Springtime In The Smoky Mountains

Spring is a wonderful time for landscape photography in the Smoky Mountains. The temperatures are perfect for rambling around, the flowers and Dogwood trees are in bloom and it’s not at all crowded.

In previous years, I spent a fair amount of time on the main road that crosses the mountains (US 441) photographing overlooks such as Newfound Gap or Clingman’s Dome. I had not spent much time in the west end of the park.

This time, I based myself in Wears Valley, a small rural community that provided the best and fastest access to the west end of the park. This gave me convenient access to the west end of the Little River, the Tremont area with the Middle Prong of the Little River and, of course, Cades Cove.

I felt there was much that I had not accomplished in this area, and although it would take much more effort than going to overlooks, I would be rewarded with a variety of quality images. That’s exactly what happened.

Spring brings bright green colors in the trees overhanging the Little River. I searched around for the best locations to show the beauty of the river and came up with the following images.

Tennessee, River, Little River, Smoky Mountains, Bridge, Stone Bridge
Stone Bridge : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, Spring, River, Trees
Spring Flow : Prints Available

Tennessee, Smoky Mountains, Footbridge, River
Mystery Bridge : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, River, Cascades, Spring
Spring Cascades : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, Litte River, Spring
Spring Arrival : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, River, Tremont, Dogwood, Tree
Tremont Spring : Prints Available

A trip to the Smoky Mountains just wouldn’t be complete without going to Cades Cove. This valley was inhabited by over 600 settlers from the early 1800’s to early 1900’s before being taken over by the government to be part of the National Park. There are a handful of the old houses and barns still standing today, which make great photographic subjects.
Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, John Oliver, Cabin
John Oliver Cabin : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, Barn, Spring
Spring Barn : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, Sparks Lane, Spring
Morning At Sparks : Prints Available

Tennessee, Smoky Mountains, Tree, Cades Cove
Cove Tree : Prints Available

The Spring bloom of the flowers and Dogwood trees were a challenge to capture and convey their beauty. To the eye, the Dogwoods would look great, but turn out thin and unimpressive on images. It was frustrating, but I managed to capture a few good examples.
Smoky Mountains, Spring, Blue, Phlox, Flowers
Color In The Smokies : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, Flowers, White, Spring
White Spring : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, Little River, Dogwood Tree, Spring
Spring Dogwoods : Prints Available

Smoky Mountains, Litte River, Dogwood, Tree
River Dogwoods : Prints Available

Tennessee, Smoky Mountains, Dogwood, Trees, Forest
Forest Dogwoods : Prints Available

It was a surprisingly successful trip adding some very nice images to the portfolio. I’ll be meeting up again with my good friend Jess Lee, www.jessleephotos.com, soon for an expedition to the Big Sur Coast of California and Yosemite National Park.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook or Instagram for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. We appreciate all those that follow us. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography and https://www.instagram.com/josephfiler

Desert Southwest, Factory Butte and Red Rock Canyon

March is a wonderful and unpredictable time to be in the Desert Southwest. I shared this expedition with my good friend and professional photographer, Jess Lee (www.jessleephots.com). We had some very specific targets in mind and the very good news is that we were successful with them.

We flew into Las Vegas and headed for our first stop, Moab, Utah. We spent our first afternoon searching for the combination of dirt roads that would get us to a remote canyon overlook that is not on the maps. After going the wrong way, crawling over fences and being generally lost, we found it but learned that we had to hike the last half mile. It’s sunrise shot, so we returned the next morning in the dark and waited for the sun to rise. I named the photo “Middle of Nowhere” as that’s where it was.

Middle Of Nowhere : Prints Available

That afternoon we headed up to Canyonlands National Park to photograph the sunset from the Green River Overlook. I have attempted this photo before on previous trips, but the conditions were never right. This time it all came together and I am thrilled with the result.
Green River Overlook : Prints Available

The next day we headed up to Dead Horse State Park for a sunrise shot before leaving town. The sun rises from behind you and lights up the red rock canyon walls. I’ve shot it before and this was a different approach, but I am very happy with it.
Dead Horse Point : Prints Available

We left Moab for the tiny town of Hanksville, Utah, where we spent four days. In this area are these amazing buttes with lower ridges from many years of erosion. These ridges can be fifty feet tall or more. The most famous of these buttes is Factory Butte. It sits alone, where the others are long and continuous, not making for good photographic subject. There are so many ways to shoot Factory Butte and we had some fun with it.
Factory Fresh : Prints Available

