Early morning fog, mist and low clouds combine to give the Smoky Mountains a very moody and mysterious look. This view is from Sparks Lane in Cades Cove. Even with the clouds and fog obscuring the sun, the sky was still fairly bright compared to the foreground meadow so if I exposed for the sky, the foreground would be too dark. To properly expose the entire scene correctly “in the camera,” I used a 2-stop soft split graduated neutral density filter. Positioning the dark half of the filter over the sky allowed me to maintain the moody look of the mountains and properly expose the foreground meadow.
When you enter Cades Cove, you’ll be on an 11 mile one way loop, and Sparks Lane is the first of two roads that cut directly across the loop. The other road is Hyatt Lane. Cades Cove was once known as “Kate’s Cove,” named after a Cherokee Indian chief’s wife. The Cherokee Indians lived in the area because of its abundant wildlife and good hunting. Later, frontiersmen of European descent coming mainly from Virginia, North Carolina, and upper east Tennessee made their home in the cove. They cleared the fertile valley and built farms to sustain themselves and lived in the cove for many generations before it became part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove has been preserved by the National Park Service to look much the way it did in the 1800’s, and has many original pioneer homesteads, barns, pastures and farmland.