photography of the Smoky Mountains, please visit my gallery here. If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Thinking Of Yosemite

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls - Click image to enlarge

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls – Click image to enlarge

 

As I’m sure you are aware, Yosemite National Park has been in the news quite a bit in recent weeks because of the massive “Rim Fire” that as of September 26, 2013 has burned 257,134 acres or 402 square miles in and around the park.  Currently the fire is 84% contained, and fire crews are continuing to extinguish hot spots near containment lines.  Firefighters continue to monitor the slow spread of the fire in the Yosemite and Emigrant Wilderness areas between Cherry Lake and Hetchy Reservoir according to the latest fire update.  Fortunately, the fire did not enter Yosemite Valley.

Given all the recent attention on Yosemite because of the fire, it prompted me to look at my images from the park.  Yosemite is a stunningly beautiful place and although it has been almost 5 1/2 years since I was there, it seems like it was only yesterday.  The image above is of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls photographed through tall lodge pole pines during my first few hours in the park, truly a stunning view.  Taken together Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, and 6th highest in the world.

The image below is a black and white image of Tenaya Canyon, viewed from Glacier Point on a completely cloudless day.  At the right is the iconic granite massif Half Dome.  In the center is Mount Watkins, and just below it at the mouth of the canyon is Mirror Lake.  On the left are the Royal Arches with North Dome above them and beyond is Mount Hoffman covered with snow.

 

Looking Up Tenaya Canyon - Click image to enlarge

Looking Up Tenaya Canyon – Click image to enlarge

Although I have many places on my list to photograph, I wouldn’t have to think twice about going back to Yosemite.  To see more of my photography of Yosemite National Park, please visit my gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Noah “Bud” Ogle Cabin

Noah "Bud" Ogle Cabin - Click image to enlarge

Noah “Bud” Ogle Cabin – Click image to enlarge

 

Noah “Bud” Ogle was a Smoky Mountain farmer who first settled in what is now Gatlinburg with his wife Cindy in 1879.  Their cabin, pictured above was built in the 1880’s and is a great place to visit to get a glimpse of what pioneer life was like in the Appalachian Mountains.  The cabin consists of two cabins sharing a single chimney, known as a “saddlebag” style.  The Ogle cabin also has a very unique feature for the time…running water.  A wooden plume ran from a spring near the cabin up to the back porch.  Once there the water poured into a double sink made from a large log.  In 1977 the Ogle homestead was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is currently maintained by the National Park Service as part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The Ogle farm is the first stop on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.  There is also a very nice self-guiding nature trail, the Ogle Nature Trail that begins just off the back porch.  The trail winds its way through a forest of large hemlock and yellow-poplar to the banks of LeConte Creek.  Here you’ll find the remnants of the Ogle Tub Mill and sluice way seen below.

 

The Ogle Tub Mill - Click image to enlarge

The Ogle Tub Mill – Click image to enlarge

To see more of my photography from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please visit my gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Back to the Smoky Mountains Again!

I recently made another trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 2 ½ days of photography.  I had an ambitious schedule planned, with the first afternoon at the Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill, then a sunset at the Morton Overlook later that evening.  The next day started with a sunrise from the Foothills Parkway West followed by Cades Cove, a hike to Abrams Falls, then photographing along the Middle Prong of the Little River in the Tremont area.  My last morning in the park was to be spent in the Roaring Fork area.

The historic Mingus Mill was originally built in the 1790’s by the Mingus Family who owned it until the 1930’s when the National Park Service acquired it.  The current mill, built in 1886 by Sion Early replaced the original mill and uses a water-powered turbine to power all the machinery in the mill instead of a traditional water wheel. Today you can buy cornmeal and other mill-related items in the mill house.  This view shows the water swiftly flowing through the millrace to the mill.  I used a polarizing filter to adjust the amount of reflection with a 4 second shutter speed to clearly show the motion of the fast moving water.

