Little River – Townsend, TN

With all the rain we’ve been getting here lately, I was reminded of our recent trip to the Smoky Mountatins and photographing the Little River in Townsend, Tennessee.

This is a beautiful area just outside the Cades Cove portion of the National Park.  Townsend is known as the “Quiet side of the Smokies” as compared to Gatlinburg which has much more of the tourist attractions and traffic.  I think it can still get busy in Townsend but it is not as built up in comparison.

Little River
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Townsend, Tennessee, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
w/Polarizing filter
16mm @ f/18 – 1.3 sec – ISO 400

Nature up-close

I’m not absolutely sure this one is quite fair.  While we were riding around in Cades Cove, there were several instances of deer who stood for long periods near the historic cabins.  They kept sticking their heads under a spot in the building and didn’t move even when bunches of people were near.  I heard sometime later, that there are salt licks put out for the deer and I assume that’s what they were after.

In this case, we were taking shots of Dan Lawson’s place and I wandered around the back to see the out-buildings.  I noticed one of the members of our group standing at the back side of a barn and not moving so, I ventured over there.  I found Lou Ramondi watching this deer and taking shots like this and the deer was not about to leave.  Since the subject was so cooperative, I got a few myself.

Here is what the deer really seems to have thought of us:

Smoky Mountains-3848

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
110mm @ f/10 – 1/160 sec – ISO 400

Sunrise Spoiled?

Before I experienced this, I was sure that the best thing you can hope for when going out for a morning shoot is a beautiful sunrise and a clear sky.  Now, I’m thinking that a foggy morning is an awfully good alternative.

On our trip to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the group was out taking advantage of the misty beauty of a morning.  The original stop here was to grab a few shots of an iconic view of one of the roads that cuts through the park.



We got those shots but, as it often happens, the unexpected opportunity appeared.  Just a few steps from that iconic spot, was this road running off into the fog – even better!  And then, in the distance, the sun starts to burn through the fog.  Not a bright sunrise but this hazy-bright spot in the sky.  Eerie and beautiful all at once.

Another lesson in being sure that you look around before you give up on a location.  It’s called working a site and it often gives you results that are not what you planned.  Planning is great and can give you excellent results but keeping your eyes open can give you even more.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
31mm @ f/11 – 1/15 sec – ISO 100

King of Cades Cove

This is the reason that many people go to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  It’s the place to go see black bears!  We were lucky enough to see several, including this one who was the cause of many a tourist to go wandering through the meadow.  This is the same spot where I got the coyote who was nearby.

It is always amazing to me that there are so many people who don’t seem to understand what nature is and how dangerous wild animals can be.  There were people who tried to cart little children and even baby strollers out into the field where the coyote and bear were.  One of the Park Rangers was telling us about how often they get questions about when the bears are let out and brought back in for the day.  Some people think nature and Disney World are the same thing.

I’m rather glad that this was not one of the mothers with cubs that are in the park right now.  I saw one with the cubs climbing up and down trees but that was quite a way off.  If there had been a scene like that with clueless people nearby, I can just imagine a mother bear protecting cubs going after some people.  Fortunately, that did not happen on this visit.

Smoky Mountains-3735
Mama bear waiting for her cub to come down

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/125 sec – ISO 400

Indigo Bunting singing

For those of you who do not know David Akoubian one thing I can tell you for sure about him is that he’s a bird nut!  When we went on his Spring in the Smoky Mountains workshop, I was sure that we would be chasing birds and I was not disappointed.

David has an uncanny ability to spot birds and to identify them by their calls.  There were two species that we came across in Cades Cove that David showed a lot of interest in.  One was the Orchard Oriole that I posted an image of earlier.  The other was the Indigo Bunting that you see here.  The male bunting would fly up to a high branch and sing for the females who were gathering nesting material in the fields below.

They are not very big birds and since the day was quite overcast and they were perched up high, it was hard to get a good shot.  I got a few when he came down to look for something to eat but I like the featured shot above where he is in full song best.

Smoky Mountains-3572Smoky Mountains-3601

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/500 sec – ISO 800

Dan Lawson’s place Cades Cove

Dan Lawson’s Place is the second oldest of the historic cabins that remain standing in Cades Cove.  Built around 1840, this was the home of the cove’s wealthiest resident.  Only the John Oliver cabin (1822), home of the cove’s first European settler, is older than this one.

Cades Cove was first settled during the 1700’s by Cherokee Indians and is named after a Chief Kade. The first European settlers came during the 1800’s eventually reaching a population of 671 around 1850.

In the 1920’s the residents were forced out when the State of Tennessee gave the Park Commission power to seize the cove properties and make them part of the National Park system.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
22mm @ f/10 – 1/50 sec – ISO 100

Townsend Spring Heritage Festival and Old Timers Day

I don’t know if the Nature in Focus Workshops group planned this or not but, the same weekend of our workshop was Bluegrass Festival time in the Smokies.  We made a stop at the festival and were treated to some great music with lots of people dancing, clapping and having a good-old time.

Smoky Mountains-3280
Musicians getting ready to go on-stage


Nature in Focus Workshop members Lou Ramondi and David Akoubian talking with the locals
Smoky Mountains-3263
Everything’s better when fried – Even Twinkies!

Townsend Spring Heritage Festival and Old Timers Day
May 5th, 2017
Townsend, Tennessee

Foggy Day in Cades Cove

Our last morning of the Spring in the Smoky Mountains Workshop was a return to Cades Cove.  We were hoping that the sun might peek out after the rain showers had finally stopped but no such luck.  We did however get treated to a wonderful foggy morning which shrouded the mountains and gave the landscape a beautiful white backdrop.

I got this image on one of the many roads that are lined with split-rail barbed wire fencing.  The light was beautiful as the early morning sun broke through to warm things up but the fog was still covering everything in the distance.

We were a bit sad to leave the area as Sunday was turning out to be beautiful.  Wish I could have stayed longer and we had the chance to go up to Clingman’s Dome but the elevated roads were still iced over and there was snow at the top of the mountains the night before.

Have to get back up here more often!

Cades Cove
Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
26mm @ f/10 – 1/30 sec – ISO 100

Before the Workshop

On the first evening before starting our Smoky Mountains Workshop, I went out to see what was near the hotel.  The weather has been rainy and windy but, that gives some dramatic clouds to look at.

This barn is next to the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center and seemed like a nice foreground element for the mountains and the cloudy sky.  It looks like we will continue to have some rain threatening but hopefully, it will be nice enough so that we can get some great images going forward.

I’m excited for the workshop to get started!

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
300mm @ f/9 – 1/10 sec – ISO 800