Factory Butte Sunrise : Prints Available

Factory Butte Sunrise : Prints Available

The dirt roads will not get you very close to Factory Butte. To get close enough to make the ridges prominent, I had to use a drone. This was my first trip using a drone and I was nervous I would lose it every time I flew. For this shot at Factory Butte it was about three-quarters of a mile away. I took a few shots, it began to lose its connection to my controller and went into the automatically return home mode. I was glad it made it back.
Ridges : Prints Available

There was one other butte nearby, where the dirt road actually got pretty close to the butte. Shortly after one of the sunrises, I was able to capture this image. It was amazing how the sun would bring out the colors in the rocks and dirt.
Butte Colors : Prints Available

Another one of our targets for this trip was a remote spire in the desert near Hanksville. Once again, there are no marked roads to get there, but there is an unmarked dirt road that gets you within 2 miles of it. You can’t see it from where the road ends, so I used the drone to do a reconnaissance trip to verify it was there. I had to fly out and around a large view to get a glimpse. Once again, the drone started to lose its connection to the controller and flew home. It was okay, as we knew we had found the spire.

I’ve wanted to shoot this for some time. To get to an upper vantage point, I had to crawl on all fours up a steep dune with loose rocks. I would crawl up some and slide back down some, but finally made it up. The sunset and clouds were fantastic and, once again, I am thrilled with the result.

The Spire : Prints Available

I also photographed the spire from a lower position and I like this composition very much as well.
Sunset At The Spire : Prints Available

It was time to leave Hanksville and head back to Las Vegas. On the way back south, the weather changed and it was snowing heavily. It was not really out of the way so we called an audible and stopped by Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s hard to go wrong there on a morning after a snowstorm.
Bryce Winter : Prints Available

We had decided to spend our last two nights in Las Vegas to get an opportunity at sunrise at Red Rock Canyon. As we headed there from Bryce Canyon, we could see from the weather radar that it was going to be snowing there all afternoon and through the night. Snow there is a rare event. The next morning we arrive at Red Rock Canyon at 6am and were both stunned and excited by what appeared to be six inches of fresh snowfall. We went to a high vantage point and I captured this beautiful, and very rare, image of Red Rock Canyon covered in snow.
Red Rock Canyon Snowfall : Prints Available

We returned in the afternoon and the snow was mostly gone, except for some that was still on the mountains. It was still beautiful and I captured this panoramic scene, my last image of the trip.
Red Rock Canyon : Prints Available

Jess and I have done quite a few trips together, but this may have been the most successful one yet, having been able to capture beautiful images at our high priority target locations. We’ll be meeting up again soon for an expedition to Yosemite National Park and the Big Sur coast.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook or Instagram for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. We appreciate all those that follow us. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography and https://www.instagram.com/josephfiler

Pacific Coast Photography

Being from Florida, I associate the rain and storm season with the summer. The western coast of the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, is more of a wintertime season. There are several days in the winter when large 15-20 foot high swells coincide with high tides resulting in some amazing waves crashing on the shore at Cape Disappointment and Shore Acres State Park.

Cape Disappointment was the main target, and the forecast had it for January 10th. I flew to Portland on the 9th and headed out to the Cape before dawn the next day. I had seen photos of this event for years, but they are not the same as being there. It was a little foggy, but it was spectacular

Washington, Cape Disappointment, Monster Wave, King Tides, Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment : Prints Available

Washington, Cape Disappointment
Cape D Wave : Prints Available

This closeup photo of one of the waves displays the beauty and the violence of Mother Nature. The small bay where these waves come into is not somewhere you would want to be in a boat. The waves toss huge logs around like toothpicks.

Wave, Ocean, Cape Disappointment, King Tides, Washington
The Wave : Prints Available

As a real bonus, the forecast had another day of high surf at Shore Acres State Park on the 12th. Again, I arrived early. The waves continued to build throughout the morning as the tide came in. Incoming waves would bounce back off the rocks, merge with another incoming wave to form waves that were of the 20 foot high variety and then crash on rocks with an incredible splash. You can see a fence on the rocks that gives you an idea of scale.

Oregon, Shore Acres, Monster Wave,
Shore Acres Explosion : Prints Available

With the forecast of large waves over, I headed south to the Samuel Boardmen Scenic Area. The sea stacks there have trees growing out of the tops of them, which add such a wonderful element compared to the ones without the trees. I had tried photographing there before, but heavy fog prevented me from capturing any images. There was a little less fog this time, and I was pleased with the results.

