Formerly home to a pioneer Appalachian community and logging town, Tremont is now home to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, a non-profit residential environmental education center. It is definitely an off-the-beaten-path location within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and I appreciate the fact that much of the beauty remains untouched.
Near the exit of Cades Cove or the Townsend entrance of the park, is the Upper Tremont road, which follows the Middle Prong Little River. The road starts out paved and then turns to a gravel road. On both road types are multiple spots to stop for some great stream and waterfall shots as you travel along. These cascading waterfalls are most easily captured in the spring because many of the spots along the side of the road will slow to a trickle in the hot, summer months.
This particular shot was taken along the gravel potion of the road as a storm was approaching. The looming storm provided an overcast sky that diffused the sunlight evenly presenting the conditions to photograph the falls. The waterfall was right along the road so there wasn’t a hike involved to get to the destination. This overcast light is ideal for working with wildlife, macro flora images, forest scenes, and waterfalls.
One there, I tried a few shots to try and convey this water that sprung from the ground and peacefully and quietly made its way down the hillside, under the bridge, and into the stream that followed the main road.
After a few different spots towards the bottom of the scene and from above, I wasn’t particularly inspired by the images. It just seemed to keep coming up flat compared to what I was feeling while I stood there. As a few rain drops sprinkled from the tree leaves above, I realized that I may need to get closer.
I secured my camera on my tripod, preset the camera to the settings that I thought would work, and double-checked that my shoelaces were tight. Then, I very, very careful made my way towards the middle of the falls being careful not to slip on the lush and wet moss. If you have ever attempted to walk on wet moss, particular on an incline, you know exactly what I am talking about! I quickly setup and captured the shot right before the rain came pouring from above.
In this scenario, I didn’t have much time to make sure I got the image that I wanted. It was a snap and go because it was very difficult to keep my footing. Luckily, I was happy with the image that cumulated from the effort, patience, and agility.
While the photo may have emotionally depth (at least I like to think so), the distance between myself and the top of those water cascades was only maybe 5-6 feet. Between that knowledge and the lack of time, I choose an aperture of f/8 to start shooting because typically it is the sharpest aperture if you are shooting flat subjects. Really, anything between f/8 and f/11 will typically provide you with the sharpest image. There was plenty of light so I kept the ISO at 200 and the camera selected the shutter speed since I had it in aperture priority mode.
As far as additional items, I did have a polarizing filter on my lens to remove any glare from the wet rocks. It also blocks some of the light entering the lens creating a slower shutter speed to help give the water that smoothing effect. The other plus is that it will boost the color saturation in the photo. The cable release cord was also plugged into the camera so I wouldn’t have to touch the camera itself to take a photo, thus reducing the chances of camera shake.
Once I got back to my hotel room, I downloaded the images and began processing the photos. For this one, the vibrance and contrast needed to be increased. There was also some clean-up work removing dust, scratches, and a water mark on the lens that would be distracting if left in the final image.
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