Blue Ridge Imagery: Blog http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog en-us (C) Blue Ridge Imagery (Blue Ridge Imagery) Mon, 11 Dec 2017 07:53:00 GMT Mon, 11 Dec 2017 07:53:00 GMT http://blueridgeimagery.com/img/s/v-5/u464524288-o284985993-50.jpg Blue Ridge Imagery: Blog http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog 120 80 7 Essential Winter Landscape Photography Tips http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/12/7-essential-winter-landscape-photography-tips 7 Essential Winter Landscape Photography Tips 

 

1) Timing

Like most other aspects of landscape photography, timing is everything when photographing winter landscape.  As a landscape photographer, sometimes I feel like I have become a meteorologist because I am always watching the weather to try and predict the best conditions to photograph a location.  For winter landscapes, usually the best conditions are just after a snowfall.  Winter landscapes typically look their best after that fresh blanket of snow covers the scenery.  Photographing during a snow storm can be difficult because snowflakes will land on the front of your lens, creating water spots.  If you are photographing while it is snowing, make sure you have a microfiber cloth with you to remove all of the snowflakes and water drops from your lens. Also, weather during the winter can quickly change, so make sure you check it again right before you leave for safety reasons and to make sure the conditions are what you are hoping to photograph.

Devils Knob Overlook PanoramaDevils Knob Overlook PanoramaDevils Knob Overlooks is a great spot to take image of the Blue Ridge Mountains at sunset. It has a Southwest View of Three Ridge Mountain and The Priest.

 

2) Over Expose Your Image

               Photographing snow and ice can be very tricky because all of the white tones your camera views as you photograph the snowy landscape. Without getting into too many technical details, your camera wants to make everything 18% gray.  It will see all of that amazing white and bright snow and will under expose the image, resulting in gray snow and ice in your image.  To help prevent gray snow and ice, you will have to take control of your camera and overexpose your image by 1-2 stops of light, which will allow you to capture the proper white tones.  Make sure you look at your histogram because you want to make sure you capture all of the details in the snow and ice.  If you have a spike along the right edge of your histogram, then lower the exposure until your histogram is as far to the right as possible without any spikes along the edge.  Doing this will help you capture white snow and ice. 

Snow Covered Bearfence MountainSnow Covered Bearfence MountainBlackrock Summit is located in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park. Just off the Appalachian Trail, the 360 degree view from the summit give hikers one of the best views in the park of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains for both sunrise and sunset.

 

3) Think before You Walk

               Pristine snow can really help set the mood of isolation and foot prints in the snow, especially if there are a lot, can spoil this feeling, so think ahead about the composition you would like to capture before walking all over the place. To help prevent this, I work wide to small.  When I first arrive at a location and am looking for a composition, I first stop and think about what elements drew me to this location and where do I need to be to best capture these elements.  As I move around looking for the best composition, I slowly walk in a wide arch trying to disturb as little snow as possible and making sure I do not disturb any snow in the area I want to photograph. Once I’ve captured my wide angle image(s) I slowing move in, still walking in a wide arch, looking for other winter landscape compositions and detail images to capture. 

 

Sunrise atop Bearfence MountainSunrise atop Bearfence MountainBlackrock Summit is located in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park. Just off the Appalachian Trail, the 360 degree view from the summit give hikers one of the best views in the park of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains for both sunrise and sunset.

4) Details

While capturing the grand winter landscape is a lot of fun, to help tell the whole story, remember to capture the detail images as well.  Look for interesting subjects that will add to the story of the day’s adventure.  Details can be anything including snow on tree branches, pinecones, or icicles on rocks. Usually when I am photographing detail images, I will use a large aperture (f/2.8 – 4), which will help blur the background making the subject stand out. And if your lucky you might have a cardinal land on the branch you are photographing.

 

5) Polarizer Filter

A circular polarizer (CP) filter is an essential tool to have in your camera bag year around, but it is very helpful when photographing winter landscapes. Most beginner landscape photographers use a circular polarizer (CP) filter only to enhance the color of the sky, but it can also be used to darken the sky and can remove the glare from the snow. Darkening the sky while removing the glare of the surface of the snow can help add some much needed contrast to your images, especially if you are thinking about converting the final image into black and white.  If you want to capture the snow and ice around waterfalls, most CP filters also block 1- 2 stops of light, which will slow the shutter speed allowing you to create the smooth water effect.

Snow on Dark Hollow FallsSnow on Dark Hollow FallsDark Hollow Fall is a beautiful waterfall located in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park next to Big Meadows.                 

6) Dress for Success

               Staying warm and dry are very important because the truth is that landscape photographers sit around a location for hours waiting for the perfect light.  If you are cold or wet, it may force you to leave early, which could lead to you miss a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  Dressing in layers is very important especially if you have to hike to a location, and never wear cotton as a base layer.  In fact, you should just leave your cotton cloths at home.  A rule I was taught in the military while going though survivor training was to stay comfortably cool while hiking.  This will help keep you from sweating, which in turn will help keep you dry.  Once you get to your location, you can start adding layers back as your body cools down from the hike. If you are not comfortable, you will become miserable, and you will not enjoy the experience of being out photographing winter landscapes; besides being miserable, being cold and wet could lead to more serious issues like hyperthermia, so please dress appropriately. 

Also, batteries and the cold do not mix very well, which means your camera battery will not last as long as normal.  If you have a spare battery, bring it with you and keep it in an inside pocket, close to your body to keep it warm.  If your camera battery does die, usually if you warm it back up, you are able to get a few more pictures out of it.  Another trick is to put your battery next to your hand warmer, which allows you to stay warm while keeping your battery ready to go. 

Brandon Dewey Photography (www.bdeweyphoto.com)

 

7) Protect your gear

               After you are done getting amazing winter landscapes, DO NOT bring your camera and glass (lens) back into a warm room or vehicle, this can cause condensation to form on or inside your camera and glass. When traveling home, do not blast your heater as soon as you get into the vehicle, but instead, slowly raise the temperature as this will help prevent condensation from forming.  If you must blast your heater as soon as you get into your vehicle or are heading directly into a warm room, put your camera and glass into a zip lock bag or dry bag beforehand.  This way, any condensation that forms will be on the outside of the bag and not on or in your gear. 

Sunrise at Great Falls National ParkSunrise at Great Falls National Park

 

To keep building your photography knowledge and to keep from repeating the same tips over and over again, I also recommend you quickly read 7 Essential Landscape Photography Tips and 7 Essential Landscape Photography Competition Techniques.  Both are full of great tips that will help take your photography to the next level, and both articles will also help you improve your winter landscape photographs.

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) composition essential winter landscape photography essential winter landscape photography tips gear ice image landscape landscape photography magic hour nature outdoor photo photographer photography snow snow landscapce snow photography snow photography tips tip tips tricks tripod winter landscape winter landscape photography winter landscape photography gear winter landscape tips winter outdoor photography winter photography gear http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/12/7-essential-winter-landscape-photography-tips Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:35:01 GMT
Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Humpback Rock http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/11/photographing-appalachian-mountains-humpback-rock Photographing Humpback Rock

 

Location: Blue Ridge Parkway

Best time of year to photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunrise and Sunset

Popularity: High 

Mile Maker: 5.8 on The Blue Ridge Parkway

Distance:  2.0 miles out and back

 

With views to the north, east and west, Humpback Rock provides photographers a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and is a great location to photograph both sunrise and sunset. 

Humpback RockHumpback RockWhen I woke up a 3:30am I quickly rechecked the weather which still said partly cloudy, so I grab my camera gear and headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I drove, the close I got to the mountains the less stars I could see until I could not see any out the window. As I drove up Afton Mountain and turned onto the Blue Ridge Parkway I started driving was driving through thick fog and I was just hoping it would get above it or it would burn off. Nothing changed when I reach the the trail head for Humpback Rock. As I hiked up the trail I finally pop out of the fog as I neared the summit and I was rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise!

(East, 19mm, F/16, 1/20 sec, ISO 100)

Located at mile marker 5.8 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the trail head for Humpback Rock is super easy to access. There is no park entrance fee, and the parking lot at the trail head has plenty of parking spots.  Since Humpback Rock is located so close to Interstate 64, and because it is short hike with an amazing view, Humpback Rock is one of the more popular hikes in central Virginia.   The trail is short but steep, gaining over 800’ over the course of the mile from the trail head to the top of the rocks.   The trail is well maintained and very easy to follow. To reach Humpback Rock, just follow the blue blazes at they lead from the parking lot to the rock outlook.   Once you reach Humpback Rock, there are plenty of places for you to spread out along the rocks, which is great because unlike most other hikes I’ve done in Virginia, I have never had this view to myself.  No matter the time of day or weather conditions, which includes snow, there has always been a group of people with me at the rock outcropping. UVA students love to hike Humpback Rock at sunrise, so your best chance to have the view to yourself is at sunrise when UVA is on a break. Luckily, this massive greenstone outcropping is so large that it is easy to compose your image to exclude the other hikers, if you choose to do (click here for essential landscape photography tips). 

Humpback Rock SunriseHumpback Rock SunriseHumpback Rock’s 3,080’ outlook offers photographers some outstanding views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. The view to the north is of the Afton Mountain and the Southern District of Shenandoah National Park, the east captures views of the gorgeous rolling Piedmont Hills as they lead toward Charlottesville, and the view to the west overlooks the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Cellar Mountain and Elliott’s Knob. The view to the south looks down along the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains toward Wintergreen, but it is blocked by the summit of Humpback Mountain. There are a few areas on which you are able to scramble to get a southwest view, if desired. Once at the top of the rocks, take a few minutes to scramble around the rocks to find a great composition.

(North, 70mm, F/11, 0.4 sec, ISO 100)

Humpback Rock’s 3,080’ outlook offers photographers some outstanding views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.  The view to the north is of the Afton Mountain and the Southern District of Shenandoah National Park, the east captures views of the gorgeous rolling Piedmont Hills as they lead toward Charlottesville, and the view to the west overlooks the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Cellar Mountain and Elliott’s Knob. The view to the south looks down along the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains toward Wintergreen, but it is blocked by the summit of Humpback Mountain.  There are a few areas on which you are able to scramble to get a southwest view, if desired. Once at the top of the rocks, take a few minutes to scramble around the rocks to find a great composition (click here for landscape photo composition tips)

Sunrise at Humpback RockSunrise at Humpback RockHumpback Rock’s 3,080’ outlook offers photographers some outstanding views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. The view to the north is of the Afton Mountain and the Southern District of Shenandoah National Park, the east captures views of the gorgeous rolling Piedmont Hills as they lead toward Charlottesville, and the view to the west overlooks the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Cellar Mountain and Elliott’s Knob. The view to the south looks down along the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains toward Wintergreen, but it is blocked by the summit of Humpback Mountain. There are a few areas on which you are able to scramble to get a southwest view, if desired. Once at the top of the rocks, take a few minutes to scramble around the rocks to find a great composition.

