The latter part of the week had seen some rains left over from Hurricane Harvey moving through the mountains of NC. Saturday was looking like mostly cloudy until about lunch time when the clouds would break. The increased water flow and the cloud cover made for excellent conditions. With Toni's blessing, I set out early(ish) at about 5:30am. I knew that the sunrise possibilities would be slim at best so I wasn't worried about getting up there before the sunrise. It was nice to sleep in, but I needed to get there before the clouds broke, and before the crowds started to arrive. I did sacrifice about 30 minutes of travel time to go the long way down the Blue Ridge Parkway from Boone just in case I came across any great landscape shots along the way.
The drive up was uneventful, but by the time I got to the Parkway, the clouds pretty much enveloped everything. There was very little visibility, and I had to move at a snail's pace as I made my way to Little Switzerland. Needless to say, I didn't pass any points of interest...well any that I could see. I did notice that the sun came up because things went from black to gray outside of the truck. There was absolutely no color or drama to the sunrise at all. At least I pegged that right and wasn't regretting leaving a little later than normal. Honestly, I was starting to wonder about the conditions for the waterfall. If the clouds and fog stayed this thick, I would have a really hard time photographing Roaring Fork Falls with any success.
At about 8:45 I arrived at the parking area at the trail head. There was already one car there, but I can deal with a couple of people if I need to. The good news was the fog had cleared, leaving only a light mist in the air. I grabbed the camera and tripod and started down the half mile trail which is an old DOT service road. Along the way, I spotted the two explosives bunkers that were used to store the dynamite for the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had a fleeting idea to stop and try to photograph them, but quickly decided that I needed to get to the waterfall while the weather was passable, and before the people showed up.
I worked several compositions from that area, and then moved up about 50 ft so that I could get the upper section. I started that with the 24-70mm but found that I didn't quite have the reach from where I was needing to stand for safety. I got a little creative in switching lenses on the side of a sloping rock, and before long I had my 70-200mm attached with my Singh Ray Intensifying Polarizer. This gave me the range that I needed to not only shoot the entire length of the upper section, but also to pick out some isolations within it.
|A Summer Ballad|
As I was arriving at the parking lot, there were three cars that came in right behind each other. I was no longer alone, but that was OK as I was leaving anyway. As I was putting the camera up, there were another three cars that came in. Talk about perfect timing. In a matter of five minutes, about 12 people showed, and they were all very energetic and loud. Yeah, it was time to get scarce.
I started back to the Parkway, but first I stopped at an old Ford I have seen parked beside a building for a long time. It was the right era, but the condition was a little too good for me. The background was also a little cluttered, so I decided that it was better to let this one go once again. One day, things will be right for me to photograph it, but for now, I wanted to get back to the Parkway to take advantage of the bits of blue sky I was seeing.
That something good didn't show up until about a half hour or so of driving. There was a pull off on the side that caught my eye, and I could see a couple of interesting shaped trees in the fog. I decided to pull over and give it a closer look. The mood was pretty much perfect so I decided to pull the camera out and give it a try. I put the 24-70mm lens back on with the Singh Ray Polarizer to bring some extra umph to the greens. I set the first shot up as a wide angle view that included the Blue Ridge Parkway going off into the fog. It was an interesting composition, and not one that I would normally do...which made it worth doing. I actually liked the end result as it had the mood that I wanted to capture.
|Outstretched in the Fog|
|Clouds and Mist|
Honestly though, I don't think I missed the polarizer at all. The compositions came easy, and the fog seemed to be cooperating leaving the tree with enough detail to work and obscuring the background to keep it isolated in the frame. The fence was just awesome with some nice kicker posts that I used as a strong visual anchor. There was even a small (bonsai?) tree that I used to help balance out the scene. I really couldn't have asked for any more than what I was getting.
|Between the Trees|
When it was all said and done, I had shot 80 frames over the course of like four hours in the mountains. I had been in the rain and fog all day long and could not be happier. For me, the bad weather makes for great pictures. I would take this over blue skies any day. It was another successful day in the mountains, and I'm really happy that I had the opportunity to go.