This week I spent several days in the eastern Kentucky Mountains. There was no internet access in the cottage I stayed in so I was off the grid; actually that was a good thing because it allowed me to relax and read some Elmore Leonard western stories instead of banging on a keyboard. I shot quite a lot of multiple exposures for HDR processing which I plan to work on this weekend.
I did quite a bit of hiking and learned that I need to spend more time hiking just to get myself in shape for mountain photography. When a trail marker says it is only 1/4 mile long that doesn’t mean it won’t be strenuous. I don’t think there was a single moment when I wasn’t walking uphill or wishing for level ground. By the third day I was beginning to develop a some stamina and felt a little stronger.
I was staying at Pine Mountain State Resort Park and made a couple of trips to Cumberland Gap National Park where I met the Park Ranger, Scott Teodorski. Scott is a photographer himself; he gave me some suggestions for places to shoot and I took his advice. I’m glad I stopped in the visitor center first because I might have missed seeing Pinnacle Overlook and Iron Furnace without Scott’s suggestions to see them.
New rule: Always talk to the Park Ranger when you go to a new spot to shoot. The insights and passion they have for their park will lead you to see things that you might otherwise overlook.
I took a drive to Kingdom Come Sate Park which was about sixty miles north of Pineville. The views from the top are amazing and even though I was well past the golden hour I’m glad I scouted it out. The Park Headquarters are at an overlook that is almost 3000 feet in altitude. Once again I went in to meet the park ranger and get his advice about where to travel in the park. There is a road through the park named Shepherd’s Trail that I learned from the ranger was very scenic but that also could be treacherous in winter. It passes around the north side of the mountain and isn’t plowed outside the park boundary; he advised me not to attempt it in my two wheel drive pickup as there were many hairpins and switchbacks and there might still be snow on the road.
I took a new Phottix brand Variable Neutral Density filter with me, that I picked up from Outdoor Photo Gear, and did some testing with it at Iron Furnace. I’ll write up my review soon and share some of the images I shot with it. All in all it is a great addition to my gear though it does have a couple of quirks that bugged me.