(East, 55mm, F/16, 1/20 sec, ISO 100)

The rocks can be used as a foreground element.  Photographers are able to capture multiple layers of the Blue Ridge Mountain ranges rather than just one or two ranges when looking north toward Shenandoah.  The exposed greenstone on top of the outlook works well as a foreground element or a leading line, which can help add layers and depth to your image.  The wide range in views makes finding and photographing the perfect light easier.  Photographers are not limited to only facing one direction, allowing photographers to take full advantage of the light in almost every direction.  Humpback Rock allows photographers the ability to take advantage of different types of light (front, side, and back) cast on the mountain ranges to capture the pictures they envisioned without hiking miles to a new location and possibly missing the perfect light.  This is also a perfect spot for photographers to capture stunning sunrise and sunset pictures year around because of the view from the northeast to the southeast and the northwest to the southwest.

Photographing Humpback RockPhotographing Humpback RockHumpback Rock’s 3,080’ outlook offers photographers some outstanding views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. The view to the north is of the Afton Mountain and the Southern District of Shenandoah National Park, the east captures views of the gorgeous rolling Piedmont Hills as they lead toward Charlottesville, and the view to the west overlooks the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Cellar Mountain and Elliott’s Knob. The view to the south looks down along the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains toward Wintergreen, but it is blocked by the summit of Humpback Mountain. There are a few areas on which you are able to scramble to get a southwest view, if desired. Once at the top of the rocks, take a few minutes to scramble around the rocks to find a great composition.

(Northeast, 16mm, F/16, 1/30 sec, ISO 100)

Once you are done enjoying the views, follow the trail back down to your vehicle.  If you are photographing sunrise or sunset, remember to bring your head lamp. 

Click here for more photography tips!

Click here for more photo adventures in the Appalachians Mountains!

Click Here for photo adventures in Shenandoah National Park!

 

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Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Babcock State Park http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/11/photographing-appalachian-mountains-babcock-state-park Photographing Babcock State Park

Location: Babcock State Park, West Virginia 

Best time of year to photograph: Spring, Summer, and Fall

Subject Focus: Grist Mill, Landscape, Nature, Sunrise, Sunset

Popularity: High

 

Babcock State Park is one of 36 state parks in West Virginia and is located just southeast of Fayetteville, WV.  The main attraction of Babcock State Park is the Glade Creek Grist Mill, which is located on the banks of Glade Creek.  There is a large parking lot across the creek from the grist mill, making it very assessable.  This parking lot is also for the state park information area and gift shop. Right below the Glad Creek Grist Mill, there are some waterfalls with the tallest at about 10 feet tall. The easiest way to the base of the falls is to walk through the parking lot toward the building where you will find stone stairs the lead down to the creek.  Depending on the level of the creek, there are some rocks you are able to scramble on to help find a composition (click here for landscape composition tips). 

The Glade Creek Grist MillThe Glade Creek Grist MillThe best part about camping in the Babcock State Park is the location! It is close to some amazing places and is great spot for a base camp while you are out exploring the New River Gorge and the surrounding mountains. Within the park, a must stop is the Glade Creek Grist Mill. The Grist Mill is located right on Glade Creek and during the summers is open for tours.

( View near parking area, 35mm, F/11, 1.3 sec, ISO 100)

To take the more iconic image of the Glade Creek Grist Mill, you will need to cross to the other side of Glade Creek.  Next to the Glade Creek Grist Mill is a bride that makes crossing the creek very easy.  After walking across the bridge, turn right passed the grist mill, and follow the road about 400 feet until the stone wall ends.  If the road enters the forest, you have gone about 25 feet too far.  From here, you will need a telephoto lens to shoot back up the creek.  On a full frame camera, I personally found between 90mm to 100mm is perfect to incorporate the waterfalls and the Glade Creek Grist Mill in my composition (click here for essential landscape photo tips) .  From this location, just behind you is a dam. This dam creates a pool, which is great for capturing reflections of the gristmill.  From this location, you will also be facing south, so during the morning, you will be able to capture beautiful side light as the sun slowly rises around the surrounding mountains.  Since this location is very easy to get to, it can be very popular. I found that photographing the Glade Creek Grist Mill at sunrise helped me avoid the crowds.  To help get to the Glade Creek Grist Mill for sunrise, think about camping at in Babcock State Park.

Fall at the Glade Creek Grist MillFall at the Glade Creek Grist MillThe best part about camping in the Babcock State Park is the location! It is close to some amazing places and is great spot for a base camp while you are out exploring the New River Gorge and the surrounding mountains. Within the park, a must stop is the Glade Creek Grist Mill. The Grist Mill is located right on Glade Creek and during the summers is open for tours.

(90mm, F/11, 3 sec, ISO 100)

The campground has 51 campsites for tents and is open from the last weekend in April through October 31.  The campground is dog friendly, making it ideal to bring the whole family.  I like to camp on the outside of the loop because, even though you are still able to see the neighbors, it doesn't feel like they are right next to you.  The camp sites also have plenty of room to set up your tent, have picnic tables to cook and eat, and have fire rings for camp fires to make s’mores.  The campgrounds do have bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities and (as of 2017) cost 25 USD per night.  

Glade Creek Grist MillGlade Creek Grist MillThe best part about camping in the Babcock State Park is the location! It is close to some amazing places and is great spot for a base camp while you are out exploring the New River Gorge and the surrounding mountains. Within the park, a must stop is the Glade Creek Grist Mill. The Grist Mill is located right on Glade Creek and during the summers is open for tours.

(100mm, F/14, 4 sec, ISO 100) 

Another great thing about camping in the Babcock State Park is the location!  It is close to some amazing places and is a great spot for a base camp while you are out exploring and photographing the New River Gorge and the surrounding mountains.  Babcock State Park also has over 4,000 acres to explore, making it a great place to camp while you explore this beautiful area. Just outside the park, there are a lot of hiking trails in and around the New River Gorge, which includes another one of my favorite hikes, Beauty Mountain Trail (click here for details).  For more information about camping at Babcock State Park, including how to reserve a camp spot, click here.

 

Click here to find more adventure in the Appalachian Mountains!

Click here for some photography tips!

 

 

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Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Falling Spring Falls http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/11/photographing-appalachian-mountains-falling-spring-falls Photographing Falling Spring Falls

Location: Alleghany County, Virginia 

Best time of year to photograph: Spring and Fall

Subject Focus: Waterfalls, Landscape, Nature, Sunset

Popularity: High

Distance: 0.25 miles Out and Back

 

One of the prettiest waterfalls in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Falling Spring Falls is a perfect place to spend an afternoon.  Falling Spring Falls is located in Alleghany County just north of the town of Covington.  To reach the falls, take US 60 off of Interstate 64, then follow US 220 North for just over 9 miles until you reach the falls, which you can see from the road on the left hand side.  Just past the falls is a parking lot and a picnic area. 

Falling Spring FallsFalling Spring FallsFalling Spring Falls

(20mm, F/20, 3sec, ISO 100)

One of the best view of Falling Spring Falls and a great location for sunset is the vista next to the road.  There is a well-maintained sidewalk that leads about 300 feet from the parking lot to this overlook.   The Falling Spring Falls Overlook faces north and provides the photographer a side view of the 80’ tall waterfall with the Appalachian Mountains as the back drop (click here for some photography tips).  Because of the steep terrain and surrounding trees, there is really only one angle from this location, but it is outstanding.  There is a stone that I like to put my tripod on to help get my camera a little higher over the bushes growing on the side of the mountain, so I can capture an unobstructed view of Falling Spring Falls.  At sunset, you can capture the last rays of light hitting the waterfall and get some beautiful golden side light on the Appalachian Mountains in the background of your image.  Side light will held add shape and depth to the multiple mountain ridges as they roll off into the distance. 

Sunset at Falling Spring FallsSunset at Falling Spring FallsSunset at Falling Spring Falls

(35mm, F/11, 1/2 sec, ISO 100)

While you are waiting for sunset, I suggest you follow the path down to the base of Falling Spring Falls.  The trail head is located on the west side of the parking lot (side closest to the overlook). The trail is steep in some areas but is very easy to follow.  Once at the base of Falling Spring Falls, make sure you take a few minutes to explore the area to find a great composition (click here for photography composition tips).  Unlike the overlook, there are numerous places to photograph the waterfall, including from behind it.  The top of Falling Spring Falls has enough of a ledge that you are able to stand behind the waterfall, which you can use to help create some unique images.  If you would like some waterfall photography tips, including how to create capture silky smooth water, click here

Falling Spring Falls During SpringFalling Spring Falls During SpringFalling Spring Falls During Spring

(35mm, F/11, 2sec, ISO 100)

Also, remember to bring your swimsuit; there are some awesome swimming holes both at the base of the falls and near the top of the falls.

Spring at Falling Spring FallsSpring at Falling Spring FallsSpring at Falling Spring Falls

(70mm, F/16, 2 sec, ISO 100)

Click here to find more Adventures in the Appalachian Mountains.

Click here for more Photography Tips!

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) alleghany county appalachian mountains appalachians blue ridge imagery blue ridge mountains camping falling spring falls hike hiking landscape landscape photography nature nature photography photograph falling spring falls photograph waterfall spring summit sunset virginia http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/11/photographing-appalachian-mountains-falling-spring-falls Tue, 28 Nov 2017 00:49:32 GMT
Photographing Shenandoah NP: Charlottesville Reservoir http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/11/photographing-shenandoah-np-charlottesville-reservoir Photographing Charlottesville Reservoir

Location: Shenandoah National Park: Southern District

Best time of year to photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Sunrise, Landscape, Nature 

Popularity: High

 

Charlottesville Reservoir offers a unique view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that you will not find anywhere else in the Shenandoah National Park.

Charlottesville ReservoirCharlottesville ReservoirCharlottesville Reservoir offers a unique view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that you will not find anywhere else in the Shenandoah National Park.

(30mm, F/16, 0.6sec, ISO 100)

The reservoir is located in the Piedmont Hills just outside the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. So technically Charlottesville Reservoir is not in Shenandoah National Park, but it is only a few feet outside of the park, and it has an outstanding view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that make up the Southern District of Shenandoah National Park. 

Banks of the Charlottesville ReservoirBanks of the Charlottesville ReservoirCharlottesville Reservoir offers a unique view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that you will not find anywhere else in the Shenandoah National Park.

(31mm, F/16, 0.5sec, ISO 100)

To reach Charlottesville Reservoir, known locally as Sugar Hollow Reservoir, from Interstate 64, take US 29 North to Barracks Road.  Follow Barracks Road (Route 601) for 11 miles until it turns into Sugar Hollow Road (Route 614). Follow Sugar Hollow Road for 5 miles until you reach the Reservoir.  I like to park at the dam and then walk down to the lake.  This side of the lake provides an outstanding view of the mountains including Turk Mountain.  I like to walk along the edge of the lake until I find a composition (click here to lean some photography composition tips). The level of the lake changes as the water level rises and falls, making each trip unique.  This will allow you to create different compositions as the shore line changes. 