Oregon, Oregon Coast, Sunrise, Sea Stack, Trees, Arch Rock, Samuel Boardman,
Coastal Fog : Prints Available

Oregon, Sea Stacks, Samuel Boardman, Sunrise, Oregon Coast
Southern Stacks : Prints Available

Oregon, Coast, Sea Stacks, Samuel Boardman
Coastal View : Prints Available

Oregon, Gold Beach, Morning, Sea stacks, Samuel Boardman
Gold Morning : Prints Available

I had discovered an area several years ago with a footbridge over a small stream, but it was summer and there wasn’t any water flowing. With the winter rains, I was hoping for something much different. I couldn’t believe the difference. It’s a small scene, but the lush Oregon greenery surrounding the cascade is beautiful.

Oregon, Stream, Footbridge
Silky Smooth : Prints Available

I headed north and decided to stop in Newport near the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. There was fog forecasted for the next morning, and I thought that could result in a nice image. When I got there, the fog was so thick I couldn’t see the lighthouse, but I got into position down on the rocky beach and waited for the fog to begin to clear. I was very happy with the combination of the long exposure on the water and the fog over the lighthouse.

Oregon, Yaquina, Yaquina Head, Lighthouse, Fog
Yaquina Fog : Prints Available

I only had a couple of days left before I would have to head home, so I decided to see how the winter rains were affecting the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. Much of the Gorge has been closed for several years due to the Eagle Creek Fire, but it has begun to re-open in spots.

The fog over Latourell Falls instantly grabbed my attention to photograph it from a position I had not before. At Wahclella Falls a mass of logs blocked the final section of the trail, that I assume were the result of recent storms. I carefully crawled over them. At first, I wasn’t sure about the logs in the pool at the base of the falls, but after looking at a variety of images taken, I like the one with the logs the best.

Latourell, Falls, Latourell Falls, Oregon, Columbia River Gorge, Fog
Latourell Falls : Prints Available

Oregon, Wahclella, Wahclella Falls
Wahclella Falls : Prints Available

My final stop was at Panther Creek Falls just over the border in Washington. I had been here twice before in the summer, but there was less water flowing. I was hoping the winter rains would result in water flowing over the right side, which was something that has been on my list for a while. I was thrilled to arrive and find it flowing so well and can finally check this one off the list.

Washington, Panther Creek, Panther Creek Falls
Panther Creek Falls : Prints Available

I’m not sure what is up next, but I hope to get back to the Desert Southwest. These days, a lot of factors come into play. You can see more photos in my galleries for the Pacific Coast and the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook or Instagram for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. We appreciate all those that follow us. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography and https://www.instagram.com/josephfiler

Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park

I finally got back out to do some landscape photography in August after staying home since February due to the Coronavirus. I used the time at home re-processing images and making big improvements to the website, which are still ongoing.

For this trip, I teamed up with my good friend Jess Lee, www.jessleephotos.com. We work really well together and it’s infinitely better than being out there alone talking to yourself. I’ve always appreciated how he gives me the push to be a better photographer.

I have tried twice before to be at Mount Rainer when the flowers were blooming. The first time they bloomed early before I got there. The second time they bloomed late and I missed them. That’s one of the disadvantages of having to fly somewhere and make advance reservations. You have to make your best guess on the timing of things based on past history and it’s not always right.

The third time’s the charm, they say. I was there this time during the peak of the bloom and was rewarded with several very nice photographs. First up was some images of Mount Rainer from the Paradise area. From here there are some stunning views of the mountain and of the Tatoosh Range to the South.

Washington, Mount Rainier, flower, bloom, Paradise
Mountain Bloom : Prints Available

Washington, Rainier, Mount Rainier, Stream, Skyline Trail, Flowers
Mountain Stream : Prints Available

Washington, Mount Rainier, National Park, Mountain, Flowers, Christmas, Fine Art, Landscape, Photograph
Rainier Christmas : Prints Available

Washington, Rainier, Mount Rainier, flowers, Tatoosh, Range, Mountains, National Park
Another Direction : Prints Available

Another area with a great view of the mountain is from Little Tipsoo Lake. The purple lupines were in full bloom.

Washington, Mount Rainier, National Park, Flowers, Summer, Tipsoo, Lake, Lupines, Fine Art, Landscape, Photograph
Tipsoo Summer : Prints Available

After some successful days at Mount Rainier, we headed to Forks, Washington to photograph in the Hoh Rain Forest and on the Washington coast. I have limited success in the Rain Forest before, but I approached it this time with some different goals in mind. Sometimes you have to fail before you can succeed.

I came across this small scene of water with the sun lighting up the two large trees in the back. It was odd, as I know I had been down that path in previous trips, but just never saw it. I loved the scene and it may be my favorite forest photograph of those I have taken.

