Tag Archives: Great Smoky Mountains

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

 

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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

Clifty Falls Wildflowers| Wood Poppy

Once again I have fallen behind in posting to this site or my other Portrait  site for that matter as well.  I took a wildflower photography vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then took a family vacation down there as well.  Also five straight weekends of weddings in May didn’t help matters as well, so maybe now I can post some of the great images I was able to capture the last couple months !!

But first here is another wildflower image I was able to capture at Clifty Falls State Park here in Madison Indiana. This wonderful specimen is a Wood Poppy and according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia…

Stylophorum diphyllum (celandine-poppy, wood poppy, poppywort) is a herbaceous perennial native to moist woodland in eastern North America, valued for its yellow flowers. The common name is derived from greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), a closely related European plant with similarly shaped leaves and similarly coloured and shaped flowers.

Plants grow about 1.5 feet tall from rhizomes. Leaves are pinnately cut and lobed. They grow from the base and off the flowering stems. Apart from its normal sap, Stylophorum diphyllum produces a yellow-orange latex that stains.

In spring, the deep yellow flowers of the Wood Poppy appear as a brilliant display on the forest floor. It comes as no surprise that the other common names of this plant are “Yellow Poppy” and “Celandine Poppy”. Members of the Poppy Family are characterized by their production of latex, which in the case of the Wood Poppy is yellow. The flowers have 4 yellow petals, two soon falling sepals, many yellow-orange stamens, and a single knobby stigma. They appear in umbels of one or more flowers from early spring to early summer.

After fertilization, a bristly blue-green pod hangs below the leaves. Seeds with white elaiosomes ripen in midsummer and the pod opens by four flaps.

Plants are relatively long lived and readily self-seed under garden conditions, where they are grown under full to part shade.

The Wood Poppy is a beautiful wildflower but they are extremely hard to photograph at times, the bloom is so big it tends to make the plant droop over making it hard to focus on the inside of the bloom. I captured this one right as it bloomed from the bud and hadn’t gotten a chance to fall over.

So here is the image and I hope you like it and I also hope you take the opportunity to get out and photograph or just observe the many different variates of wildflowers that grow here in Southern Indiana ad in your neck of the woods as well !!

 

 

wood poppy 1 clifty falls state park madison indiana 2014

Blue-Eyed Mary | Madison Indiana

Here are a couple more shots of one of the many varieties  of wildflowers that cover the landscape here in Southern Indiana, the Blue-Eyed Mary is another one of the beautiful blue colored wildflowers that are a favorite to view and photograph !!

According to Wikipedia…

Collinsia parviflora is a species of flowering plant in the Plantaginaceae known by the common names maiden blue eyed Mary and small-flowered collinsia. This tiny wildflower is a common plant throughout much of western and northern North America, where it grows in moist, shady mountain forests. This is an annual plant with a spindly reddish stem and narrow lance-shaped green leaves with edges that curl under. The minuscule flowers grow singly or in loose clusters of several. Each flower has five lobes, the lower deep blue to purple and the upper white. The whole corolla is only a few millimeters across.

I  find Clifty Falls State Park is a favorite place to find them in mass colonies along the bottom part of trail 8 leading down onto the gorge, this specimen  grows along rocky stream beds and along old road beds as well.

They are just another one of the great wildflowers that grow here and are a fantastic subject to capture, hope you enjoy the pics and thanks for taking a look !!

 

 

blue eyed mary 2 2014 clifty falls state park madison indiana

 

 

blue eyed mary 1 2014 clifty falls state park madison indiana

 

 

Large Flowering Trillium| Great Smoky Mountains National Park

OK …I can’t take it anymore I am posting a image of a wildflower just hoping for some kinda of karma and maybe winter will finally get pushed out of Madison Indiana once and for all. Reason being is I woke up to more cold temps and a fresh blanket of snow again today, last year at this time I was already photographing blood root here at Clifty Falls State Park and all the other wildflowers were getting ready to put on a show, but not this year !!

I was reading another photographers blog when I came across a post by Howard Grill  

Springs A Comin‘ | Motivation – Howard Grill

And it did motivate me lol !!

So just for my sanity here is a beautiful Trillium that I photographed in the GSMNP  a couple years back, I found it on the Cucumber Gap Trail and liked how it was isolated away from the other plants and was well shadowed in amongst a fallen tree.  Cucumber Gap is becoming one of my favorite trails in the park because of the wonderful array of wildflowers and it is also a fairly easy and less crowded trail to hike.

Hopefully I will  be able to spend some time at the park this year especially if they get spring weather a little earlier than we do, I will definitely high tail it down there for a shoot and some wonderful warm weather which seems like something I haven’t experienced in quite some time now. Thanks for stopping by and taking  a look at my photography !!

 

                                                                                                                                   large flowering trillium gsmnp 1