Posted by: kerryl29 | April 27, 2022

Candle Lighting

I’m nearing the end of another photo trip–this one to Great Smoky Mountains National Park–which will be chronicled on this blog at some point in the future. But the experience reminded me of something that I think is worth sharing now, because its impact is, if not universal, broadly applicable.

As I’m sure everyone reading these words already knows in some form or fashion, things don’t always work out exactly the way we hope. (Duh.) Unlike last year’s Alaska trip, which I’m in the midst of describing in a series of posts that began during the Truman Administration, conditions have been considerably less than ideal in the Smokies. While fall color was outstanding throughout the Alaska trip, the spring bloom in the Smokies this year has been…not the best. The dogwood bloom was disappointing, the wildflower bloom was a bit earlier than anticipated and my time in the area has taken place during a relentless series of sunny days. The wind has been a fairly regular annoyance as well. (Note: breezy, sunny days are particularly undesirable for photographing in an area like the Smokies, due to the prevalence of things that blow in the wind (foliage, flowers) and don’t show well in mixed light (woodlands, waterways).)

But despite all of those misfortunes, I think I’ve managed to produce a good set of images on this trip. Part of the key has been to get out at the margins of the day, when the wind tends to be muted and the light is even.

Every bit as important: attitude: while the circumstances have been disappointing, I’ve tried very hard to focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t.

So, instead of spending my time considering how annoying it has been not to have marvelously flowering dogwoods everywhere, I’ve investigated carefully and isolated those trees that are in good shape. Rather than think about all of the hours when excellent stream locations, like Tremont and Greenbrier, are unphotographable, I’ve spent the down hours scouting both locations, noting the spots that have the most promise, and hitting them during the limited hours when the light is good. Rather than becoming frustrated with the difficulty of photographing even diffused subjects during the windy midday hours, I’ve made a special effort to locate flowers in sheltered nooks and crannies. And instead of lamenting the subjects I hoped to find but, due to the subpar conditions, can’t, I’ve focused my efforts on the exercise of revealing those places and subjects that are available to me in creative ways.

In short, image volume may well be comparatively low for this trip, due to the limited opportunities. But I’m fairly confident that overall quality won’t be compromised. I’ll take that tradeoff every day of the week.

Despite everything that’s been wrong, I must be doing something right.

White Trillium, Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Note: the above image was produced during a previous trip to the Smokies, in April of 2013



  1. As Robert Burns wrote: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley.” To which modern Americans seem to reply: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

    • “To a Mouse”….

  2. Your many years of experience in the field, understanding of conditions (good and bad), and dedication to the craft enable you to make the most of any situation. Quality over quantity is never a bad thing…and think of the time saved at the processing end of things!

    • Thanks, Ellen! And you’re right, to the extent that image processing time is lessened, you won’t hear me complaining about it.

  3. It is the mark of your creativity and flexibility of mind that you see the situation this way, Kerry. Always an inspiration. Trillium cove is stunning. I look forward to seeing the upcoming results.

    • Thanks, Lynn. Cursing the darkness gets old.

      The truth of the matter is, the string of blue sky days got pretty frustrating after awhile. I’d scouted everything there was to scout; I even took a couple of midday hikes, just to do something, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to photograph. But I really did try to make the very most of the relatively few shootable hours.

  4. […] This is something I’ve done many times before, at many different locations. Partly due to the conditions I experienced during the trip, there were numerous occasions when this sort of subject matter was the best thing […]

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