Winter Soltice: Farewell to Fall

As we transition into winter in the northern hemisphere, I wanted to share some fall foliage from several Japanese maples in my yard. These we taken just a few weeks ago, the trees are now bare.

Viridis Fall Foliage 1
Viridis Fall Foliage 1
Acer Palmatum Amoenum Composition 1
Acer Palmatum Amoenum Composition 1
Red Emperor Fall Foliage Composition
Red Emperor Fall Foliage Composition
Shishigashira Fall Folliage Composition 1
Shishigashira Fall Foliage Composition 1
Shishigashira Fall Foliage Composition 2
Shishigashira Fall Foliage Composition 2

For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

C. S.

Ashe County Vignettes and Landscapes

This post features more backroad vignettes and landscapes from recent visits to Ashe County, North Carolina. First up is an old outhouse behind the Phipps General Store near Lansing. As the sign and door cuts suggest, this appears to have been a unisex outhouse. Folklorist would say the moon cut indicated “for females” and the star cut meant “for males”. While the horseshoe generally was used for good luck, I’m not sure of it’s use in this context.

Phipps General Store Hisn & Hern Outhouse
Phipps General Store Hisn & Hern Outhouse

The remaining captures are from various corners of the county obtained by just driving around exploring the county backroads. Sometimes those backroads change from asphalt to hard packed gravel, and back.

Shed on E Big Springs Rd Ashe County
Shed on E Big Springs Rd Ashe County
Grassy Creek Abandoned Barn 2 Composition 1
Grassy Creek Abandoned Barn 2 Composition 1
Farm on Bryan Davis Rd, Ashe County Composition 2
Farm on Bryan Davis Rd, Ashe County Composition 2
Abandoned Neaves Home Tin Roof Detail
Abandoned Neaves Home Tin Roof Detail
Abandoned House on Silas Creek Rd
Abandoned House on Silas Creek Rd

Thank you for visiting. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site.

Cheers,

C. S.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Fall Beauty, pt3

Six additional compositions from my 2021 fall foliage expedition on the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. The first two compositions from Hawksbill Mountain represent my return to this location in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. My previous visit was sometime in the mid 70s as a young teenager with my late father and Boy Scout troop.

Hawksbill Mountain Sunset 2
Hawksbill Mountain Sunset 2

At the start of the summit trail, I met and hiked to the top with another photographer Anthony Heflin from Kentucky. We hung out, talked photography shop, and shot the sunset and twilight from Hawksbill together. Wow, what a wonderful experience. As I later discovered, Anthony is an amazing photographer!! You must visit his portfolio site.

Hawksbill Twilight 1
Hawksbill Twilight 1

The reaming compositions are from various locations on the Parkway closer to Grandfather Mountain.

Grandfather Mountain Landscape 1
Grandfather Mountain Landscape 1
Price Lake Fall Morning Landscape 1
Price Lake Fall Morning Landscape 1
Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain 1
Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain 1
Price Lake Fall Late Afternoon Landscape 1
Price Lake Fall Late Afternoon Landscape 1

Thank you stopping by today. See more fall color from my Blue Ridge Parkway gallery site. I dedicate this post to the veterans world wide who serve to keep their country safe! Happy Veterans Day!

Cheers,

C. S.

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Beauty, pt2

I took the week of October 11th off to explore Ashe and Watauga Counties in North Carolina, including sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is the second in a series of posts from my 2021 fall color expedition. The first image vantage point of the Linn Cove Viaduct is one of the most photographed spots on the parkway. I was fortunate to have the help of these cyclists to get a unique shot.

Cyclist on the Linn Cove Viaduct
Cyclists on the Linn Cove Viaduct

Fortunately it was a weekday on the parkway, otherwise, it would have been way too crowded this time of year.

Approaching Grandfather Mt on Blue Ridge Parkway 1
Approaching Grandfather Mt on Blue Ridge Parkway 1

The Rough Ridge Overlook is little further away from the Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain. Its only a moderate 15 minute hike from the parkway and offers a spectacular view of both features. Other photographers and I were treated to amazing waves of clouds pushing through at sunset.

Rough Ridge Cloud Silhouette Color
Rough Ridge Cloud Silhouette Color
Rough Ridge Sunset 2
Rough Ridge Sunset 2

Thank you for taking time to visit, more fall color to come. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Craggy Gardens Tree, Root, and Rock Compositions

From my Blue Ridge Parkway expedition this past October, this wonderful spot along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail offered many intriguing tree, root, and rock compositions. A quick point on inquiry, has anyone noticed WP adds about +5 red tint to color photos?

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 4
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 4

For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site.

Cheers,

C. S.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail, pt 1

The Great Craggy Mountains are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Asheville and Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.  Craggy Gardens is an area of 16 km where the Blue Ridge Parkway follows the crest featuring a visitor center, picnic area, and several excellent hiking trails.  Craggy Gardens best known for its spectacular display of pink/purple blooms of the Catawba rhododendron creating a tunnel of foliage along much of it’s hiking trails. 

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Landscape 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Landscape 1

My afternoon hike along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, in mid-October, featured equally impressive fall foliage color, gnarled mountain ash, rhododendron and beech, and small grassy rock balds.  The diverse opportunities for photo compositions were quite numerous. I crossed not one, but two separate wedding photo sessions.

Craggy Dome from Craggy Pinnacle
Craggy Dome from Craggy Pinnacle

This was one of my favorite locations during my two, Wednesday night through Saturday afternoon fall foliage expeditions into the Blue Ridge Mountains. I returned the following morning Craggy Knob, more on that in a future post.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Catawba Rhododendron Vignette 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 2

This unique tree is a popular photo stop on the Craggy Pinnacle Trail.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 3

The view below is from Craggy Pinnacle looking towards Craggy Knob and the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. The small grey square near the center of the image, is the large trail shelter near the Craggy Knob grassy bald.

Craggy Pinnacle Landscape 1
Craggy Pinnacle Landscape 1

For the best viewing experience, click on a photo to view a high resolution version. Or, view more scenes in my Blue Ridge Parkway gallery. Stay safe!

Cheers!

C. S.

Oh, here’s one of the wedding portrait sessions I came across:

Craggy Gardens Wedding Portraiture
Craggy Gardens Wedding Portraiture

Craggy Gardens Sunset

I felt this sunset from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center deserved its own post. Setup on my tripod, over the course of 20 minutes, I shot 24, 3 stop bracketed sets, for a total of 72 images. Back during my film days, I obviously would have had to been a bit more judicious and disciplined in the number sets shot. Here I was afforded the benefit to pick the best image featuring the cloud and sun positions, and sun ray impacts streaming through the mountains into the valley.

Craggy Gardens Sunset 1
Craggy Gardens Sunset 1

Post processing includes some dehazing, a little HDR processing, and color correction. Much more to come in future posts of my wonderful visit to Craggy Gardens – so much to see! For the best viewing experience, click to see the high resolution version.

Everyone stay safe!

Cheers,

C. S.

Southern Blue Ridge Parkway – Fall Splendor

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).

Bunches Bald Overlook 1
Bunches Bald Overlook 1

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;

Yellow Face Overlook 1
Yellow Face Overlook 1

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.

Cowee Mountain Overlook 1
Cowee Mountain Overlook 1

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.

Graveyard Fields 1
Graveyard Fields 1

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.

Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 1
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 1

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.

Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 2
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 2
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 3
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 3

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!

Cheers,

C. S.