Smoky Mountains Morton Overlook Isolation

Although the upper elevations were bare, spring was indeed creeping up the mountain. On this afternoon our group of 12 photographers captured clouds and mist swirling in the mountains just before sunset. At first we were a bit let down as we hoped for a spectacular sunset. Instead mother-nature gave us clouds and mist filtering through the trees. A 200mm telephoto allowed us to frame with just the most interesting details of the sky and mountains. I used ISO 200 to obtain 1/90th sec exposure to stop the motion of the mist and clouds, and to minimize any camera shake from the windy conditions at Morton Overlook.
105592_3_blog_wEquipment & Settings:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 100-400, F16, @ Approx. 200mm
ISO 200, 1/90th sec.
Gitzo Tripod
Really Right Stuff Ball Head

Smoky Mountain Photo Tour on the Flipside

Once again we had a great photo workshop in the Great Smoky Mountains. We were blessed with great sunrise/sunset, one of the best wildflower displays ever, and a beautiful foggy morning in Cades Cove.
105859_blog_wOur group was really excited about exploring abstract water images, so I’m sharing one of mine. The trick is learning to see these reflections in shaded areas of the stream. The stream should be in shade while the trees on the far side are still in the sun, thus providing the golden reflection seen in the water. The blue hues come from the sky reflecting in the water. We used longer telephoto lenses to isolate small areas of curling and undulating water patterns. A slow shutter speed is critical to getting the desired motion effect. We used the LCD on the back of the camera to review our results, then lengthen or shorten the exposure to get the desired motion. The best results were between ½ sec and 1/6th sec. depending on the speed of the water.

Equipment & Settings:
Gitzo Tripod
Really Right Stuff ballhead
Canon 5D Mark III camera
Canon 100-400 @ 400mm, F22
ISO 400
½ sec exposure

Hope you enjoy our artistic creations as much as we did.

Adam Jones

Smoky Mountains Photography Workshop

Well its time again to dust off our camera sensors for our annual Smokies spring workshop with good friend and co-leader Donna Eaton. Our workshop is April 17-21.  We like to arrive a few days early to scout locations. This time of year, we always bring plenty of clothing to cover weather extremes. Hats, gloves, and winter coats are often used at Clingmans Dome at sunrise and sunset. Of course we pack sturdy shoes for walking and hiking.
145269_2_blog_wWe visit our favorite streams, waterfalls, and cascades when the light is overcast or raining lightly. When there are scattered clouds or clearing storms we always head up to one of our favorite lookouts hoping for a spectacular interaction of light, clouds, and mountain vistas.

We use all our lenses into the photo shoot: from fisheye lenses for a worms-eye views of the forest, to 400-500mm lenses for wildlife and compressed mountain views. Since it will be spring, we’ll aim our cameras at abundant wildflowers, such as trillium, phlox, and phacelia often covering large areas near the Chimneys Picnic area.

Hope our paths cross in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains N.P.
Adam Jones

Telephoto Lenses for Landscapes

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched photographers walk up to a grand scene and without even thinking, grab a wide-angle lens and shoot. Just because the scene in front of you is expansive does not mean a wide angle is automatically the best choice.
telephoto_lense_123211_wTelephoto zoom lenses are perfect for optical extractions. Simply using a telephoto lens to isolate interesting compositions within the grand landscape. Many times the graphic lines within the overall scene are far more interesting than the whole scene. Simply choose whatever focal length lens allows you to compose a strong composition. Force yourself out of your comfort zone, try a few different compositions with a telephoto, and open up a whole new way of seeing.

A polarizing filter is a good idea for removing distant haze. Also check your live view to confirm focus is perfect, and stop the lens down enough for the appropriate depth of field for the scene. Lastly, lock your mirror up to reduce any vibration.

Equipment & Settings:
Canon 1DS-Mark II camera
100-400 lens at 400mm
F16
Shutter speed 1/30th sec
Mirror locked up
Gitzo Tripod, Really Right Stuff Ball Head

For great opportunities to use telephoto lenses in a landscape setting, check out the two photo tours below:
Spring in the Great Smoky Mountains
Palouse Farm Country