Olympus E-330, Olympus Digital Zuiko 50-200mm, Manfrotto tripod and head
Rob Sheppard Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina-Tennessee
The Smokies have long been one of my favorite national parks. This is a place of mountains, streams and wildflowers. While it’s one of the most visited of our national parks, you always can find interesting locations that aren’t crowded with people.
The soft, rounded mountains of this part of the Appalachians are appealing to me. When shot at dawn or dusk from a high spot in the park, you can get the classic shot of ridges of mountains going off into the distance. Mornings often hold clouds in the lower areas, so you can get clouds below as well as the mountains heading off toward the sunrise color and light. Skyline Drive at the southern end of the park is a terrific morning location, although you’ll often share prime spots with other photographers.
I also love the wildflowers in the spring and the streams just about anytime. There’s a wonderful feeling of green that pervades the park in the spring, timed perfectly with wildflowers and full streams (this depends on the winter rain, of course, and this year there has been plenty of that). Many roads travel alongside the streams through the Tennessee side of the park.
In recent years, there has been a lot of information and misinformation about photography in the national parks. The following information comes directly from the NPS Digest, which can be found on the www.nps.gov website:
Commercial Filming and Still Photography Permits
Lands of the United States were set aside by Congress, Executive or otherwise acquired in order to conserve and protect areas of untold beauty and grandeur, historical importance, and uniqueness for future generations. This tradition started with explorers who traveled with paint and canvas or primitive photo apparatus before the areas were designated as a national park. The National Park Service permits commercial filming and still photography when it is consistent with the park’s mission and will not harm the resource or interfere with the visitor experience.
When is a permit needed?
All commercial filming activities taking place within a unit of the National Park system require a permit. Commercial filming includes capturing a moving image on film and video as well as sound recordings.
Still photographers require a permit when: 1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or 2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or 3. the Park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.
You can always check with the individual park if you have any questions about photography. Go to www.nps.gov for information on contacting any of the parks.