Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Showy Orchis

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Showy Orchis

Smoky Mtn Wildflower: Showy Orchis
Smoky Mtn Wildflower: Showy Orchis © William Britten use with permission only

Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) is, as the name implies, in the Orchid family. It’s a spectacular discovery, when you find it. But as a matter of fact, both times I’ve stumbled on this beauty have been at the edges of parking lots. Not exactly the distinguished presentation that might be expected for such a regal flower. But sure enough, the wildflower books say that Showy Orchis likes the disturbed edges of roads and trails … so start your search there!

I’ve seen Showy Orchis near the first parking area in the Chimneys Picnic Area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and also at the edge of the parking area for Porters Creek Trail, which is where the photo above was taken. The Bud Ogle Nature Trail is also a good area to look.

This wildflower blooms in April at the lower elevations.

Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis)
Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) © William Britten use with permission only

After your wildflower hike, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtn Photography at theWilliam Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

 

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Toothwort

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Toothwort

Smoky Mountain Wildflowers: Toothwort
Smoky Mountain Wildflowers: Toothwort © William Britten – use with permission only

Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla) is another one of those tiny Smoky Mountain wildflowers that look so inconsequential when you gaze down on them from above. But get down to their level, especially with a magnifying glass or macro lens, and the delicate beauty is breathtaking.

The Toothwort leaves were used as wild salad greens by Smoky Mountains folk. Below is the Broadleaf variety of Toothwort, found along the Bud Ogle Nature Trail and many other areas of the Smoky Mountains during April.

Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla)
Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla) © William Britten use with permission only

Toothwort blooms early along the damp, rich woodland hillsides that border so many of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Look for the scalloped three-part leaves and the little four-petal blossom. The photo below shows the Cut-leaved variation of Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata), identified by the deeply-cut narrow leaves. It was found along the Chestnut Top Trail in late March.

Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata)
Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata) © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

wildflowers photos

Those Crazy Kayakers

Those Crazy Kayakers

Kayaking in the Smoky Mountains
Kayaking on the Little Pigeon River in the Greenbrier

Smoky Mountain Kayaker
Kayaking in the Smokies

Whenever the creeks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park swell with rainfall, which is often in the springtime, the kayakers come forth.

It seems like a daring adventure to me, and a paradoxical compromise between going with the flow and aggressively making your own path.

These folks must watch the weather like tornado chasers, ready to strap the kayak on the roof of the car at a moment’s notice.

The confluence of  the Ramsays Prong and Porters Creek in the Greenbrier section seems to offer an attractive, boulder-strewn course. And similar conditions can be found with a good launching area in the Chimneys Picnic Area.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Kayaking in the Smoky Mountains
Going with the Flow
Kayaking in the Smoky Mountains
Kayaking near the Chimneys Picnic Area

Green Rocks of the Roaring Fork

Green Rocks of the Roaring Fork

Moss-covered rock of the Roaring Fork

Something green for St. Patrick’s Day. Nothing greener in the Great Smoky Mountains than the moss-covered rocks of the Roaring Fork.  Conditions on the north face of Mt. LeConte create an extremely wet environment and a rich lushness of plant life. There may be no better example than the amazing green rocks and boulders along the Roaring Fork creek, with moss so thick  that it becomes a world unto itself.

Moss-covered rock of the Roaring Fork

Detail of moss on a boulder

The Roaring Fork makes it’s steep run from the summit of Mt. LeConte to the condos of Gatlinburg through a jumble of green-carpeted boulders. See the Featured Photo: Place of 1000 Drips for another example of how constant moisture gives the moss an exceptional foothold along the Roaring Fork.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Roaring Fork creek in the Smoky Mountains

Detail of moss and flowing water

Fog Comes on Little Cat Feet

Fog Comes on Little Cat Feet

Smoky Mountain Trail in Fog

I think fog gets a bad name. It’s typically about what fog can obscure: living life in a fog, the fog of war, the fog of depression. Well, like our neighbor over in the mountains of western North Carolina, Carl Sandburg, I think fog has delightful qualities. For example, in the picture above, a dash of fog can actually be a clarifying factor for the beautiful muddy road in the foreground. For the photo below, it’s the opposite, with the fog in the foreground, giving a nice contrast to the clarity of Mt. LeConte, rising above the fog.

