Friday, April 29, 2011

Ethan Meleg found the spring scenery he desired by visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Whenever Canadian nature photographer Ethan Meleg feels like a change of scenery, he goes for it. “Last week, when a heavy snowfall hit Ontario,” says Ethan, “it was all the inspiration I needed to drive south to find some nicer spring weather and much better shooting conditions. I headed for Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of my all-time favorite photography hot spots -- especially in early spring. The huge park is jam-packed with dramatic beauty and light whenever and wherever you go, from the grand vistas of its mountains to the flowing streams and rivers surrounded by dense green foliage. I'm including four samples of the many images acquired on this trip. The entire Easter weekend was spent shooting with several lenses provided by my newest sponsor, Sigma Canada.

"Clingmans Dome is the best location in the park to shoot classic 'aerial perspective' landscapes of the ancient mountain ranges. It’s a long uphill drive to get there, and there’s always the risk that it will be totally fogged in at the top, but the gamble is well worth it. When conditions are right, the mountain-top vistas are jaw-dropping! The image at the top of this story was captured at Clingmans Dome at dusk with my Canon 1D Mark IV fitted with a Sigma 70-200/2.8 lens. I chose my Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo and 2-stop hard-edge ND Grad and exposed at .6 second at f/16.

"This next image was also captured from Clingman's Dome at sunrise on Easter morning. I used my Sigma 70-200 OS lens at f/16 for a 5-second exposure. The filters were an LB ColorCombo and 3-stop hard-step ND Grad. Clingman's dome is the highest mountain in the Smokies (6,643 feet) and is easily accessed by a 7-mile drive plus a half-mile trail to its sturdy observation tower, which provides a full view of all the surrounding mountains. This trip was the perfect chance to give my Sigma lenses a workout and begin building a collection of photos for use in upcoming presentations.

"I next drove to Gatlinburg, TN, on the north side of the park to visit Roaring Fork, which the park literature describes as a "motor nature trail." During the day, I always hope for overcast weather which is ideal for shooting the many scenic streams and rivers flowing through the lush spring forest. I used a Sigma 24-70 lens on my 5D Mark II with my LB Warming Polarizer. I exposed for 1/6 second at f/22. This is a single exposure. I exposed carefully right to the edge of the histogram just short of blowing out the whites in the flowing water. I chose a shutter speed that was slow enough to slightly blur the water, but not too long so that the flowing water would continually layer over itself (causing brighter highlights). Lastly, I did some selective adjustment of the shadows in post processing.

"As a trained naturalist with an almost endless curiosity, I can happily wander along the rivers and trails of this world-renowned natural resource for hours with my wide-angle lens and LB Warming Polarizer, looking for the perfect spots to stop and shoot. I often wear sandals so that I can walk in the river to find the best perspectives. There are said to be more than 1,600 kinds of flowering plants and about 100,000 different organisms in this park. You'll just have to see it for yourself."

Ethan recently traveled to Africa where he was on Safari in Kenya's world-renowned wildlife parks, including Amboseli, Masa Mara Reserve, and Lake Nakuru, He is currently editing thousands of images from the trip. Follow Ethan's adventures by visiting his website and always informative blog, or add his page on Facebook.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great shots Ethan. It is also one of my favorite spots to photograph and camp.