 

Fast moving water flows through the millrace to the mill - Click image to enlarge

Mingus Mill – Click image to enlarge

 

It was about a 20 mile drive across the Newfound Road to the Morton Overlook from the Mingus Mill.  The clouds were pretty heavy so I was keeping my fingers crossed when I arrived at the overlook that I would get some timely breaks in the clouds at sunset.   I chose the Morton Overlook for my sunset location because in late July the sun sets directly in the “V” of the receding ridgelines. As the time for sunset approached, the clouds were very heavy just above the horizon so I knew that once the sun reached those clouds it would be the last I’d see of the sun.  Although I’m pleased with the image below, it’s not quite the shot I hoped to get.  Little did I know that the cause of those heavy clouds on the horizon was a thunderstorm hidden from my view by the mountains.  I ran into it while driving the dark, narrow and twisty Little River Road to my hotel in Townsend, Tennessee….it was a very long, slow drive to Townsend!

 

Smoky Mountain Sunset from the Morton Overlook – Click image to enlarge

The next morning I woke to rain, but got dressed and headed out anyway. If you aren’t out there, you won’t get the shot so off I went! When I arrived at the 2nd overlook on the Foothills Parkway West, fog filled the entire valley between my vantage point and the mountains.  Only the tops of the trees were visible above the fog, with an orange glow in the sky from the rising sun.  Just minutes after this shot was taken, the fog shifted and I couldn’t see anything, including the sunrise!

 

Sunrise from the Foothills Parkway West - Click image to enlarge

Sunrise from the Foothills Parkway West – Click image to enlarge

After shooting in Cades Cove and hiking to Abrams Falls, I was hot and tired from my hike and decided it was past time to get away from all the people in Cades Cove. I thought seriously about going back to my hotel and relaxing, but decided to keep shooting for a few more hours and end my day in the Tremont area, which is a beautiful and much quieter area of the park.  I was really looking forward to the peace and quiet this part of the park offered!  As luck would have it, as I turned into the Tremont area it started raining again. Undeterred, I drove several miles until the paved road turned into a gravel road.  Having photographed in this area before, I knew that all along the gravel portion of the road there were great scenes of the Middle Prong of the Little River.  After getting my rain gear on, I started walking along the river and just a short distance from the car I came upon this scene.  The light was fantastic, the kind every landscape photographer dreams about (and knows won’t last long)…the rain, fog and mist combined to give this image a wonderful ethereal quality.  I could have easily gone back to the hotel and relaxed instead of staying out to shoot in the rain, I’m really glad I didn’t!

 

Middle Prong of the Little River - Click image to enlarge

Middle Prong of the Little River – Click image to enlarge

To see more of my photography from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please visit my gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Clingmans Dome Sunset

Clingmans Dome Sunset, Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Click image to enlarge

 

At an elevation of 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi River.  Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647 feet), both located in North Carolina are higher.  As you can imagine, sunsets from this location can be spectacular depending on the weather conditions and on this early October evening I was treated to a beautiful sunset.  I had experienced one previous sunset on Clingmans Dome and this time I was hoping for some clouds since my previous sunset was cloudless.  On this day, there were nice clouds in the sky about an hour before sunset but unfortunately they had mostly dissipated by the time sunset arrived and only a thick layer of clouds on the horizon was left with just a few breaks for the sun to shine through.  Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular places in the park for photographers at sunset and for this sunset there must have been at least 50-75 photographers lining the sidewalk at the west end of the parking lot.  One photographer was cooking dinner for he and his wife as they waited for sunset…I tried to place an order since the food smelled so good, and that lead to some fun conversation.  Temperatures at the dome drop quickly so be sure to dress in layers and have a jacket, gloves and a hat handy.  The image above was taken just after the sun sank into the thicker layer of clouds.  The oranges, reds, and yellows in the sky made for a beautiful sight above the vanishing ridgelines of the Smoky Mountains.

More information about Clingmans Dome and Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be found on the National Park Service’s website here.

If you have any questions about my website or my photography I’d love to hear from you, please click here to email me.

Spruce Flat Falls

Spruce Flat Falls is a beautiful waterfall tucked away in the quiet Tremont area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Although it’s certainly not an unknown waterfall, Spruce Flat Falls is not one of the most popular waterfalls in the park.  Getting to the falls requires about a 2 mile hike that is moderately strenuous at the beginning since the trail is uphill for the first ¼ mile.  Then the trail is fairly level for the rest of the way going slightly downhill as you get close to the falls.  My first hike to the falls was in late July 2011 on a day with high humidity and temperatures in the mid-90’s…the pool at the base of the falls felt really refreshing that day!

