Text and photos by Jamie Anderson
If you enjoy photographing fall colors, now’s the time to plan a visit to George L. Smith State Park in Georgia.
Here you can discover beautiful pond reflections of cypress and tupelo trees, complete with all the amber colors of autumn. Most years, the trees will transition from green to amber sometime in mid-November. (The trees in these photos were actually past peak when photographed in late November, but still showed some fall colors.)
While fall offers some colorful opportunities for photographers, this state park includes surprises as well, such as white sand dunes and a 137-year-old gristmill. Outdoor enthusiasts will find lakeside camping, cottage camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking and biking.
The mill pond invites you to explore the cypress and tupelo trees, some draped in Spanish Moss, to look for beavers, blue herons, great egrets, white ibis and other wading birds. The seven miles of hiking trails make it easy to explore the exterior forest, where you might find Georgia’s state reptile, the gopher tortoise.
On the 3-mile loop trail behind the covered bridge you can see areas with a lot of white sand. These are actually beach sand dunes (yes, in mid-Georgia) created when the ocean level was receding from the mountains and hills of northern Georgia thousands of years ago.
Hognose snakes, which prefer sandy soil, are sometimes spotted in this area. They are completely harmless, but if they feel threatened they may hiss and puff up like a cobra. If that doesn’t work, their best defense is to simply roll over and play dead. If you look closely, you may also find a tiny rare lichen growing on the sand in this area.
Of particular interest to photographers and history buffs is the Parrish Mill. Built in 1879 by Alexander Hendricks and James Parrish, it was considered an engineering miracle of the day. The dam and base of the mill were completed in a few months, and within a year the house – which would eventually contain a sawmill, cotton gin and gristmill – were also standing.
The road to the mill passed right over the dam and through a covered bridge. So the “mill” was a combination dam, covered bridge, lumber mill, cotton gin and gristmill. It was first used to saw cedar, pine, and oak trees that were felled near the dam. A cotton gin was installed next, and by 1885 a gristmill was added.
Local people could bring wagonloads of cotton and corn right into the mill for processing, and buy lumber to build farms and barns. The gristmill ran 24 hours a day to produce corn meal that was sold to all the surrounding counties. By 1944 the gristmill was the only part of the site that was still operating, and it continued to do so until 1973. The covered bridge was not closed to automobiles until 1984. In 1998 the mill was restored, and it can still grind corn occasionally at the rate of 200 pounds per hour.
To reach George L. Smith State Park, take I-16 to the Metter, Georgia, exit (which is also Hwy 23). Follow Hwy 23 to George L. Smith State Park Road (which is before you get to Twin City, Georgia). For navigation purposes, the address is 371 George L. Smith State Park Road.
Jamie Anderson is a contributing writer for the GNPA newsletter, and also serves as the newsletter production editor and the co-coordinator for the Coastal Chapter of the GNPA. His website is www.CoastalGeorgiaPrints.com.
Lowell Sims with Tucker. Photo by Ansley Wilbanks.
Lowell Sims, Smyrna Chapter
In our newsletters, we feature short profiles of GNPA members from across the state. In this issue, it’s Lowell Sims, of the Smyrna Chapter.
When did you become a GNPA member? I joined during the initial meeting of GNPA. I believe it was 2010.
What is your occupation? Retired since May 2002. I’m the former IT/Administrative Services Director for Hartford Financial Service’s Omni Automobile Insurance Divisions.
How did you get into photography? Soon after my wife and I married, we planned a trip to Lookout Mountain. I purchased a point-and-shoot camera for pictures and I’ve been hooked ever since,
What are your favorite photography subjects? Birds are at the top of my list of favorites. I also like to photograph dragonflies, animals, amphibians, flowers and landscapes.