Fall Colors at Charlottesville ReservoirFall Colors at Charlottesville ReservoirCharlottesville Reservoir offers a unique view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that you will not find anywhere else in the Shenandoah National Park.

(150mm, F/16, 0.5sec, ISO 100)

The Charlottesville Reservoir is a great location for sunrise.  Usually in the early morning, the wind is calm, which will allow you to capture a reflection of the mountains in the water.  When looking at the mountains from the dam, you will be facing west, which means the sun will be rising behind you.  As the sun slowly rises, it will illuminate the mountain ridges with soft, beautiful golden light (click here for some landscape photography tips). 

Enjoying the View at Charlottesville ReservoirEnjoying the View at Charlottesville ReservoirCharlottesville Reservoir offers a unique view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that you will not find anywhere else in the Shenandoah National Park.

(86mm, F/10, 1/6sec, ISO 100)

If you would like to capture the sun rising, you can either hike to the far side of the lake, or you could continue to drive past the dam for 0.5 miles to the Sugar Hollow Trail Head parking area.  From there, follow the trail down to the reservoir, and then hike along the shore line until you find your composition.  This side of the reservoir provides a great view of the Piedmont Hills surrounding Charlottesville and the lower end of the valley formed by the Moorman River. 

If you would like to photograph Charlottesville Reservoir from Shenandoah National Park, one of the best locations is Moorman River Overlook along Skyline Drive.  Click here for some photography tips from Moorman River Overlook.

 

Click Here for photo adventures in Shenandoah National Park!

Click here for more photo adventures in the Appalachians Mountains!

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Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Wilburn Ridge http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/photographing-appalachian-mountains-wilburn-ridge Photographing Wilburn Ridge

Location: Grayson Highland State Park, Virginia 

Best time of year to photograph: Spring, Summer, and Fall

Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunrise

Popularity: High

Distance: 2.0 Loop

 

Grayson Highland State Park is full of some amazing trails that lead hikers to some of the best views in Virginia, and hiking along Wilburn Ridge is one of my favorite hikes in the park and has some amazing 360 degrees views.

Wilburn Ridge SunriseWilburn Ridge SunriseAt the junction of the AT, turn right and follow it north for 0.5 miles. This section of the AT is called Wilburn Ridge. It had a lot of rock piles for hikers to explore. Also, if you like rock climbing or bouldering, there are a lot of great spots to climb along Wilburn Ridge. There are three main rock piles spread out along the ridge, all of which offer outstanding 360 degree views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. On clear days, hikers can see over 70 miles away. I personally like the view from the third rock pile, and it usually isn’t as crowded as the first two. In fact, I often have the whole rock pile to myself. The best view is to the East making this an ideal place to watch the sunrise beehive the Blue Ridge Mountains. Anywhere along Wilburn Ridge is a great place to stop and eat lunch/snack while taking in the amazing views.

 

To reach the trail head, park in the Massie Gap Parking Lot.  This is the parking lot for most of the trails in the park, so it can fill up very quickly, but you are able to park along the side of the road.  Massie Gap as two parking areas: one intended for overnight hikers and one for day hikers.  Once parked, make your way over to the Rhododendron Trail Head.  If you park in the overnight parking lot, follow the left trail for 0.2 mile until you reach the Rhododendron Trail Head.  If you park in the day parking area, walk across the grass field to the Rhododendron Trail Head.  Once on the Rhododendron Trail, follow it up the mountain for 0.5 miles until you reach the Appalachian Trail (AT).  At 0.3 miles, the Rhododendron Trail meets the Horse Trail North; stay left at this junction.  The Rhododendron Trail is the steepest part of the loop, but because the trail winds up the mountain, it not unmanageable.  Right before you reach the AT, hikers will enter the highlands and have some great views. If you are in luck, you might see a wild pony.  Some of the ponies may come up to you looking for food, but please help keep the ponies wild and do not feed or pet them (Leave No Trace). 

 

Wilburn Ridge MorningWilburn Ridge MorningAt the junction of the AT, turn right and follow it north for 0.5 miles. This section of the AT is called Wilburn Ridge. It had a lot of rock piles for hikers to explore. Also, if you like rock climbing or bouldering, there are a lot of great spots to climb along Wilburn Ridge. There are three main rock piles spread out along the ridge, all of which offer outstanding 360 degree views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. On clear days, hikers can see over 70 miles away. I personally like the view from the third rock pile, and it usually isn’t as crowded as the first two. In fact, I often have the whole rock pile to myself. The best view is to the East making this an ideal place to watch the sunrise beehive the Blue Ridge Mountains. Anywhere along Wilburn Ridge is a great place to stop and eat lunch/snack while taking in the amazing views.

At the junction of the AT, turn right and follow it north for 0.5 miles.  This section of the AT is called Wilburn Ridge.  It had a lot of rock piles for hikers to explore.  Also, if you like rock climbing or bouldering, there are a lot of great spots to climb along Wilburn Ridge.  There are three main rock piles spread out along the ridge, all of which offer outstanding 360 degree views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. On clear days, hikers can see over 70 miles away.  I personally like the view from the third rock pile, and it usually isn’t as crowded as the first two. In fact, I often have the whole rock pile to myself.  The best view is to the East making this an ideal place to watch the sunrise beehive the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The rocks can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images. This view has so many mountain ranges and valleys, which could be used to add layers and depth to your images.  Since it has a 360 degree view you will be able to capture the sun rising not matter the time of year. If you hiking or scouting this location later in the day anywhere along Wilburn Ridge is a great place to stop and eat lunch/snack while taking in the amazing views.  

Wilburn RidgeWilburn RidgeAt the junction of the AT, turn right and follow it north for 0.5 miles. This section of the AT is called Wilburn Ridge. It had a lot of rock piles for hikers to explore. Also, if you like rock climbing or bouldering, there are a lot of great spots to climb along Wilburn Ridge. There are three main rock piles spread out along the ridge, all of which offer outstanding 360 degree views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. On clear days, hikers can see over 70 miles away. I personally like the view from the third rock pile, and it usually isn’t as crowded as the first two. In fact, I often have the whole rock pile to myself. The best view is to the East making this an ideal place to watch the sunrise beehive the Blue Ridge Mountains. Anywhere along Wilburn Ridge is a great place to stop and eat lunch/snack while taking in the amazing views.

Once you are done exploring Wilburn Ridge, hop back on the AT heading north until you reach the Appalachian Spur Trail.  Turn right on to the Appalachian Spur Trail, and follow it down the mountain for 0.8 miles until you reach the Massie Gap Overnight Parking Lot.  If you parked in the day parking lot, turn right and follow the trail for 0.2 miles, then walk back across the grass field to your vehicle, completing the 2.0 mile loop.

Wild PoniesWild PoniesAt the junction of the AT, turn right and follow it north for 0.5 miles. This section of the AT is called Wilburn Ridge. It had a lot of rock piles for hikers to explore. Also, if you like rock climbing or bouldering, there are a lot of great spots to climb along Wilburn Ridge. There are three main rock piles spread out along the ridge, all of which offer outstanding 360 degree views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. On clear days, hikers can see over 70 miles away. I personally like the view from the third rock pile, and it usually isn’t as crowded as the first two. In fact, I often have the whole rock pile to myself. The best view is to the East making this an ideal place to watch the sunrise beehive the Blue Ridge Mountains. Anywhere along Wilburn Ridge is a great place to stop and eat lunch/snack while taking in the amazing views.

This is a great hike for the whole family; dogs on leashes are allowed on this trail.  If you have young children, this would also be a great hike from them.  My two sons loved exploring and climbing on the rocks, but the highlight of this trail was seeing the wild ponies.

Click here to find more Adventures in the Appalachian Mountains.

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) appalachian mountains appalachian trail appalachians blue ridge imagery blue ridge mountains camping fall grayson highlands grayson highlands state park hike hiking landscape landscape photography nature nature photography photograph grayson highland state park photograph wilburn ridge summit sunrise virginia virginia state park wilburn ridge http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/photographing-appalachian-mountains-wilburn-ridge Mon, 30 Oct 2017 01:48:06 GMT
Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Twin Pinnacles Trail http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/twin-pinnacle-trail Photographing Twin Pinnacles Trail

Location: Grayson Highland State Park, Virginia 

Best time of year to photograph: Spring, Summer, and Fall

Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunset

Popularity: High

Distance: 1.6 Loop

 

Located in Grayson Highland State Park, the Twin Pinnacles Trail has some amazing west-facing outlooks, which are great for photographing the sunset. 

Little Pinnacles Fall SunsetLittle Pinnacles Fall SunsetLittle Pinnacles Outlook as a few rock that you can scramble up on top of to help get above some of the plants and trees for an unobstructed view to the West and Southwest. But the view from the base of the rocks is also outstanding. The rocks can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images. This view has so many mountain ranges and valleys which could be used to add layers and depth to your images. Little Pinnacles is an ideal location for photographing sunset because of the views to the West and Southwest.

To reach the trail head, park in the Visitor Center parking lot, walk up the hill to the Visitor Center, and follow the walkway to the left of the building until you reach the Twin Pinnacles Trail.  The trail is a 1.6 mile loop and gains about 600 feet in elevation.  The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, but just past the trail head, the trail splits because it is a loop; both will take you to the outlooks, but the faster way to the views is the left trail.  Follow the red blazes for 0.3 miles until you reach Little Pinnacles, located on the left side of the trail.  In my opinion, this is best outlook of the hike.  Little Pinnacles Outlook has a few rocks that you can scramble up to help get above some of the plants and trees for an unobstructed view to the west and southwest.  But the view from the base of the rocks is also outstanding.   The rocks can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images. This view has so many mountain ranges and valleys, which could be used to add layers and depth to your images. Little Pinnacles is an ideal location for photographing sunsets because of the views to the west and southwest.

Little Pinnacles OverlookLittle Pinnacles OverlookLittle Pinnacles Outlook as a few rock that you can scramble up on top of to help get above some of the plants and trees for an unobstructed view to the West and Southwest. But the view from the base of the rocks is also outstanding. The rocks can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images. This view has so many mountain ranges and valleys which could be used to add layers and depth to your images. Little Pinnacles is an ideal location for photographing sunset because of the views to the West and Southwest.

To reach the second outlook at Big Pinnacles, follow the trail along the ridge line for another 0.1 miles, and it will be located on the left side of the trail right before the trail begins to descend.  Big Pinnacles is not as large of an outlook as Little Pinnacles (ironically enough), but it also has some rocks to scramble up to get an unobstructed view of the Highlands and Wilburn Ridge to the north.  And once again, the rocks can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images.

Big Pinnacles OverlookBig Pinnacles OverlookBig Pinnacles is not as large as Little Pinnacles but also has some rocks to scramble on to get an unobstructed view of the Highlands and Wilburn Ridge to the North. And once again the rocks can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images.