It’s that time of year … Is it winter? Is it spring? …  warm and cold and damp … welcoming conditions for fog.

Mt. LeConte in fog

Late winter branches with fog

Favorite Trails: Porters Creek

Favorite Trails: Porters Creek

Porters Creek Trail © William Britten use with permission only
Porters Creek trailhead © William Britten use with permission only

Porters Creek Trail is a delightful meander in the Greenbrier section of the Smoky Mountains. Head east out of Gatlinburg on Route 321, then after about 6 miles, the Greenbrier entrance will be on the right. Eventually the road will turn to gravel and you’ll pass the bridge to the Ramsay Cascades Trail. Continue straight ahead until the road finally dead-ends at the trailhead parking lot. The trail follows Porters Creek for most of the way, and as you can see from the sign it is one of the many trails leading to the summit of Mt. LeConte.

rters Creek in the Smoky Mountains
Porters Creek
Smoky Mountain footbridge
Porters Creek Trail footbridge

The first mile of the trail is a well maintained jeep road with an easy walking grade. Along the way are many opportunities to slow you down and take photos. Watch to the right for many signs of pioneer homesteads. There are rock walls, chimneys, house foundations, and even a primitive cemetery.
These echoes of early settler life in the Smoky Mountains testify to the harsh realities of scraping a life out of rugged and isolated terrain.

Rock wall in the Smoky Mountains
Rock wall remnant from pioneer days
Stone steps
Rock steps from pioneer homestead
Smoky Mountain cemetery
Smoky Mountain cemetery

In April the Porters Creek Trail becomes one of the the best wildflower hikes in the Smokies.

White Trillium © William Britten use with permission only
White Trillium © William Britten use with permission only

For a nice two-mile round-trip hike, continue on up the trail and bear to the right when the jeep road enters a turnaround. At this point you can take a short side-trail over to visit a small group of log buildings, including the John Messer barn, which was built around 1875, and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club cabin, which was constructed from 1934-36.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of photos of the Smoky Mountains at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. If you are a Facebook user, you can get my daily Smoky Mountains news and photos by becoming a fan of the William Britten Photography Facebook Page.

Pioneer barn © William Britten use with permission only
John Messer Barn © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountain Hiking Club cabin © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountain Hiking Club cabin © William Britten use with permission only
The Life of Wood

The Life of Wood

Smoky Mountain Cabin detail

There are many old pioneer cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of them were constructed from native wood, shaped with hand tools such as the broad ax, froe, adz, and drawknife.

The wood in these buildings seems unique and different, with a life of its own. Or perhaps it is the life of the pioneers that remains within the wood. The example above is a classic dove-tail joint used to stack the log walls and keep them tight. The cabin is one you can see in the Cades Cove area of the Park.

The two images below are from cabins at the Mountain Farm Museum near the Cherokee entrance to the Smokies. Notice the nifty crude hinges made from  horse-shoes on the barn door in the lower right image.

Smoky Mountain log barn detailSmoky Mountain log cabin detail

The final two pictures below are from the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club cabin on the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier Section of the Park. The first image shows another example of a dovetail joint.

Smoky Mountain log cabib dovetail joint

Smoky Mountain log cabib detail

Miles Away on Monday: Winter Sunrise

Miles Away on Monday: Winter Sunrise

Welcoming cabins at dawn © William Britten use with permission only

Bare trees, the welcoming glow of Smoky Mountain cabins at dawn … a warm and friendly Kinkade-colored scene. It’s that time of year when, surprisingly, winter has already started to lose its grip in the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg area. In a few short weeks the early flowers will be staking their tentative claim on the new season. But for now, it’s still chilly and bare, with more snow always a possibility. A great time to enjoy some solitude in the mountains.

If you can get away, you’ll find the streets of Gatlinburg are less crowded, and there will be very little traffic in the National Park. You can drive the Cades Cove Loop unimpeded by gridlock!  And I’ll look forward to visiting with you in the William Britten Gallery where you may view the entire collection of Smoky Mountains photos.

Smoky Mountain Spirituality

Smoky Mountain Spirituality

Snowy footbridge

The picture above is the footbridge leading to the Ramsey Cascades Trail in the Greenbrier section of the Smoky Mountains. Yes, it’s still cold and quiet around here. Another cold, snowy scene from the Greenbrier is below.

