Christmas Day in the Blue Ridge Mountains

December 29, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Every year, I get up on Christmas Morning and go out to shoot the sunrise.  It is pretty much similar to all the other sunrises with the exception of getting to open presents when I get home!

I recently picked up a Pentax k3 and a Pentax DA* 60-250 f4.  I have REALLY loved this combo so far!  I love the range of this lens, along with the constant aperture.  It is plenty sharp and really high in contrast.  And I really like the big sunstars...  I would have killed for some snow or frost this morning, but grey trees is all I had to work with for a foreground.

Winter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Images taken at Fox Hunters Paradise on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Fox Hunters Paradise is an overlook located on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the Virginia/North Carolina line.

The thing I am getting used to on my new Pentax k3 is how I meter the scene.  With my Canon 5dii, I would meter to basically blow out the highlights because the shadow recovery was pretty terrible(but it was really good at highlight detail).  With the Pentax, the camera clips the highlights much sooner but has far better shadow detail.  The photo above was basically black on the bottom when shot.  

Because of some family obligations, I went to Fox Hunters Paradise on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It's fairly close to my house and offers a really nice view of where the Peidmont meets the Blue Ridge Mountains, plus a nice view of Pilot mountain(the nipple shaped hill out there).

At first I wasn't sure how nice the sunrise was gonna be, there were some really thick clouds on the horizon preventing any light from coming through.  (I think the redish light in the below photo is light pollution) Taken with the Pentax DA 12-24.

Winter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Images taken at Fox Hunters Paradise on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Fox Hunters Paradise is an overlook located on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the Virginia/North Carolina line. After sitting at the overlook for a few minutes, I headed just a little further south to a big open spot on the parkway.  I wanted just a bit of a different angle on Pilot Mountain.  Before mounting the 60-250, I took one more with the 12-24.  This lens has been very good, just not as good as I would like.  I am going to continue trying to make the most of it, but will be looking for alternatives. 

Winter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Images taken at Fox Hunters Paradise on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Fox Hunters Paradise is an overlook located on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the Virginia/North Carolina line. A little bit of color started to shine in the higher elevation clouds, and a break in the lower clouds let us see through.

Winter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Images taken at Fox Hunters Paradise on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Fox Hunters Paradise is an overlook located on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the Virginia/North Carolina line. At this point, I was kinda running up against the clock.  I really wanted to wait for the sun to rise up above the clouds, but really had to hit the road for a family get-together.  As I was leaving I decided to stop by Fox Hunter's Paradise one more time...  And I gotta say I got lucky!

Winter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Fox Hunters ParadiseWinter Images taken at Fox Hunters Paradise on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Fox Hunters Paradise is an overlook located on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the Virginia/North Carolina line. Man I just love crepuscular rays, golden clouds, and sunstars!  The scene literally went from a dreary grey-blue to bright and gold in the time it took me to drive a half mile.

After having some dinner with the family(basically eating and then me dominating my nephews in NCAA 2015), my wife was ready for a nap and I was ready to be outside again!  

I headed for the High Meadows Trail near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I had just learned about this trail while I was cruising Google Maps the other day.  I was looking at the 'green' spots near the Blue Ridge Music Center and noticed the Fisher Peak Road.  After a quick Google search I ended up reading about the Fishers Peak Trail that is accessed by the Blue Ridge Music Center.  I grabbed the Fearless Yorkie and hit the road!

blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even with no leaves I always find the Parkway Beautiful.  I really liked the light coming in from the side in the above photo.

A little further down the road I spotted some nice lichen covered fence posts.

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Once I got to the Music Center, all I really remember seeing was tons of red berries!  With a little more patience, I may be able to catch some birds in these bushes... but with a dog and tow and only a 250mm lens... I was just snapping photos of berries.

blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail takes you by these big open meadows.

blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. With the sun getting lower on the horizon, my attention switched to all the tall grass shooting up out of the shadows.

blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. blue ridge music center areablue ridge music center areaimages from near the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hope your Christmas was a fun as mine!  


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