Washington, Hoh, Rain, Forest, Olympic, National Park, Forest, Tree, Stream, Fine Art, Landscape, Photograph
The Rain Forest : Prints Available

As I walked further through the forest, I noticed this extremely odd root formation at the bottom of a large tree. The roots went out to one side and the whole thing just looked like a big foot. So, I named it “Bigfoot”. A little silly, but I couldn’t resist.

Washington, Hoh, Rain Forest, Olympic, National Park, Tree, Fine Art, Landscape, Photograph
Bigfoot : Prints Available

I had also attempted to photograph Sol Duc Falls on previous trips, but without the results I wanted. This time I managed to get it right. This image truly captures the feeling of being there. The lush greenery that surrounds you in the Pacific Northwest is just amazing. It is a different feeling being in the rainforest than it is in other forests.

Washington, waterfall, Sol Duc, Falls, Rainforest, Olympic, National Park, Quileute
Sparkling Waters : Prints Available

Before we wrapped up this expedition, we spent an evening on the coast at Ruby Beach to shoot the sunset. I was particularly taken by this one sea stack that reminded me of a large Shark’s Tooth, so that’s what I named it. It was a pretty cool sunset and the sun setting off to the right lit up the sea stack nicely.

Washington, Coast, Ruby Beach, Olympic, National Park, Pacific, Shark, sunset, Fine Art, Landscape, Photograph, Northwest
Shark's Tooth : Prints Available

I will be teaming up with Jess again for shooting the Colorado Fall Color in Southwest Colorado in the coming weeks. I’ve been there before and I do love it there. You never know what to expect from the weather and the hope is always for an early snowfall.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook or Instagram for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. We appreciate all those that follow us. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography and https://www.instagram.com/josephfiler

Italian Dolomites in Winter

For quite a few years I have wanted to experience and photograph the mountains in Italy, known as the Dolomites. I love snow covered mountains, so it just made sense to make this trip during the winter.

After a night’s rest in Venice, we made our way north to Misurina. The drive along the way was stunning and confirmed why I was there. The next morning, we were taken in sleds behind snowmobiles to the top of a nearby mountain. When we got there, the wind was gusting to 50 mph. While this created some really nice blowing snow and atmosphere on the mountains, it was just impossible to stay out in it with the wind chill factor.

After 10 minutes, we retreated to a safe and warm “winter room” at a nearby structure. I had managed to capture the following image and was surprised that the conditions did not ruin the focus. I thought I was going to lose a few fingers to exposure. After a short time in the “winter room”, we called it a day and had the snowmobiles take us back down the mountain.

Italy, Dolomites, Mountains, Snowstorm, Winds, Snow
Mountain Snowstorm : Prints Available

The next morning, we headed to an area called Pratto Piazza and stayed in a remote, but wonderful, Hotel Gaisl. The views from this area were some of the best I have ever seen. We only had time to be there one night, which was unfortunate, as there is so much there. The wind was still howling that afternoon, as captured in the first image.

Italy, Dolomites, Mountains, Snow, Winds
Italian Winds : Prints Available

By the following morning, the winds were gone and we were treated to an amazing sunrise. It was still super cold, and I struggled with fingers that did not want to stay warm. I was happy to have been able to stay out long enough to capture the full color of sunrise.

Italy, Dolomites, Mountains, Sunrise, Sheppard, Huts
Sunrise for the Sheppard : Prints Available

After sunrise, we made our way to Cinque Torri, where we stayed in dormitories at the top of a ski resort. I had never experienced getting on a chair lift with a duffel bag and a camera bag. I managed, but really don’t want to do it again.

We were able to shoot both sunset and sunrise from this location before heading back down on the chairlifts. The rock formations here are simply awesome.

Italy, Cinque, Torri, Cinque Torri, Sunrise, Dolomite, Mountains, Snow, Winter, Snow, Venus Belt
Cinque Sunrise : Prints Available

Italy, Dolomites, Mountains, Sunrise
Mountain Sunstar : Prints Available
Italy, Dolomites, Mountains,
Pastel Glow : Prints Available
Italy, Mountains, Dolomites, Sunrise, Rock, Formations
Sunrise Curves : Prints Available
Italy, Dolomite, Mountains, Sunrise, Snow, Sandstone
Early Colors : Prints Available

After another day, where we didn’t have much success, we finished our expedition by photographing the mountains near San Martino di Castrozza. We had been without clouds for a few days, but they moved back in just in time for the late light. The natural “bowl” of this particular mountain helped to result in a beautiful, winter mountain image.

Italy, Dolomites, Mountains,
Mountain Bowl : Prints Available

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook or Instagram for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. We appreciate all those that follow us. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography and https://www.instagram.com/josephfiler