But to warm things up on the waning days of winter, there’s a gallery of quotations down below. If the words are hard to read, click on any image, and you should get a full size slide show. (put your mouse over the right or left side of each picture to rotate through the slide show) I’ve tried to set each of the quotations within a supportive image.

Winter bridge

words-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdom

Favorite Trails: Big Creek to Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls

Favorite Trails: Big Creek to Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls

Waterfalls photos: Midnight Hole
Waterfalls photos: Midnight Hole © William Britten use with permission only

One of my favorite Smoky Mountains hikes is in the Big Creek section of the National Park, located on the eastern side, with the easiest access being from Interstate 40. Take the Waterville exit (451), which is the last Tennessee exit going east. Proceed through a hydroelectric plant, crossing into North Carolina, through a four-way rural intersection and into the Park. There is a campground and picnic area as well as excellent hiking. This area was heavily timbered in the early part of the 20th century, and as a result, the trail is a wide berm with an easy grade created to remove the trees with a rail line. This hike features two fine waterfalls!

About a mile up the trail you’ll pass a jumble of huge boulders known as Rock House.  Another half mile up the stream is Midnight Hole, which is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains.  It flows into a deep green pool that gives the waterfall it’s name. Be careful not to miss the short side-trail that detours over to the bottom of the falls. It’s an excellent swimming area in summer, and as you can see from the picture, a beautiful spot in the fall. This is a good hike any time of year.

The picture to the left is one of my Featured Photos, and is a perennial best-seller.

But don’t stop now!  Another half-mile up the trail is a second gem, where Mouse Creek plunges dramatically down a steep hillside and into the creek. This is another great spot in the fall, and the boulders will beckon you to sit down and eat your trail mix, take some photos, or just meditate on the wonder of it all.

Smoky Mountains waterfalls: Mouse Creek
Smoky Mountains waterfalls: Mouse Creek © William Britten use with permission only

If you continue on for several hundred yards, there is a footbridge that crosses Big Creek and another very attractive pool.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display photos of the Smoky Mountains at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Featured Photo: Midnight Hole

Featured Photo: Midnight Hole

 

Midnight Hole © William Britten use with permission only
Midnight Hole © William Britten use with permission only

Midnight Hole is a petite waterfall with a twelve-foot deep emerald pool that gives the waterfall its name.  Located in the Big Creek section of the Smoky Mountains, this is a popular swimming hole in the summer. This photo is often paired with Creekside Sweet Gum, making an attractive set of vertical pictures.

Midnight Hole is a featured photo at the William Britten Gallery. It is offered in all sizes up to 20×30. Details of sizes and prices can be found on the How to Buy page. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

The trail to Midnight Hole is one of my favorites. It’s a little out of the way but the compensation is two waterfalls in one hike!  Mouse Creek Falls is just a half-mile further on the trail. In summer you might find swimmers jumping off the rocks here. But my favorite time for this waterfall is in autumn.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Finding Deep Peace in Wild Places

Finding Deep Peace in Wild Places

Deep Peace in the Smokies
Deep Peace in the Smokies © William Britten use with permission only

These are stressful times. So much strife in the world, polarized beliefs, and intolerance. Some days it’s too much for a sensitive person, and I have to turn off the news and turn off my thoughts. I use nature, and the grand expanse of Smoky Mountains at my doorstep, to recalibrate and rebalance. I feel lucky to live in such a spiritual place.

My Smoky Mountains photos reflect this search for deep peace and reassurance in nature. The image above especially captures the dark and moody woods juxtaposed with the bright and hopeful morning sunlight. It’s a place to sit by the never-ending cascade and contemplate the cycles of life. The sunlight changes by the minute and yet is forever the same. The rocks sit in the stream for eons, and yet they too are following a cycle of upheaval and settling.

The next time you visit the Smokies, try pulling off the road to sit by the deep woods cascades of the Roaring Fork or the awesome views of Cades Cove. And please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery on the historic Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Road in Gatlinburg. In my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos you may find a special memory to remember the peace of the mountains.

New Web Site

This is the web site for William Britten Photography and Gallery in Galtinburg TN on the edge of the glorious Smoky Mountains.

I am currently rebuilding the site on a new platform, so I apologize for any occasional instability.  As of late winter 2016 the site seems to be ok, with accessibility from mobile devices working nicely.  Please email me if you encounter any specific problems, or leave a comment on this post.