To complete the loop, follow the trail down past Big Pinnacles.  In 0.3 miles, the Twin Pinnacles Trail meets the Big Pinnacles Trail.  Stay right at the junction, and continue to follow the Twin Pinnacles Trail for 0.9 miles as it slowly heads down the mountain and loops back to the Visitor Center, completing the 1.6 mile loop.  If you are going to be photographing the sunset, remember to bring a headlamp or flashlight for the hike back to your vehicle.  Also, if you are like me and have small kids, this is an outstanding beginner hike for them. It’s short, not too steep, and has two great vistas for them to enjoy.

Little Pinnacles SunsetLittle Pinnacles SunsetLittle Pinnacles Outlook as a few rock that you can scramble up on top of to help get above some of the plants and trees for an unobstructed view to the West and Southwest. But the view from the base of the rocks is also outstanding. The rocks can easily be used as a foreground element to add some texture to your images. This view has so many mountain ranges and valleys which could be used to add layers and depth to your images. Little Pinnacles is an ideal location for photographing sunset because of the views to the West and Southwest.

An alternate route to reach the Twin Pinnacles Outlooks is via the Big Pinnacle Trail.  This route is a 2.4 mile hike, which is great for people looking to stretch their legs a bit more.  To reach the Big Pinnacle Trail Head, park at the Massie Gap Day Parking area, and then follow the road west (away from Massie Gap) until you reach the trail head located on the left side of the road.  Follow the Big Pinnacles Trail for 0.4 miles until it intersects with the Twin Pinnacles Trail.  The trail to the right will lead you to the Outlooks faster.  From the junction, follow the trail 0.3 miles until you reach Big Pinnacles Outlook.  Continue along the Twin Pinnacles Trail, following the ridge line for 0.1 miles until you reach Little Pinnacles Outlook.  Follow the Twin Pinnacles Trail for 0.3 miles until the trail splits.  If you would like to stop at the Visitor Center, turn right, but if not, turn left and continue to follow the Twin Pinnacles Trail for 0.9 mile until you reach the Big Pinnacles Trail junction. Turn right at the junction, and follow the Big Pinnacles Trail 0.4 miles back to your vehicle, completing the 2.4 mile loop. 

 

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) appalachian mountains appalachians blue ridge imagery blue ridge mountains camping fall grayson highlands grayson highlands state park hike hiking landscape landscape photography nature nature photography photograph grayson highland state park photograph twin pinnacles trail summit sunset twin pinnacles trail virginia virginia state park http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/twin-pinnacle-trail Mon, 30 Oct 2017 01:47:46 GMT
Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Sugarland Overlook http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/photograph-sugarland-overlook Photographing Sugarland Overlook

Location: Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia 

Best time of year to photograph: Spring, Summer, and Fall

Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunrise

Popularity: High

 

Located just inside the park entrance of Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia, Sugarland Overlook provides an outstanding easterly view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Sugarland OverllokSugarland OverllokThe Sugarland Overlook is located about a mile up from the ranger station and is on the righthand side of the road. Sugarland Overlook is easy to access and has a lot of parking spots for visitors to enjoy the amazing view. There is a small park fee to enter the park, but the views and hiking trails make it worth it. The overlook is large, which will allow photographers to spread out. Since it provides an outstanding northeast to east view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, it makes this location ideal to photograph the sun rising behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Outlook is named Sugarland because of the many sugar maple trees that are visible from the outlook. The view to the east has multiple valleys and mountains ridges, which will help add depth to your images. After photographing the sunset, make sure you check out some of the amazing trails in the park.

The Sugarland Overlook is located about a mile up from the ranger station and is on the right hand side of the road.  Sugarland Overlook is easy to access and has a lot of parking spots for visitors to enjoy the amazing view.  There is a small park fee to enter the park, but the views and hiking trails make it worth it.  The overlook is large, which will allow photographers to spread out.  Since it provides an outstanding northeast to east view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, it makes this location ideal to photograph the sun rising behind the Blue Ridge Mountains.   The Outlook is named Sugarland because of the many sugar maple trees that are visible from the outlook.  The view to the east has multiple valleys and mountains ridges, which will help add depth to your images.  After photographing the sunset, make sure you check out some of the amazing trails in the park. 

Sunrise at Sugarland OverlookSunrise at Sugarland OverlookThe Sugarland Overlook is located about a mile up from the ranger station and is on the righthand side of the road. Sugarland Overlook is easy to access and has a lot of parking spots for visitors to enjoy the amazing view. There is a small park fee to enter the park, but the views and hiking trails make it worth it. The overlook is large, which will allow photographers to spread out. Since it provides an outstanding northeast to east view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, it makes this location ideal to photograph the sun rising behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Outlook is named Sugarland because of the many sugar maple trees that are visible from the outlook. The view to the east has multiple valleys and mountains ridges, which will help add depth to your images. After photographing the sunset, make sure you check out some of the amazing trails in the park.

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) appalachian mountains appalachians blue ridge imagery blue ridge mountains camping fall grayson highlands grayson highlands state park hike hiking landscape landscape photography nature nature photography photograph grayson highland state park photograph sugarland overlook sugarland onverlook summit sunrise virginia virginia state park http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/photograph-sugarland-overlook Sun, 29 Oct 2017 21:03:33 GMT
Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Beauty Mountain Trail http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/photographing-appalachian-mountains-beauty-mountain-trail Photographing Beauty Mountain Trail

Location: New River Gorge, West Virginia 

Best time of year to photograph: Spring, Summer, and Fall

Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunset

Popularity: Low

Distance: 1.5 mile out and back

 

The New River Gorge in West Virginia is beautiful and full of great viewpoints, but some of the best are along the Beauty Mountain Trail.  This short but fun out and back hike has a new outlook every few hundred years that are great for watching the sunset.  

Beauty Mountain TrailBeauty Mountain TrailThe New River Gorge in West Virginia is beautiful and full of great viewpoints but some of the best are along the Beauty Mountain Trail. This short but fun out and back hike has a new outlook every few hundred years that are great for watching the sun set.
 

The Beauty Mountain Trail Head is located less than 10 miles form Fayetteville, WV.  To reach the trail head, you will have to travel down some very narrow roads, and I recommend going old school and printing out the directions because cell service in the area is not the best.  Once at the trail head, park along the side of the road; there is no formal parking area.  There is also no sign marking the trail, but if you are looking for the trail, it is very easy to find.  The trail starts at the corner of Buckhorn Rd and Beauty Mountain Rd underneath some power lines.  

Rams HeadRams HeadThe New River Gorge in West Virginia is beautiful and full of great viewpoints but some of the best are along the Beauty Mountain Trail. This short but fun out and back hike has a new outlook every few hundred years that are great for watching the sun set.

 

Once on the trail, you will quickly come to your first overlook.  This is a great spot, but there are better overlooks further down the trail.  There are no formal trail markers, and the trail splits a fews times, but I found the side trails always rejoin the main.  The easiest trail to follow and the trail with the best views is the main trail, which winds along near the cliff’s edge.  The Beauty Mountain Trail is mostly flat because it follows a ridge line and is about 3/4 of a mile to the Rams Head overlook, which offers a 180 degree view of the New River Gorge.  

Beauty Mountain Trail OverlookBeauty Mountain Trail OverlookThe New River Gorge in West Virginia is beautiful and full of great viewpoints but some of the best are along the Beauty Mountain Trail. This short but fun out and back hike has a new outlook every few hundred years that are great for watching the sun set.

 

Most of the outlooks before the Rams Head look West, which makes it ideal for photographing sunsets.  There is a bend in the river which could be used for a leading line.  The Rams Head is also a well-known climbing location, and if you are lucky, you will be able to capture some climbers scaling the cliff face.  If you are photographing at sunset remember to bring a flashlight for the return to your vehicle.

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) allegheny mountains appalachian mountains appalachians babcock state park beauty mountain trail blue ridge imagery blue ridge mountains camping fall hike hiking landscape landscape photography nature nature photography new river gorge photograph beauty mountain trail photograph new river gorge summit sunrise sunset west virginia http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/10/photographing-appalachian-mountains-beauty-mountain-trail Sun, 01 Oct 2017 21:05:03 GMT
7 Essential Fall Photography Tips http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/9/7-essential-fall-photography-tips 7 Essential Fall Photography Tips

1. Plan Your Trip:

Planning your fall color trip is very important because photographers have a very small window to photograph fall colors once the leaves begin to turn.  The weather.com fall foliage map is a great place to start especially if you are planning to travel.  This map will give you an idea when a region of the U.S. typically hits peak color, but keep in mind every year is different.  The fall of 2016 was VERY warm, so the leaves turned very late (if they turned at all), and the fall of 2017 is shaping up for early fall colors because of how cool it has been.  This map just gives you an idea of when the region typically hits peak color, which is good if you need to buy airline tickets earlier in the year.  Another great resource are trail cameras.  A lot of the national parks and state parks now have live trail cameras, which will show you in real time the fall colors.  Some of the bigger parks also give at least a weekly fall color report on their websites.  If that area doesn’t have a trail camera, I use social media. I look at the most recent pictures posted to Instagram and Facebook and reach out to people I know living in the area I plan to visit to help me gauge when I want to travel to that area to photograph the changing leaves.  But when in doubt, it is better to be early than late.

Sunset at Lindy PointSunset at Lindy PointFall in West Virginia is always beautiful and Lindy Point near Blackwater Falls State Park was no exception.

 2. Lens Choice:

When most people first start photographing landscapes, they only use a wide angle lens; a few examples of wide angle glass are the 16-35mm, 14-24mm, or 18-55mm.  This can be great for showing the whole scene of a large vista, but the problem is everything in the frame will be small including all of those beautiful trees turning colors.  Usually unless I am able to get really close to my subject (i.e. a tree or waterfall) and am able to fill the frame with the subject, during fall my wide angle lens usually stays in my camera bag.  Typically, I have found medium and telephoto lenses for example a 24-70mm or the 70-200mm, work best for capturing the fall colors. Using these focal lengths will help you isolate your subject, making it big in the frame, which will help showcase the fall colors.     

Red TreeRed TreeA red tree in West Virginia.

3. Composition:

Having a great composition can make or break an image; luckily the beautiful fall colors offer photographers some unique opportunities.  Usually simple compositions that highlight the color of the leaves work really well, for example isolating a bright and vibrant tree in your fame with little or no distractions is a great place to start. Also consider using patterns for your composition. People love looking at patterns, and they generally pleasing to the eye, which will help draw them into your image.  Leading lines is another great compositional technique to consider using in your image because they help guide the viewers’ eyes to the subject.  A road, stream or mountain ridge are just a few examples of leading lines.  When the leading line is a diagonal line, it will not only help guide the viewers’ eyes to the subject, but it can also add depth to the image by showing the distance between elements in the foreground and background.  There are many different ways to compose the your image to highlight the fall colors, which makes it important to know the different rules in order to apply them to different situations. For more landscape composition techniques, click here.

Fall West Virginia RoadFall West Virginia RoadFall in West Virginia is always beautiful and the Canaan Loop Road that runs through Blackwater Falls State Park was no exception.

