When you think of the Great Smoky Mountains, what images come to mind?  For me, the first thing that comes to mind are the sweeping vistas, and FOG.  The Smokies aren’t especially foggy – at least not that I can tell – but when they’re foggy, oh man is it magical!  On this particular morning, the fog felt pretty dense on my drive up to the mountains, and in fact, the first two pull offs I tried were totally socked in.  When I reached this particular overlook along the Foothills Parkway, though, it was as every photographer dreams, a nice blanket of fog.  What I loved about the fog this morning is the edges of it were very wispy and had nice form.  The ridges seemed to extend out of it like mountains from the ocean.

Beyond the fog you’ll notice the mountains in the distance, and then the color in the sky.  I wanted to take a second to talk about that because I think its a neat phenomenon.   What you’re seeing here is not the rising sun, that’s actually taking place behind me, but is rather alpenglow (sometimes referred to as The Belt of Venus).  If you’ve ever watched a sunrise / set, and looked the other way and seen pinks opposite where the sun is, that’s what you’re seeing.  Just under the pinks, however, you’ll see a pretty solid line of blues, just above the mountains.  THIS is what I find fascinating. What you’re seeing there, just below the alpenglow, is the shadow of the earth. For very flat landscapes, but with a tall and prominent feature (like Shiprock in New Mexico, for example), you can sometimes see this reflected in the shadow.  It’s extremely neat, I think anyway.  Our landscape here doesn’t have features that stand out enough to create that, however you can notice that the shadow has a lean to it, which emulates the slope of our mountains, running perpendicular to the rising sun.  Pretty cool!

More next week!

–Dan Thompson

Title Address Description
Cades Cove
Foothills Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882, USA

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