What are your favorite places to shoot? Cades Cove (for wildlife), Cataloochee Valley/Cherokee (elk), Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge (Sandhill Cranes), Merritt Island, FL (water birds), Alligator River NWR near Outer Banks, NC, Lake George, FL, (St. Johns River) and Blue Cypress Lake, FL are all at top of my list. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a top spot.
What would be your photographic “dream trip”? Galapagos Islands (#1) and Machu Picchu, Peru (#2).
Which camera body and lenses do you use most often? Most of my DSLR life, I’ve used a Nikon body with a 150-600 mm lens, but now I’ve moved to a Sony A7Rlll with a 200-600 mm zoom lens and only recently obtained a Sony 100-400 mm G Master lens. I have an adapter that accepts all my Nikon brand lens on the Sony body.
What are your go-to websites for photography information? Mark Galer on YouTube is probably my first “go to” for tutorials on Sony equipment. I would still be fumbling through Sony’s menu system were it not for him explaining various set-ups (and I still have a lot to learn).
Mark Denny is another favorite on YouTube. His tutorials are geared more toward technique than equipment. He once was a Sony user but has recently switched to Olympus.
Another weekly subscription is Digital Photography School’s newsletter. Sometime it is quite rudimentary, but occasionally I find a little gem to “chew on.”
Steve Perry’s Back Country Gallery is a really good source of knowledge on how cameras work and setup advise. He has several e-books available that explain various camera functions (Nikon equipment exclusively).
Have any photographers inspired you? I am in sheer awe of Arthur Morris’s ability to photograph birds. I am totally incapable of capturing bird photos that in any way come close to rivaling the quality of his images. Art Wolfe is another photographer I admire a lot. Leonard Lee Rue III through his book “How I Photograph Birds and Wildlife” showed me how I didn’t have to go to the forest or nature area to photograph birds.
What’s your favorite part of belonging to GNPA? Camaraderie at GNPA events. Reticent by nature, I really feel at home when attending GNPA events, especially photography outings.
Something interesting about you that most people do not know: When I was a lad we played “livestock technicians and indigenous people” (Cowboys and Indians) and I had a keen interest in archery. In the early 1970s, I joined an archery club (Tomo Chi archery club) and won my first tournament (by default – I was the sole competitor in my basic bowhunter class). I was embarrassed to step forward to receive my winner’s medal and the club president added insult by saying facetiously, “Come back and join us again, we’ll try to be more competitive.” He had just won the “Pro” class. Five years later, not only did I trounce him in a similar club tournament, I was Southeastern Outdoor Field Archery Champion (1977 Clemson, SC), Indoor S.E. Runner up Champion (1978 Greenville, SC), 5-time Georgia State Champion (1975-79) and Georgia State Archer of the Year in 1979.”\
Where are you from? I hail from South Georgia, born in extremely humble beginnings in Sparks. If anyone is old enough to remember going to Florida via US 41 in the late 1940s to mid-1950s, perhaps you remember Sparks and Adel were like Atlanta and Decatur. Without a sign you couldn’t tell when you left one city and entered the other. The favorite local quip was “Adel was so close to hell you could see Sparks.” In 1948 we moved to Tifton and after a relatively short tenure there we relocated to Ty (an outlying community of Tifton pronounced “tie,” an Indian name derived from the Ti bush that grew along nearby Ty Creek) where we lived until I graduated high school and moved to Atlanta. My favorite quip about Ty is “both ‘Entering Ty’ and ‘Leaving Ty’ signs were on the same post.”
Tell us a little about the photos you have provided:
Hummer On My Finger: Without gloating or bragging, I think this is an amazing photograph. I marshaled at The Tour Championship at East Lake for several years, and the year I took this photo our uniform included a bright red cap. I came home the last day of the tournament and sat down on the deck with my red hat on. Before long I was being buzzed by hummingbirds looking for a place to drink nectar. They were so close I could feel the wind generated by their wing beats. I quickly erected a feeder stand, attached it to the deck railing, set up my camera on a tripod with a wireless remote attached and covered all the fake flower feeder outlets but one. Sitting next to the feeder and resting my arm on the deck rail, I positioned my finger near the only flower outlet. After 4-5 approaches, a hummer finally lit on my finger and I began to fire away with my remote. Several people accused me of “PhotoShopping” the bird onto my finger, but the only “PhotoShopping” of this photo was cloning out the feeder.
