Pretzels and Beer, now that makes sense!

Just down the street from the Heidi Motel that I wrote about yesterday, is Hofer’s of Helen.  This is an authentic Konditorei (Bakery) and Cafe that serves good stuff like bratwurst, beer and soft pretzels and a wide variety of baked goods.  This is what I would expect from a location intended to be a Bavarian village!

Hofer’s of Helen has been open since 1991 but the original Hofer’s Bakery was started by Horst & Gerda Hofer who came from Schwabach Germany to the U.S. in the late 1950’s.  The Hofer’s started their business in Atlanta as a wholesale bakery before opening their own retail shop in 1973.  Now, you can experience their award-winning products while enjoying the beautiful mountain setting that is Helen, Georgia.

Hofer’s of Helen
8758 N Main St
Helen, GA 30545

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
22mm @ f/11 – 1/500 sec – ISO 400

#HofersOfHelen #VisitHelen #HelenGA #AlpineHelen #BlueRidgeMountains #NorthGeorgia #restaurant #mountains #alpine #vacation #ExploreGeorgia


A case of thinking too much?

What happens when you try to make sense of tourism

Anybody who has visited Helen, Georgia will probably recognize this.  The windmill that is a well-known landmark of the area stands high above the main road (North Main Street) of beautiful Alpine Helen.  It is a quaint little hotel that has been here a long time and may be the most photographed site in the area.

Trying to make sense of it all

This is when I start thinking too much.  First I think:  Windmills, aren’t they connected to Holland?  I thought this was supposed to be a Bavarian village.  What’s that all about?  Then, the more I though about it, wait a minute – Heidi was Swiss, not German!  Oh great, now I’m spoiling the whole thing by trying to make sense of it.

I went out on the internet and tried to find some explanation of how this combination made sense.  Why have a windmill in the mountains and why use Heidi as the name if you are trying to represent a German village?  I couldn’t find an explanation.  So, I guess we just have to take this as a wonderful bit of mixed references to European history and folklore and leave it at that.  Come to think of it, this isn’t supposed to be a historical re-creation.  It’s just a way of letting American tourists feel like they’re in the Alps so, nevermind – let’s all just enjoy the view!

The Heidi Motel
8820 N Main St
Helen, GA 30545

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
18mm @ f/8 – 1/250 sec – ISO 100

#TheHeidiMotel #VisitHelen #HelenGA #AlpineHelen #BlueRidgeMountains #NorthGeorgia #windmill #mountains #alpine #vacation #ExploreGeorgia

Oh no, Cloudy skies

The clouds can be just as interesting as the setting sun

Looks like a huge storm brewing with these clouds darkening the sky and seeming to swirl into the sunset on the horizon.  As it turned out, the sky cleared up and there was no rain on this evening at the summit of Brasstown Bald, the highest point in the State of Georgia.

Working the scene

In this image, I moved away from the western-most point of the observation deck where you could get the best views of the Blue Ridge mountains, and focused on the textures of the wooden deck and the patterns in the sky.  It was very interesting to me to see the colors and patterns displayed against this magnificent vista.

My favorite image from this shoot was a mountain skyline with the sun just above the horizon, casting sunbeams across the landscape.  While that might have been “the shot” I always want to work the scene for other angles and perspectives.

It amazes me when people go out to shoot the sunset and what they capture is one orange ball against a blank sky.  The colors are pretty but the composition is bland and everyone has seen the sun set.  It happens every day.  So, being patient, experiment with different views, and include foreground and background objects that are interesting, that can really make a shot special.

The photographer’s least favorite comment: Wow, you have a great camera

The equipment you use can certainly make a difference in capturing the image.  In this case, I am using a Nikon D7100 and a wide-angle Tamron 10-24mm lens mounted on a Vanguard tripod.  Still, it’s more about seeing the image you want to capture than about the equipment.  It’s just like the golfer who buys new clubs to make their game better.  If you don’t have the basics down and focus on the right stuff, no amount of expensive gear will make you better.  Full-sized cameras do not guarantee you a good picture and that stuff is heavy to lug around!

You can get equally nice shots with much smaller camera equipment (though, I still recommend that you get a good stable tripod for night shots).  Anything from your cell phone, a decent point-and-shoot, to a mirrorless (often called micro 4/3) camera to special lightweight cameras like the Light L16  compact camera  that my friends at offer can get you good images if you learn how to use them properly and learn how to work a scene for the best views.  So, don’t quit after the first shot and don’t show me 500 pictures of a red dot on an orange background.  Find something interesting and work it!