4. Use a Circular Polarizer Filter:

Most landscape photographers use a CP filter to enhance the color of the sky, but it can also be used to remove the glare on the leaves.  Removing the glare will help enrich the fall colors to a deep natural look.  Most CP filters also block 1- 2 stops of light, which will slow the shutter speed, which can lead to negative effect when trying to photograph leaves.  If the shutter speed is too slow, the leaves will blur as they move in the wind, but as long as you keep your shutter speed fast enough for the situation, the positive effect of using a CP to remove the glare heavily outweighs this negative effect. 

Trail to Table RockTrail to Table RockHiking the trail to Table Rock is very beautiful.

5. Add Green:

This may sound a little unusual, but adding green really helps the fall colors pop in your image.  Without getting into the nuances of color theory, adding just a little bit of green, especially dark green, will create contrast in your image, which will make the fall colors look brighter and more vibrant.

Fall in the Allegany MountainsFall in the Allegany MountainsFall in the Allegany Mountains is very beautiful.

6. Time of Day:

I love photographing at sunrise and sunset, but during the fall, photographing during this time can lead to more subdued colors.  If you are trying to capture bright, vibrant colors, think about photographing about an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset.  During these times, the sun is low enough in the sky to provide beautiful soft light but still high enough in the sky to illuminate the leaves.  If the sun is out, look for back light trees, the sun shining on the leaves on the trees can make look like they are glowing.  If there on an overcast and cloudy day, don’t worry: these days also work well for photographing fall colors.  Overcast skies provide even light across the landscape, which prevents bright highlights and dark shadows from creating dappled light. The overcast sky also brings out the rich fall colors. But one of the best things about overcast skies is the ability to use longer shutter, which is great for photographing waterfalls with the fall colors.   A long exposure is what creates the smooth silky effect in the water. Click here for more waterfall photography tips.

Blackwater Fall During FallBlackwater Fall During FallFall in West Virginia is always beautiful and Blackwater Falls in Blackwater Falls State Park was no exception.

7. Experiment With Your Shutter Speed:

Fall is a great time to experiment with your shutter speed.  Whether it is a really fast shutter speed to capture leaves falling or speed to capture the leaves swirling in a pool at the base of a waterfall, experimenting with different shutter speeds will help you create unique, one of a kind images.  In the below image, I experimented with different shutter speeds to create this unique, abstract image.  I pointed my camera at a group of trees and pushed the shutter as I slowly tilted my camera up to create the motion blur.

Fall Color AbstractFall Color AbstractFall Color Abstract image

For more photography tips click here!

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) composition essential fall photography essential fall photography tips fall fall photography fall photography tips fall tips framing gear image landscape landscape photography landscape photography gear landscape tips long exposure long exposure photography magic hour nature nature photography outdoor outdoor photography photo photographer photography photography gear rule of thirds scale slow shutter speed tip tips tricks tripod waterfall http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/9/7-essential-fall-photography-tips Mon, 18 Sep 2017 02:37:30 GMT
7 Essential Tips For Long Exposure Photography http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/8/7-essential-tips-for-long-exposure-photography 7 Essential Tips For Long Exposure Photography

 

1. Something Moving

For a long exposure photograph to be successful, there must be movement in the scene you are capturing.  One of the most common uses of long exposure is to show water moving over a waterfall or down a stream, but any movement that conveys the passage of time will work for long exposer photography.  A few other example are clouds moving in the sky, vehicle lights driving on a road, people walking, oceans waves, star trails, etc.  As long as there is movement, long exposer can make an average image into an outstanding, one of a kind image.

Devils Knob Overlook PanoramaDevils Knob Overlook PanoramaDevils Knob Overlooks is a great spot to take image of the Blue Ridge Mountains at sunset. It has a Southwest View of Three Ridge Mountain and The Priest.

 

2. Use a Tripod

Long exposer photography requires slow shutter speed, and the camera has to be completely still while the shutter is open.  The best way to ensure there is no movement is through the use of a sturdy tripod.  If there is any movement or camera shake during the exposure, no matter how minor, the image will not be sharp.

Mammoth PeakMammoth PeakThe Dana Fork Overlook has an outstanding eastern facing view, making this an ideal location to photograph the sun rising behind this section of the Sierra Mountains or capture the beautiful alpenglow on the mountains as the sun sets (click here for some photography). With some of the best unobstructed views of Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs to the East and Mammoth Peak to the Southeast, Dana Fork Overlook offers photographers the chance to glimpse some of the stunning scenery of Yosemite. The Dana Fork also meanders and snakes through a beautiful sub alpine meadow; it offers photographers a lot to work with in the foreground including some amazing “S” curves (click here for composition tips). The sub alpine meadow also makes a great home for some of the park’s wildlife and offers the chance for photographers to capture these animals in their natural habitat. As easy as this location is to get to plus the sheer beauty of the views, one would think this would be a very popular spot in Yosemite National Park, but every time I have been there, I have always had the view to myself.

 

3. Use a Shutter Release

Like a tripod, a shutter release is another tool to use to create tack sharp images.  Pressing the shutter button on the camera can cause the camera to shake.  A shutter release is a tool that releases the shutter to start the exposure without touching the camera.  The most common type of shutter release is a cable release, but there are also wireless shutter releases.  If you are on a budget, utilizing the camera’s self timer feature is another great way reduce the chance for camera shake when the exposure starts.

Sunset at Falling Spring FallsSunset at Falling Spring FallsSunset at Falling Spring Falls

 

4. Filters

During the day, the use of filters is required to achieve the slow shutter speeds needed to show the movement in your image.  Neutral density (ND) are the best filters to achieve the slow shutters speeds required for long exposure photography. ND filters are a dark piece of glass placed in front of the lens, reducing the amount of light passing through the lens. This allows photographers to use long exposures even on bright, sunny days.  ND filters come in strengths that block anywhere from 3 to 15 stops of light.  

Great Falls SunriseGreat Falls SunriseThis was a 7 Minute exposure taken of the Great Fall in Great Falls National Park.

 

5.  Manual Focus 

One downside to ND filters, especially when using a filter 6 stops or greater, is that the camera autofocus will not work.  The ND filter is so dark that it’s hard for you to see through, so there is little to no chance that your camera will be able to find something to focus on.  To get around this, before you put the filter in front of your lens, compose your image, and use the camera’s autofocus to make sure the image will be sharp.  Next, turn off your autofocus using the switch on the side of your lens.  Push the switch to “M” or manual focus; this will ensure your lens will not try to refocus once the filter is on.  Lastly, carefully place your ND filter on the front of your lens.

Nubble Light, ME B&WNubble Light, ME B&W

 

6. Close View Finder

Since your eye will not be against the viewfinder after you compose your image, light creeps into the camera resulting in a purple line through the middle of the image ruining all of your hard work. When using a really long exposure, greater then 10 seconds, you will need to close your view finder.  Some Nikon cameras have a built in viewfinder curtain, which will stop all light from entering through your viewfinder.  Some Canon cameras come with a plastic eye cap that can be placed over your viewfinder.  If you do not have either, the next best thing is a piece of gaffers tape.  Placing a piece over your camera’s viewfinder will work allowing you to create amazing long exposure images.  

Yosemite FallsYosemite FallsYosemite Falls from Swinging Bridge

 

7. Composition

Having a great composition can make or break an image; just because you are taking a long exposure doesn’t mean that you do not have to take the time to find and compose your image. The key to composition is finding the subject and then composing the scene to draw the viewer’s eyes through the image to the subject.  There are many different ways to compose the landscape, which makes it important to know the different rules in order to apply them to different situations. To learn more about photography composition techniques, click here. For more photography tips click here!

Milky Way Over Range View OverlookMilky Way Over Range View OverlookThe beautiful Milky Way over Range View Overlook in Shenandoah National Park.

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) composition essential long exposure photography essential long exposure photography tips framing gear image landscape landscape photography landscape photography gear landscape tips long exposer photography tips long exposure long exposure photography long exposure tips magic hour nature nature photography outdoor outdoor photography photo photographer photography photography gear rule of thirds scale slow shutter speed tip tips tricks tripod waterfall http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/8/7-essential-tips-for-long-exposure-photography Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:57:18 GMT
Photographing California: Dana Fork http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/8/photographing-california-dana-fork Photograph Dana Fork

Yosemite is filled with some amazing views but rarely do you get to experience these views by yourself.  This hidden treasure is located off of Tioga Pass,  is near some of Yosemite’s most popular hikes, and offers outstanding sunrise and sunset views without the crowds.

Mount DanaMount DanaThe Dana Fork Overlook has an outstanding eastern facing view, making this an ideal location to photograph the sun rising behind this section of the Sierra Mountains or capture the beautiful alpenglow on the mountains as the sun sets (click here for some photography). With some of the best unobstructed views of Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs to the East and Mammoth Peak to the Southeast, Dana Fork Overlook offers photographers the chance to glimpse some of the stunning scenery of Yosemite. The Dana Fork also meanders and snakes through a beautiful sub alpine meadow; it offers photographers a lot to work with in the foreground including some amazing “S” curves (click here for composition tips). The sub alpine meadow also makes a great home for some of the park’s wildlife and offers the chance for photographers to capture these animals in their natural habitat. As easy as this location is to get to plus the sheer beauty of the views, one would think this would be a very popular spot in Yosemite National Park, but every time I have been there, I have always had the view to myself. (16mm, F/16, 1/6sec, ISO 100)

Located 2.5 miles South of the Yosemite National Park East Entrance and less than 6 miles East of Tuolumne Meadows, Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River allows photographers to photograph three different mountains Mount Dana, Mount Gibbs, and Mammoth Peak without all of the crowds normally found in Yosemite.  Dana Fork originates between Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs, and when it meets the Lyell Fork in Tuolumne Meadows they form the mighty Tuolumne River.  Dana Fork Overlook has a nice flat pull off along the side of Tioga Pass that could easily fit 6-8 vehicles.  If you are entering through Yosemite Eastern Entrance, Dana Fork Overlook will be on the left side of the road.   If you are coming from Tuolumne Meadows, it will be located on the right side of Tioga Pass. Once parked there is a lot of space to spread out and to  explore to find the perfect composition.   

