Seasons Apart

The Little River, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, Autumn 2010

Same location, Summer 2011

As a the end of the summer season nears a curtain call for 2010 and we start to feel the cool breeze of fall encroaching on our sun-kissed faces I often fantasize about revisiting some of my favorite photography locations but in a different season.  One of the most magical aspects of photographing outdoors is that a familiar view is never the same at different times of the year. We get a new chance, a new challenge and a new story to tell. I feel like so rarely many of us get to visit a place time and again to make images in every season, showing the beauty, diversity, struggle and re-growth that occurs timelessly in our woods and deserts. Sometimes though, we are lucky, and we can see how a place evolves, how the wear and tear of time reshapes, upholsters and renews itself. As a photographer, it is nothing more than just good fun to capture. Thankfully I’ve had the chance to revisit a place I got to spend with my mother the first time in Autumn 2010. I returned the following summer. It was still beautiful with blossoming white flowers but lacking the pastoral renaissance the Great Smoky Mountains pass through on their way Winter. So as you step outside in these last days of summer, this is just a friendly reminder to capture a place you may get to revisit again in a couple months when the trees and land show you a new view that was there in front of you the entire time.


    Thanks James, it’s a great observation. I spent some time zooming in myself. It appears that one tree just finally gave. Could have been ice and wind or just major spring run off or probably a combination of both. It’s always fascinating to see things like this for sure, that’s half the enjoyment of going back more than once.

    Mr. Shive,

    I also wanted to mention that your photos of the Little River are striking and very vibrant. I have tried to do some Fall/Winter landscapes in a ravine in Ohio (if you have time please view them at under the gallery entitled “Hayden Falls Park”) but the winter ones always seem flat to me. The ravine has high walls and is narrow so the sunshine is limited. I have tried fill flash but even with an external strong unit I do not achieve the results I would like. I will be going back later this summer to try some summer shots to add to the gallery. Any advice?

    You have really vibrant photos James! I rarely use a fill flash when working around water because of the scatter you often get in the bubbles and white water areas of the water itself. Typically what I do – and what I did on the Little River – is wait until the peak of sunlight had passed and set up using a tripod. Almost always I worked in the shade or shadows, using a polarizer and long exposures (F16 or 22 for 5, 10, 30 seconds, depending on time of day). In the Autumn photograph above, most of it was in the shade but there was still some reflective, diffused light hitting the top portion of the mountain which helped give it that pastoral, dream-like effect. I made sure to crop this out. So in a nutshell, use a tripod, polarizer and shoot in the shade before or after the sun is hitting the areas directly.

    Mr. Shive,

    Thank you for your advice and you kind words! I shall try that technique when I am in that ravine again in a couple of weeks. I had used a polarizer in some of those shots but did not have a tripod with me at the time and so I could not do a long exposure. This time I’ll take one with me. Thanks, again.

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