Late Afternoon Light on Brasstown Valley

Late Afternoon Light on Brasstown Valley

The setting sun is filtered by storm clouds gathering near Brasstown Bald

(Prints available)

While the girls were away for a swim meet, Matt and I decided to spend Saturday afternoon and evening hanging out and shooting some. He really wanted to end up at a location that might have a good view of sunset. We decided to wander up into the mountains and end up at Brasstown Bald. Brasstown is located in the north Georgia mountains on the border between Union and Towns counties. It has the distinction of being the highest point in Georgia.

We took our time driving up looking for images that were camera-worthy. Nothing really struck our fancy so we arrived at the mountain a good while before sunset. We decided to hike up even though we knew that we might be a bit early for any decent photography. As it turned out, I was glad we made that decision. First of all, the trail to the summit, although paved, was a steady fifteen percent or so grade. Between the grade and hauling all of my gear I had to make a stop or two on the way to the top. In addition, when we arrived at the top, I knew we had a good chance of a memorable sunset.

The views are spectacular from the summit. On a clear day, you can see north to the Smokies and south to the towers of downtown Atlanta. Fortunately, much of the area around the mountain is national forest. Consequently, the ridge lines aren’t polluted with cabins and towers. The clouds were hanging listlessly in the sky and with any luck at all would make for an interesting filter for the setting sun.

As it turned out, that is exactly what happened. Once the sun dropped down below the first layer of clouds, the light show was on. It continued for the next hour and a half. During that time, the sky turned virtually every color imaginable and the clouds around us lightened, darkened, changed colors, and were even silhouetted by the sun.

This particular image was taken an hour or so before sunset while the sun was dropping behind a layer of clouds. You can see a storm on the right side of the frame and rain obscuring the horizon. The water vapor from the storm helped to strengthen the visibility of the sunbeams streaming through the clouds at the top of the frame. Fortunately, the sunbeams had a lovely foreground to illuminate. The farms and hills of the valley below turned brilliant shades of green as a result. And this was only the prelude to the real show, a sunset as brilliant as any I have seen in many years. More on that to come in a future post. Enjoy!


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