Mount GibbMount GibbThe Dana Fork Overlook has an outstanding eastern facing view, making this an ideal location to photograph the sun rising behind this section of the Sierra Mountains or capture the beautiful alpenglow on the mountains as the sun sets (click here for some photography). With some of the best unobstructed views of Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs to the East and Mammoth Peak to the Southeast, Dana Fork Overlook offers photographers the chance to glimpse some of the stunning scenery of Yosemite. The Dana Fork also meanders and snakes through a beautiful sub alpine meadow; it offers photographers a lot to work with in the foreground including some amazing “S” curves (click here for composition tips). The sub alpine meadow also makes a great home for some of the park’s wildlife and offers the chance for photographers to capture these animals in their natural habitat. As easy as this location is to get to plus the sheer beauty of the views, one would think this would be a very popular spot in Yosemite National Park, but every time I have been there, I have always had the view to myself. (70mm, F/11, 10sec, ISO 100)

The Dana Fork Overlook has an outstanding eastern facing view, making this an ideal location to photograph the sun rising behind this section of the Sierra Mountains or capture the beautiful alpenglow on the mountains as the sun sets (click here for some photography tips).  With some of the best unobstructed views of Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs to the East and Mammoth Peak to the Southeast, Dana Fork Overlook offers photographers the chance to glimpse some of the stunning scenery of Yosemite.  The Dana Fork also meanders and snakes through a beautiful sub alpine meadow; it offers photographers a lot to work with in the foreground including some amazing “S” curves (click here for composition tips).  The sub alpine meadow also makes a great home for some of the park’s wildlife and offers the chance for photographers to capture these animals in their natural habitat.   As easy as this location is to get to plus the sheer beauty of the views, one would think this would be a very popular spot in Yosemite National Park, but every time I have been there, I have always had the view to myself.

Alpenglow on Mammoth PeakAlpenglow on Mammoth PeakThe Dana Fork Overlook has an outstanding eastern facing view, making this an ideal location to photograph the sun rising behind this section of the Sierra Mountains or capture the beautiful alpenglow on the mountains as the sun sets (click here for some photography). With some of the best unobstructed views of Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs to the East and Mammoth Peak to the Southeast, Dana Fork Overlook offers photographers the chance to glimpse some of the stunning scenery of Yosemite. The Dana Fork also meanders and snakes through a beautiful sub alpine meadow; it offers photographers a lot to work with in the foreground including some amazing “S” curves (click here for composition tips). The sub alpine meadow also makes a great home for some of the park’s wildlife and offers the chance for photographers to capture these animals in their natural habitat. As easy as this location is to get to plus the sheer beauty of the views, one would think this would be a very popular spot in Yosemite National Park, but every time I have been there, I have always had the view to myself.

(30mm, F/16, 13sec, ISO 100)

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) alpenglow california camping dana fork hiking landscape landscape photography mountain mountains national park nature nature photography outdoor photographer photography reflection sierra nevada sierra nevada mountains sierras sunset tuolumne meadows yosemite yosemite national park http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/8/photographing-california-dana-fork Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:24:48 GMT
Photographing California: Lake Tahoe’s Inspiration Point http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/7/photographing-california-lake-tahoe-s-inspiration-point Photographing Lake Tahoe’s Inspiration Point

Lake Tahoe's Inspiration PointLake Tahoe's Inspiration PointLake Tahoe’s Inspiration Point has the best view of Emerald Bay and faces East making it ideal for photographing the the sun rising over Lake Tahoe!

(30mm, 1/50 sec, F/16, ISO 100)

Lake Tahoe’s Inspiration Point has the best view of Emerald Bay and faces East making it ideal for photographing the the sun rising over Lake Tahoe!

Lake Tahoe's Inspiration Point SunriseLake Tahoe's Inspiration Point SunriseLake Tahoe’s Inspiration Point has the best view of Emerald Bay and faces East making it ideal for photographing the the sun rising over Lake Tahoe!

(42mm, 1/50 Sec, F/16, ISO 100)

Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay is a national natural landmark and is one of the prettiest parts of the lake.  Inspiration Point is located along route 89 on the Southwest side of Tahoe about 10 miles from South Lake Tahoe or about 33 miles South from Truckee.  It is very easy to get to, and its high vantage point allows photographers to see all of Emerald Bay as it leads into Lake Tahoe.  Inspiration Point has a pull off allowing photographers to safely park while taking pictures and is large enough to accommodate 5-6 vehicles.   Inspiration Point faces East making it ideal for photographing the sun rising over Lake Tahoe. The sun will rise behind the Sierra Mountains which if timed right can help create a beautiful sunstar. Fannette Island, which lies in Emerald Bay, makes a great focal point when photographing the bay.  During the morning, if the wind is calm, photographers are able to capture some of the lovely sunrise colors as they are reflected in the lake.  For some photography tips to help you improve your images click here.  

Fannette IslandFannette IslandLake Tahoe’s Inspiration Point has the best view of Emerald Bay and faces East making it ideal for photographing the the sun rising over Lake Tahoe!

(98mm 1/13 sec, F/16, ISO 100)

If you’re looking for a hike after watching an amazing sunrise, Eagle Falls is located about 200 feet up 89 for the pull off and has a great short hike to the base of the falls, which has some great swimming holes.

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) california camping emerald bay hike hiking inspiration point lake tahoe lake tahoe's inspiration point landscape landscape photography mountain nature nature photography outdoor photographer photographing lake tahoe's inspiration point photography photography tips http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/7/photographing-california-lake-tahoe-s-inspiration-point Sat, 15 Jul 2017 02:37:17 GMT
Photographing Shenandoah NP: Range View Overlook http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/6/photographing-shenandoah-np-range-view-overlook Photographing Range View Overlook

Location: Shenandoah National Park: Northern District

Best time of year to Photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Sunrise, Sunset, Landscape, Nature, Milky Way 

Popularity: High

Mile Maker: 17.1 on Skyline Drive

Range View Overlook SunriseRange View Overlook SunriseA beautiful sunrise at Range View Overlook in Shenandoah National Park.

(18mm, 1/15 sec, F/11, ISO 400)

Range View Overlook in Shenandoah National Park is an amazing spot to watch the sunrise and sunset where the Blue Ridge Mountains meet the Virginia Piedmont.

Hogback MountainHogback MountainSunrise at Hogback Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. (28mm, 1/2 sec, F/11, ISO 100)

Range View Overlook has views of Jenkins Mountain to the south, Pignet Mountain and Mary’s Rock to the southwest, and Hogback Mountain to the west.  Range View Overlook is one of 72 beautiful overlooks along Skyline Dive. 105 miles long, Skyline Drive offers great views of the surrounding Blue Ride Mountains and valleys as it runs through the heart of Shenandoah National Park.  Range View Overlook is located at mile marker 17.1 along Skyline Drive and is located in the Northern District of Shenandoah, five miles north of Matthews Arm Campground. Looking southwest over the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 2,810 foot overlook has a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains as they meet the rolling hills around Sperryville. The quickest way to reach this outlook is through the Thornton Gap entrance off of Route 211, and then drive North for 13.9 miles along Skyline Drive until you reach Range View Overlook, which will be on the right side.  Or if you are coming from D.C., enter through the Front Royal entrance, and drive south for 17.1 miles, and Range View Overlook will be on the left. 

Range View OverlookRange View OverlookA beautiful sunrise at Range View Overlook in Shenandoah National Park's Northern District. (26mm, 1/5sec, F/11, ISO 100)

Range View Overlook looks southwest, making it ideal for photographing side light at sunrises (click here for photography tips).   Side light is outstanding for adding texture and depth to an image.  There is a ridge directly behind the outlook, which helps photographing the ranges to the west, so they are not front lit until the sun is high in the sky, but the valleys to the north and south allow the light to slowly creep into the ocean, creating an amazing effect. Range View Overlook is also a great place to photograph the sun setting behind the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The only time of year without a great view of the sun setting behind the mountain ridges would be between May through July when the sun sets in the northwest. Also, because there are views to the south, this is a great location to photograph the Milky Way during the summer.  Range View Overlook is a huge overlook with plenty of places to park and to spread out along the overlook, giving photographers the chance to take a few different angles including a panorama (click here for tips on how to create a panorama). If you are in the Northern District of Shenandoah National Park and are hoping to photograph the sun rising, visit Thornton Hollow Overlook located about 10.5 miles south along Skyline Drive at mile marker 27.6.

Range View Overlook PanoRange View Overlook PanoA panoramic image of Range View Overlook in Shenandoah National Park. (18mm, 1/6 sec, F/11, ISO 100, 6 image Pano)

Milky Way Over Range View OverlookMilky Way Over Range View OverlookThe beautiful Milky Way over Range View Overlook in Shenandoah National Park.

(35mm, F/1.4, 15sec, ISO 3200)

Click Here for photo adventures in Shenandoah National Park!

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) Appalachian Appalachian Mountains Blue Ridge Blue Ridge Mountains Camping Hike Hiking Images Landscape Landscape Photography Matthews Arm Mountain Mountain Top National Park Nature Nature Photography Northern District Outdoor Outlook Overlook Photograph Tips Photographer Photographing Photographing Range View Overlook Photographing Shenandoah Photographing Shenandoah National Park Photography Photography Tips Pics Pictures Pictures of Range View Overlook Range View Range View Overlook Shenandoah Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive Sunset Tips Trail Virginia http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/6/photographing-shenandoah-np-range-view-overlook Thu, 08 Jun 2017 04:20:15 GMT
Photographing Shenandoah NP: Pinnacles Overlook http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/6/photographing-shenandoah-np-pinnacles-overlook Photographing Pinnacles Overlook

Location: Shenandoah National Park: Central District

Best time of year to photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Sunrise, Landscape, Milky Way

Popularity: Low

Mile Maker: 35.1 on Skyline Drive

 

Pinnacles Overlook in Shenandoah National Park is a southern facing overlook in the Central District that provides one of the best views of Old Rag.  

Pinnacles Overlook PanoPinnacles Overlook PanoA beautiful sunrise at Pinnacles Overlook in Shenandoah National Park. (70mm, 2sec, F/10, ISO 100, 6 Image Pano) 

Looking south over the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 3,320 foot overlook has a great view of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains as well as a valley that leads the the rolling hills. Located at mile marker 35.1 on Skyline Dive, Pinnacles Overlook is one of 72 overlooks that are along Skyline Drive, which runs through the heart of Shenandoah National Park.  105 miles long, Skyline Drive offers great views of the surrounding Blue Ride Mountains and valleys. Just south of Mary’s Rock Tunnel and Hazel Mountain Overlook, the quickest way to reach this outlook is through the Thornton Gap entrance off of Route 211, and then drive south four and a half miles along Skyline Drive until you reach Pinnacles Overlook, which will be on the left side. 

Milky Way Over Old RagMilky Way Over Old RagThe Milky Way was shining bright over Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park.

(35mm, 15sec, F/1.4, ISO 3200)

Pinnacles Overlook looks due south, making it ideal for photographing side light as the sun rises out of sight to the east. Side light is outstanding for adding texture and depth to an image.  The valley that runs away from the overlook also provides a great leading line. If you are hoping to photograph the sun rising, visit Hazel Mountain Overlook or Buck Hollow Overlook- both are located about two miles north along Skyline Drive (click here for photography tips). Pinnacles Overlook is one of the best spots in Shenandoah to photograph Old Rag.  A valley runs perpendicular to the overlook to the base of Old Rag, providing a perfect leading line (click here for composition tips). Since this overlook faces south during the summer, you are able to photograph the Milky Way behind Old Rag.  

Pinnacles OverlookPinnacles OverlookA beautiful sunrise at Pinnacles Overlook in Shenandoah National Park.

