Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee, USA by Robert Elenbaas

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Picture Story

My brother and I did a fall colors workshop in the Smoky Mountains National Park with Richard Bernabe in October 2016. It had been an unusually warm, dry summer. Overall, the leaves were a bit late in turning color and the color they did have was often somewhat underwhelming. Time to make lemonade from the lemons we were given! One afternoon, the group was shooting along a stretch of the Little River. From my vantage point on the shady side of the river, the intense afternoon sun was really lighting up the trees on the other bank.

They were so bright that I felt photographing them directly was not really an option. But because most of the river itself was in shade, calm sections offered wonderful, impressionistic reflections of the trees opposite. I noticed these two small boulders near the river’s edge that appeared to create stepping stones into this other calming, Zen-like world. By including only the nearby rocks and the trees reflected in the river, the composition was simplified and made a bit mysterious. I like the image in part because one has to truly look at it to see what is going on. It offers a view of the world that one cannot appreciate in a quick glance.


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