When you think of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, what comes to mind?
For me, the list goes something like: vistas (layers of mountains), streams, historic buildings, wildlife, trails, and maybe even scenic roadways (they are in fact the most common ways people experience the park). For some people it may even get as granular as specific types of trees and plants, but these are the things people generally think of when they think of “the mountains”, right? Well, as I’ve been considering my photography this year, and potential subjects while here at home, it occurred to me that I have pictures of all of those things… except trails! This realization has inspired a couple of things. First, to get out and actually try to find trails that I think are visually appealing. Luckily my good friend, and fellow hobbyist photographer, Paul Ries and his wife Joyce have been working on hiking all 900+ miles of trails within the park (they’ll finish this fall!), and he’s been able to point my to a few trails that are particularly picturesque. This has also led to a new past time, of just walking aimlessly down trails. When you go hiking, the point is generally get somewhere (or in Paul and Joyce’s case, sometimes it’s to check a trail off a list). To walk aimlessly though, is to walk solely for the purpose of ‘seeing’. It’s definitely a change of pace! Secondly, this has inspired new creative thinking. Each of the aspects of the Smokies mentioned above requires considerations for how to capture them in compelling ways, and of course trails are no different. So in short, it’s caused me to “work new muscles”, which is always fun for me.
As I’ve been working through scenes, I’ve been seeking feedback from some friends on how to improve. My friend Steve suggested I add a person to the scene; for scale, but also because the trail is a very human “thing”, so having a human on it makes sense to the viewer (similar to my discussion on having a car situated on a city street from a few weeks ago. It just ‘belongs’ there). So I tried it, and I loved the result! The person of course is me (since I’m the one person to always be around when I’m out shooting), and it’s funny how many takes it took to get what I was after – to appear walking and not posed. Since this particular image was shot in low light, I had to actually stand very still, but I didn’t want it to look that way! 🙂 Trails are for walking, not standing!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this image, and next week we’ll continue with scenes from this summer!
Clingmans Dome AT
|Bryson City, NC 28713, USA|