 

A side view – Click image to enlarge

 

As you can see from my images, autumn is a beautiful time to visit Spruce Flat Falls, and in my opinion it’s the best time to photograph them.  Many different compositions are possible, so be sure to move around to find the best ones.  The image above is a side view, and below is a low angle shot a little downstream.  Don’t forget a close up shot isolating just part of the falls.  For some of the best compositions you may have to stand in the water so use caution if you get in the water!

 

Downstream from the falls – Click image to enlarge

 

About 100 yards west of the “Townsend Y” you’ll see a sign for the Smoky Mountain Institute.  Turn left at the sign and after 2 miles, you’ll come to a left turn that will take you to the Institute.  It’s well marked so you can’t miss it.  Go to the visitor’s center and get a map to guide you to Spruce Flat Falls.

You can see more of my photography of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in my Great Smoky Mountains National Park gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Mirror Lake – Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake and reflection of Mt. Watkins – Click image to enlarge

 

Mirror Lake, named for its clear reflections is located in Yosemite Valley directly below Half Dome.  This isn’t a very good place to photograph Half Dome since the immense rock appears very distorted from this angle, but there are several nice subjects that can be photographed like a reflection of Mt. Watkins.  The image above was taken in May 2008.  Although not photographed at the most ideal time (1:45 PM) I was at least able to position the sun behind the trees in the upper right of the frame.

 

Over the years Mirror Lake has been slowly filling with sediment brought by Tenaya Creek, but it still nicely reflects Mt. Watkins in the spring and early summer.  By autumn, the lake is almost completely dry and this image isn’t possible unless the valley has gotten a fair amount of rain.  In 1935 Ansel Adams photographed this same scene.  At that time there was a lot of water in the lake and the rocks you see on the left side weren’t visible at all in Ansel’s image.  The trees weren’t nearly as tall either so more of Mt. Watkins was visible.  If you’re in Yosemite Valley, be sure to take the time to visit Mirror Lake.  It’s a very peaceful place and you’ll be glad you went.

 

I reprocessed the image recently and created a black and white version that you see below.

 

A Black and White version of Mirror Lake reflecting Mt. Watkins – Click image to enlarge

You can see more of my photography of Yosemite National Park in my Yosemite National Park gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Everglades National Park

With the support of many early conservationists, scientists, and other advocates, Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of its land, plants, and animals.  Protecting 1.5 million acres (2,400 square miles) Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.  It is an unparalleled landscape that is home to many rare and endangered plant and animal species like the manatee, American crocodile and the elusive Florida panther.  It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to ALL people of the world.

Lisa and I only spent part of a day in and around the Everglades and given the size of the park we were only able to see a very small part of it.  However, even a few hours spent there was worth it.  There is no other place on Earth like it.

I am not an experienced wildlife photographer (I’m working on it), but I was very excited to have the chance to photograph all the fantastic birds, alligators and other wildlife in their natural habitat.  I’m very pleased with this shot of an American Alligator (shown below), it posed very nicely for me!   The shot was taken on Lake Tafford, about 40 miles southeast of Fort Myers, Florida which is not part of Everglades National Park.  We were in an airboat and came across this adult alligator which was maybe 10 feet long.  Using my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L lens with a Canon 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 280mm on a Canon 5D Mark III body I was able to completely fill the frame with the alligator’s head.  Although not considered a “wildlife” lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L in combination with the 1.4x extender works well if you aren’t too far away from your subject.  Alligators prefer freshwater, but will sometime enter more brackish water (water that has more salinity than freshwater, but not as much as seawater) or even saltwater for short periods of time. What a menacing look….I would not want to meet one of these in the water face to face!

 

American Alligator – Click image to enlarge

 

Red Mangroves thrive in subtropical areas so they are very common along Florida’s coastlines in brackish water and in swampy salt marshes.  Because they are well adapted to salt water, they thrive where many other plants fail and create their own ecosystems.  As you can see in the image below, Red Mangroves are easily distinguishable through their unique prop roots system.  The prop roots suspend it over the water giving it extra support and protection.

 

Red Mangroves of the Everglades – Click image to enlarge

 

I managed to catch this wonderful Great Blue Heron right after it lifted out of the water.  I would guess its wingspan was about 6 feet.  I was fortunate to be on the right side of the boat and had a clear view of it as it lifted into the air and flew to my left.  If you look closely you can see water droplets falling from its legs.

 

Great Blue Heron – Click image to enlarge

 

You can see more of my photography from the Everglades in my gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.