It had been a very long week at work....to say the least. I was finally off, and able to do some more work with the camera. The problem was that the weather was just not right for my first day off. No clouds in the sky to speak of. At least until the late afternoon when the sky was quickly covered with a whitewash of overcast. There was just nothing that could be done with those conditions at all. My second day off, however, brought with it the promise of some clouds. This was good news, because I have been really wanting to return to Stone Mountain State Park in order to photograph what I believe to be some of the more interesting trees in the area. The partly cloudy conditions seemed right for that, so I made the plan to head out to the park with my wife and photo wench, Toni.
Before loading up and heading out to Stone Mountain though, I decided to take a quick morning walk down the road to a barn which is about one mile from the house. I wanted to play around with some long exposures and try to come up with some interesting pictures in some very low light. While I have tried to do similar shots in the past, this was the first time I was using all existing light, and was trying to include a subject that was not exactly light colored. I tried exposures from 2 minutes up to 20 minutes with moderate results. While my results weren't all that grand, I was learning with every press of the shutter button.
|Work to be Done|
After walking back home, I got things put together for a short hike at Stone Mountain. The best part of this was that Toni was going to get to go with me. This is the first "Trek" that she has been able to join me on since I got started with photography again. We packed some snacks and got all the equipment that we would be needing and headed out to the park.
All the way there, the sky looked rather boring...a wash of white for the most part. Occasionally, there would be some texture, or a peaking sun, but for the most part, I was uninspired. However, we kept on driving down the road knowing that things can change at any moment when it comes to the weather conditions. As it turned out, this was one of those times. As we got closer, there was more texture in the clouds, and a little more density to boot. It was still going to be a gamble as to whether or not we stayed low in the park, or if we climbed to some of the elevated vantage points. After a quick discussion, we started gaining altitude along the Wolf Rock Trail.
|Hiking the Trail|
Before long we arrived at Wolf Rock to see that the clouds were moving in, and that they had pretty decent texture to them. We hunted around quickly to find the right area to take advantage of the clouds where they were in the sky. My favorite tree was in the wrong position for a shot just yet, but I had high hopes that the clouds would be moving that way shortly. In the meantime, I found another small tree which was positioned just right for the clouds. Since the tree was so small, I decided that I would make it appear much larger by using a wide angle lens, so I swapped my lens out for a 16-35mm f/2.8L, which would accentuate the tree, and show a lot of the sky and mountain range behind.
From here, it was time to go back to my original subject and see if the sky was more forgiving now that some time has passed by. Sure enough, the clouds had moved over to that location and it was ready for the photographic treatment. Again, I had to make use of the ND Grad filters in order to keep the sky under control. They worked like a charm, and gave me the overall exposure that I was after.
While I was working on the fallen tree, Toni had found another scene with a tree and a pair of rocks positioned kind of close to each other. It had captured her eye, but the way she was seeing it wasn't going to transform all that well into a photograph. However, I did see some potential there, and started to work it out by including another element...the dished out places on the rock surface that holds little pools of water.
After working all of the readily apparent subjects atop Wolf Rock, Toni and I went back to the trail and continued on in search of Cedar Rock. This was the next overlook area and I recalled it having a pretty good view of Stone Mountain itself. While we were running out of time, and the sky was starting to clear, we felt that we owed it to ourselves to drop by for a visit and see what we could see.
|View From Cedar Rock|
It was a great day in the mountains. Not only did I get to spend some quality time with Toni, I got to add a whole new category of picture to my resume. While winter is not my favorite time of year to capture landscapes, there are some scenes which can actually benefit from it. I think that many of the scenes at Stone Mountain lend themselves to the barren look of the season.