Monthly Archives: July 2014

Luna Moth | Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Wildflowers aren’t they only thing I get to photograph, here is an example of a wonderful Luna Moth that I came across on a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I found this wonderful subject laying on a boulder getting ready to take flight, and for what seemed like an eternity this beautiful flying flower stayed in this one position and let me capture some really incredible images of it !!

I was really blessed to find such a beautiful and majestic creature, most specimens of moths that I come across seemed to be severely battered, but this beauty was in all it’s glory and I was so thankful for such an experience. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look, hope you enjoy the image !!

 

 

luna moth great smoky mountain national park 2014

 

Synchronous Fireflies | Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In early June I was able to attend an event I have been hoping to see for quite some time, and that is the Synchronous Fireflies of the Great Smoky Mountains. Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns.
Fireflies (also called lightning bugs) are beetles. They take from one to two years to mature from larvae, but will live as adults for only about 21 days. While in the larval stage, the insects feed on snails and smaller insects. Once they transform into their adult form, they do not eat.

Their light patterns are part of their mating display. Each species of firefly has a characteristic flash pattern that helps its male and female individuals recognize each other.  Most species produce a greenish-yellow light; one species has a bluish light.  The males fly and flash and the usually stationary females respond with a flash. Peak flashing for synchronous fireflies in the park is normally within a two-week period in late May to mid-June.

No one is sure why the fireflies flash synchronously. Competition between males may be one reason: they all want to be the first to flash. Or perhaps if the males all flash together they have a better chance of being noticed, and the females can make better comparisons.

The fireflies do not always flash in unison. They may flash in waves across hillsides, and at other times will flash randomly. Synchrony occurs in short bursts that end with abrupt periods of darkness.

Here is a pic from the Firefly Event,  the pic doesn’t do it justice. This is truly an event that must be witnessed, even after a few days I still couldn’t convey the words on exactly what happened !!

The lights from the fireflies moved in waves up and down Elkmont Valley where we positioned ourselves, the pattern seemed to start far from us and be in strips of thousands of lights and would then stream across the bottom right toward us and then stop at our feet.

Then continuing on across the road at our backs towards the other side of the valley floor. There would be burst of 5 flashes quickly then it would stop for 10 seconds or so and then repeat in an almost frenzied fashion !!

The human reaction was incredible, when we first arrived hundreds of people were packed along the old roadbed that runs along the valley floor, many with lawn chairs and blankets making you think you were attending a fireworks show.

At first as the light faded you could feel the crowd growing impatient, people were laughing and talking and when one little firefly would appear they would remark is that it…I even began to wonder myself !!

The Park Rangers assured us to be patient and wait for the show, When it started the crowd was amazing, people at fireworks display usually oh and ah thru the whole event, but here there was an incredible silence as if the fear of your voice would scare them off and they would stop the beautiful display they were sharing with us.

Many in the crowd were brought to tears, including my wife, they were overwhelmed with such joy and amazement that the emotion displayed was almost as cool as the fireflies !!

Ok after this way too long post here is the pic, like I said before they are not that good and they don’t really represent what I witnessed but it is something I will have forever to help me remember that warm wonderful summer evening !!

fireflys 2 2014


Porter’s Creek Trail| Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Here are a few more images from another great trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Porter’s Creek might be my favorite trail for wildflowers and that’s because of one small little flower and that’s the White Fringed Phacelia, or should I say millions of them !!

Walking this trail starts out with a nice gentle trail that has many of the different flowers that grace the park, but after traveling up the trail for a mile you cross over a very entertaining log bridge and then walk into a different world. All across the floor of the gorge and up the side of the mountain are millions upon millions of these little flowers, it actually looks like you had just experienced a snow fall.

It seems like it is right out of the Lord of the Rings or some other fantasy movie, it is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  The actual bloom is about the size of a nickel which isn’t the largest broom out there, but when you have several million growing together it makes for an incredible sight to witness.

If you ever get a chance to travel to the park in the spring this another one of those great hikes you will be glad you took. So here are a few shots from the hike, I included a macro version of one the plants and then some of the actual trail itself, thanks for stopping by and taking a look !!

