A week ago, I wasn't motivated at all to go out and create any photos. Of course, the sky was pretty great all weekend long. It was just not enough to motivate me to get out with the camera. A week later, my motivation was slowly returning and I wanted to go to the mountains to get some new pictures. The latter part of the week had seen some awesome skies, which I'm sure helped to get me motivated for a full day shoot. The forecast for Saturday around Rough Ridge was 45-75% cloud cover for most of the day with the possibility of a storm around lunch. I just couldn't expect better than that.
I had my alarm set for very early...like THREE AM early which would get me to Doughton Park around 5:30. I left a few minutes early and headed West. Before I got out of Winston I was getting rained on. That had not been in the hourly forecast, but that gave me hope for some really good clouds once I got to the mountains. The rain was steady through Yadkinville, and eased up as I made my way North on 21. By the time I got to the Parkway, I could see that the clouds were still in the sky, but were thinning out. I was hoping that they would last long enough for my sunrise shoot at least.
I looked at one bank of trees that I thought about for an anchor to the sky, but the clouds behind them didn't look all that promising. I continued on into the picnic area of the park as I knew of several other subjects I could try. I grabbed my bag and started up the meadow to the lone tree atop the hill. I had set up here several months ago trying to get a sunrise, but ultimately was disappointed. This time, I chose to go at things a little different. I used my 24-70mm lens instead of my telephoto because I was really hoping that the sky would erupt in color and I wanted to include as much of the sky as I could get away with. I fitted the Lee Filter holder in case I would need any ND Grad filters. From there, I started to set up my composition. Right where I really wanted to be was a large branch from a tree, so I had to snuggle up to the dead limbs to get into position.
|In the Spotlight|
I was hoping that the sun would highlight the rocks with a warm glow, but I was figuring that was a long shot as high in the sky as it was getting. The thin clouds were also diffusing the light a bit too much for that to happen. There was just a hint of color in the sky above the rocks though, and I thought that I would give it a try.
With the sun now gone, and no chance of that really warm light hitting the rocks, I moved on down the hill to see if I could do anything with an old fallen tree right along the trail. When I got there, I started to really look at it in detail. Large parts of it have fallen off or been removed since the first time I photographed it. It used to be this monster of a thing, and over the years it has become visually smaller and less complicated. I walked around the wood for at least three times trying to find the right vantage point to photograph it. The one with the best light, had a less that awesome sky. The better sky had the worst shadow light on the wood. I opted for the most flattering light on the wood for the composition.
Looking at the sky (deceiving in the pictures), there was not much else to use at this location. It was time to move on down the Parkway and play chase the clouds. While that is a game I play a lot, it is not all that fun. Clouds are elusive on the Parkway, and you are always fighting against the clock to find the right foreground to put under the sky. From the looks of it, the clouds were all getting ghost quickly. The forecast had called for increasing clouds though, so I kept an optimistic eye.
|Spring is in the Air|
I moved around the park for the next little bit before deciding that the clouds were gone for good. It was time to get mobile again. Since the clouds were going Northeast, I figured that was the direction I should go. I went that direction, and went some more....and then went some more. The light was harsh, there were no clouds, and the little bit of Spring Color I saw was in scenes that were just too contrasty to try and photograph. By 10am, I was at Squirrel Spur Rd in Virginia and was deciding that the rest of the day would be a bust.
I took the long way home through Cana, Va hoping to find some rural scenes. I did, but they were all in really bad lighting. I had been holding out hope that the forecasted storms would be coming in around 11, but they never did materialize. As I drove, I thought back to my morning at Doughton. I had shot around 90 images (most of which were the same composition for sunrise), and I was having severe doubts that any of them would be good. I knew that none of them were what I had been imagining on the drive to the mountains. Maybe, just maybe I could get a picture or two out of this Trek that was cut short many hours before I had intended.
As you can see here, I actually had a fair amount of images that worked out from this Trek. I was pleasantly surprised with these six, and feel pretty good about the morning. I still want to get out and create the images that I have in my head, but that will have to be another day.
Edit: May 21, 2017
After sleeping on it, I have decided to add another picture to this set. It was one of the last ones taken, shortly after Spring is in the Air, and I decided that it would make a good addition to the Woodland Gallery Room. It is an intimate shot of the fence beneath the tree, and has a certain feel to it. I like it, and the more I look at it, the more I do like it. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce...
|Split Rail Spring|
You see? Missed that completely while taking the photo, and while editing it. My love for that image just increased tenfold because of that. Of course, now that is all I see in the picture. Photography is always full of surprises.