Backpacking in Big South Fork One Day… Nature and Travel Field Trip #1 the Next

This past weekend was a really busy one, but fun filled. It started on Saturday by meeting up with Bryan and Meredith, Justin S, Derek, Dale, and Ann for some backpacking in Big South Fork. They all go to Brentwood Hills CoC. It was kind of an interesting itinerary. Dale’s truck was left over near Bandy Creek Campground. We meet up at Leatherwood Ford. The plan was to camp out just below the Angel Falls Overlook, but first do a day hike from Leatherwood Ford to Bandy Creek, stopping by Angel Falls. The length of the Day Hike was right around 10.5 miles. I didn’t take my GPS this time, so about the only thing I really have to go on is estimating by pace and time. Our campsite was two miles in on the trail. We took a couple of tents to claim our spot. We would carry the rest of our gear when we finished the day hike and returned back to Leatherwood Food. It got cold and started to very lightly rain… and I had left my rain jacket in the car, so I was pretty miserable during the day hike and anxious to get back to the car. After getting our gear, we proceeded to hike back to camp. It is a really flat trail, so that helps when carrying a 31 lb pack after hiking 10.5 miles. After we setup, we started cooking dinner. Shortly after dinner, it started raining again. I opted to take shelter in my tent. I usually have trouble falling asleep when I’m out camping, but this time, I was out pretty quickly. I’m sure I was probably the first one out.

My plan was to leave around 8:00 in the morning since I needed to get ready for the Nature and Travel Photography Field trip later in the afternoon. Derek and Ann also had to go back to Nashville and be there in time for a Habitat for Humanity Dedication for a house their group had worked on. When I saw Derek walking around, I went down to see when they had planned on leaving… if soon I’d hike out with them, if not, I’d just hike out alone. Came to find out he had gotten sick. We originally had planned to have a church service, but in Derek’s condition, it was decided that the best thing was to get him back to the car. I helped him pack up his stuff and then went to check on Ann. She had just gotten up and was starting to pack up. However, she really didn’t have a backpack that was big enough for her stuff. On the way in Dale had helped her carry her stuff (I assume), but since Dale wasn’t camping, he left after dinner. What we decided to do was I’d hike out with Derek and carry some of Ann’s stuff and Bryan would hike out with Ann and carry some of Ann and Derek’s stuff. Then Bryan would go back to camp and hike out with Meredith and Justin later.

So that was a long story, with no pictures… but the moral of it is, it helps to have the right gear, whether it be a rain jacket or a large backpack.

Ok we now for the part of this entry that doesn’t require much writing. A few of us meet up at UT before and drove to Townsend. We then meet up with everyone else at the parking lot just before you get to the Y. As part of the field trip, we only went to two places. The first was Middle Prong on the road past Treemont. The second place was one of the first parking areas you come to after you pass the road to Treemont on the way to Cades Cove. Through work, I have access to a couple of pieces of equipment that I probably won’t ever buy. One is a Canon 40D that has been converted to Infrared and the other is a 600mm f4L lens.

http://gallery2.justinacuff.net/v/photography_certificate/nature_and_travel_photography/field_trip_1/

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Random Trip to Foothills Parkway, Cades Cove, and The Sinks

You may remember that a couple of my previous posts had pictures, but now they are gone. This is because I just wasn’t happy with the new built in WordPress Image Gallery. So instead I have removed them and placed a link to their appropriate album in my Gallery, as does that link. I might come back to it later, but there are some things that desperately need to be fixed before I do. Anyways, now on with the post.

This past weekend, I had some free time on Saturday morning, so I decided I was going to start it off real early and make some photographs just for the fun of it. It had rained the night before and wasn’t supposed to rain on Saturday, which means the day will be pretty clear. My first destination was the Miller’s Cove Overlook on Foothills Parkway West (the road up to Look Rock). Miller’s Cove is the first overlook you come to, so it really isn’t that far of a drive from Knoxville. I got there around 5:30 and just kind of waited. About 10 minutes before sunrise, a group of about 8 people on a workshop showed up as well. One of the first shots I got before they showed up, happens to be one of my more favorite shots from all day. It may be a dark picture, but that’s part of what I like about it. The next picture is one of the better sunrise shots. There really wasn’t a whole lot of red in the sky that morning, so I really had to push it to get this picture.
Miller's Cove before Sunrise
Miller's Cove Sunrise

After that, I headed into Cades Cove. Cades Cove is one of those place that I usually prefer to go to either really early in the day or really late at night. If you go outside of those times, you are probably going to be stuck in a traffic jam that rivals some of the worst traffic jams in Knoxville. The cause of these traffic jams are often stupidity with a side of selfishness. Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop that once you get on, is difficult to get off. If people would just follow the rules, it wouldn’t be so bad. The main rule is, don’t stop in the middle of the road, use pull-offs. There are lots of pull offs to accommodate people, but they seldom use them. Instead they stop in the middle of the road and it is usually to take a picture of a deer. Deer are really abundant in Cades Cove, so you can just imagine how this is. The two things that really get me is people who stop in the middle of the road when there is a pull-off 10 feet in front of them and those that stop in the middle of the road and use the pull-off to take their picture. Anyways, enough with my Cades Cove rant. I got there just before 8:00 and wanted to get my pictures in while the light was still good. They were all typical shots that I’m happy with, but I’ll get better shots on a different day.

