OK, to be honest, I didn't really expect much from this trip. The weather was not looking great either day with very little cloud cover. It became more a matter of trying to get that last bit of fall color in the mountains before it was all gone. If I found the right trees, I could handle a blank sky, and that set the mission for the day. I got up early and left just before Toni headed to Doughton Park. My plan was to try and shoot some stars as dawn was breaking, and the best place to do that is Doughton. When I arrived, the sky was mostly clear as expected, and I started the chilly hike up the Bluff Mountain Trail. To my surprise, I found not one, but two tents set up right where I wanted to put the tripod. Well, that wasn't expected at all.
I wasn't going to be able to get the stars as I had wanted to, and that was ok. The more I looked up, the more haze I saw in the sky and it wasn't quite as clear as I wanted it. On the other hand, there wasn't any actual clouds either. That meant that sunrise would be rather dull. Fortunately, I had another idea and that was possibly going to work out.
A while Back I shot to the West on a clear morning at sunrise and got some nice Alpenglow from atop this hill. I was going to give that a try. I was wanting to use my long lens, but the tents were in the way for that, so I opted for my 24-70mm lens and got in a little closer. The mountains in the distance didn't suffer too much from the shorter focal length so I was good. I set up my composition and waited for the light to happen.
|Blue Ridge Awakening|
With the haze in the sky, I was wondering if I was going to get my sunlight on the rocks as I had envisioned. It was a painfully slow process watching the sun come up behind my back. The further up it got, the less interesting the sky became. I was getting worried, and it was a race with only one element controlling two aspects of the composition.
|Kissed by the Sun|
I worked my way down the hill to a fallen tree that I have shot many times before. It was still looking really nice, but the sky wasn't really working on any level for a picture. I continued on to the parking lot and was about to load up the 4Runner when I looked over on the other side of the parking lot. The Bluff Mountain Trail was really standing out in the low sun, and there was a small tree that looked like a great visual anchor. I decided to give it a shot or two.
|Bluff Mountain Trail|
With that composition done, I started to work on a panorama, but I really didn't like how it was coming together. By the time I got home and stitched the seven shots I found very little interest in it. I ended up trashing it along with nearly 60 frames from the morning.
I drove back the long way through Wilkesboro in hopes of finding a barn or old car to work with, but the light was just too harsh for anything else. I went ahead and pointed towards home and got home hours before I intended. Looking through the images from the day, I was less than happy with the final outcome, but I was happy to have been to the mountains and tried once again to find some more fall color.
This fall season had started out so well, but ended so weak. The temperatures were just too high, and we had gone through a very dry period at the crucial time for the change of colors. I'm hoping to have another chance to get some fall color here at home in the next week or so, but I'm afraid that the trend started in the mountains will continue here as well. At least I really like winter photography. LOL!
|Kissed by the Sun in B&W|