Mortons Overlook is one of the few great sunset locations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the summer, it is probably the best location. During most of the rest of the year the sun is obscured by the mountains on the right and left of this image. During those parts of the year, the sunset is best viewed from Clingmans Dome or even the parking lot below Clingmans Dome. Since I was visiting in the summer and since I knew there was limited parking in the overlook, I arrived more than an hour before sunset to claim my spot.
It was a happening location the night I took this image. There was a family from West Virginia already sitting in their lounge chairs with their small tripods set up in a primo location. There was a two-man video crew from Nashville setting up their gear for a television commercial they were shooting for the state of Tennessee. So, I quickly grabbed a parking spot in the relatively small parking area and joined the group.
As always, it’s fun to shoot the breeze with other photographers about where they’re from, where they’ve visited, and what they have been shooting in the past few days. I struck up a conversation with the guys from Nashville passing on information about shooting conditions I had observed so far. They shared what they would be shooting over the next few days. We both helped each other a bit.
As the sun sunk lower on the horizon and the light started to get good, there was less conversation and more focus on capturing the scene unfolding before us. I won’t say that it was the best sunrise I’ve ever experienced, but it was certainly good if not great. There were enough clouds in the sky to create an interesting sky but not so many that the sun itself was obscured. Of course I’m always wishing for a sky full of red, pink, and orange clouds with the sun dropping through them. I didn’t get that but I did get the beautiful orb of the sun flanked by beautiful mountains in a sky glowing orange.
It was a fun night but now it was time to get to bed. The problem with shooting sunset in the summer is that the sun will rise a few very short hours later. I needed to get some rest to be ready for a – hopefully – epic sunrise the next day. Enjoy.