William Britten

Featured Photo: Smoky Mountain Christmas

Featured Photo: Smoky Mountain Christmas

Christmas in the Smokies
Christmas in the Smoky Mountains

Emerts Cove Bridge is one of only two covered bridges near the Smoky Mountains in Sevier County (the other being Harrisburg Bridge off Rt. 339).  Emerts Cove bridge is just north of Rt 321, just off Rt. 416 north of Pittman Center. The simplist way to see it is to follow the road directly across from the Greenbrier entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The bridge spans the Little Pigeon River, just a mile or so out of the Park.

The picture is available in all sizes up to 16×24″.  Details of sizes and prices can be found on the How to Buy page. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

If you’re traveling or vacationing in the Gatlinburg area, please stop in to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery.  The Gallery is located on the historic Arts and Crafts trail, in the Morning Mist Village shopping area along Glades Rd.  In addition to framed and matted prints, there are magnets, mugs and notecards for you to find a special Smokies memory to take home.

 

Featured Photo: Song Without Words

Featured Photo: Song Without Words

Smoky Mountain Dogwoods
A Song Without Words

A Song Without Words was taken along the Cades Cove loop road in the Smoky Mountains.  It’s springtime, and the dogwoods are showing off all of their glory, with the mountains as the backdrop.  As with all digital files, this image started out as a color photo, but I had a feeling that a black and white treatment might better express the mood of the day.  The file was converted to black and white, with a sepia tone added. Finally, the colorful sunlight was painted back in to give a splash of extra warmth.

A Song Without Words carries a warm emotional message during the springtime season of rebirth.   The picture is available in all sizes up to 16×24″.  Details of sizes and prices can be found on the How to Buy page. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

If you’re traveling in the Gatlinburg area, please stop in to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains photos at the William Britten Gallery.  The Gallery is located in the historic Arts and Crafts area along Glades Rd.  In addition to framed and matted prints, there are magnets, mugs and notecards for you to find a special Smokies memory to take home.

 

Featured Photo: Glory in the Greenbrier

Featured Photo: Glory in the Greenbrier

Glory in Greenbrier
Autumn glory in the Greenbrier section of the Smoky Mountains

Glory in the Greenbrier captures the feeling of autumn in the Smoky Mountains. I like shooting into the sun, and in fact it has become something of a trademark for my Smoky Mountain photos. In this photo, the colors are also quite intense. The picture was taken along the gravel part of the road into the Greenbrier, one of my favorite areas of the Smokies, several miles east of Gatlinburg on Route 321. If you search out this area, you will find some relief from the traffic snarls that are common during October in the Smokies.

The intense colors of this image were created in part by taking multiple exposures of the scene. Three separate images were blended to enhance tonalities.  Glory in the Greenbrier looks fabulous printed on metal. Take a look at the How to Buy page for more information on sizes, prices, and other options. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

Please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg, TN. The Gallery features all of my photos of the Smoky Mountains.  There just might be a picture waiting to go home with you!

 

Smoky Mountain Inspirations

Smoky Mountain Inspirations

A Life of Quiet Inspiration

 I have been thinking of creating some Smoky Mountains photos with words of inspiration for some time. These four are my first offerings.  All four are currently hanging in the Gatlinburg Gallery, mounted on frameless 8×12 floats. However, they could be printed and framed in any of my standard sizes.

The photo above is a sunset at Morton Overlook with my variation on Thoreau’s comment about “lives of quiet desperation.”  I like my quote better!

Smoky Mountain Inspiration

The image above is Cades Cove on a beautiful summer afternoon with a quote paraphrased from John Muir.

The photo below is one of my favorite “deep woods” pictures, with a quote from the poet, Lord Byron.

Pleasure of the Pathless Woods

 Finally, the picture below is my best seller, with one of my own thoughts added.

If you’re traveling or vacationing in the Gatlinburg area, please stop in to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains photos at the William Britten Gallery.  The Gallery is located on the historic Arts and Crafts trail, in the Morning Mist Village shopping area along Glades Rd.  In addition to framed and matted prints, there are magnets, mugs and notecards for you to find a special Smokies memory to take home.