Blue Jay: Like most photographers, I can’t wait to see my photos so I “chimped” it onto my tiny LCD. When I saw it there on the screen, I could tell it was a keeper. It won “Best of Show” at a Smyrna photo contest judged by Bob Fitzgibbons. I thought, “Finally, Arthur Morris just might take a look at one of my photos.”
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly: This photo was entered in GNPA’s Double Vision contest a few years ago at Chattahoochee Nature Center. The photo didn’t win, place or show, but the lady who painted her version of it placed either first or second. To this day, it’s probably the sharpest photo I have ever taken. Absolutely no post-sharpening has been applied.
Photo by Bill White
Exploring Fall With GNPA
Fall is approaching and photographic opportunities will be everywhere. One of the best will occur around the end of this month and into early October, when bull elk enter the rut in Cherokee, North Carolina, and Cataloochee. If you haven’t witnessed that, it’s worth the trip. (Editor’s note: see Horace Hamilton’s article “Photographing Elk in the Smokies” here:
Local chapters are holding live meetings again. These meetings, of course, are a great way to meet new friends and learn about all aspects of nature photography. You can find a list of upcoming meetings on Meetup. Our Smyrna Chapter has conducted two in-person meetings lately with outstanding speakers, and we have another coming up this month, when Tom Wilson will speak about dragonflies.
Using Lightroom was the topic at the recent chapter meeting in Gwinnett. Thanks to that presentation, I learned several valuable tips that I’m now putting into practice. I encourage everyone to attend chapter meetings, and hope to see you there soon.
The annual GNPA fall trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee will be November 3-6, 2022. At past events, I’ve photographed sunrises at the Okonaluftee Overlook, sunsets at Clingman’s Dome, and bears, coyotes, deer and turkeys in Cades Cove. This is definitely one of my favorites.
Don’t forget to sign up for the statewide GNPA Meetup Group. Your local chapter has its own Meetup Group, but following the state group allows you to keep abreast of all our programs and upcoming events.
Meanwhile, the Programs Committee is still presenting statewide webinars, usually on the third Wednesday of the month. We’ve had some terrific presentations recently, with more on the way. GNPA members can watch them live, or view the recorded webinars on our website.
Our organization is operated by, and for, our members. The more people who participate and volunteer, the more we can offer. If you can help out with field trips or events, please let me know. It’s a great way to learn new things and meet some very interesting people.
See you in the field.
By Peter Essick
Since the first photographic images were recorded, photography has been continuously influenced by technological change. As the technology evolves, the tools available for a photographer improve and expand. Drone technology is a recent example of how such advancements have opened up the field of aerial photography to the everyday photographer.
As a photographer working for National Geographic Magazine, I often took aerial photographs from a fixed-wing plane or a helicopter. These aerials were often critically important to the story, and provided an overview that wasn’t possible any other way. But it’s very expensive to hire a pilot and make all the arrangements to pull off a successful aerial photograph. Now, the availability of drones with an integrated camera has created an alternative.
In 2017, I was working on a commission from Fernbank Museum of Natural History to photograph the Fernbank Forest. This is an urban old-growth forest in downtown Atlanta. After doing photography from inside the forest for several weeks, I realized I needed an aerial perspective to show the proximity of the 65-acre forest to the downtown skyline. At that point I decided I needed to learn how to fly a drone, and it turned out to be the best solution for the job. Not only could I get an aerial view of the forest and the skyscrapers, but I could also fly at a lower level to get more detail of the forest in the foreground.
Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Peter Essick.
