Category Archives: Gatlinburg Info

Happy New Year – 2011

Any resolutions? I’ve not made any since history has shown that the grand designs imposed on New Years day typically do not work for me. A better approach for me has been using a daily resolution. Simpler and less daunting, but still requires a great deal of effort for the things that really matter. But there are things I want to change, one of them being the amount of time I spend with images, so in that vein here are a couple I took a couple days after Christmas. We had one of the largest snowfalls that I have seen since I’ve been down here. Over the Christmas weekend I believe we had around 9″ of snow, which is a lot for here. So the following Monday I headed out to Greenbrier. Basically all the roads in the park were closed, but Greenbrier is a decent spot to park at and hike in. I chose not to use the cross country skis, as they can be cumbersome and actually slow me down with that much gear. Plus the snow was very soft with an ice base so there would not be much glide using the skis.

I used two approaches for these shots, both from basically the same point. The first is a six shot HDR. I like using the HDR approach to capture a wider range of tones, but also for the dreamlike effect that can be created using it. Sometimes I will try to make the effect very subtle, as to not be noticeable, but other times I am looking for the effect to create an image that will stand out from the many images that were shot there that day. This one was done with six images, varying the shutter speed between exposures from 1.6 sec to 1/20 sec. One of the problems that day was being able to come up with a shutter speed slow enough to give some blur to the water. Even at ISO 50, I was stacking two ND grad filters, adjusted so that the dark area covered the entire lens, and still could not achieve a normal shutter speed of over a second. So the HDR effect helps the blur the water some in the final image. Here the HDR created image, after final tone and saturation adjustments in Lightrooom.

Greenbrier In Snow 6 shot HDR
Greenbrier In Snow 6 shot HDR

Here is the same shot as a single exposure after tone and color adjustments in Lightroom.

Greenbrier In Snow single exposure 1/2 sec at f16
Greenbrier In Snow single exposure 1/2 sec at f16

As you can see, the single shot has a bit more contrast and less motion blur than the HDR shot. The sensor does do a great job of capturing the range of tones in single shot though, but I do prefer the HDR image. The best advice I can give is that when you find a spot that you think is visually appealing, shoot it every which way but loose. Its always nice to have a choice when you back home and are going through the images. I spent 1/2 hour to 40 minutes at this spot for these images, and also stopped at the same spot on the way back to capture the following one because I had forgotten to capture it when I was doing the others.

This is a simple two shot pano stitched together in Photoshop. I was going to do a three shot HDR Pano, but my battery failed in the middle of shooting it. I need new batteries for my camera, so in the cold they fail really fast. I do keep them warm by placing them next my body, but once they get into the cold camera they don’t last long. Another trick you can use with a camera pack is to throw a hand warmer in a compartment with the batteries in your pack. You can only do this with a separate compartment! It is important to make sure the camera and lenses stay at ambient air temperature during your shoot. Otherwise you will have fog or ice on the lenses.

Greenbrier In Snow 2 shot Pano 1/50 sec at f16
Greenbrier In Snow 2 shot Pano 1/50 sec at f16

On this I did some brush work in lightroom to adjust the saturation in specific areas of the image after the overall tone and color adjustments.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, if you are so inclined. One of my goals (not resolutions) is to keep the blog updated more frequently, so look for more in the coming year.

Keep on clikin,


The Perfect Snow

I have been remiss again. This post should have been a couple weeks ago.

We are expecting a gorgeous St Patty’s day in Gatlinburg. The parade today is a combination Santa/St Patricks day parade, so I guess we are in for a red, white, and green day.  Should be interesting.

Last Tuesday I hiked up toward Spruce Flats Falls in shorts and a tshirt. The Tuesday before I was shooting in 6″ of snow at about 15 degrees.  Thats the kind of variety I love. The great thing is, that at lower elevations we only had a dusting of snow. Snow you visit and then leave. Thats what I call the perfect snow.

I had to “crab” my way under the rhododendrons, the branches were reaching the ground in places due to the weight of the snow. The cold also meant there where some nice ice formations in the rivers.

W prong Little Pigeon River
W prong Little Pigeon River

All in all I love the variety here.  I was bummed this morning because the fog seemed perfect this morning. But alas I had to come open the shop. I would have loved to be shooting instead. I did snap a couple from the back porch though.

It looks to be a great wild flower show this year. The Barlet Pears and Daffodils are in full bloom, and the Redbuds and Dogwoods are starting to strut their stuff. If we don’t have a late freeze, with the amount of water we have had lately it should be a good year.

That’s all for now, got to go back to work.

Remember, today is important because I am trading a day of life for it.



I guess winter is not over

We got about 1 1/2 inches in Newport by the hills, Cosby was getting quite a bit when I came through there. Gatlinburg looks like it got about an inch or so, but the sun is already coming out so it won’t last long. Kinda nice going from not even needing a jacket yesterday to a nice coating of snow today. Mount Leconte is reporting 4 inches on the ground, no report for Newfound Gap. The road through Newfound Gap is closed but according to the GSMNP road report the other roads are not mentioned. I did notice that the foothills parkway east was closed when I went by there this morning. If closed the roads probably will be open later today since the roads are warm and the sun is out. The rest of the week looks fairly mild. I just wish I could have gotten out this morning to do some shooting, but alas, duty calls.

