On the last day of my West Virginia trip, I spent the night in Hillsville, Virginia. One of the places that I wanted to make an image of was Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mill is one of the most photographed locations on the Parkway and in Virginia. I had stopped there on the way north but the surrounding trees had not yet begun to change. I wanted to revisit the mill on the way south to see if the color had progressed during the week I had been in West Virginia.
I rose early that morning to be on location at sunrise. As I drove by the mill, it was apparent that the light I needed wouldn’t be on the mill until well after sunrise. So, I drove further east on the parkway to find a location that had a clear view to the horizon to see the sun rise. About five miles east of Mabry Mill I found this location. It’s a location called the Rocky Knob Recreation Area. There was a clear grassy field with a clear view to the east. As the glow in the eastern sky increased I began to look for a foreground that would accentuate the sunrise. This tree stood at the edge of the field and still allowed a view to the rolling hills of the Virginia countryside and framed the rising sun.
This shot is an HDR image combining five images separated by one stop of exposure each. Without blending multiple images I could have properly exposed the rising sun or the detail of the tree. The HDR process allows both to be properly exposed and maintain detail in both. The branches of the tree filter the rising sun allowing the warmth of the morning sky, the brilliant foliage covered hills, and the lush green grass to blend into a colorful composition. If only I had locations like this one to enjoy every morning’s sunrise.