A Narrow Zone of Color

November 23, 2014  •  1 Comment

During the planning stages, I referred to my last trip as the "Fall Colors Road Trip." By the time the trip was over, I titled it the "Smoky Mountains Road Trip". The reason for this change is that there was such little color to photograph! Click here to view the pictures from my trip.

For a while, the chances for a colorful trip looked very promising. Many sources, including websites dedicated to autumn colors (such as the Foliage Network), predicted peak colors during my stay in the mountains. Sadly, this wasn't the case.

Although the science of predicting autumn colors is not all that advanced, we know that high winds aren't helpful. And, torrential rains are another negative factor. Both heavy rains and high winds started storming through the Tennessee and North Carolina mountains the day that I left Chicago for my two day drive to the cabin that we rented off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina. It was still storming when I arrived at the cabin!

By the time I arrived, the damage was mostly done. A good portion of the leaves had blown off the trees at the higher elevations--where the colors were vibrant. Yet, the leaves had not yet become colorful at the lower or most middle elevations in the area. We drove more than an hour south to Asheville--but the colors were mostly dull there as well.

Fortunately, there was one area along Grandfather Mountain where the color was retained enough to allow for a nice, autumn photograph! This is a picture of the iconic Linn Cove Viaduct:

Linn Cove ViaductLinn Cove ViaductLinn Cove Viaduct is a 1,243-foot concrete segmental bridge which carries the Blue Ridge Parkway around the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina on October 15, 2014

I would like to thank Earl Evans, a photographer friend of mine, for guiding me to this location and to such an effective vantage point for composing this image. Please click here to view Earl's website.

Although the colors didn't cooperate overall, there are always things to photograph. In the Great Smoky Mountains, I concentrated on images that didn't require a lot of color from the leaves--such as with images captured during twilight:

Great Smoky MountainsGreat Smoky MountainsSunset from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee on October 20, 2014

And, interiors don't require much in the way of autumn colors:

Cades Cove Missionary Baptist ChurchCades Cove Missionary Baptist ChurchCades Cove Missionary Baptist Church (1839) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee on October 19, 2014

Little Greenbrier SchoolLittle Greenbrier SchoolLittle Greenbrier Schoolhouse (1882) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee on October 20, 2014

Timing a trip to a distant destination to coincide with the arrival of peak Fall colors takes some luck. The more trips that I take to capture Fall colors, the better chances that I have of capturing it. So, I plan to keep trying for optimal Fall colors in the upcoming years.


Glenn Nagel Photography
Thank you, Van. I use a Nikon D800. And, I use Lightroom and Photoshop to process the RAW files. I don't apply any standard post settings to an image. Rather, I edit them individually and adjust parameters (i.e., contrast, saturation, sharpening, etc.) in a manner unique to each file.
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