My next challenge is still working on the intimate panorama. Trying to minimize or eliminate the distortion that tends to make the curve away from the center of the image. This is not too noticeable on the grand vistas, but in close it will make a straight stretch of river “bend” away from the center of the image. Trying to use the “perspective” setting when stitching the images together in CS3 has not yielded good results.  A straight log in the foreground will bend through about 145 degrees so I get a U shaped log. Anyone know of a good program that helps with this. I may have to go to manual stitching and try to align the images and the resizing to see if that helps.

Thursday is the monthly meeting of the Photographic Society of East Tennesse which I am looking forward to joining. It may be the only meeting I get to make this year, depending on what is happening with the gallery, but I look forward to meeting some of the local shutterbugs.

Time to get back to work, I am updating the website to allow customers to upload photos so I can print them for them, but the update has been proving to be one of the more stubborn updates I’ve done to the site.

Have a great today,

Keep on clickn,


Happy New Year. Almost

It’s a little early yet. Gatlinburg is pretty full this week. The weather has been pretty nice although it is starting to get colder. We will see a little snow in the hills around Friday, but I don’t think it is going to be enough to worry about. If you are looking for a good weather link for what is going on in the park, I like this site. It uses a 1 sq mile grid that you can move around the map for the forcasts, so you can get the forcasts for different sections of the park. This is the link I use for Newfound Gap.

7-Day Forecast for Newfound Gap

If you move to the bottom of the page there is a link for an graphical hourly forecast which is invaluble for shooting.

I went out a couple days ago, but it turned out to be more of an exploring trip than a shooting trip. I got off to a late afternoon start so I didn’t get to do a hike, as I was hoping, but instead drove around scouting for new locations around the house. I did find a road running along the Pigeon River that has potential, but I didn’t get any shots that day. The river is still up a bit, so it looked like a nice rafting or Kayak run, although probably a bit tame for white water kayakers.  All in all it was a nice trip at least until the dog threw up in the backseat, but life of a clicker does have its challenges. . Just to get out and explore and enjoy a nice day though is always a pleasure.

Any New Year resolutions out there? I generally don’t make resolutions. Seems like that just gives me something to break. But in the short term I am resolving to do more writing and shooting. My wife had a lady in the store the other day asking about a book of my poetry, which is a problem since I haven’t written it yet. So that is a good probect to work on this winter. I think todays effort is to work with the quote”

“A great many men will strive to achieve much, It is the wise man that will strive to achieve a little”

Bc Hannold

Kind of a planting a forest one tree at a time sort a thing. Should keep me out of trouble for a few minutes anyway. I’ll post the result when I have it done.

In the mean time:
Happy New Year and Godbless!


I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas

Gatlinburg should be nice over the weekend. Highs in the 60’s with a little rain this morning and scattered showers Sunday. It should be one of the busiests weeks of the year, the town is usually packed between Christmas and New Years. Hopefully that will be the case this year. I have a lot of pressing to do to get the dye sub stocks up to par. We raided our inventory for Christmas presents, so we have to rebuild. I’m still looking for unique applications for the dye sub printing. My next step is to start printing images as custom tile murals for backspalshes, tabletops, wall murals etc. Right now I’m looking for a good program to chop up the prints into individual tiles so I don’t have to do it manually. I need to be able to adjust the overlap or “bleed” to ensure I’m not losing part of the image and to insure the tile looks like it belongs with the surrounding tiles. It will be interesting to see how far I can push the size of the image without losing too much detail. Some, like Ramseys study #1 I should be able to push to 5ft high. But I will have to play with it and see. If anyone knows of some good freeware for chopping an image up into 4 or 6 inch tiles I would appreciate it. A photoshop or lightroom plugin would the simplest solution.

That’s all for now, gotta get back to work.



Warm and Soggy over the next couple days

The forcast calls for highs in the 50s with temperatures above freezing and rain until Friday morning. This covers Newport, Gatlinburg and the higher elevations, so I expect the snow and ice to be completely gone by the weekend. It will turn a liite colder over the weekend (wind chill of 3 deg Saturday morning at Newfound Gap), but should be pleseant for the most part. I have not made it out shooting this week so far. I’ve been caught up in running errands etc. I would like to get down to Douglas lake for some shooting before the rain sets in but I don’t think I’ll make it. I went by there yesterday and the water level is way lower than I’ve seen it before. The new lakefront villas being built right now are about 500-600 yds from the lake. All of the old grain silos are back on dry land again.

