The road to North Carolina

This print, titled "Patton's Run," is one of my latest pieces of work. It was taken on the Nantahala River while I was driving to North Carolina for my final Bassmaster event of the year.

Road trip yields new prints

My final Bassmaster event of 2021 was over the weekend, and that provided me the opportunity to create some new work while I drove to the North Carolina tournament.

It was great. I took a route through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and that afforded me the chance to stop in North Alabama and the North Carolina mountains.

First Stop: Griffin Falls

Griffin Falls was an impromptu stop, and it turned out to be a great decision!

My first top was at a waterfall I had never heard of: Griffin Falls near Collinsville, Alabama.

I discovered the waterfall by using a photographer's app, and turned down a series of back roads to find the parking area. I discovered the cascade is actually on private land, but the landowner allows public access.

So up the trail I went. My expectations weren't very high when I saw the creek, which didn't have much water flowing down it.

But when I rounded the last turn in the trail, which is short but fairly steep, I was wowed by what I saw.

Griffin Falls cascades about 40 feet, and there was plenty of water to create a wonderful print.

The only issue was the tight working area: The waterfall sits in a pretty confined area, so I couldn't back off. I had to take a few minutes to find a spot that wasn't getting sprayed by the waterfall, and that meant I was right on the edge of the bottom of the falls.

Out came my Sigma 14mm Art, a wide-angle lens that allowed me to include the entire waterfall and a bit of the surrounding stone and foliage.

Who can pass up an old barn?

I was leaving my hotel in Murphy, N.C., when I passed this wonderful scene - and I just had to stop!

The next morning I pulled out of my hotel in Murphy, N.C., and I didn't have to go far before I saw my first photo standing on the edge of the highway. I was passing through the little town of Andrews when I saw this cool old barn backed by the cloudy Blue Ridge Mountains.

I quickly U-turned and pulled onto the shoulder. I unpacked my gear and captured a wonderful farm scene that encapsulates life in the Smoky Mountains. I just love everything about this print, including the chicken pecking around in the grass.

Can you find the chicken?

On to the Nantahala River

I was soon driving into those mountains, winding along the beautiful Nantahala River. When I saw a pull-off marked as Patton's Run, I parked and walked down the edge of the river that is popular with kayakers and rafters.

I had been driving through storms, but my stop came during a break in the rains.

I saw the bend in the river and loved how it drew the eye through the frame. The lush trees and that massive boulder also added to the appeal of this composition (seen at the top of this blog).

I used a Lee Filters Little Stopper 6-stop neutral density filter to slow down my shutter speed, and created a wonderful print that speaks of the beauty of this iconic Appalachian river.

Just as the exposure finished, a few raindrops pattered through the trees. By the time I got my gear stowed in my backpack, rain was pouring down. I had to run to my truck through the downpour.

It was worth getting in my truck wet!

One more waterfall

I captured this view of MIngo Falls just as another storm rolled through the Smoky Mountains.

I continued on, wending my way toward Asheville, N.C., and that took me to the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the amazing Mingo Falls.

At 120 feet tall, Mingo Falls is one of the tallest in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. And it's just a short hike along a very well-maintained trail.

Water was pouring over the cascade before snaking through the jumble of rocks and logs at the waterfall's base. I couldn't wait to get set up.

Again, I was just able to finish up before another storm chased me back to my truck!

One last stop

I finished up my North Carolina visit with this print of Murray's Mill.

The next three days were devoted to working the Bassmaster tournament, but on the final day I had a short break — so I headed for Murray's Mill.

I honestly wasn't expecting to shoot the old mill, since I arrived when the sun was at its zenith. That's usually an awful time to shoot, but the sky above Murray's Mill was amazing.

So I grabbed my gear and set up a composition. The sun was glaring off that white grist mill, so I used a Lee Filters polarizer to tone it down, which also allowed me to deepen the blue in the sky.

I again used a 14mm lens so I could show the mill, most of the dam and a big chunk of that gorgeous sky.

It really turned out beautifully, and proves that sometimes you have to ignore the rules and just shoot what you see!