Golden Light and Fog in the Smokies

Golden Light and Fog in the Smokies

A light layer of fog hangs in the valleys and is illuminated by golden rays of sunlight near dawn in the Smokies

There’s a reason that photographers call the first and last hours of the day the Golden Hour. It’s when the light is softest, at its most dramatic, and usually yields the best light in any given day. Given the right conditions the light literally also can be golden in color. Such was the case on this morning in the Smokies. As the sun rose over the mountains and into the cloud layer of an approaching storm, the light turned golden. That doesn’t always happen, but when it does, some spectacular conditions can result.

Another great aspect of the golden hours is that the light changes. I’ve often seen the conditions change radically over the course of an hour or so. The colors change. The clouds roll in and roll out. Fog can settle in or lift. Even the wind can cause dramatic differences in the landscape especially when water is involved.

Such was the case this morning. As the sun rose and danced in and out of the clouds the lighting changed dramatically. This image was captured just before the sun rose into the cloud bank and obscured its rays from bathing the landscape below. Before it left, the colors morphed to a delicious gold with crepuscular rays radiating out from the rising sun. The soft diffused light illuminated the light fog layer in the valleys and gave them a touch more depth and drama. The brilliant fall colors are not as obvious in this image, but they are still a contributing factor in the image. As you study the elements in detail, you can see some of the vibrant colors hidden in the shadows.

All in all, this image turned out quite well. In fact, it has grown on me and is becoming a favorite. I hope you enjoy it as well.

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