I did one of my composite canvas’s printed. It is a 24″x44″ composite along the Little River upstream from Tremont. It is a 3 shot composite photomerge. It looks pretty good although I will have to play with it a little, with the range from light sky to dark water and shadows in the foreground, the sky in the leaves backlight by the sky in the corners are not quite where I want them. I shot this as a 9 shot composite, a 3 shot photomerge with each of the 3 shots being a 3 shot HDR image. So far I have not found that HDR image program that gives me the results I’m looking for. I don’t like Photoshop’s CS3 HDR processor, and I have done a little playing around with the Photomatix trial edition, but I may need a little more practice with it to get the results I looking for. I am also going to try the Lightroom Enfuse plugin this week. If I can get decent results with that then I would be a happy camper. It would help workflow a lot. Here is the shot as is now.

Little River upstream from Tremont
Little River upstream from Tremont

This is the shot after using LR/Enfuse to do the HDR portion. Not to bad for my first attempt. I ran the shots through the HDR process, then imported the results back into lightroom, developed the center shot to where I wanted it, then pasted those develop settings onto the left and right side images so that they would not be out of balance when merged, then merged the images in photoshop, imported the final image back into lightroom and did a little tuning. This looks much better on canvas, I went with a lighter feel and less saturation which makes for an image that really pulls you in. The fun part though is that as you look through the image you can find a lot of interesting little details due to the size of the print. This one is going to start the limited edition series. Unfortunately uploading as a jpg for the web does not do it justice.

HDR using Enfuse in Lightroom, Panorama using photomerge in Photoshop
HDR using Enfuse in Lightroom, Panorama using photomerge in Photoshop

There is still a little snow in the higher elevations

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I know we did. We closed the store so Lois and I actually got to spend a day together. Of course we had lots of company but we had a really good time.

I waited until the snow cleared out on Tuesday, then hiked up to Hen Wallow Falls from the Cosby campground. There was about an inch of snow in that area, but little flow over the falls and very little ice. Not quite that cold yet down lower. Mt Leconte and Mt Guyat got a pretty good coating, but 441 was closed in the morning so I didn’t drive into Gatlinburg. Unfortunately starting hikes further up in the hills is becoming more difficult since many of the seasonal road closures are in effect. Looks like I will have to start doing longer treks with the equipment to get the shots I’m looking for. We have been a little warmer the last couple days so the snow is disappearing at a pretty good rate. We’ll have to see what next week brings.

After a rainy day in Gatlinburg

Today doesn’t look too bad. The sun is out for now although the clouds are building. 441 over Newfound Gap is currently closed. They are getting ice and snow there along with Mt Leconte. The hourly forcast shows the snow as starting to taper off around 4pm and is a 40 to 60% chance from 4p to midnight. Accumlation is expected to be less than an inch, so it is tough to tell when the road will reopen.

There are a few people walking around today. Yesterday was extremely slow, with a drizzle all day long.

I did finally complete moving the studio at home, which with the Art and craft show Saturday has kept me from shooting this week. I’ll be in the shop for the next 2 days, and family in town for the holiday so it will be next week before I’m back out there. Better get long the johns warmed up. Even if I start in the lower elevations in 40 degree weather I can end up in the 20’s in the higher elevations. So its shooting in winter mode from here on out. Keep the batteries warm!

The Art and Craft Guild of the Smokies had a show in Newport on Saturday. A bit on the slow side but it gave me chance to talk with some of the other members see what kind of work they do. They have a pretty broad range, which is nice.

Still working on finding a good HDR program to work with. I haven’t been too happy with the results I’ve gotten in Photoshop. I’m playing around with photomatix to see if I like it, and an article in Outdoor Photography had a reccomendation for another one. I’m pretty picky about it. I’m trying to get one that will let me relatively easily combine the images for as realistic effect as possible. I’m working more with composite images now, so when I combine the HDR with composites I’m looking at anywhere from 9 to 15 images to make a print, sometimes more, so the processing can be extensive, especially when the post HDR processing has to match for each of the composite images to give a natural effect. It is pretty interesting though. I feel like I am just scratching the top of what I can do to move in new directions.

That’s all for now.


More snow today at higher elevations

Mt Leconte received a couple inches according to the NWS page, about 1 inch at Newfound Gap, and an inch is being reported at Cades Cove. 441 over the mountains is currently closed. Clingmans Dome, and the Cataloochee entrace road are also closed at the moment. Seasonal road closings have begun as well. Most of the snow looks like it is currently falling around the West end of the park and the Cherokee/Pisgah Natl forests. We had a lite dusting in the Cherokee foothills. Traces are also reported at Sugarlands and Oconaluftee.

I’m stuck moving the studio from the off the garage into one of the bedrooms so I can’t get out to do some shooting today. My camera is feeling neglected. So are my hiking boots. We had someone in the shop the other day who had hiked up to Ramsey’s Cascade and said the waterfall was partially frozen, and looked gorgeous. I may try to get up there early next week if the weather stays cold.

I have a show tomorrow at the Westend Baptist Church in Newport. It is put on by the Art and Craft Guild of the Smokies, so no shooting tomorrow either.