As a child I watched a video tape of the National Geographic program, ‘Love Those Trains’, until I wore it out. N&W 611 was featured in the opening sequence and I always wanted to see her run in person.
Last year, my friend Kevin invited me to chase the J with him and a couple other friends. I immediately took him up on the offer and ended up chasing three of the four weekends that 611 ran in 2017.
The image above of N&W 611 charging up grade through the rain at Brown’s Summit, NC was taken about this time last year on the first of the three weekends I chased.
Following the Cass Fall Photography Workshop, I made the trip down to Pigeon Forge to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time. My two priorities for the trip were spending time in Cades Cove and shooting as many waterfalls as possible. While I was successful on the first goal, sunny weather all week made waterfall photography a challenge. But the sunny weather brought great sunsets and clear night skies on Clingman’s Dome so like all photography adventures, it was just a matter of chasing the light.
To keep the length reasonable, I’m going to split the trip report into three sections: Waterfalls & Cascades, Sunsets & Night Photography and Cades Cove.
First up is Waterfalls. As I mentioned earlier, many of the waterfalls are difficult to shoot on bright sunny days. Dappled light and harsh shadows make for a difficult exposure, so instead of hiking the waterfalls back to back as I planned, getting decent waterfall shots became a game of shooting in the shadows. After some quick research on the topography surrounding the waterfalls, I was able to guess when the surrounding hills would leave them in shadow, making for an easier exposure.
Big Creek Cascades
Midnight Hole Cascades
Mouse Creek Falls
Baskins Creek Falls
Lynn Camp Cascades
Spruce Flats Falls
All things considered, I’m happy with the waterfall shots I was able to get and since I didn’t get them all, I guess I’ll have to go back!