Since then, I have used my drone for a series on construction sites in Atlanta, for a story about restoration in the Great Lakes and for composites of signs of well-known brands. Drone photography has become a major part of my photographic output in the last five years.
If you want to get started in drone photography, there are a number of considerations. The first question is which drone to buy. There are several different models to choose from, but all of the drones that I am familiar with are made by DJI. Here are three drones you may want to consider:
DJI Mini 3 Pro
This drone has just been released and getting good reviews. It’s a great choice for getting started in aerial photography, and may be the only one that many photographers will need. It weighs less than 249 grams, so you aren’t required to register it with the F.A.A. and it is legal to fly anywhere. This updated mini drone can shoot 4K video and the small sensor can take a 48-megapixels still image using the Quad Bayer technology used on smart phones. It has a fixed 24mm equivalent F 1.7 lens. It costs less than $1,000.
DJI Mavic 3
This is an excellent drone overall, with 20-megapixel still images from a Hasselblad camera with an adjustable aperture. The Mavic 3 includes 360-degree obstacle avoidance, so you’re less likely to collide with something. It’s also easy to fly and folds up into a backpack. It’s about $3,000 with extra batteries.
DJI Inspire 2
This is the drone I use. It is bigger and heavier, but the primary advantage is a larger sensor that produces 24-megapixel still images. There are also four interchangeable lenses available. This is a much more professional-level drone that costs from $6,000- $10,000 with accessories.
Learning to fly is much easier these days, now that the drones feature obstacle avoidance and can hover in place with satellite GPS. The best way to start is in an open field, where you can practice taking off, flying to a low altitude and returning home. At first, most people have a fear of crashing, so it’s best to take baby steps and learn the controls. There doesn’t seem to be any school for learning to fly a drone, but you can do so with practice. If you once flew model airplanes you have an advantage, because the remote control is similar.
Before I fly, I generally scout a location using Google Earth and then find a safe place to launch. I use the AirMap app, which tells me if it’s legal to fly in the location where I am (more on this later). I find it best to always fly with the nose forward, as the controls always remain the same whether you are coming or going.
Abandoned tennis court in Snellville, Georgia. Photo by Peter Essick.
As a still photographer, I approach drone photography by entering into either pilot mode or photographer mode. In pilot mode, I launch and fly to a spot that looks promising and hover in place. I can then start to think as a photographer, beginning to look for a pleasing composition. When I am ready to move on, I switch back into pilot mode and either navigate to another nearby location or return home to land.
Battery maintenance is a key element of drone photography. In general, a battery can last for 20-30 minutes of flight. If you want to do a fair amount of photography before recharging, you’ll need a minimum of about three batteries. You’ll need to find an electrical outlet, and it can take up to three hours to charge a set of batteries. If you are working locally, this isn’t a big issue because you can do your flying and come home to charge the batteries overnight. But if you are traveling, finding the time and place to keep your batteries charged can require some planning.
If you fly a drone larger than the DJI mini, you will need to register it with the F.A.A. at a cost of $5. If you fly commercially, you are required to get a Remote Pilot License from the F.A.A. This written test costs $150 and covers the various airspaces when you can and cannot fly. This is good information to have, and as a drone pilot myself, I would recommend that you get the license if you are serious about flying drones. However, as a practical matter, the AirMap drone app gives you all the information that you need to safely and legally fly.
Here is a short list of the rules that you need to follow:
- Maintain a visual line of sight with your drone, usually no greater than a distance of 2,500 feet.
- Fly to a maximum of 400 feet above ground level.
- Don’t fly over people.
- Fly between a half-hour before sunrise and a half-hour after sunset.
- Obey all restricted areas, such as airports, military installations, national parks and areas with temporary flight restrictions.
Construction site at Stone Mountain, Georgia. Photo by Peter Essick.
It is important to realize that there are certain areas where you cannot fly a drone. But I have found it best to focus on the many places where I can fly and not worry about where I can’t. As a nature photographer, the most obvious place where drones are off limits are all national park properties.
