Saturday, 07 September 2019 21:30

I Went to the Mountains to a Place With No Name

For most visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park the first overlook consciously encountered on the Tennessee side of Newfound Gap is Morton Overlook, the Smokies quintessential sunset location. However there is actually another viewpoint between Morton and Newfound that does offer a limited, but quite beautiful view into the valley of Walker Camp Prong far below. There is no signage to indicate a name, and I have never seen a map that was labelled with a title for this small stopover on the way up and down Mount Ambler. This spring, before the greenbrier could become too overpowering, I decided to stop and play with the light that was dancing through the clouds to bathe the ridges in highlight and shadow.

Eschewing the idea of composing through the opening in the trees with a long telephoto lens, I opted to use a focal length of 28mm, definitely in wide-angleland, to include the old firs and foreground briers as a frame. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

This non-descript and unnamed bit of Smokies geography is just a small example of the world of non-iconic locations that offer endless opportunities for the creation of everyday beauty in a place that is anything but non-iconic.

Read 252 times


  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Saturday, 14 September 2019 09:30 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good morning Everyone. Thank you all for joining me for this conversation; I'm delighted you are here. Bonnie and I arrived home yesterday evening from a wonderful week at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina and another great group of Road Scholar adventurers from around the country; literally, Utah to Connecticut and Washington to Florida. The Smokies fall foliage is still hiding, but the mountains were on display.
    Hey Rosemary. It's good to hear from you. I hope you and Don have been well. Your words are very kind, and I do appreciate them. Let me know what you've been up to. I know Don was in John DiGiacomo's class at the Folk School, but that's all I've heard lately. Walk in Beauty.
    Hi Debbie. It's good to have you with us. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Sharing places I love with folks like you who appreciate the beauty of the natural world give me more pleasure than I can express, and your kind response makes what I do all the more worthwhile. I'm delighted that my musings can be meaningful; thank you. Be well.
    Hey John. It's good to hear from you. Thank you for your kind word. I hope you and your camera have been enjoying roaming the countryside and finding beauty wherever you turn. We'd love to have you with us again somewhere down the road. Hope all is well with you.
    Hey Kev. I always look forward to what you will have to share. Your musical acumen is too good, and you have given us an excellent description of thinking through the process of finding 'everyday beauty" in the world around you. Your thought on "timing" is especially apropos. As Gandalf suggested, "A wizard is always on time and (s)he arrives precisely when (s)he means to." Even when serendipity is involved; but seriously, as you intimate, timing comes in great part from an understanding of conditions. Got your note about peak color; I think we're looking good.
    Hey John. It's great to hear from you! Thanks for being with us. You have given us a delightful way to think about Sunday Morning; Charles Kuralt would have absolutely loved it, the questionable part about the arrival of my images notwithstanding. May we all join you in the unfolding of your frolic and be as fully charmed in the expression of your joy. I am deeply honored to be able to contribute to a small portion of the experience. Hope to see you and Lynne soon. Je t'en prie.
    Hi Willa. I hope this finds you well and looking forward to whatever fall foliage season happens to come our way. Bonnie and I always think of you whenever it's time to enjoy the company of a new Road Scholar group. This image does have somewhat of an interesting symmetry, sort of an asymmetrical symmetry as it were; and that's exactly what drew me to compose it in this way. Thank you for suggesting it for us. Let us know what you've been up to; we'd love to hear from you.
    Ah, Dr. Ned. It's always good to hear from you. I hope you and Jean and all the family have been well.We had dinner with Henry and Cis back in July and wished y'all could have been with us. I noticed the same scrape to which you have pointed us and also wondered about its origin. A big buck could be the answer, as could general decay. I also wondered about a lightning strike, but could not get close enough to examine for burn marks. The mountain is fairly steeply-sloped there. Be well, my friend.
    What a pleasure to be able to share thoughts and observations with such a wonderful group of folks. I hope that wherever you are preparing to enjoy it, the coming fall will be filled with great beauty and joyful discovery for everyone. Walk in Beauty.

  • Comment Link Ned Brockenbrough Sunday, 08 September 2019 19:04 posted by Ned Brockenbrough

    I like this image, both distant and near, but my eye kept going to the tree in the right foreground with the lost bark - wondering whether the bark was lost as part of general decay or whether this might have been from deer rubbing its antlers?

  • Comment Link Willa Boswell Sunday, 08 September 2019 16:24 posted by Willa Boswell

    I love the symmetry in this captured it well.

  • Comment Link John Diamond-Nigh Sunday, 08 September 2019 16:06 posted by John Diamond-Nigh

    Sunday morning is made up of these four small raptures: espresso and a warm croissant; the sabbath antics of our cats; dancing with my wife and the arrival of your lovely images. Merci.

  • Comment Link Kevin Desrosiers Sunday, 08 September 2019 12:00 posted by Kevin Desrosiers

    Another beautiful and thought provoking image! Are we doing a take off on America's song, "A Horse with No Name" in your title today? Rather than describe what I like about the image, this week I will talk about the lessons this image reenforce for me. First, look for something different, even if it is just a unique angle. You found an unlabeled location to shoot this that most people will never slow down enough to see, so the picture is unique. Most pictures of Walker Camp Prong come from the standard overlooks, but you provide a view very few have seen, so you are offering your viewer something different. Second, timing is everything. Without the clouds, or something else coloring the sky, this picture is not nearly as interesting. Knowing the time of day or year and weather conditions can make or break a picture. Lastly, the foreground can make or break a picture. The choice of what to include, or not include, as you pointed out in in why you selected the focal length you did, and where you placed the camera, should be thought out carefully before every picture. Thanks for spurring some great reminders in my head!

  • Comment Link John D. Roach Sunday, 08 September 2019 09:54 posted by John D. Roach


  • Comment Link Debra B Rotolante Sunday, 08 September 2019 08:59 posted by Debra B Rotolante

    You continue to amaze me with your beautiful photos and the lovely descriptions of where they were taken and the settings used. Thanks

  • Comment Link Rosemary Benson Sunday, 08 September 2019 08:24 posted by Rosemary Benson

    It should be named...McGowan’s overlook or McGowan’s valleyview or Don McGowan’s Smokey Mountain Hideaway!

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Site copyright © 2001 - 2019 Don McGowan & EarthSong Photography. 

All Rights Reserved.