In doing my research before heading out to Great Smoky Mountain National Park the ‘best’ place for sunset seemed to consistently be listed as ‘Clingman’s Dome’ but I was pretty unimpressed – it might be because you are forced to stay in one spot since it isn’t all that big and I like to move around. It could also be because it was FREEZING up there and completely exposed to a harsh wind and I wasn’t dressed nearly as warm as I should have been since on the ‘ground’ level the trees were blocking most of the wind so it felt about twenty degrees warmer. By the time the sun dipped behind the mountain I am pretty sure I hate snot-cicles sticking to my cheeks and I couldn’t feel my fingers. I was also disappointed that I had to zoom in so far in order to crop out a bunch of junk that would have in the foreground of the shot – the terrain in the distance was beautiful but I had to crop in (this was shot at 105mm) so I wasn’t able to fit everything in the frame that I wanted to.
Sunset from Clingman’s Dome (Smoky Mountain National Park)
I am trying to do more manual blending of exposures now using Raya Pro instead of using a software program (I used to use Photomatix) which in hindsight I think ‘overcooks’ the pictures a little much – even when you pull back on the effect by blending in the originals. In this photo I used four shots at different exposures and toned in Lightroom to blend in the sky and the foreground as natural as I could get it. I was really happy with the way the sky turned out as the setting sun was clearly visible and with my ‘naked’ eye I was able to see all the detail in the rolling mountains fading into the distance.