We made plans to get to Linville Falls about 8am. This gave me enough time to work my way down the Blue Ridge Parkway looking for a sunrise. I checked the sunrise forecast and found it to be dismal. I looked at what sections of the Parkway were closed and found that the section all around Linville Falls was closed to traffic. That would mean that we were going to have to park in the alternate gravel lot off of Old Hwy 105. That also meant that my one chance for a sunrise would be at the Brown Mountain Overlook. Since I was getting an early start anyway, I decided to go ahead and get rolling around 4:45 to make it to the overlook in time to assess the sunrise.
When I arrived, it was too dark to really tell much, but I could see that there were a lot of clouds above and I didn't hold out too much hope. In an attempt to stretch my legs I stepped out of the truck and started to look for a composition if the conditions presented themselves. As I was sitting there enjoying the morning, I started to hear several college students in a SUV nearby. Lets just say that they pretty much ruined the experience of standing there looking over the valley. They were playing their silly games, and I was watching any chance of color dissipate quickly. I gave up just a few minutes before the official sunrise and got back in the truck for the last 15 minutes of travel.
As I got close to the parking area I was starting to notice a light mist on the windshield. This must be the low clouds because there was no chance of rain prior to 1pm. Well, the closer I got the more the clouds were making my windshield wet. I gave into the fact that it was raining. This was not turning out to be a good trek at all.
When I got to the parking lot there was a steady mist, but nothing too terrible. I decided to go ahead and get my gear on and get ready for Michael to show. I tried to access the weather, but was unable to get any signal on my phone. It was going to be a matter of hoping that the early morning rain would pass and leave the conditions that I was hoping for.
When Michael arrived, the rain had let up and things were looking up. He grabbed his gear and we started down the trail. We decided to hit the Upper Cascades first even though he had already been there. I've always enjoyed shooting at the Upper Cascades and there are lots of opportunities to get different compositions there. It was not too far off the trail entrance either so it didn't really take much extra time.
|Cutting a Path|
The rain was starting to pick up, so that meant that it was a good time to pack up and start hiking to our next destination. Since Michael had never been to Dugger's Creek Falls before, we made a slight detour in the main parking area to visit that quaint waterfall. After seeing the water flow at the Upper Cascades I was hopeful for a great composition for this waterfall. However, when we arrived, the water flow was middle of the road. Since it was not terribly different from other times I've shot this waterfall I chose to keep the camera in the bag. Michael took the opportunity to get a few shots though and really enjoyed it. It really is a neat waterfall because of the setting that it is in.
It was all coming together, but for me to get the perspective that I wanted, I was going to have to step out from under the trees. That left me very vulnerable to the rain which was coming down once again. There I was setting up a panorama with one hand holding my hat and the other manipulating the tripod and exposure controls. Honestly, I was pretty happy with how this turned out considering the difficulty I was having working the camera.
|Frigid and Foggy|
As I was finishing up there were several other folks joining us, and that meant it was time to go. Once the quiet is disturbed, the creativity starts to fade away. It was for the best though as the rain was falling heavier now and shooting was getting very difficult. We worked our way back up the trail and took a detour to the Plunge Basin Overlook to get a good view of Linville Falls from a different vantage point.
|Enter the Basin|
I went ahead and fitted my 70-200mm lens, but skipped the filter since the rain was still picking up. I actually thought about using my rain barrier on the camera, but decided that I wasn't going to be that long to pull it out. I relied on the weather sealing of the lens instead. The rain was just hard enough to really concern me with the front element. Using the hood put that fear to rest, but I had some glare to worry about in the composition unfortunately.
As I was playing around with a couple of compositions I saw that everything was actually working together and would potentially make a nice stitched photograph. I got everything set up to shoot a panorama, and did a four shot series. When I got home and edited it, the composition was much stronger eliminating some of the left side of the frame. This brought it back to a more customary format which was fine by me. I would not have been able to get this with my 24-70 since the lens hood was not long enough. This way I kept the front element dry, and have a very large image file to print from. That is a win win!
With the rain really falling now, it was time to make our way back to the vehicles. What had been solid ground had now thawed and was a soupy mess. We slogged our ways back to the gravel parking lot, comparing notes as we went. I was still wanting to do some shooting of some old buildings that I had seen on the way, but the rain was just too heavy for that. I was going to have to settle for the 73 frames that I had shot in the park. I was pretty sure that I had at least three that I would like. To find out that there were a total of seven was exciting news!
It was a fun day, even though it was rather wet. I got some different images from Linville compared to what I normally capture. I was elated that I finally found a way to photograph the secondary cascades downstream from the main falls. I think that might be my favorite from the day. I'm happy with them all, and excited to get out and do more shooting when the weather decides to improve.