One of the most frequently visited places in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cades Cove. The Cove is a former mountain community that was somewhat isolated from the surrounding area. When you visit, the reason is apparent. The cove is surrounded by mountains and the routes out are all fairly steep climbs from the valley floor, over the mountains, and out to other communities.
Many of the historic structures have been left in place although the last permanent inhabitants moved away or passed away several decades ago. The area has been restored to look much like it did a hundred years ago. There are several churches, homesteads, and even a working grist mill. The road is a meandering, one-way road that is an eleven mile long loop. There are a couple of cross roads, but most traffic takes the loop all the way around. The big attraction for many is wildlife. There are deer, turkeys, and bears along with all of the other common fauna found in the area.
Although I’ve taken some attractive images of the animals, my primary purpose in visiting is to capture the architecture and the flora, especially as it changes from season to season. Even though church buildings are prominent architectural features in the Cove, I haven’t had great success in capturing compelling images of them.
So, as I prowled around the Methodist church, I was looking for a new angle. When I first arrived, I experimented with images of a dogwood tree and its blossoms. The sun was just rising over the surrounding mountains and creating some interesting backlight on the dogwood blossoms. I took some shots of the blossoms themselves with that soft light illuminating them. None of those were all that unique so I moved on to the church itself. Once again, the shots were good, but not great. As I walked back outside the church, the light had changed on the dogwood. Now that the sun was high enough, the part of the tree closest to the church was illuminated. I decided to try a shot that showed the back side of the blossoms in sunlight with the church as a strong but out of focus background element. This shot is the result of that effort. I shot at f/8 with the blossoms about two feet from the front of the lens. At that distance and aperture, the background is blurred but recognizable. The sun on the church and tree above it helps to make the steeple stand out and make the background building recognizable as a church.
It’s a simple image, but one that I’ve grown fond of. Enjoy.