Listen to the Silence of Nature

Featured Photo: John Oliver Homestead

Featured Photo: John Oliver Homestead

John Oliver Dogwoods
Dogwood Spring at John Oliver cabin in Cades Cove

The John Oliver Homestead in Cades Cove is one of the Featured Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery. This is a stunning spring scene with dogwood blooms as the backdrop. I backed my tripod up under some dogwood trees to frame the photo with branches and blooms along the top. The iconic split rail fence adds another layer of dimension. John Oliver’s homestead is the first stop along the Cades Cove loop.

The picture is available in all sizes up to 16×24″.  Details of sizes and prices can be found on the How to Buy page. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

I have another blog post with more historical information on John Oliver.

If you’re traveling or vacationing in the Gatlinburg area, please stop in to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery.  The Gallery is located on the historic Arts and Crafts trail, in the Morning Mist Village shopping area along Glades Rd.  In addition to framed and matted prints, there are magnets, mugs and notecards for you to find a special Smokies memory to take home.

Little Bit of Thoreau

Little Bit of Thoreau

A Little Bit of Thoreau in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Rustic Blue Ridge cabin near Asheville, NC

This blog has been inactive for several months. Where has the time gone? Well, most of it was taken up during construction of this wonderful little cabin in the Blue Ridge foothills of North Carolina. No, we are not leaving Gatlinburg, and the William Britten Gallery is still open along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. The cabin is a quiet getaway near children and grandchildren. Read on, if you’re interested in a Thoreau-style cabin and the lifestyle within.

Blue Ridge Cabin
Little Bit of Thoreau in the Blue Ridge Mtns

The foothills directly behind the cabin are within the Pisgah National Forest, and if you were to set out walking, you would find yourself exploring miles and miles of uninhabited wilderness, much like in the Great Smoky Mountains. You could keep on walking all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. So, right from the start, we don’t have Thoreau’s Walden Pond, but we do have Pisgah.

Rustic Cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Warm Wood Interior of Reclaimed Barn Wood
Rustic Cabin Kitchen
Custom made kitchen cabinets from barnwood, with a Black Walnut counter made from sawmill planks.

A well was sunk 325 feet down into bedrock, and it greatly pleases me to think of this pure water flowing out of the undeveloped, pristine watershed. The cabin is less than 400 square feet of living space, plus a small loft area, and a generous porch overlooking the valley below. The cabin exterior is board-and-batten rough-sawn Hemlock, and the interior is all wood–some North Carolina harvested Hemlock, Oak, and Cypress, and some reclaimed from local barns. The exterior doors were made by a local craftsman, who also made the kitchen countertop from 2-inch thick Walnut found at a local sawmill.

Our little cabin is a riff on the Appalachian culture and its architecture. We tried hard to make it be as if it rose from the local woods. We were happy to find local craftsmen with the tradition of seat-of-the-pants resourcefulness. Hopefully it echoes the Appalachian traditions of small is beautiful, and richness in simplicity.

Rustic Cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina
Nestled in the arms of Pisgah National Forest

The cabin is very spartan … nothing more than a bed, a few chairs, and a table barely large enough for two dinner plates. It does have electricity and running water, but Internet access requires a walk down the hill to get within range of my daughter’s farmhouse. This is where Mr. Thoreau comes into the picture: at first I thought this would be a temporary situation, that we would finish off the cabin with furniture, a fully outfitted kitchen, some more decor, etc. But after three months of weekly getaways, I have no desire to move beyond the sense of raw simplicity that the cabin exudes. I stoke the wood stove with a few sticks to take the edge off the morning chill, sit in a straight-back chair and watch the light change, follow the moon setting through the branches of a Hickory tree. Later in the day, I’ll look forward to grandchildren’s knock at the door (chocolate milk in the fridge!). I read books. And of course, tromp around outside with a little hatchet in my hand.

Rustic Cabin Interior
Small spaces are happy spaces.

No, I don’t need a microwave oven or a TV set. I don’t really need anything. Contentment comes in the form of observation, contemplation, appreciation.

A final observation: just above the front door, the grain in the wood appears to bless those who enter (photo below). It’s curious enough that the wood-grain carries this message, but to think of how it came to rest just above the door is miraculous. I asked the carpenters about it. Yes, they did take notice, but not until after the siding was nailed up.

