Fog and Shadows

Fog and Shadows

Fog hangs in the valleys below the Blue Ridge Parkway as the sun rises creating long, dramatic shadows

This is one of those images that has grown on me. When I first took it I was excited about the scene in front of me. After all, that’s why I snapped the shutter in the first place. But, then when I saw the image on the computer screen, it didn’t do so much for me. Now that I’ve had a chance to live with it a while, I’m growing more fond of it.

I went to the North Carolina mountains for a quick visit earlier this year. I stayed in Waynesville, but considering how short I was in the hotel room I should have just slept in the car. This shot was taken at sunrise from an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway about an hour south of Waynesville. I probably could have gotten there faster but I had to drive through the fog you see in the valleys. I didn’t want a repeat of the “deer incident”, so I was taking my time on the back roads. As it turned out, I didn’t really need to rush because the sunset was a bit of a bust. It wasn’t a non-event. It certainly wasn’t the most dramatic sunrise I have ever seen either. The good news is that the next hour or so got much better.

One of the things I love about the mountains of the Blue Ridge is the propensity for fog to lay in the valleys during and after sunrise. Often, the fog contributes to a dramatic image. In this case, the fog *is* the image. Once the sun had cleared the horizon and moved from behind some clouds hanging near the horizon, this scene unfolded. The early, warmly colored rays of the sun streamed across the ridges below casting shadows of the trees on those ridges onto the fog in the next valley. The result is a surreal image with tons of texture and warmth. I spent a happy hour or so composing different shots of the fog-covered ridges until the sun rose high enough to kill the effect.

I used the soft-edge, three-stop neutral density filter to hold back some of the harsher areas of the fog closest to the horizon. It was handheld and I constantly adjusted its placement to give me the effect I was looking for. Hopefully the image conveys some of the beauty present that morning.


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