Beth and I spent the last half of May back up at our cabin in the Smokies. I had several chores I wanted to accomplish on the property and mostly got them all done. Regardless, we managed to work in a little time for trips to the park and some photography.
During our previous visit my brother-in-law, Frank, loaned me his “Big Stopper” neutral density filter to try. I liked the results but, found it difficult to use. I decided to get a variable neutral density filter instead. The Tiffen shown here. It ranges from 2 to 8 stops vs the Big Stopper’s 10 stops. Not a big deal. I really like the ability to select 2 stops, lock focus and then adjust to more stops as needed to get the desired result. Easy peasy. The filter is relatively thin and has a wide outer ring so it works fine on my 17-35mm lens without vignetting.
We headed over to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to give the new filter a try. The back side of this trail has some really nice waterfalls and cascades. The smooth silky water is exactly the result I was expecting from the new filter. I like this shot.
We brought a picnic lunch and spent a pleasant afternoon in the cool shade of the forest with the soothing sounds of the water around us.
On another day I tested the filter at a waterfall that’s on the road to Cades Cove. Most photographers shoot waterfalls by pointing upstream. I decided to take this shot with the water moving from left to right. It’s interesting but, not as good as the Roaring Fork shot. The filter did its magic anyway.
Here’s a shot I took near the Tremont Institute on the middle prong of Little River. The shot is framed with the water moving diagonally from upper right to lower left. Also, I’m trying to isolate a small area by shooting low and using a wide angle lens. I like the result and it solves one of the issues resulting from long exposures. Any wind at all will cause leaves and grass to appear blurred. By isolating a small area I can somewhat control that.
I’m still learning how to get the best results from my new tool but, so far, I like it and am pleased with the addition to my kit.
One day Beth, Paddy and I decided to go exploring so we headed south on the Foothills Parkway along the western side of the park. At the end of the parkway we ended up taking a left onto US route 129. This leads to the famous “Tail of the Dragon”. This 11 mile road has 318 curves and is known worldwide by motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts. Here’s a snapshot of Beth and Paddy with their heads still swirling from all of those curves.
We brought a picnic lunch with us and ended up eating in a small campground in the shadow of Fontana Dam. After that we explored Fontana Village Resort and then decided to go through Bryson City and Cherokee, NC before taking US 441 back up through the park.
US 441 enters the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Oconoluftee Visitor Center. There’s an elk herd of about 15 head in that area. When we were approaching, we could see that the elk happened to be in a field just behind the visitor’s center. We couldn’t resist stopping and just watching them for a while. This bull is almost finished shedding his winter coat.
The past couple of weeks were simple, productive and relaxing. I got my projects around the cabin completed and we enjoyed the beauty of the park and surrounding area. Nice!