Saturday, March 22, 2014

In Search of Fog

The Smokey Mountains get their name from the blue haze that come from the streams, moist forest floor and thick vegetation that blankets to mountain sides and valleys. The Cherokee called the mountains Sha-co-na-qe, means "place of blue smoke."   You can see the smoky haze from a distance but most of the time you don't notice it when in the forest.  

Sometimes a rainstorm will create a thick fog that rolls in and seems to seep into the forest.  When the fogs rolls in many people will stay in their warm hotels or cars and not get out in it.  When I see fog I grab my camera and head out to explore.  Foggy conditions can create nice moody and ethereal feelings.  Trees can fade into the fog as the get further away from the camera.   Harsh shadows from bright sun disappear and are replaced by even soft light.   It's a great time to photograph.

When June and I spent last weekend in the Smokies we had plans to hike most days.   It was cold, rainy and we forgot to bring our rain gear so instead of hiking we explored close to the car.  When it rained most of the last night we were treated to fog blanketing into the mountains the next morning.   We started at a lower elevation and chased the fog as it lifted up the mountain sides.   Our first stop was the creek at the Chimneys Picnic Area.  By the time we got down to the stream the fog had lifted.  Back into the car and chasing the fog up the road to higher and higher elevations.  When we reached the Newfound Gap Overlook there was a nice wispy fog blowing in and around the trees.

Trees in Fog from Newfound Gap Overlook
Bare trees in the fog are interesting but what I was looking for was a shot from down in the trees with fog all around.  I found what I was looking for just a short hike up from the parking lot.

Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap
The further up the trail you look the more the trees fade into the fog giving a feeling of traveling into the unknown.   Everything was wet and even though there was no direct light there were still reflections off the wet surfaces.   I could have used a polarizing filter in this shot which would have taken some of the glare off the wet logs on the trail. 

The fog was clearing at this high elevation and I figured my fog shots were done for the day.  Driving down the mountain back into Tennessee we ran into some of the thickest fog we have ever seen.  I was hoping to find a pull off where I could stop and get some more fog shots but the fog was so thick we couldn't see the pull offs until we were past them.   We finally found a large parking lot with a Quiet Walkway.  Thinking that we are "serious hikers" we have not tried these Quiet Walkways thinking they didn't have much to offer.  We discovered we have been missing out.  This walkway went through a nice open forest along an old stone wall and down to the Little Pigeon River.

The fog was very thick and beautiful here.

When shooting in fog your camera can be fooled by the brighter fog and under expose the shot.  Be sure to check your histogram and adjust your exposure to bring the histogram curve as close to the right edge as possible without clipping the right side.
Little Pigeon River
What a treat we had that day in and out of the fog.   Not only did we have the beautiful fog but we also found two wildflowers on this Quiet Walkway that were about to bloom.



The next time were in the park we're going to check out this Quiet Walkway and others that we have been passing up for too long.

1 comment:

  1. These are all wonderful Richard, can't wait till I get back down there.