Saturday, March 7, 2009

Class Field Trip #2: Cades Cove

That post title sounds like a bad sequel, doesn't it? Kind of like "Revenge of the Nerds Part II: Nerds in Paradise".

This morning was our photography class' rescheduled field trip to Cades Cove. Don't expect pictures of cute deer, black bears, and mountain shots. Today was about portraiture and testing our exposure control, mostly. I don't have releases from any of the models to post their photos so that leaves me with just my throw away shots, but you're not missing much. Truth is, I was awful today. Out of 202 shots about a dozen were acceptable to me.

But you know what? That's fine. I learn from that too. I'd be lying out of my arse if I said it didn't frustrate me, but I'm trying to keep a positive focus on it. Some of today's lessons learned are:
  • Quit dropping my f-stops (opening aperture) to the lowest levels just to keep a decent shutter speed in lower light situations. My knee jerk reaction to fix slow shutter speeds is to drop my f-stops to the smallest number I can get on a lens. That results in blurry pictures just as much as a slow shutter speed due to the shallow depth of field. Move the ISO up to gain a couple of stops. Here's a perfect example. I shot the blurry one from a tripod but had a 5.3 f-stop. The second was an 8 and see how much better the depth of field was.
  • Don't rush. I know the fundamentals now and need to practice them. But all of my awful shots today, I KNOW how to correct them. But today we had a group of 40 people trying to take the same shots, from the same angle, using the same resources (models, assistants holding diffusers/reflectors, etc). I was constantly either shooting between two people or had 6 people in line behind me and I felt like I was holding everyone else up. Today was and exercise in the EXACT OPPOSITE of what we were taught in class last week and in the article by Fred Pritchard about walking around and carefully observing the subject before you even get your camera out. Today was more like "Hurry up and shoot then get the #*@( out of the way".
  • I REALLY REALLY need a better tripod.
  • I need to practice portraiture methodically in a non-rushed situation.
  • I'm not ready for the Fundamentals II class yet. I need to practice the basics from Fundamentals I this next semester, shooting often, and then take the summer Fund II.
One of the bright spots of the day was getting to ride with Colby McLemore and Jill Barber, who are both several orders of magnitude better photographers than I am. Just being able to be a part of the conversations about photography with them was a learning experience for me today.

Texture of the chimney at John Oliver's cabin.
Self portrait in window at John Oliver's cabin. I was trying to get Greogory's Bald (mountain) reflection but kept seeing my self so finally said, "screw it......self portrait!"
Texture - wood shingle tile roof of John Oliver's cabin.
I prefer links of sausage but these links contain more than 100% of the US recommended daily allowance of iron!
Old tractor tire

This wagon wheel reminded me of the REM song "Can't Get There From Here". Which one is better, wheel 1 or 2?
I just liked how this dude was looking at me after I had followed him from limb to limb along the fence line. Which one is better, bird 1 or 2?
On the way home, I stopped at the parking area where the road splits to Gatlinburg or Cades Cove. I sat on a stone and just listened to the river crashing and rolling for an attitude adjustment. It was a beautiful day. I needed to appreciate it. As always, I have a hell of a lot to be thankful for.
Pebbles at the edge of the river. Double click on the pic and look at all of the colors under water. I couldn't quit staring at them.I'm going out in the morning to shoot again, but this time it will be at my leisure and of whatever inspires me. I really missed that this morning.

Don't forget I'll need your help in the next few days to help pick my Final 4 shots for Wednesday nights final showing. Please check back by Tuesday.


  1. I'm a nerd and Cades Cove is a somewhat paradise. So, yes...Nerds in Paradise is quite fitting. And REM is my favorite band.

  2. REM rocks! I like the second wheel better but both look pretty good. I am a totally easy critic I like everything : )

  3. :) these are wonderful. : ) I like the second bird. Can't wait to see what you find tomorrow.


  4. Great images from Cades Cove, Chris. I haven't put any of mine up yet. However, I just started a new blog after looking at yours. I thought some of my family and clients might enjoy seeing some of my photos on a blog (instead of my business site). I added your blog there as one of my favorite blogs. Check it out! :-) Jill

  5. I like your link comments. Yup, plenty of iron in those links! I'm thinking wagon wheel number 2 is my fave :)