I’ve found drone photography to be a very creative way to see the world, and it can also be a lot of fun. No doubt you will experience some anxious moments at first, but you should eventually get over your fear of crashing. And if you do crash, Thunder Drones is a good repair company here in the Atlanta area. No worry — just get your drone repaired so you can keep learning, flying and taking great photos.
The history of photography can be seen as a series of technological advancements that allowed photographers to see the world in new ways. A drone with an integrated camera gives the photographer of today a range of views that photographers of the past could only imagine. I’m confident there will be many more advances in 3D and other methods of image capture in the years ahead. It will be up to artists in the future to learn to use those tools to expand the frontiers of photography even further. For now, I am happy using my drone to see the world in a new way.
Peter Essick is a photographer, teacher, editor and drone pilot with 30 years of experience working with National Geographic Magazine. Named one of the forty most influential nature photographers in the world by Outdoor Photography Magazine UK, Essick is the author of three books of his photographs: The Ansel Adams Wilderness, Our Beautiful, Fragile World and Fernbank Forest. After many years of traveling the world as an editorial photographer, Essick decided to focus his work on a more personal documentation of the environmental and cultural changes in his hometown of Atlanta
By Jenny Burdette
Magical. That’s the first word that comes to my mind when anyone mentions Cades Cove. Whether your goal is photographing wildlife, landscapes or historic structures, a summer visit to the Cove is perfect for viewing bears and other wildlife, flower-filled meadows and tumbling mountain streams.
Getting There: Navigating the Cove
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, the only access into Cades Cove is on Laurel Creek Road, driving west from the Townsend “Wye.” The entrance is about 20 minutes from Townsend and an hour from Gatlinburg.
As you enter Cades Cove, stop at the entrance parking area and pick up a Cades Cove Tour booklet for $1 (these are also available at the Visitors Centers at Sugarlands and Oconaluftee). The booklet contain a map and descriptions of various locations in the Cove, which is open from sunrise to sunset.
During the summer months, the Cove is closed to motorized traffic all day on Wednesdays. If photographing the historic cabins and churches is your goal, Wednesday is a great day to get in without the crowds. The Cove has some serious hills, however, so know your limits and use caution! You can walk or bike in before sunrise on any day to catch a sunrise view from Sparks Lane. The walk in and back out will be 2–4 miles, depending on how far down Sparks Lane you walk. A stream crosses Sparks about a quarter of a mile in, and after a recent rain walkers should be prepared for wet feet.
Coyote on the move. Photo by Jenny Burdette.
The main road through Cades Cove is the Loop Road, an 11-mile one-way road with historic structures spaced out along the way. The Loop is bisected by Sparks Lane and Hyatt Lane, two-way gravel roads that tend to be less heavily traveled than the Loop. Both roads have fields on each side that offer good opportunities for birding and wildlife viewing. These bisecting roads are a good option to create shorter loops, double back, or take a shortcut if the traffic becomes unbearable.
The Loop Road continues along the far end of the Cove, curving past the Visitors Center and Cable Mill, continuing past the opposite ends of Hyatt and Sparks Lanes, and ending near the campground and campground store, where you can rent bikes or purchase lunch, snacks, and souvenirs.
Wildlife in the Cove
Myriad opportunities for wildlife viewing are what draw most visitors to Cades Cove. Summer blackberries entice bears into the fields and the plentiful wild cherries of late summer attract bears to the trees lining the roads. The Cove boasts an abundance of bear, deer, and wild turkeys, and the easiest and surest way to spot them is simply to drive the Loop Road. The fields along Sparks and Hyatt Lanes also provide glimpses of bear, deer, and an occasional coyote, and offer excellent birding opportunities. You can often photograph directly from your vehicle; just pull off the road and don’t block traffic.
