Great Smoky Mountains 2015 – Part 1

It took me somewhat by surprise when I realized that it had been nearly two years since I last visited the Great Smoky Mountains.  The last time was in late October 2013 on the way to our niece’s wedding in Florida.  This time I was meeting some photo buddies in Townsend, TN for several days of autumn photography.  I arrived a day before the rest of the group, so had some time to do a little shooting and exploring on my own. One of the things I wanted to do was shoot a sunrise from Oconoluftee Gap, a place I had not been to previously.  Oconoluftee Gap is just over the crest of Clingman’s Dome on the NC side of the park. Unlike the open vistas from Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap, the sunrise at Oconoluftee occurs in the saddle between two ridges, providing, hopefully, some foreground interest. On the first morning I arrived at the elevated parking area at Oconoluftee Gap about 40 minutes before sunrise to find the waning moon above a blanket of clouds that obscured everything below my vantage point. In this image, you can just see what I believe is the planet Mercury above and to the left of the moon.

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As the sun rose, the cloud mass climbed the slope, eventually enveloping my location, and obscuring virtually everything.  The following image was made just before the fog took over.

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The next day, I was back at Oconoluftee Gap with the group for another sunrise attempt, but this time the fog was already in place and did not clear or burn away when the sun actually rose.  While the hoped for grand views did not eventuate, the rising  level of soft, diffuse light provided an opportunity to photograph the trees and foliage behind the Oconoluftee parking lot.

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Thanks for stopping by.  I will have Part 2 up in a couple of days.