With the clouds coming in around sunrise near Roaring Gap, I chose to concentrate on that section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I would work my way North into Virginia to scout other locations as I haven't spent that much time on that section. I wanted to pick out a place that would have a good possibility of a sunrise photo. Looking back on what has worked before, I chose to go to overlook at Jumping Off Rocks at MP 260. It is a short hike through the woods in the dark, but the trail is well maintained and I have a great flashlight.
I got up early, and checked the forecast once again. It was showing the same thing that I had seen going to bed. It was on...I got up and got ready to roll out the door at around 4:15 am. Getting up that early allowed me to arrive at my destination right before 6am. This gave me plenty of time to hike out to the overlook, and get things set up. Things were going very smoothly...until I arrived and looked up. Stars...Lots of stars in the sky. Not a cloud in sight!
|By Morning Light|
Sunrises at this time of year still go very fast, and the sun climbs in the sky much quicker than it does in the middle of winter. After about an hour of waiting, I had about 10 minutes of action before packing up and going back to the truck. I kept looking at the sky on the way back and saw that the clouds were NOW starting to enter into the sky. At least I would have some drama in my skies for the rest of the day.
As you can see to the left, the sky was pretty much washed out. In fact, for about an hour before I found this location, I was stuck in low clouds and fog. I could barely see to drive, much less be able to find anything to photograph. Knowing the weather patterns up here, I knew that eventually this would clear. I just hoped that it didn't completely clear and leave me with a blank blue sky. At least with the overcast conditions, I could have my choice of subjects regardless of what direction they had to be shot in. That is the nice thing about diffused lighting. The tradeoff is, with this kind of overcast, I can't include the sky at all. Fortunately, I was in the mountains, and there was plenty of opportunity to find subjects with a backdrop of trees or a hill.
I happened on a barn tucked in below a field of goldenrods which I had photographed years ago. Ironically, I had first seen this barn on a stormy day, and had tried to include the sky for that shot. It worked, but not well. Today's view was much more promising with the golden field in front of it. I also knew better about how to deal with the sky. It was a job for my long lens once again, so that I could compress the background and keep from including the sky.
After shooting this barn, I was starting to feel the rustic subjects over the landscapes. That was probably due to the fact that there was no visibility into the distant mountains anymore. The lighting was right for barns and old houses today. There were a bunch of them along this section of the Parkway, but only a handful were situated in such a way that I could photograph them sucessfully.
Before I put my camera up, I happened to see an odd tree on the other side of the road. It was totally bare, and the bark was bleached. it stood out because it was surrounded by green foliage and yellow goldenrods. It was special enough to justify a quick composition or two. I kept my long lens on, so that I could compress the background, and concentrate on the tree as being the total composition.
After I got everything secured from this location, I marched on Northward. I had thought about stopping at the Mabry Mill, but decided against it. I decided this way for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is the most photographed location on the Parkway, and there is nothing that I can do any different than has been done before. Second of all, I have photographed it several times before and have been very happy with the results. Third, I knew that there would be a lot of people there since this is the busy season on the Parkway. However, when I arrived, I pulled in the parking lot. It was full. I looked at the mill, and there were people all around it. It did not appear any different from any other time I had photographed it. Yet, something inside told me to get the camera out and give it a try. Well, I did...
|The Mabry Mill|
|Turning the Gears|
|Nowhere to Go|
|Peeking Through the Trees|
|Moonshine by the Barn|
I had been concentrating on excluding the sky for most of the time I had been shooting so far. However, I was looking up and I could see some detail in the clouds starting to form. It wasn't much, but with a little help from graduated filters, I should be able to bring that detail out in the photograph. I decided to incorporate the sky a little bit and capture the cars from the opposite angle.
|Blue Ridge Autos|
It was getting late, and I was needing to get home. It was a successful day for sure. It has been a long time since I've shot over 100 frames in a day. To have that work out to 13 keepers is amazing! I'm still perfecting my new workflow, but I think that I have something that will work out very nicely for sure!