Tag Archives: fall color

Smokies Scouting Report Oct 9


So yesterday (October 9th) I started out my scouting with sunrise at Clingmans Dome parking lot. There was beautiful color in the sky and as I was winding down, I posted an image on FB.. A couple of minutes later I get a text from Paul Hassell that reads “It’s better over here : )” and an image that I can tell is within 100 yards of my position of the sunrise! Then I look around and there he is, about 80 yards further down the parking lot.. We had a good chat and then I headed back down the mountain.


The color up at Clingmans (other than the sunrise) was very muted and some leaves are already turning brownish. Then as you go further down the mountain, the yellow leaves begin to be more prominent.


It seemed that at about 4800 feet elevation go down I started to see occasional red maples turning along with some yellow leaves. The color is still very spotty but there is one gorgeous hillside that you can see from the parking areas above Chimney’s Picnic area and seem to be turning sooner. Below Chimney’s Picnic area the color is still predominately green, but dogwoods are turning and some maples are starting to think about turning color. I would say that within 10 days, the area above Chimney’s Picnic area will be in full color..



Have fun out there!


Last Chance

The color in east TN has been spectacular this year. It still has not peaked along the Cumberland Plateau except for areas with high elevation. I have been back and forth between the Smoky Mountains, the Cumberland Plateau and the Cherohala Skyway. For my money, this year, the Cherohala Skyway and the Cherokee and Nantahala NF have had the best show of fall color. I was shooting along the Tellico River today and the colors are peaking in the Bald River Gorge area.  If you live close by, make plans to go along the Tellico River this weekend. By early next week, the colors will be past peak.

I played with video, slow shutter speeds and leaves in water and time-lapse of leaves in water today..

Here is a video of where I started playing with the leaves floating in the river and circulating around and around.

Here is a time-lapse from the same spot with the shutter speed of 2 seconds and a 3 second interval.

And this is the long 2 second exposure from the same vantage point.

And, just to remind you, when is a good time to take a vertical image?

Right after you take a horizontal image.. Think about changing your orientation when you find a great subject and great light.

And always keep looking around at your feet, you never know what you might find.

Reflections on Water

Fall is a great time to look for reflections in water. Especially on a bright, sunny day when photography can be a little more difficult.

Tip: Look for water in shade and trees or color on the bank in sunlight. This gives you some of the more intense color for reflections.

Another tip: Consider doing multiple exposures to allow for some creativity. This is 7 shots together.

Tip 3: vary your shutter speed. Sometimes slow is not always the best when shooting water reflections

1/13 of a second exposure

1/80 of a second exposure

Tip 4: Sometimes place a recognizable object in the frame can help anchor the image:

Fall Color Reflections

Now get out there and photograph.. Fall color won’t be here for much longer!

More Fall Color

Today I left early and was up at the peak of the Cherohala Skyway, on the North Carolin side. The Cherohala Skyway runs 52 miles up over 5300 feet in the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest. It starts at Tellico Plains, TN (ok, I’m from TN so why should I have it starting from the other direction?) and runs towards Robbinsville, NC. The forest above 4500 feet is not as good (wind blown and the early leaves are gone, oaks still to change). Below 4500 feet is peaking with lower levels peaking over the next week.

Here are a few images from today.

I really like this HDR. I actually shot it with a 3 stop Singh Ray Grad and processed in NIK HDR Efex Pro

I also played with some Multiple Exposure Rotate and Zoom images.

Depending on weather, I will be back that direction later this week, to shoot up Tellico River and around Bald River Falls.


Oh, I am sending out an email soon, but I am giving a FREE 24 x 30 Fine Art print to all of our participants at our Chinconteague Island Workshop in November. Only a few more spots left. Click here from more information.

Fall Color Scouting Cumberland Plateau North

In search of waterfalls and fall color yesterday, Rebecca and I made our way up to Caryville, TN. We visited Notch Falls while in Caryville and then headed up Mountain Road to Tower Road to hike down to Duncan Falls. There was some color at in Caryville, but as we made our way up the mountain to the 3000 foot elevation the changes were spectacular. Dogwoods, maples, sassafras all in resplendent color. According to biologist Kathy Gould Mathews from Western Carolina Univeristy, this fall could be one of the better fall colors. In an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel, she explained that the dry weather in later spring and the dry cool weather we are experiencing now should lead to a fairly dramatic display of color. Some thought is that the color change times are about a week early, but the combination of weather in spring and fall that we have had may lead to a prolonged display of fall color. From what I am seeing, this seems to be on par with color and timing. I will report more through the season.

Notch Falls

This fall is literally just off the road. Go up Mountain Road in Caryville and then turn right on Fall Creek Lane. A small pullout on right with falls on left.

Tower Road parking for Cumberland Trail. No polarizer.

Tower Road Parking for Cumberland Trail. Polarizer.

You can see from above that a polarizer can make a huge difference. It not only saturates the blue sky, but saturates the colors also. Even on a overcast day, a polarizer can help saturate colors. My rule of thumb, pick up a polarizing filter and put it in front of your eye. Turn. If you can see a difference here, it will make a difference in your images. I use a Nikon 77mm polarizer because it is actually glass size of 82mm with 77mm threads. This does not vignette even on my 17mm.

Here are a few more shots to round out the images.

More to come. I plan on going up to Cherohala Skyway on Monday to check out color in the Appalachian mountains at 5000+ feet.