Monday, March 2, 2009

Landscape Photography Tip for Free Spirits -- Go Somewhere You Never Thought of Before

People visiting the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee tend to head straight for Cades Cove. Sure is a beautiful place with grand majestic scenery, and so deemed a popular must-see according to the locals as well as many internet travel websites.

That said, I prefer going off the beaten track to areas about as far away from the main highways and byways as you can get. Reason being?

Well, at Cades Cove, if you’re “lucky,” you might catch sight of a black dot that’s really a bear a mile away across the field. Just about then all the cars stop to experience the excitement. Doors open. Little kids come piling out. Big kids (otherwise known as adults) come piling out. There are cameras and binoculars galore. There is much rejoicing. You’re happy to see everybody else happy. And there’s absolutely no way you can continue your driving tour around the Cove until the first car in this parade finally decides to try and spot another black dot farther down the road.

Note: I haven’t quite yet made up my mind as to whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing to meet up with a bear at closer-than-black-dot range. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

But anyways. If you stick to Cades Cove, you won’t see the cattle stampede that surprised the heck out of me one sizzling June day in wonderfully quiet Walland, TN.

This was a completely lucky shot, which means, the quality was also pot luck. While I was calmly shooting barn scenes, all at once I heard the ground to my right start thundering. I swung my camera around, blinded by the noonday sun, and took my best guesses at shooting. As for the focus, keep in mind that these are cattle in motion running down a hill and kicking up clouds of dust.

That’s why I prefer the small back roads of Blount County, Tennessee.

Summer stretches out the challenge of an open, untraveled road to adventure. Please note that I added the effect of storm clouds in Photoshop. Originally, it was a hazily gorgeous blue-sky day with no clouds in sight.

No matter where you live, there are bound to be possible places of inspiration and interest with something to offer for everyone. The ideas I’m listing below come largely based on my photo expeditions in and around Northeast Ohio, and any links I offer will reflect as much. That said, I’ll bet you can find similar opportunities for whatever area you live in. If not, you’re more than welcome to visit Ohio – it’s really a pretty cool place.
Now then. If curiosity gets the better of you or you simply just feel like it, go right on ahead to Cades Cove, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, or whatever other tourist spot strikes your fancy. As a free spirit, you’re entitled!

Question for Readers: Do you have a favorite spot off the beaten path, a road less traveled, that you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.


Connie said...

Thank you for visiting my blog this morning. I came over and read for awhile, than had to come back again tonight. You put a lot into your posts so I had a lot to learn! Interesting and informative.

Jane said...

Very interesting post..... My fave back road areas are Kure Beach, Fort Fisher, and Mortimer, NC, which is in Pisgah National Forest.


Mary said...

Love the cattle stampede and the scenery shots have a painting quality about them! Lovely! I love places where no one else is. I hate it when I'm sneaking along in the wetlands with a bird in sight and suddenly a dog walker comes bounding across the boardwalks with cell phone in hand gabbing away totally oblivious to the fact that I was taking a photograph! The quieter and more undiscovered the better! I have an arboretum close to me that is always deserted and I love going there in the summer to photograph bees and butterflies. Can't wait until this year!

Janie said...

The Cades Cove bear mania reminds me of Yellowstone Nat. park, where the distant site of a bear, moose, elk, wolf, buffalo, etc. leads to a major traffic jam. I love Yellowstone, though. If you get half a mile off the road, you can totally escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty undisturbed.
It's so true that one can find beauty anywhere if you just get out and look for it.
Great photos of your part of the world! I enjoyed my visit.

Montanagirl said...

Very nice landscape photos (as usual). Black dot would be close enough for me to see a bear! Your posts are full of information. Thanks for sharing, and for always taking the time to visit my blog!

Eve said...

You're such an inspiration CD! if it wasn't so dang cold out there I'd head out the door with the camera!!!

CountryDreaming said...

Connie: Your blog is special and truly inspired. I'll be back. Thanks for your kind words.

Jane: Thanks for sharing your favorite nature areas! I've heard good things about North Carolina, have only passed through and wish I could stay longer sometime. Do you have photos of these places on your blog?

Mary: Thanks for the compliments. Can definitely relate on the cell-phone using dog walker. It can almost feel like you're standing on a wobbly diving board instead of a boardwalk! Looking forward to seeing what treasures the arboretum holds for you this year.

Janie: In the short time I've known you, I can tell you're an expert at being out in the wilderness. Thanks for your kind comments. I look forward to keeping up with your adventure tales!

Montanagirl: Many thanks for your kind compliments! I tend to think I'm like you and content to have a great big zoom lens and plenty of distance between myself and any bear. Love your bird photos!

Eve: Now that's cool ... I happen to find you to be an inspiration too. Thank you! One thing I like to do when it's too cold to venture out is plan the details of where I'd like to go when the weather does finally break.

EcoRover said...

Southwest Montana's pretty much all off the beaten path, at least before June and after September. But West Goat Peak in the Pintler Wilderness would top the list--it's sort of the the remote enfolded within the remote.

YNP in winter is cool, too--an hour of skiing puts you in some quiet places.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi CD, I live near Cades Cove and the Smokies and believe me, we do NOT go there during tourist season. It's a wonderful place to go when there's nobody much around.

George and I love hiking and finding waterfalls. Our favorites are always the less-known ones where we have the woods and waterfalls all to ourselves.

We always tend to stay away from tourist areas... SO---I totally agree with your post.

CountryDreaming said...

EcoRover: Sounds like Southwest Montana in the off season is an excellent place to keep in mind, along with West Goat Peak in the Pintler Wilderness. Loved your blog entry on Chico Hot Springs. Thank you very much for adding such great travel destinations to the list!

Betsy from Tennessee: You and George are definitely experts when it comes to finding the best in lesser-known waterfalls. It's so good to know that areas of natural beauty like this still exist even in the very shadow of modern industrialized civilization. I love how you document these waterfalls in your blog!

Deer Passion said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Photography is a hobby of mine, so I'm glad you found me! I love the pic of the cattle; I've seen that scene a hundred times but you captured it beautifully! I also added you to my blogroll!!

EcoRover said...

Another thought: I was in Boston recently, and you are absolutely right about nature being where you find it. We just need to open our eyes and look more often.

Mo said...

Nice blog, I enjoyed my visit.

Anonymous said...

Oh there's quite a few places off the beaten path I like to go to every summer - they really don't have names, but they're here in Southeast Missouri, close to where I live.

Thank you so much for stopping by my page & leaving me such a nice comment & compliment - And congratulations on getting a photo published in the magazine - That had to be very exciting!!!

CountryDreaming said...

Deer Passion: I'm glad I found you too! Your quotes and articles resonate with me as well as your photos.

EcoRover: Definitely nature is where you find it, and in fact can be as simple as the sky above or the ground beneath your feet.

Mo: Thank you very much, you are very welcome here!

Tricia: Southeast Missouri will do ... I like hearing about all the different areas of the country that people feel should be included when it comes to highlighting little-known areas of natural beauty. Many thanks for your kind words!

Janie said...

I hereby nominate this blog for the Butterfly Award! Details are on my blog.