Winter has arrived in Yellowstone National Park. There are already a few feet of snow at the higher elevations. The snowplows are busy keeping the roads clear. This past week, the temperture has fluctuated between an invigorating -10 degrees and a comparatively balmy 21 degrees. The critters in Yellowstone adapt readily to the cold temperatures. This trio of Bison graze on the grasses peeking through the covering of snow near Soda Butte.
Northern Gannets nest in dense colonies and their nest sites are only inches apart from one another. Sighting in on their own territory amidst the mass of white birds wedged closely together on the rock face is an incredible feat that occurs over and over. How they do it is one of Nature’s remarkable accomplishments. This gannet appears to be sighting in on where to land as it flies in front of the cliff face toward its own nesting site. Nikon D5, 500mm PF.
The opposite side of the log cabin at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a single, multi-paned window. The leafy canopy outside under cloudy skies let only a small splash of light spill onto the wooden floor. Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 S.
One of the abandoned cabins in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains sheltered us from a rain storm for an hour or so one morning. The cabin was dark, with only two windows, one on each end with a stone chimney in the middle separating them. The sky was dark and the cabin was surrounded by trees so there was very little light inside. What light there was from the window intrigued us with its dim reflection on the wooden floor. I took the shot in black and white to emphasize the moodiness of the setting. Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 S.
There’s a reason the Great Smoky Mountains got that name. And, they certainly live up to it. There is a natural ground fog that often hangs over the mountains and, from a distance, that fog appears to be large smoke plumes. The fog clings low to the ground and allows the ridges to push up through the fog banks creating stunning views especially in the early morning..
With minimal fall colors in the Great Smoky Mountains due to a drought and higher than normal temperatures, we found other ways to photograph the beauty in the Park. One of my go-to lenses to make unusual images of ordinary subjects is the Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye lens. At 8mm, it creates its own world. Pointing straight up to the leafy green canopy above, the resulting circular image stimulates the imagination.
In October, foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains should be vibrant with vivid oranges, yellows, and reds. But hot and dry temperatures have lingered in Eastern Tennessee and a drought has prevented the normal fall display in the Smokies. The leaves are turning brown and dropping from the trees instead of turning color as in normal years. Nevertheless, we did t come across a few spots of color that stood out from the deep greens that surrounded them.
When Carl Sandburg penned his poem “Fog” in 1916, he may have had the Great Smoky Mountains in mind. The poem is brief but perfectly describes the ground fog in the Great Smoky Mountains. It creeps in and settles around the trees, obscuring them from sight, then suddenly disappears. If you are not familiar with the poem:
by Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
The Great Smoky Mountains at sunrise—Nikon Z7, Nikkor 70-200 f/4
Cades Cove is one of the more popular areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park. In some areas, the park preserves places that represent mostly forgotten ways of life in America. For example, at one time, families would visit gristmills near their homes a few times a month to get corn and wheat ground into flour to make bread. Back then, people made their own bread because grocery stores and bakeries as we know them today did not exist. The John P. Cable Gristmill in Cades Cove, built almost 150 years ago represents this bygone way of life. It has been restored over time, including the addition of a new waterwheel built in 2018.