Black bear at Cades Cove. Photo by Jenny Burdette
Bears – even turkeys – can bring traffic to a standstill. Pull into one of the numerous pull-offs, grab your camera, and walk if you suspect that you are in a “bear jam.” Chances are, a volunteer will already be on the scene, directing traffic and trying to keep onlookers at a safe distance. When you pull off, all four tires need to be off the asphalt. If not, you will be asked to move and may miss your photo op while you are moving the car.
Park Service volunteers work diligently to keep 50 yards between bears and people, so bring your longest lens. With patience, you can get “the shot” without endangering yourself or the animal. Remember, animals involved in any interaction with humans, or those that simply become too comfortable with close human presence, often end up being euthanized. So be mindful of the animals’ safety, as well as your own.
Pileated woodpeckers are common throughout the Cove, and you may also spot an owl. Eastern Meadowlarks are common in the fields along Hyatt Lane near the Dan Lawson cabin, and songbirds are plentiful in the shrubs around the cabin, as well as in the trees near the creeks on Sparks and Hyatt.
Conventional wisdom holds that wildlife will be most visible in the early morning and late afternoon, especially on hot summer days.
Historic structures in the Cove consist of five cabins along the Loop Road and one along Forge Creek Road, three churches, and a gristmill. All are open for visitors. In the summer, a church or cabin provides a perfect anchor to the verdant green of the surrounding woods and makes a lovely composition. However, by late morning the light becomes harsh on sunny days, and the crowds at these structures challenge the landscape photographer. I recommend getting in early and heading directly to a chosen structure. Use the Cades Cove Tour booklet to develop a plan, and you may be able to photograph several structures in soft early morning light before the crowds arrive.
Golden fog along the Loop Road. Photo by Jenny Burdette
Landscapes: Sweeping Vistas and Intimate Close-ups
The early morning light in Cades Cove is truly magical, and morning fog often enhances the magic. More than once, I have entered the Cove with a definite plan, only to be completely sidetracked by gorgeous golden light and fog.
Sparks and Hyatt Lanes both offer iconic spots to photograph the road flanked by stands of trees and tall meadow grasses pushing along the fence line. The horses from the stables are usually in the fields along the intersection of Sparks and the Loop Road and can add some interest to a landscape image.
Driving along the Loop Road between Sparks and Hyatt Lanes offers some beautiful landscapes of fields, with a lone tree and towering mountains in the background. In summer, some of these fields will be covered in Queen Ann’s Lace, yellow wildflowers, or thick golden grasses.
Photo by Jenny Burdette
The far end of the Loop Road, between the Missionary Baptist Church and the Visitor Center, offers some beautiful, sweeping views of the mountain ranges surrounding the Cove. The hiking trail to the Elijah Oliver cabin begins in this area and has beautiful glades of thick ferns, offering wonderful opportunities to shoot intimate landscapes. The Abrams trailhead has beautiful views of Abrams creek, and Forge Creek Road meanders creekside for several miles with attractive views of tumbling water. You can access Forge Creek Road at the Visitor Center/Cable Mill parking area.
A summer visit to Cades Cove provides views of leafy woods, lush meadows, and abundant wildlife. Expect crowds, and plan accordingly. Get into the Cove as early as possible; a park ranger unlocks the gate at sunrise, and serious photographers are there waiting. As the crowds increase mid-day, consider heading back to town for lunch. Or bring a picnic and spend some time streamside in the picnic area. Or perhaps take a hike on one of the many trails visible from the Loop Road; just pick one and explore for a bit when you need a break from the traffic. However you choose to spend your time, every day spent in Cades Cove is magical.
Jenny Burdette is an avid nature photographer and conservationist. Her work has appeared on the covers and pages of Georgia’s Great Places magazine, Birds and Blooms magazine, and Living Bird, the membership magazine for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Her images are featured in the Visitor Centers and other buildings at several of Georgia’s state parks. Jenny currently serves as a Member at Large on GNPA’s Board and is a member of GNPA’s Conservation and Communication committees.
