Tag Archives: Sunrise

Beauty of Subtleties

The Great Smoky Mountains is a popular destination for travelers as well as photographers.  It is the most visited national park in United States.  In the age of flickr and 500px though, it lacks eye catching vista to attract viewer’s attention.  But its beauty has occupied my heart for many years that I finally had a chance to pay her a visit.

My wife and I camped in the Smoky for five nights.  Among all the areas in Smoky, Cades Cave is probably the most popular place.  Each morning before the gate open at 7:00, cars line up outside with every driver praying God to wake up the park rangers a little earlier.  Sometime they do, sometime they don’t, sometime they over sleep.  Just like everything else in the Smoky, it has its own pace.  Smoky is not for people who are in a hurry.

One needs great patience to appreciate the beauty in the Smoky.  I quickly drove around the Cades Cove in the early afternoon when we arrived, the thought of an over sized suburban forest preserve came to my mind.  Under the bright sun, I can’t see anything interesting to take my camera out.  Still, I came back to it.  The fog was so dense next morning that I can hardly see anything in front of me.  It was still dark an hour after sunrise.  The following morning was rainy, and the next morning had no fog at all.  Most of us would give up by now.  But I decided to keep going at it, partly because of my stubbornness.

Patience was finally rewarded.  It was a perfect morning.  Plenty of fog but just the right amount to let light through.  The light was so soft that I felt like I was in the fairyland.  I drove to the spot I picked before and quickly framed this shot with road and fence converge with the arch formed by the trees.  The composition was already in my heart.


After taking the shot, I drove to another spot I had in mind as fast as I could.  Now the sun is much higher up in the sky. Fog started to fade while heavy clouds moved in. I decided on my composition and patiently waited for the light. The sun only peeked out of clouds for a few seconds.  But that was enough to make the whole cove to glow!

The Smoky’s beauty is subtle, one needs patience to appreciate.

Good Morning



Mesa Arch Sunrise – the Tourist Attraction

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park is such an iconic place that every landscape photographer wants to have a photo of sunrise there.  So, we decided to go to capture our own versions of Mesa Arch.  When we arrived at the parking lot before dawn, there were about 5 vehicles there including a large van.  We looked at each other and thought it must be crowded.  A short hike later, we saw the famous arch with about 10 tripods lined up in front of it.  Reluctantly, we squeezed between photographers and setup our tripods.  My hope of capturing something unique was already out of window at this moment.  15 minutes before sunrise, there came a bus load of 30 some tourists.   My inner peace was out of window.  Nevertheless, the sunrise at Mesa Arch is breathtaking.  Every photographer and non-photographer should have their own versions of the view, not for the sake of capturing a unique image, but for the soul cleansing experience through the mother nature.

Sunrise at Mesa Arch

Day Break at White Sand

I drove to White Sand National Monument in a dark, windy and rainy January Morning.  When I arrived, I realized that there was a car at the parking lot already.  I gathered my camera gear and went up the dune in the light rain.  Here they were.  On top of the dune, stood a young couple with their Nikon and monopod.  So I started to chat with them while waiting for the weather to clear.  They told me that they were college students from Arizona.  It was the boy’s birthday today.  The girl, who grew up in New Mexico, decided to take her photographer boy friend to White Sand for his birthday.  They drove 8 hours and slept in car so that they could catch the first light.  As we were chatting, the rain stopped and the cloud started to clear.  It was beauty and love before my eyes.

Day Break at White Sand