It really is all about the light…

or lack thereof…..Every article I have read, video I have watched stresses light. Photography without light is like snapshots in the dark. Dull, drab and not worth the time. One thing that is never stated is how much light. It is always quality of light, availability of light and direction of light. If you are outside and the sun is behind the clouds, presto! A great big softbox….But what if the clouds are so thick that it makes the day dreary and dark?

I have been visiting family outside the Smokey Mountains for the past few days and the weather outside has been less than desirable. Rain has fallen since we arrived and only one day does the forecast say the sun will be showing itself. I find it a bit ironic that my photographic desires for this trip have been centered on water.  Though the water I want is the kind that falls from the rocks, down a cliff, running down a mountain and not from the sky. The saving grace is when that sun does come out, and the trails are passable, it will be a spectacular view. One other thing that the rain has inhibited for me, which my wife will love when she gets here, is my accent coming back….It seems that when I talk to folk in these parts my twang returns. I do not even realize I am drawling until I get nudged or yelled at…Yup, that’s me, a northern boy with southern blood…

Yesterday my daughter and I took a drive near Cades Cove, she was a great help holding the umbrella over our heads and the camera when the rain kicked up. We pulled over a few times to grab some stream shots, although with the amount of volume rushing down the mountain I should call it by it’s proper name – a river. This is a one second exposure and I am thinking I should have tried a lengthier one to get that full silky effect.


This next shot is one of my favorites from our scenic cruise. 0.6 seconds at 24 mm.

Stream 24mm

We set out this day, not with any of this in mind, but to do an indoor activity. The caverns were closed however. Sure, I should have called but I relied on their website which said open every day except Christmas…..Their loss, my gain and my daughter seemed to enjoy  her small jaunt in nature. What is a little rain to disrupt a day in the country mountains.

Christmas morning I set out to get some shots of Douglas Lake which is close to where my parents live. No rain was in the forecast but the sky was still dark and overcast. The TVA drains Douglas Lake every winter, exposing its clay banks and rocky bottoms. Some close to shore, some appearing not so close. This is where my question of how much light is enough came from. After a couple of test shots of the area my mind was made up. Time to bracket for some HDR.

Lake Douglas HDR

Yes, no matter what the light, and this light was terrible, you can always turn out something decent. I do not use HDR effects that much, probably because I have been photographing people so much lately, but I do believe it has its place and creates some really nice results.

This bridge actually scared me when I crossed it. Very narrow and barely room enough for two cars side by side. I am not sure if they recently installed safety measures on purpose but like highways that have rumble strips this bridge had a noticeable depression in the road for every drain hole in it. You could tell when you were getting close to the edge every time you rain over one of the drains . Made me feel a bit more at ease, but wiggle room is not a premium here.

Hwy 92 Bridge

There is one day of sun in the forecast this week and we will be taking full advantage of it. This day of sun is preceded by a day of flurries…..Snow is OK. Much better than rain for my desired adventures. Hoping the park service does not close the roads in…We will find out soon!

Thank you for stopping by, till next time…

Published by Phil Shepherd

Capturing my interpretation of this world and its inhabitants... I am a Headshot and Portrait Photographer and supporter of Live, Local Music. This offering is dedicated mainly to Mom Nature and the travels I indulge in with her.

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