Mike Ramy, Decatur Chapter
In our newsletters, we feature short profiles of GNPA members from across the state. In this issue, it’s Mike Ramy, of the Decatur Chapter.
When did you become a GNPA member? I joined in 2016.
What is your occupation? I own and operate Rock Art, Ltd., doing specialized epoxy applications in the motorsports and aerospace industries.
How did you get into photography? I started as an underwater videographer in the mid 1970s, which led to my transition into full-time still photography in 2011. Editor’s note: Mike’s photography website is www.MikieProductions.com.
What are your favorite photography subjects? Nature and wildlife, as well as the guests I host having fun on my photography tours.
What are your favorite places to shoot? Rivers of the Southeast.
What would be your photographic “dream trip”? I conduct my two “dream trips” each year in the form of photography tours. One is a sandhill crane tour on the Tennessee River aboard my custom-built camera boat. The other is a spring break tour on the St. Johns River in Florida.
Which camera body and lenses do you use most often? Canon 1DX MII and MIII with a 70-200 and 100-400 telephotos.
What are your go-to websites for photography information? They are www.naturephotographers.network/ and www.naturephotographers.net/audioslideshows/wnpbirds.html
Have any photographers inspired you? Yes, especially Mark Seaver (http://seaverphotos.zenfolio.com), Brad Hill (http://www.naturalart.ca), Howard Cheek (http://www.howardcheekphotography.com), Alan Murphy (https://www.alanmurphyphotography.com) and Max Waugh (https://www.maxwaugh.com).
What’s your favorite part of belonging to GNPA? The membership of fine people and talented photographers.
Something interesting about you that most people do not know: Not sure what people find interesting anymore. I am finding truth in the old adage: “The older I get, the less I seem to know.”
Where are you from? Atlanta.
Tell us a little about the photos you have provided:
Chickamauga Chickadee – During a visit to the Chickamauga National Military Park to feel the history and enjoy the fall colors, I was privileged to have this Chickadee share some time with me. As one of my favorite images in the series, with the late afternoon sun setting the background leaves aglow, it gave me the feeling of how it may have appeared back in September of 1863 as the cannons fired during this historic battle in Northwestern Georgia. The Chickamauga Chickadee allowed me to see the beauty of nature in a place where you can feel the sadness of war. Canon 7D Mark II at 1/250, f9, Flash Exp Comp -1, ISO 400 at 400mm.
Apart from the Crowd – A very thick fog lay over the Tennessee River during our predawn departure from the marina at Bluewater Resort, so thick that you could hardly see the front of the boat.It was a slow go towards our planned position to see the Sandhill Cranes leaving the roost in and around the Hiwassee National Wildlife Refuge for their daily feeding excursions. Wave after wave, thousands of cranes head north for nearly two hours but this morning was different as the group take-offs were in a weather delay. This image was one of the many sandbars on the east side of the river between the marina and the refuge, and shows the cranes backlit by the rising sun filtered through the thick fog and the trees on the distant shoreline. Canon 1D X Mark II: 1/800, f6.3, Exp Comp +1 2/3, ISO 200 at 400mm.
Waiting – Julie Newsome, a participant on Mike’s Spring Break Photogaphy tour, provided the coments for this image: “…we glided with the current along the Ocklawaha River through the Ocala National Forest near the St John’s River. These beautiful Cattle Egrets, photographed by Mike, appear clearly intent on an unrevealed focal point; most likely a consideration for a potential meal or a birdcall from an unseen origin. Only if a slight breeze ruffles their perfect feathers is there a hint these birds are alive. Poised in rapt attention they appear as exquisite, detailed carvings by a master sculptor. I am deeply moved by the diversity of the environment surrounding me, and changed from the exposure to the wonders I’ve had the privilege to witness first-hand on this beautiful river. Once isn’t enough. I must go back again.”