For many of us, spring symbolizes new beginnings and rebirths both spiritually and emotionally. It is no different for outdoor photographers. After being stuck inside most of the winter, I can’t wait to get out on the trail in springtime to soak in nature.
Hints of the season in Tennessee begin in late February as weather patterns start to change. Buds begin to appear, daffodils break through the surface leaf litter and wildlife becomes much more active. The days grow warmer and longer; the landscape and forest floors explode with countless brightly colored blooms. The trees paint their own landscape above with a cloak colored in the hundreds of shades of “spring green.”
For me, it’s almost a sensory overload the first few times I hike in the spring. “What to photograph?” That is the question — nesting birds, migrating warblers, wildflowers, wildlife and its newborns, abstracts or all of the above. I went for an all-of-the-above approach on a hike last spring and found this abstract that tells its own story.
Exploring the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains for several hours, I found dwarf crested irises and showy orchids to photograph just after sunrise. Knowing I wouldn’t have much time before the warmth of the sun would create enough of a breeze that the flowers would be moving too much to get a sharp photograph, I worked quickly while the tiny subjects were still. Then I moved on to the nearby mountain stream. As the sun rose, it created the beautiful reflections you see here on the surface.
The river was up at its banks as spring rains had moved through the day before. Pouring over the granite rocks as it has for thousands of years, the river created its own patterns as reflections cast across its surface.
I chose an interesting composition with water moving at different speeds and areas of strong reflections. To capture the energy of the river, I chose a slow shutter speed so the movement of the water would be evident in the image, blurring more where the water moved faster and less around eddies.
After shooting way too many images, I did put my camera down and just sat for a while, soaking in the river and all it had to say.