Cloudy skies
Brasstown Bald Mountain
Towns and Union Counties, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm at f/3.5 – 1/8 sec – ISO 400

#Georgia #BrasstownBald #BlueRidge #Appalachian #mountains #sunset #southern #photography #WithMyTamron #Nikon #VantagePoint

Mimosa / Persian Silk tree

These pink flowers are seen throughout the south during the summer

The silky, pink flowers of the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) are a  common site in the Southeastern United States during the summer-time.  This is one that I was looking at while visiting Helen, Georgia during a trip to the mountains north of Atlanta.

The mimosa tree is native to the Middle East and Asia and was introduced to North America in 1785.  Well suited to the warm climate common to our area, the trees spread easily and are considered invasive in some places.  Being one of the few trees that bloom during the summer, it is often used as an ornamental species in landscapes and appears widely along roads and throughout the countryside.

The tree also has fern-like leaves which close at night and re-open during the daylight hours.  I remember seeing these plants in New Orleans when I lived there and people often said that the trees would contract their leaves when touched.  I don’t believe that is right but it made for a good story and always made it seem like a magical plant.

Persian Silk Tree (Mimosa) flowers
North Main Street
Helen, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
300mm @ f/6.3 – 1/800 sec – ISO 100

#Mimosa #PersianSilkTree #AlbiziaJulibrissin #VisitHelen #HelenGA #AlpineHelen #BlueRidgeMountains #NorthGeorgia


Return to Blue Hole Falls

Don’t you just want to step into this scene?

I know I posted another shot of this waterfall last week but I felt like it was worth another view since it was so much work to get here.  This is just one of those kind of places where you feel like you have stumbled into a hidden paradise.  To think that it’s so close by is amazing.

I need to get back out and find more of these places and I think you do too!  Let me know if anybody is ready for a road trip.

Blue Hole Falls on High Shoals Creek
Indian Grave Gap Road
Hiawassee, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 10-24 Di II LD SP AF
11mm at f/11 – 1/13 sec – ISO 400

‪#‎waterfalls‬ ‪#‎HiawasseeGA‬ ‪#‎BlueRidgeMountains‬ Explore Georgia Hiawassee, Georgia Cohutta Wildlife Management Area

Horsie und Ducky Platz

A colorful corner of Alpine Helen

I am always attracted to this corner when in Helen.  I think it’s the gingerbread around the windows, the yellow colored walls and that name.  Horsie & Ducky Platz is just so quirky and cute, ya?

I always seem to notice the details when looking at a scene.  That must be part of why photography is so interesting to me.  No question, I love to travel to amazing places with  grand vistas for photo ops but, the small stuff is everywhere.  If you notice those little bits of all that surrounds you on a daily basis and pay attention to it, there is never any lack of interesting things to capture and share.

Maybe that’s what art really is – sharing our perception of the world.  Those who pay attention to what surrounds us daily, are moved to consider its worth and share our visions and thoughts with others.  My photography is really mostly for me but it brings me joy to share it with others and know that these images bring a smile or recall a memory for them too.  Hope you enjoy this one.

Horsie & Ducky Platz
North Main Street
Helen,.Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
26mm @ f/11 – 1/500 sec – ISO 400

#VisitHelen #HelenGA #AlpineHelen #BlueRidgeMountains #NorthGeorgia #HorsieAndDuckyPlatz

Come, Natahsa we must catch Moose and Squirrel…

Vintage 50’s Soda Shop in Brevard, North Carolina

DuPont_2016 07 23_0153-EditIf your name is Bullwinkel, how could you possibly get away from the memories of the 1960’s animated cartoon about the lovable moose from Frostbite Falls, MN?  So, when Cindy Bullwinkel and DeeDee and Jimmy Perkins bought the historic Varner’s Drug Store of Brevard, NC, what else would they name it but Rocky’s Soda Shop and Bullwinkel’s General Store.

Varner’s Drug Store opened in Brevard, NC in 1941 and had been a mainstay of the downtown area up until it’s closing in 1994.  The soda fountain and lunch counter was opened in the 1950’s and is a vintage attraction that recalls the old-time, small town atmosphere that you experience in this beautiful little mountain town.

The Perkins family continues to operate  the soda shop and lunchroom as Rocky’s and the other half of the building is a clothing and gift shop called D.D. Bulwinkel’s.  It’s a neat little slice of Americana so, you should stop in for a look around if you get the chance to visit.DuPont_2016 07 23_0151-Edit




Rocky’s Grill and Soda Shop
50 S. Broad Street
Brevard, NC 28712

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
Featured image: 22mm @ f/3.5 – 1/15 sec – ISO 400