Smoky Mountains 2015 – Day 1


Smoky Mountains Day 1 itinerary:

  • 9:30pm (CT) – depart Chicago (Midlothian)
  • Drove through the night
  • 8:30am – arrive in the Smoky Mountains
  • Stopped at Sugarlands visitor center
  • Headed to Ramsey Falls (+ coffee)
  • 10:20 – started hike
  • 12:15 – arrived at the fall
  • 1:15 – start descent
  • 3:30 – return to trailhead
  • 4:30 – check in at hotel
  • Unpacked, napped
  • 8:20 – sunset at Morton Overlook

We headed south out of Chicago starting at around 9:30PM (central) and traded off driving through the night to the Smoky Mountains.  Janet started out driving and I attempted, with limited success, to sleep.  This is admittedly an obnoxious way of going on vacation, but it does help compress things into a long weekend.

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Cable Grist Mill

Cable Grist Mill

The historic Cable Grist Mill in Cades Cove.  Took many, many pictures trying to decide just how I wanted the wheel to look.  It wasn’t spinning when we first arrived, but an attendant came and enabled it.

Pictures taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 10-22mm lens @ 11mm, 15 sec, f/16, ISO 100 (ND4, ND8)

Ramsey Falls

Ramsey Falls

A second picture of Ramsey Falls – this one maybe more ‘interesting’ than particularly good.  I had read about a technique of compiling multiple pictures to gain the effect of using a ND filter and slow shutter.  This was the outcome of 21 pictures, all taken at 1/250 shutter and then compiled with StarStaX.  As you might infer from the name,  the program was written to compile star track images by (among other methods) taking the brightest pixel from each of the 21 images for the final.

Pictures taken with Sony a6000, SEL 18-200mm lens @ 18mm, 1/250 sec, f/9, ISO 100



This was the first salamander lizard we saw on the trip.  Apparently there are something like 30 types of salamander in the Smoky Mountains.

Camera didn’t like trying to focus on the face in this one, so it breaks the one rule of animal photography and doesn’t have the eye in focus.

Picture taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 18-135mm @ 135mm, 1/100 sec, f/11, ISO 400

Edit – the presence of scales say this is definitely *not* a salamander as originally titled, but some variety of lizard.  Salamanders would have smooth skin more like a frog.

Edit 2 – best guess is that this is a Ground Skink or a Coal Skink.

Ramsey Falls Trail

Bridge to Ramsey Falls

This is the first log bridge on the Ramsey Falls Trail.  I found this bridge to be a bit questionable crossing, but I made it.

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken handheld, which is ill advised for a 1 second exposure, but one out of seven or so was kind of good enough to share.

Picture taken with Sony a6000, SEL18200 lens @ 18mm, 1 sec shutter, f/11, ISO 100

Ramsey Falls

Ramsey Falls

I actually packed my set of neutral density filters just so I could try slowing down the shutter enough to get the softer look to the water.  Unfortunately, that also means little details like leaves on tress might be blurred.  Probably a good time to take two shots and merge them afterward.

Picture taken with Sony a6000, EF-S 10-22mm lens @ 10mm, 1 sec shutter, f/11, ISO 100

Had a moment of realization when I got back and looked at these – there is a difference between the 1.5x crop factor of most cameras and 1.6x crop factor of a Canon.  Using a Canon EF-S lens on a Sony camera leaves the corners black and forces some cropping.