Forum Login

Fall Color Workshop 
Great Smoky National Park
October, 2001

Workshop Members & Guides — Left To Right

John Long, Tony Shum, Steve Kossack, Michael Reichmann, Fred Arscott, 
Jeffrey Behr, Chris Sanderson, David Graham, Martin Green, Jerry Witt

In late 2000 I spent a couple of months shooting in the mountains of Northern Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. In planning my Fall 2001 workshop it therefore was a natural to choose Great Smoky National Park and the Blue Ridge Highway.

This page gives a brief overview of the October 2001 workshop and some images that I produced that weekend. If you'd like to learn more about this fascinating locale here's a good place to start

As participants photographs become available there will be additional links placed here. 

David Graham  Steve Kossack  Jeffrey Behr  Jerry Witt  Fred Arscott  Martin Greene  Tony Shum

Colour — What Colour?

What if one held a fall colour workshop, and there was no colour? That's what happened to my mid-October workshop in Great Smoky National Park. Smoky is one of the world's finest locations for fall foliage, with more species of trees than all of northern Europe.

Unfortunately a confluence of cold weather, rain (or lack thereof) and various other imponderable factors created one of the worst fall colour seasons in years. Nevertheless, having planned and anticipated our get-together for some six months, we met in Townsend, Tennessee on a weekend in mid-October, and spent 3 days exploring the park as well as the lower 50 miles of the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.

Even without great colour this year this mountainous region of Tennessee and North Carolina never disappoints with its mountains, sweeping fog-filled valleys and fascinating waterfalls.

Orange Ridge — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 300mm f/4.0 Apo-Tele-Xenar lens on Provia 100F


Even without the intense colours that a good Smoky October produces there were abundant opportunities for enjoyable and instructive photography. I'm always partial to more subtle colour opportunities and this backlight tree in Cades Cove is one such example.

Cades Colour — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 180mm f/2.8 Tele-Xenar lens on Provia 100F

Working Together

For me, the pleasure of conducting an in-the-field landscape workshop is meeting with and working closely alongside the participants. This was a great group, and we had a lot of fun both shooting together as well as spending some social time while driving between locations, at meals, and in the evenings.

Where did Michael say the shot was?

The Blue Ridge Parkway
Shenandoah's Skyline Drive

In addition to shooting in Great Smoky we spent almost half our time during the workshop shooting along the lower 50 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Before the workshop, Chris Sanderson, producer of The Video Journal and I spent 3 days driving the almost 600 mile length of the combined Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge. Running from the outskirts of Washington DC almost to Georgia, this continuous road is one of the most beautiful in the world. No stores, no billboards, no restaurants, no gas stations — nothing except a gentle two-lane road running through some of the most exquisite scenery in North America.

Blue Ridge Cows — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 300mm f/4.0 Apo-Tele-Xenar lens on Provia 100F

Though we drove through 4 States on our way south from Toronto we rarely saw decent Fall colour. It was a bad year almost everywhere along our route. Yet, a few places offered both some colour along with this sort of bucolic scenery.

The two mornings during the workshop that we shot from the Parkway didn't offer much in the way of exciting early morning light, but at this time of year there is always fog in the valleys. These two frames were taken just a few minutes apart from nearby overlooks.

Smokey Valley — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 300mm f/4.0 Apo-Tele-Xenar lens on Provia 100F

Layered Sky  — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 300mm f/4.0 Apo-Tele-Xenar lens on Provia 100F

The massive cold front that covered most of North America that weekend produced some of the clearest skies I've ever seen in this area. But, when served a lemon, make lemonade.

Lonely Sky — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 180mm f/2.8 Tele-Xenar lens on Provia 100F

The Last Sunset

Sunday evening found us at a west-facing overlook on the Blue Ridge, not far from Waynesville. This was the end of the workshop and we all hoped for a decent sunset. The Smoky's famous hazy layered mountains were in evidence but the huge high pressure area that had dominated the continent's weather pattern for several days continued to haunt us.

Just as the sun was sinking below the distant mountains it managed to illuminate some wispy clouds overhead, providing some interest in the sky.

Blue Ridge Skyscape — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 40mm f/3.5 Super Angulon lens on Provia 100F

Seconds after the above frame was taken I switched from my Rollei's widest lens, the Schneider 40mm Super Angulon (24mm equivalent) to my longest, the Schneider 300mm Apo-Tele-Xenar (180mm equivalent). These two frames were right next to each other on the roll.

  Blue Ridge Sunset — 2001

Photographed with a Rollei 6008i and 300mm f/4.0 Apo-Tele-Xenar lens on Provia 100F

When sunset was over we slowly packed up and somewhat reluctantly drove back to our base of the previous two days, the town of Maggie Valley. We found a great little Tex-Mex restaurant and closed out our four nights and three days together with some good food and drink. 

Filed Under:  

show page metadata

Concepts: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Mountains, Cades Cove, Asheville, North Carolina, Sky

Entities: Townsend, Washington DC, Toronto, Waynesville, Rollei 6008i, Skyscape, North America, Europe, Great Smoky National Park, gas stations, Maggie Valley, Smokey Valley, Michael Reichmann, Chris Sanderson, Schneider, Michael, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia

Tags: Blue Ridge, Rollei, Blue Ridge Parkway, workshop, fall colour, Apo-Tele-Xenar lens, lower 50 miles, Provia, 100F, Great Smoky, fall colour workshop, Super Angulon, North America, nearby blue ridge, October 2001 workshop, fall colour seasons, Blue Ridge Cows, Smoky National Park, decent fall colour, Blue Ridge Skyscape, subtle colour opportunities, in-the-field landscape workshop, sweeping fog-filled valleys, schneider 40mm super, gentle two-lane road, little tex-mex restaurant, mid-October workshop, early morning light, huge high pressure, great colour, Orange Ridge, widest lens, weekend, good smoky, workshop shooting, fascinating locale, fall foliage, Cades Cove, imponderable factors, nearby overlooks