 

gsmnp 2013 fringed phracillia  5

 

 

 

portrers creek trail fringed phacilia 4 2014 great smoky mountain national park

 

 

portrers creek trail fringed phacilia 1 2014 great smoky mountain national park

Wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains

Here are a few more images from a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This time I thought I might share a few shots from the Cucumber Gap Trail “love the name” a trail which begins just above the Elkmont campground and makes a wonderful 5 mile loop that travels up thru a lovely hardwood forest and then loops back along a rushing boulder strewn river.

The trail is covered in beautiful wildflowers and here are an example of three that I really liked, Painted Trillium,Foam Flower and Beaked Violet. These are just a few of the indelible number of wildflowers that grow in the Smoky Mountains.  I just wish I had the time to share all of them, I hope you enjoy these and if you ever get to the park in the spring definitely make Cucumber Gap Trail a must for any hike you take !!

 

 

Painted Trillium

 

 

painted trillium great smoky mountain national park 1 2014

 

Foam Flower

 

foam flower 1 2014

 

 

Beaked Violet

 

beaked violet 1 2014

Wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I thought it might be time to move on from the wildflowers we have here in Madison Indiana and venture on to my favorite spot to photograph and that’s the The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee.  If I could only have one place to photograph at for the rest of my life it would be here, the diversity of flora and fauna and not to mention the incredible landscape opportunities make the GSMNP  a photographers dream.

This past April we made a trip down to hike and work all the great spots for wildflower images. Even though wildflowers cover nearly the entire park there are spots where if you make the trip you have to visit and these include Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, White-oak Sinks, Chimney’s Top, Porters Creek and Cucumber Gap. These are all fantastic trails to view and photograph wildflowers and they are also relatively easy hikes as well !!

I won’t share many images from each trail but I thought I might just share a few today and post more later. First we have some shots from Cove Hardwood Nature trail. I hope you enjoy the images and if you ever travel to the Park in the spring these trails are a must see on your visit !!

 

 

 

Yellow Trillium

cove hardwood nature trail yellow trillium 1 2014

 

Large Flowering Trillium

 

cove hardwood nature trail trillium 3 2014

 

 

Sweet White Trillium

 

 

cove hardwood nature trail trillium 1 2014

 

Wild Columbine | Clifty Falls State Park…Madison Indiana

More wildflowers, today’s post is about a another hard one to photograph and that is the Wild Columbine.  The Columbine is a beautiful example of a hanging wildflower that tends to grow out of large boulders and cliffs that are found in Clifty falls State Park.

The color and structure of this specimen are amazing,  red and yellow colors and the hanging bell shape bloom make for a wonderful composition. The tend to bloom in late April and I find most my shoot-able subjects amongst the rocks and boulders in the canyons and gorges of Southern Indiana.

They are a wonderful subject to photograph but they tend to also be a very hard one to photograph as well. Once again a slight breeze will cause the stem to sway making for blurred images even with a tripod, so a fast shutter speed is is a must to get sharp images. Even though they can be a bear to shoot sometimes they are definitely worth the trouble and always make for a great composition.

So here are couple images of the Wild Columbine, I hope you enjoy the pics and if you get a chance to find some next spring they are definitely worth the effort to photograph them.

 

wild columbine 1 2014 clifty falls state park madison indiana

 

 

 

wild columbine 2 2014 clifty falls state park madison indiana

Bishop’s Cap | Clifty falls Wildflowers

One of the coolest little wildflowers that I photograph is the Bishop’s Cap (Mitrewort) this is without a doubt the smallest wildflower I have ever captured. The bloom itself is about the size of a pea and it grows on about 6 inch tall slender stems any slight air motion will cause them to sway, which makes photographing these species one of the hardest I have attempted. They bloom in early to mid April and love the deep forested canyons of Clifty falls State Park, you can also find them in the heavily forested areas that cover many parts of our county. The bloom itself is very beautiful and has a very cool structure to it.

Photographing this wildflower definitely requires a tripod and somewhat fast shutter speeds, a macro lens as well will give you the best results.  And probably the most important aspect of getting the best shot is patience and lots of it. As I said before not just wind sends this subject into a shake but any air flow at all will keep this wildflower moving for long periods of time even in what you may think are calm conditions.

Here is what I think is probably my best shot to date of this little gem, I am posting the first one as the actual plant size and the second image is a cropped version and as you can tell it is a bit soft from air movement.

I hope you enjoy the images and description and thanks for stopping by !!

 

bishop's cap 2 2014 clifty falls state park madison indiana

 

 

 

bishop's cap 3 2014 clifty falls state park madison indiana