Thursday, August 18, 2011

Storms Coming to Rich Valley

I spent last Sunday taking photos around Smyth County Virginia.   My first stop was the Visitor's Center in Chilhowie to get some suggestions for places to shoot.   The folks there were very helpful, giving me enough ideas to last for days.  One suggestion was the Rich Valley Overlook on northern boarder of Hungry Mother State Park.  This is not a marked spot and is easily missed.  In fact I drove about a mile down the other side of the mountain before I found a place to turn around and head back up to the top where there was the only pull off I saw for miles.   You couldn't see the valley from the pull off so I was standing on the edge of the road against the guard rail hoping a car didn't come by and send me and my gear over the edge.

It had been thundering for a while and I knew from the weather map on my phone that an afternoon thunderstorm was going to hit about the time I got to my spot.  Just before and after a storm is some of the best times to get dramatic lighting on the landscape so I knew I had to try.  I had just enough time to set up and fire off several shots before the rains hit and chased me back inside my car.   You can see the rain coming up the valley on the left side of this photo.
Be sure to click this image for a larger view

To capture the entire range of light I took bracketed shots at -2EV, 0EV and +2EV.  I used Nik HDR Efex Pro to merge them together, then a little Lightroom adjustments to lighten the trees, increase the vibrance, cut some of the noise, and add a little vignette.

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