(35mm, 1/4sec, F/10, ISO 100)

Click here if you want learn tips for photographing Hazel Mountain Overlook and here to learn tips for photographing Buck Hollow Overlook.

Click here for more photo adventures in the Appalachians Mountains!

Click Here for photo adventures in Shenandoah National Park!

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) Appalachian Appalachian Mountains Blue Ridge Blue Ridge Mountains Camping Central District Hike Hiking Images Landscape Landscape Photography Mountain Mountain Top National Park Nature Nature Photography Outdoor Outlook Overlook Photograph Tips Photographer Photographing Photographing Pinnacles Overlook Photographing Shenandoah Photographing Shenandoah National Park Photography Photography Tips Pics Pictures Pictures of Pinnacles Overlook Pinnacles Pinnacles Overlook Shenandoah Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive Sunrise Tips Trail Virginia http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/6/photographing-shenandoah-np-pinnacles-overlook Thu, 08 Jun 2017 03:18:24 GMT
Photographing Shenandoah NP: South River Falls http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/5/photographing-shenandoah-np-south-river-falls Photographing South River Falls

Location: Shenandoah National Park: Central District

Best time of year to photograph: Spring

Subject Focus: Waterfall, Nature 

Popularity: High

Distance: 4.4 miles out and back 

South River Falls is my favorite waterfall in Shenandoah National Park.  This 83 foot tall waterfall is a unique two-tiered waterfall.  The first tier is a single fall that flows into a rock shelf before separating into two parallel falls. South River Falls is located in the Central District of Shenandoah just north of the Swift Run Gap Entrance.  

South River FallsSouth River FallsSouth River Falls in Shenandoah National Park.

(17mm, 1.3sec, F/16, ISO 100)

The trail head for the South River Falls Trail is located at mile marker 63 off of Skyline Drive via the South River Picnic Area.  Loop around the picnic area until you reach the Eastern corner where you will find a sign and a map marking the beginning of the 4.2-mile trail.  Over the first mile hikers will descend down a well maintain and easy to follow trail.  The trail is marked with blue blazes.  At 0.2 miles, hikers will cross the Appalachian Trail; continue straight to follow the blue blazes down the mountain toward South River Falls.  After hiking down the mountain, the trail flattens out as it follows the South River.  There are two river crossings along this part of the trail, which will give you an idea of about how much water will be in the falls.  At 1.3 miles, hikers will arrive at a stone wall overlook.  This overlook is a great spot to take some pictures from above the falls.  There are a lot of trees, so depending on the time of year, you may not be able to see all of the falls.   

South River Falls Close UpSouth River Falls Close UpSouth River Falls in Shenandoah National Park. (70mm, 1.6sec, F/20, ISO 100)

To reach the bottom of the falls, continue along the trail past the overlook for 0.2 miles until you reach a fire road.  Turn right to follow the fire road 0.4 miles the rest of the way down the mountain until it ends.  Once you are at the end of the fire road, follow the blue blazes up the narrow rocky path for 0.3 miles to the base of the falls.  This is the best location to enjoy the beauty and to take pictures of the falls.  

South River Falls - SpringSouth River Falls - SpringSouth River Falls in Shenandoah National Park

(35mm, 1.3sec, F/20, ISO 100)

The canyon leading to the falls runs east and west, so in the morning the sun will be shining directly on the falls, but in the evening, the sun will be setting behind the falls allowing photographers to get a sunstar through the trees above the falls.  South River can be used as a great leading line to help guide the viewer’s eye to the waterfall (for more composition tips click here).  There is also a nice large flat rock on the right side of the falls to sit or to place a subject on. Once you are down taking your pictures and enjoying the falls, backtrack the 2.2 miles to return to the trail head.  For tips on how to photograph waterfalls with silky smooth water, click here.  

South River Falls- Right FallsSouth River Falls- Right FallsSouth River Falls in Shenandoah National Park

(180mm, 1sec, F/20, ISO 100)

South River Falls is the 3rd tallest waterfall in Shenandoah National Park and is a popular hike because of the beauty of this waterfall and because it is located so close to the Swift Run Gap Entrance.  I have hiked to this waterfall on multiple occasions and have always seen other people, including the time I went during the middle of the week with 1 foot of snow on the ground.  South River Falls is at its best during the spring or after a lot of rain.  During the summer and fall, there isn't much water in the river resulting in water just trickling over the falls.  Dogs are allowed on this trail, which makes it a great hike for the whole family. 

Click here to find more photo adventures in Shenandoah National Park!

Click here for more photography tips!

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) Appalachian Appalachian Mountains Blue Ridge Blue Ridge Mountains Camping Central District Hike Hiking Images Landscape Landscape Photography Mountain National Park Nature Nature Photography Outdoor Outlook Overlook Photograph Tips Photographer Photographing Photographing Shenandoah Photographing Shenandoah National Park Photographing South River Falls Photography Photography Tips Pics Pictures Pictures of South River Falls Shenandoah Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive South River South River Falls Tips Trail Virginia Waterfall http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/5/photographing-shenandoah-np-south-river-falls Thu, 01 Jun 2017 02:37:03 GMT
Photographing Appalachian Mountains: 20 Minute Cliff Overlook http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/5/photographing-appalachian-mountains-20-minute-cliff-overlook Photographing 20 Minute Cliff Overlook

 

Location: Blue Ridge Parkway

Best time of year to photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunset

Popularity: Low 

Mile Maker: 19 on The Blue Ridge Parkway

 

With an outstanding 180 degree western facing view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is a great spot to enjoy a beautiful panoramic vista during sunset while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Mountain LaurelMountain LaurelThe mountain laurel were in full bloom atop 20 Minute Cliff Overlook. While on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is a great place to watch the sunset behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. (26mm, F/11, 1sec, ISO 100, Facing Southwest)

Located at mile marker 19 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is super easy to access and has an amazing 180 degree panoramic view. Looking West over the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 2,715 foot overlook has a great view of the Priest to the South, Maintop Mountain and Fork Mountain to the West, and Round Mountain to the Northwest.  20 Minute Cliff Overlook is located 19 miles south from the northern most entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway just off of Interstate 64, making it super easy to get to.  There is no park entrance fee, and the overlook has plenty of parking.  I always thought it was called 20 Minute Cliff Overlook because to takes about 20 minutes to drive there once on the parkway, but the name 20 originated from farmers working in the White Rock Valley below the overlook.  When the sun hit the rocks the farmers knew they had 20 minutes left before the sun set behind the ridge line. 

Sunset at 20 Minute Cliff OverlookSunset at 20 Minute Cliff OverlookWhile on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is a great place to watch the sunset behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. (16mm, F/11, 1/10sec, ISO 100, Facing West)

There are two main rock cliffs but plenty of places to spread out along the overlook, giving photographers the chance to take different angles, including a panorama (click here for tips on how to create a panorama).  The White Rock Valley and the multiple layers of mountain ranges make 20 Minute Cliff Overlook an ideal place to photograph the Blue Ridge Mountain (click here for photography tips).  From the overlook, the White Rock Valley runs due West, but with views to the Northwest and Southwest, this is a great place to capture the sun setting behind the mountains year around. During May-July and November-January, photographers will be able to capture a nice sidelight during sunset for part of the valley, which adds depth and detail in the mountain ranges.  The White Rock Valley can be used as a leading line (click here for composition tips). With it being along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this makes it a great spot to stop and watch the sunset after a day on the trail.

Hiking in the Blue Ridge MountainsHiking in the Blue Ridge MountainsThe Blue Ridge Mountains are full of great hikes.

(27mm, F/11, 1/30sec, ISO 100, Facing South)

Click here for more photography tips!

Click here for more photo adventures in the Appalachians Mountains!

Click Here for photo adventures in Shenandoah National Park!

 

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) 20 Minute Cliff Overlook AT Appalachian Appalachians Blue Ridge Blue Ridge Mountains Blue Ridge Parkway Camping Hike Hiking Images Landscape Landscape Photography Mountain Mountain Top National Park Nature Nature Photography Outdoor Outlook Photo Tips Photographer Photographing 20 Minute Cliff Overlook Photographing Blue Ridge Parkway Photographing Blue Ridge Parkway National Park Photography Photography Tips Pics Pictures Pictures of 20 Minute Cliff Overlook Rock Sunset The Priest Tips Trail Virginia http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/5/photographing-appalachian-mountains-20-minute-cliff-overlook Wed, 31 May 2017 21:44:18 GMT
Photographing Shenandoah NP: The Point Overlook http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/4/photographing-shenandoah-np-the-point-overlook The Point Overlook

Location: Shenandoah National Park: Central District

Best time of year to photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Sunset, Landscape

Popularity: High

Mile Maker: 55.5 on Skyline Drive

 

The Point is the best overlook off of Skyline Drive to watch the sun set behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

The Point Overlook During FallThe Point Overlook During FallThe Point Overlook in Shenandoah National Park at sunset during Fall.

(26mm, 4sec, F/16, ISO 100, facing North-Northwest)

The Point Overlook is one of 72 overlooks for people to enjoy the beauty of Shenandoah National Park as they drive along Skyline Drive.  Skyline Drive is the road that winds through the heart of Shenandoah National Park, starting at Front Royal in the north and ending at Rockfish Gap in the south. Over 105 miles long, Skyline Drive offers great views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and valleys while simultaneously offering photographers the chance to glimpse the outstanding scenery of Shenandoah.  The Point Overlook is located at mile marker 55.5 along Skyline Drive.  Located in the Central District of Shenandoah 4.5 miles south of Big Meadows, the Point Overlook allows viewers to enjoy the amazing sunsets while in Shenandoah National Park.  The quickest way to reach this outlook is through the Thornton Gap entrance off of Route 211 if you’re traveling from the north or the Swift Run Gap entrance off of Route 33 if you are traveling from the South.

The Point OverlookThe Point OverlookThe Point Overlook in Shenandoah National Park at sunset. (18mm, 1/40sec, F/16, ISO 100, facing West) 

The Point Overlook is just over 3,200 feet in elevation and has a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The proximity of the Point Overlook to the campgrounds at Big Meadows and Lewis Mountain mix with the outstanding view makes this a very popular spot in Shenandoah, but most people never leave the pull off.  In the middle of the overlook is a break in the stone wall, which is the entrance to a trail that leads down to a small rocky cliff.  It’s a short 0.1 mile hike to the rocks, but most people who stop at the overlook will never make the hike.  This rocky cliff makes an ideal place to photograph the Point Overlook. The Point Overlook is located in an ideal place in the Central District of Shenandoah.  The Blue Ridge Mountains widen allowing photographers the ability to capture multiple layers of the Blue Ridge Mountain ranges rather than just one or two ranges found at most other outlooks in Shenandoah.  The exposed rock can also make a foreground element.  I believe the best part of this view is to the northwest making it ideal to photograph during the late spring and summer around the summer solstice, June 21, when the sun sets in the Northwest. During this period, the sun will set directly behind multiple ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which will add depth to your photograph.

