Clingmans Dome Sunrise

   Last week's Picture of the Week reminded me of one more sunrise picture from this Fall that I wanted to share before we move on.  Generally speaking, I typically get just a small handful of Fall color images a year that I'm really happy with.  This year though, we had such a diverse season that I managed to catch more than usual.  We were blessed with a lot of beauty here in East Tennessee!

   This week's picture is from Clingman's Dome and was fairly early in the season (Oct 19th).  I somehow always manage to forget though, that if you want to catch Fall colors at Clingman's Dome, you have to go REALLY early (mid to late Sept) in the season.  By the time I finally made it up there, the colors were long gone at that altitude.  While we didn't have nice leaves close by (you could see it in the valleys), we were blessed with a fair amount of hoar frost on everything, which can really add some nice contrast to a scene.

    The unfortunate thing about shooting sunrises and sunsets at Clingman's Dome is that it can be a bit of a zoo… especially at high visitation times like Autumn.  On this particular morning, there were TONS of tourists all purched and ready for the sunrise.  One couple in particular made me laugh as they felt that since they didn't bring appropriate clothes for the occasion (it can be below freezing in the Clingman's Dome parking lot sometimes during the Summer months), that they could sit in their car and shoo away anyone who lingered in front of their car too long.  Not exactly the peace and quiet I hope for when shooting a sunrise.  At any rate, as the sky began to light up, it became fairly obvious that this wasn't going to be a morning for spectacular color.  As with last week's image, as soon as I convinced myself of this fact, I began to wonder around to find something that would work.  I left the crowds and walked to the other end of the parking lot where only one other photographer was, and was treated with alpine glow which was AMAZING.  For all the color lacking facing the sun, the color looking away from the sun more than made up for it.  It was a good reminder that when something isn't working out in the direction you're hoping for, turn around and look behind you.  You might be missing the REAL show.

    I stayed put for several minutes in this new location and as the first rays of light shot out over the horizon behind me, they illuminated the mountain in front of me.  The mountains almost seem to grow out of the darkness, into the new day.  Good stuff!!

–Dan Thompson

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