This next image is definitely a place I will go back to in the fall. I’m happy with the shot as it is, but I’m certain it will look 20 times better with the fall colors. It’s also an area of the park that really doesn’t get busy like Cades Cove does. To get here, you turn down the road that heads to Tremont.
Little River

Meigs FallsThe last picture in this post is Meigs Falls. Its almost kind of sad how many times I’ve past this and never noticed it. It on Little River Road between the Townsend Y and Elkmont. After going to Tremont, I decided that I would have enough time to go to the Sinks. We had scheduled a band practice for later that day, so I wanted to get home in enough time to load up the musical gear and clean up beforehand. On my way to the sinks, I saw this waterfall and even though the light wasn’t the best, I decided to photograph it anyways. I later looked it up and found out it is called Meigs Falls. It’s so far off to the road, it is kind of easy to miss (especially when you are paying attention to the curves in the road). I have a Nature and Travel Field trip on Sunday afternoon, and we are probably going to stop here.

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Fundamentals of Digital Photography Assignment #1

* Shoot a properly exposed picture (manual mode) of a normal scene, not a back lit, not a front lit, not an overly light or excessively dark subject. I don’t care what aperture or what shutter speed, just properly exposed. Take notes.
* Shoot a series of five shots showing purposeful overexposures and underexposures (-2, and -1 stop, normal, +1 stop and +2 stop). Pick a shutter speed that places your aperture in the mid-point of your available apertures, say f 8. Then hold your shutter speed constant and change your apertures to get the over and under exposure your want. This is called bracketing. You can do this with shutter speeds or a combination of shutter speeds and apertures changes. Remember each full aperture change equals 1 stop. Shoot these pictures as soon as possible.
Note, do the aperture or ss change by actually changing the value of the aperture or ss, not by watching the meter move. The goal is to learn your aperture and ss values.
* Find a subject that is in motion, such as a moving car, child on a bicycle, or running water. Running water from your kitchen sink or outside garden hose does not work very well. Look for naturally flowing water. Stop, or freeze the movement of the water with shutter speed control (running water will be frozen at any shutter speed at or faster than 1/60 second. You don’t have to use the fastest shutter speed, just fast enough. Remember to keep a happy meter by adjusting your aperture.
* Now blur the movement with shutter speed control. Use a relatively slow shutter speed. Use shutter speeds starting at 1/15 sec to as slow as you can go. The limit will be set my how bright the ambient light is. When the light is bright, it is difficult or impossible to use really long shutter speeds, such as ½ or one second, but go as slow as you can while keeping your meter happy. You will find that you get to use the longest shutter possible when you set the aperture to the smallest you have, such as f22. You will need to hold the camera absolutely still for these shots. Use your tripod if you have one.
* Show shallow depth of field (such as near subject in focus and background out of focus) with aperture control. Use large apertures (large hole, small numerical value, such as f2). Get really close to your near subject and also have your far subject (viewable in the same frame) fairly far away, greater than 10-15 ft.
* Show great depth of field (near and far all in focus) with aperture control. Use small apertures (small hole, large numerical value, such as f16 or f22)

Well I’ve decided that I am not happy with WordPress’s gallery. I’ve removed those pictures and instead here’s a link to it in my gallery.

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Nature and Travel Photography Assignment 1

I should have posted this last week, but I got kind of busy with the baby day stuff at Laurel, so I didn’t get around to it. In the meantime, I upgraded WordPress to 2.5, which includes a photo gallery. Previously I had experimented with using a plug-in called WPG2. It worked good when I first installed it, but I think and upgrade to Gallery broke it and I don’t really care that much to go in and see what is going wrong.

As with most of the classes I am taking, this assignment was very informal. It was to pick a subject and photograph it many different ways. I actually picked two subjects, but that was just because they are in the same area. On April 13th, we are taking the youth group hiking. I know the Smoky Mountains the best and I am familiar with Big South Fork, but both of those areas are kind of far away and the Smoky Mountains will be crowded. I know there are hiking trails at Norris Dam State Park, so I loaded up my camera gear to run by Norris and pick up a trail map and hope there was something to photograph. In the southeastern part of the park, there is a Rice Grist Mill and the Crosby Threshing Barn in the same area. I chose these as my subjects. Also that weekend, I had a 40D we had modified to make it sensitive to infrared. I’m still trying to learn infrared. These were my first attempts. It was very cloudy and overcast that day, so the infrared pictures aren’t quite as good as they could have been.

Well, I’ve decided I’m not happy with the WordPress Gallery, so I’ve removed the pictures and instead will give you a link to it in my gallery.

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