Fall at The Point OverlookFall at The Point OverlookThe Point Overlook is just over 3,200 feet in elevation and has a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The proximity of the Point Overlook to the campgrounds at Big Meadows and Lewis Mountain mix with the outstanding view makes this a very popular spot in Shenandoah, but most people never leave the pull off. In the middle of the overlook is a break in the stone wall, which is the entrance to a trail that leads down to a small rocky cliff. It’s a short 0.1 mile hike to the rocks, but most people who stop at the overlook will never make the hike. This rocky cliff makes an ideal place to photograph the Point Overlook. The Point Overlook is located in an ideal place in the Central District of Shenandoah. The Blue Ridge Mountains widen allowing photographers the ability to capture multiple layers of the Blue Ridge Mountain ranges rather than just one or two ranges found at most other outlooks in Shenandoah. The exposed rock can also make a foreground element. I believe the best part of this view is to the northwest making it ideal to photograph during the late spring and summer around the summer solstice, June 21, when the sun sets in the Northwest. During this period, the sun will set directly behind multiple ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which will add depth to your photograph. (80mm, 1/30sec, F/8, ISO 100, facing Northwest)

To learn more landscape photography tips click here.

To learn about more locations in to Photograph in Shenandoah National Park click here.

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) appalachian appalachian mountains big meadow blue ridge blue ridge mountains camping central district hike hiking images landscape landscape photography mountain mountain top national park nature nature photography outdoor outlook overlook photograph tips photographer photographing photographing shenandoah photographing shenandoah national park photographing the point overlook photography photography tips pics pictures pictures of the point overlook shenandoah shenandoah national park skyline drive sunset the point the point overlook tips trail virginia http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/4/photographing-shenandoah-np-the-point-overlook Thu, 13 Apr 2017 20:16:05 GMT
7 Essential Waterfalls Photography Tips http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/3/7-essential-waterfalls-photography-tips 7 Essential Waterfalls Photography Tips

Ever wonder how a photographer captures a waterfall with silky smooth water flowing over a cliff or cascading down rocks?  Below are 7 essential photography tips that will help you create this effect on your next adventure.

 

1. Shoot on Overcast Days

Light is everything in photography, and the best time to photograph waterfalls is on overcast days especially after a few days of rain.  An overcast day provides even light across the waterfall, which prevents bright highlights and dark shadows from creating dappled light. The overcast sky also brings out the rich colors in moss and fall colors. But one of the best things about overcast skies is the ability to use longer shutter speeds without filters. To achieve long shutter speeds, set your camera’s ISO to its lowest native setting (usually ISO 100), and use a small aperture (f/10- F/22).   A long exposure is what creates the smooth silky effect in the water.  Usually, a 1 - 5 second exposure will create this effect.  If your camera is at its lowest ISO and smallest aperture and your shutter speed is still too fast, then you will need to add a filter to the front of your lens.

Blackwater Fall During FallBlackwater Fall During FallFall in West Virginia is always beautiful and Blackwater Falls in Blackwater Falls State Park was no exception.

2. Filters

When photographing waterfalls, the two most useful filters are a Circular Polarizer (CP) and a Neutral Density (ND).  Most landscape photographers use a CP filter to enhance the color of the sky, but it can also be used to remove the glare from water and wet rocks while enriching the colors to a deep natural look.  Most CP filters also block 1- 2 stops of light which will slow the shutter speed allowing you to create the smooth water effect.  ND filters are a dark piece of glass placed in front of the lens reducing the amount of light passing through lens. This allows photographers to use long exposures even on bright sunny days.  ND filters come in strengths blocking anywhere from 3 to 15 stops of light.  I used a 10 stop ND filter in the below image which allowed me to take a 7 minute exposure.

Great Falls SunriseGreat Falls SunriseThis was a 7 Minute exposure taken of the Great Fall in Great Falls National Park.

3. Solid Tripod

A long exposure is the key to creating the smooth silky water effect, and a sturdy tripod is required to ensure the camera is completely still during the length of the exposure.  If there is any movement or camera shake during the exposure, no matter how minor, the image will not be sharp.

Rose River FallsRose River FallsRose River Falls is located in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park just north of Big Meadows. This waterfall is best seen during the spring or after a heavy rain.

4. Composition

Having a great composition can make or break an image; luckily waterfalls usually offer a photographer a few different ways to compose the image.  A few examples are using the stream/river as a leading line to draw the viewer’s eye through the image to the waterfall or adding a human element to the image to show the size of the waterfall.  Also, when composing a waterfall’s image, limit the amount of sky that is can be seen.  When shooting on overcast days, the sky is gray and boring and can take away from the overall image leading the viewer’s eyes away from the waterfall. The key to composition is in composing the image to draw the viewer’s eyes through the image to the waterfall with little or no distractions.  For more landscape composition techniques click here.

Lower Dark Hollow FallsLower Dark Hollow FallsDark Hollow Fall is a beautiful waterfall located in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park next to Big Meadows.

5. Shoot Tight

Most photographers put their wide angle lens on their camera to capture the beauty of the whole waterfall, which is great, but once you have the image you like of the whole waterfall try photographing the waterfall with a telephoto lens.  A telephoto lens will allow you to create unique abstract images of even the most famous waterfalls.  With a telephoto lens, photographers are able to isolate small section of the falls which highlights the magic of texture and colors of nature.  

Blackwater FallsBlackwater FallsBlackwater Falls durning fall.

6. Rain Sleeve/ Lens Cloth

The main element in a waterfall is water, and water and electronics don’t mix well.  Waterfalls can create mist and spray which will get your camera wet.  To protect your camera and lens from the water, consider buying a rain sleeve for your camera to keep it dry.  There are some expensive rain covers out there, but I use OP/TECH USA rain sleeves, which are less than 7 USD for a pack of two and have done a great job keeping my camera and lens dry as a bone.  Along with a rain sleeve, a lens cloth is a must item to have with you.  When water droplets freckle your lens’ front element or filter, you will need a way to wipe them away without smearing them.  A good habit for photographing waterfalls is you take an image and then wipe your lens before taking another image.   

Dark Hollow FallsDark Hollow FallsDark Hollow Fall is a beautiful waterfall located in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park next to Big Meadows.

7. Don’t be Afraid to get Wet

As long as it is safe, getting in the river or stream allows photographers to create some breathtaking images.  The best time to photograph waterfalls just after a heavy rain when the river or creek is full of water, but be careful walking on wet rocks because they will be slippery.  Also, consider wearing waders.  A decent pair of waders will keep you warm and dry, which allows you to remain a long time in the river to take images.  Remember be very careful with your gear because, once again, water and electronics don’t mix well.

Cedar Run FallsCedar Run FallsCedar Run Falls in Shenandoah National Park, located in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

For more photography tips Click Here

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) Composition Essential Waterfall Photography Essential Waterfall Photography Tips Framing Gear Image Landscape Landscape Photography Landscape Photography Gear Landscape Tips Long Exposure Magic Hour Nature Outdoor Outdoor Photography Photo Photographer Photography Photography Gear Rule of Thirds Scale Slow Shutter Speed Tip Tips Tricks Tripod Waterfall Waterfall Photography Waterfall Photography Tips Waterfall Tips Waterfalls http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/3/7-essential-waterfalls-photography-tips Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:29:46 GMT
Photographing Shenandoah NP: Moomans River Overlook http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/2/photographing-shenandoah-np-moomans-river-overlook Moormans River Overlook

 

Location: Shenandoah National Park- Southern District

Best time of year to photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Sunrise, Landscape

Popularity: Modorate

Mile Maker: 92 on Skyline Drive

 

Moormans River Overlook is one of the few eastern facing overlooks in Shenandoah National Park’s Southern District, which makes this a prime location for watching the sun rise when in this part of the park. 

Moormans River Overlook PanoMoormans River Overlook PanoMoormans River Overlook is located in the Southern District of Shenandoah National Park just off Skyline Drive. Moormans River Overlook faces due east making it ideal to watch the sunrises over the Blue Ridge Mountains. (86mm, 1/20sec, F/11, ISO 100, Facing Northeast)

At mile post 92 off of Skyline Drive, Moormans River Overlook offers photographers a 180 degree view of the eastern most Blue Ridge Mountains and rolling hills surrounding Charlottesville, Virginia.  The overlook also provides a clear view of the Charlottesville Reservoir, which could be used as a nice foreground element.  At 2,975 feet, Moormans River Overlook is one of 72 beautiful overlooks that are on Skyline Drive.  Skyline Drive is the road that winds through the heart of Shenandoah National Park, is 105 miles long, and offers great views of the surrounding Blue Ride Mountains and valleys while simultaneously offering photographers the chance to glimpse the outstanding scenery of Shenandoah. The quickest way to reach this outlook is through the Rockfish Gap entrance off of Interstate 64 and then drive 13 miles North along Skyline Drive until you reach Moormans River Overlook, which will be on the right side. 

Charlottesville ReservoirCharlottesville ReservoirCharlottesville Reservoir at sunrise from Moormans River Overlook in Shenandoah National Park. (70mm, 1/6sec, F/10, ISO 100, Facing East)

One thing I really love about this overlook is the fact there are no trees growing right up next to the outlook to obstruct the view.  Photographers have a clear eastern view even during the heart of the summer when the trees are full of leaves. The 180 degree view allows photographers to capture Cedar Mountain to the Northeast and Calf Mountain to the Southwest and will also allow photographers to capture the sun rising year around.  When looking to the Northeast or Southwest, photographers are able to capture multiple mountain ridges providing layers to their image.  Since Moormans River overlook is so close to interstate 64 and one of few eastern facing overlooks in Shenandoah’s Southern District, it can be popular.  With that said, there are enough parking spots, and because of the clear view, there is plenty of room for people to spread out.

Cedar Mountain SunriseCedar Mountain SunriseCedar Mountain at sunrise from Moormans River Overlook in Shenandoah National Park. (150mm, 1/25sec, F/10, ISO 100, Facing Northeast)

Moormans River Overlook is near a lot of great hikes in the Shenandoah National Park Southern District.  After you enjoy the views, I highly recommend checking out one of these hikes: Blackroack Summit and Frazier Discovery Trail.

 

Learn More: Essential Landscape Photography Tips,  Photographing Shenandoah National Park

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(Blue Ridge Imagery) Appalachian Blue Ridge Blue Ridge Mountains Camping Hike Hiking Images Landscape Landscape Photography Moormans River Moormans River Overlook Mountain Mountain Top National Park Nature Nature Photography Outdoor Outlook Overlook Photographer Photographing Photographing Moormans River Overlook Photographing Shenandoah Photographing Shenandoah National Park Photography Photography Tips Pics Pictures Pictures of Moormans River Ooverlook Shenandoah Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive Southern District Stony Man Sunrise Tips Trail Virginia http://blueridgeimagery.com/blog/2017/2/photographing-shenandoah-np-moomans-river-overlook Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:47:03 GMT