Last week I took several days off to explore the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. This first post features several locations on the southern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Cherokee and Asheville. The highest section of the parkway, elevation averaged between 5,000 ft. (1,524 m) and 6,000 ft. (1,829 m).
For the most part, the fall foliage was at or just before it’s peek. Though the weather was overcast, I was pleased with the results. I had forgotten how hard it is to get a correct color balance with such diverse color. The image above from Bunches Bald Overlook, was repeatedly tweaked over a day or two. I would walk away, come back, tweak some more. Then, I realized I was wearing my yellow tinted computer glasses, and have to start over! (o;
Post processing included some dehazing and a touch of HDR to recover some dynamic range. The trick is to accurately represent the foliage color without oversaturating.
My favorite stop was Graveyard Fields, near Mt Pisgah, about 45 min southwest from Asheville. Reportedly, the area suffered a major wind storm, toppling numerous trees, and was followed by years of logging. The remaining tree stumps, covered with moss and lichen, resembled a vast graveyard. Later a major forest fire destroyed the tombstone stumps and sterilized the soil, which severely stunted the forest’s ability to recover. As a result, the flat valley area has a more open, bald like character.
Another popular feature of Graveyard Fields is the Yellowstone Prong (river) and its upper and lower falls. The lower falls was one the most important spots on my photography itinerary. It’s a short, but moderately steep descent through the rhododendron to the Yellowstone Prong, and then a long staircase further down to the falls. I brought my 120mm 1.8 neutral density filter and Tamron 15mm – 30mm lens.
Precariously, I hopped and leaped around the rocks trying several vantage points. I’ve determined I’m about too old to take that kind a risk again. If I do, I will definitely take more time to navigate the rocks. My long exposures averaged around 15 sec, f7.1, at ISO 100.
I have much more to come from my expedition, including a series from the Great Smoky Mountain State Park, Cherokee and surround areas. Thank you for taking time to visit my blog. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high-resolution version. Be safe!