Time to Put the Wheel back on the Wagon

We know. It’s been a while since a good, content-heavy post. Between our work and travels in 2015, we got a little bogged down like this farm equipment. But it’s time to put the wheel back on this wagon and start sharing more from our 2015 adventures as we look forward to even more exciting photography in 2016. This first batch is from our October trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We stayed in the Cade’s Cove campground so we could be close to the action and the light. I think I had just finished some binge sessions playing Witcher III. The virtual explorations looking for herbs in farmhouses might have influenced my perspective and tone. At one point, we even saw a bulletin board and went looking for quests. 🙂

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I loved the mix of textures in the wood, the puddles after the rain, and the bits of metal on the hub. Print Available.

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Michelle loves texture, too, but she likes to get in closer than I do. 🙂

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Another mystical fantasy image. This was from our first night in Cade’s cove. I liked the cool gray clouds, but I went for a more other-worldly approach, adding some texture and purply-ness to the scene. Print Available.

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Michelle had everyone fooled. The whole park was full of people searching for bears. The people in the line of cars saw Michelle with a longish 90mm macro stalking this caterpillar. Everyone stopped and asked where the bear was. Print Available.

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Towards the end of the trip we decided to go chasing waterfalls. We decided to hike up to Laurel Falls in the rain (thank goodness for panchos). When we got there, we watched a couple climb the falls followed by a proposal. We ended up taking a couple of shots for the family who was watching from below (no pressure!). When they left we decided to play with some long exposures.

Wherever we May Roam: Tugaloo State Park

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A gorgeous red clay road through the canola field. Print Available.

Our second camping adventure took place in northeast Georgia at Tugaloo State Park, near the small town of Lavonia. Tugaloo

An osprey we encountered at

An osprey we encountered at Richard B. Russell State Park.

State Park is located on Lake Hartwell and within a short driving distance of several other state parks such as Richard B. Russell State Park, Victoria Bryant State Park, and Hart State Outdoor Recreation Area (two of which we visited).  We enjoyed driving through the small towns dotting the area and taking pictures of the canola fields in bloom.  We hopped over to Athens one day for lunch and stopped off at the outlet stores in Commerce on the way home, so there is plenty of variety in the area to explore. We didn’t see too many restaurants near the park, and everything seems to close up early, so be sure and pack your meals!

Sunrise over Lake Hartwell.

Sunrise over Lake Hartwell. This location was about twenty steps from our campsite.

Our campsite was a decent size, very level, and covered in gravel.  We were right on the water, near a small cove for boats, canoes, and jet skis.  The view was beautiful and it was very peaceful to listen to the water as we relaxed in the shade.  We both agreed it would have been more fun to be there with a boat or kayak, but the view was nice and we were able to walk along the beach, and the dogs had fun getting muddy.  We didn’t fish or try the water or the pool—too cold—but it looked like all of the kids were having fun!  We had a fire pit, concrete picnic table, water and electric hook-ups, and a nice, clean comfort facility just steps away. And we loved having a pull-though site!

Sunset near the amphitheater, a short walk from our campsite.

Sunset near the amphitheater, a short walk from our campsite.

The roads to the camp sites were more narrow and uneven than we had experienced before, and this campground was both larger and more crowded than our last experience, but we did arrive at the tail end of Spring Break.  There were a lot of kids and families there, but it was a fun, friendly experience overall. My only complaint would be the ENORMOUS light our neighbors left on all night (the same neighbors who played the radio well after quiet hours). Some friends of ours camped there the same weekend and their grandson had a ball playing with the other kids, swimming, etc. We saw plenty of dogs, kids whizzing by on bikes, and boats making waves in the lake.  It would not be the place I would recommend for peace and quiet, or nice long hikes, but it was a fun getaway and the landscape in the area is beautiful.

While I love wide angle landscape photos, I am beginning to see the different stories I can tell with the telephoto. Here is the same sunset on Lake Hartwell from , as Obi-Wan would say, "a different point of view."

While I love wide angle landscape photos, I am beginning to see the different stories I can tell with the telephoto. Here is the same sunset on Lake Hartwell from , as Obi-Wan would say, “a different point of view.”

Canola Road

As we were driving up I-85 to our faculty retreat at Lake Hartwell, we kept seeing these beautiful yellow fields in the distance and instantly wanted to know what they were. We saw a couple up close and found out that my guess of canola was on target.

This was the first close-up of a field we got. We loved the red barn in the background. The stalks were about 4-5 feet tall, so I had to use my tripod as a monopod to get some extra height. The dramatic sky cooperated, too. Print Available.

This was the first close-up of a field we got. We loved the red barn in the background. The stalks were about 4-5 feet tall, so I had to use my tripod as a monopod to get some extra height. The dramatic sky cooperated, too. Print Available.

After having a wonderful dinner, we rushed to Watson Mill Bridge for sunset. But even in our hurry, we couldn't pass up this Georgia red clay road bisecting these canola fields during golden hour. Michelle insisted I stop, and I think this is my favorite photo from the trip. Print Available.

After having a wonderful dinner, we rushed to Watson Mill Bridge for sunset. But even in our hurry, we couldn’t pass up this Georgia red clay road bisecting these canola fields during golden hour. Michelle insisted I stop, and I think this is my favorite photo from the trip. Print Available.

Don’t Follow the Lights!

Our time at Botany Bay Plantation in Edisto Beach, SC, brought us many surprises. The salt marshes were one type of landscape that we had not experienced, and we had a wonderfully foggy day to photograph them right after sunrise. I kept thinking of Gollum’s solemn warning to Frodo and Sam in the Dead Marshes: “Don’t Follow the Lights!” The fog helped me envision a more ethereal approach to these images, and I played a bit more with texture and color tones.

A pathway into the marshes. I wonder where it leads.

A pathway into the marshes. I wonder where it leads. Print Available.

This was the perspective that reminded me the most of the intrepid trio of Gollum, Frodo, and Sam. I gave it a greenish tinge to enhance the mood.

This was the perspective that reminded me the most of the intrepid trio of Gollum, Frodo, and Sam. I gave it a greenish tinge to enhance the mood. Print Available.

Some of the trees felt like they were creepily reaching towards the marshes, almost yearning to join their kin. I also loved how the fog shrouded the sun enough to be able to shoot into it for a different feel. It was "quite cool" the morning we were there, but  the feeling I went for here was of an oppressively humid heat.

Some of the trees felt like they were creepily reaching towards the marshes, almost yearning to join their fallen kin. I also loved how the fog shrouded the sun enough to be able to shoot into it for a different feel. It was “quite cool” the morning we were there, but the feeling I went for in post-processing was of an oppressively humid heat. Print Available.

A path into darkness. Would it be better to veer to the left and face the dead in the marshes or follow the path into the murky woods? I wonder if I might ask this tree. I played a bit with the colors in the sunlight. With the sun on the left, I toyed with the natural progression from warm to cool in the sky.

A path into darkness. Would it be better to veer to the left and face the dead in the marshes or follow the path into the murky woods? I wonder if I might ask this tree. I played a bit with the colors in the sunlight. With the sun on the left, I toyed with the natural progression from warm to cool in the sky. Print Available.

In addition to the skeletal branches stretching out over the marshes, there were single trees out in their midst. I wonder how those larger trees survived the  Battle of Dagorlad during the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

In addition to the skeletal branches stretching out over the marshes, there were single trees out in their midst. I wonder how those larger trees survived the Battle of Dagorlad during the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Print Available.