I think of a large stack of hemlock drying in the wind. Hundreds of feet of lumber used over several months … cut this way and that … nailed up in various positions. And this special board came to rest in the perfect spot.

Message in the Wood
Message in the Wood

Click on any of the photos to bring up larger versions.

 

Autumn Snow in the Smokies

Autumn Snow in the Smokies

Smoky Mountains with Snow above Gatlinburg
Smoky Mountains with Snow above Gatlinburg © William Britten use with permission only

The last week of October 2012, the long arms of Hurricane Sandy produced a Smoky Mountains wonderland of snow in autumn. The Smokies offered stunning photos from all the overlooks. The photo above was taken from the Gatlinburg by-pass, with the Park Vista hotel in the lower left corner, and the Roaring Fork Motor Trail heading up the valley in the center of the picture. This was the same location that produced some fabulous photos last April of a spring snowfall.

The photo below was taken from Campbell Overlook, showing the western shoulder of Mt. LeConte. Total snowfall in the highest elevations was nearly 3 feet!

Mt. LeConte from Campbell Overlook
Mt. LeConte from Campbell Overlook © William Britten use with permission only

The trail to the Chimneys is a favorite Smoky Mountains hike.  In the photos below the Chimneys are the two bumps on the left side. This is a rugged climb under the best of conditions, but snow and ice make it a special challenge.

If you are visiting the Smokies, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg. The gallery features Smoky Mountains landscape photos, as well as magnets, mugs, and notecards.

Chimneys after autumn snow
Chimneys after autumn snow © William Britten use with permission only
Greenbrier Panoramas

Greenbrier Panoramas

Smoky Mountains photos Autumn Panorama

These two Smoky Mountains photos were created as special editions for this fall. The photos were both taken in the Greenbrier area of the Smokies.  Both are processed with more extreme contrast and color saturation than I normally do.  This effect is something I do as a change of pace for occasional pictures. These two are both 12×24″ panoramas and are one-of-a-kinds hanging in my Gatlinburg Gallery.

The Greenbrier area of the Smokies is a wonderful place to wander in during the autumn leaf season, or any time.  The crowds are much less here, and the two main trails offer everything from fabulous spring wildflowers to the best Smoky Mountains waterfall. The picture above was taken from the footbridge at the Ramsay Cascades trailhead after a heavy rain. This location is featured in my photo, Winter Footbridge.

The picture below is a typical scene in the Greenbrier with peak autumn color. The gravel road is an invitation to slow down and soak in the moment. This part of the Smokies is also rich in pioneer history, which offers another context to ramble along some autumn trails.

Smoky Mountains photos: autumn panorama

If you are travelling in the Smokies any time of year, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery, located along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd.  in Gatlinburg. The Gallery features all of my Smoky Mountains photos, as well as magnets, mugs, and notecards. Stop in and pick out a mountain memory to take home with you.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair!

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair!

Loading up the ArtMobile with Smoky Mtns photos
Loading up the ArtMobile with Smoky Mtns photos

It’s that time of year again. Time to pack up the van with framed Smoky Mtns photos, display panels and all the rest of our gear.

The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair begins this Thursday at the Convention Center in downtown Gatlinburg. The Fair will run from October 11th through Sunday October 28th, from 10 to 6:00 each day except 10-5:00 on Sundays.

Look for William Britten Photography in our usual spot at the bottom of the escalator as you enter the main exhibit hall. We will have a full display of Smoky Mtns photos, in frames as well as prints, magnets and notecards.

And during the fair please stop out at the William Britten Gallery in the Arts and Crafts Community along Glades Rd. The Gallery will remain open as well during the downtown fair.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair
Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
Featured Photo: After the Storm

Featured Photo: After the Storm

After the Storm
After the Storm © William Britten use with permission only

After the Storm is a Smoky Mtns photo taken from one of the most popular overlooks in the Smokies. This picture was captured from Mortons Overlook on Newfound Gap Rd.  This is often a good spot for Summer sunsets, and especially after a stormy day there might be dramatic conditions when the sun sets below the storm clouds.

After the Storm carries a warm emotional message, with the bright sun reasserting hope and beauty after the dark storm clouds have passed. The picture is available in all sizes up to 16×24″.  Details of sizes and prices can be found on the How to Buy page. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

If you’re traveling in the Gatlinburg area, please stop in to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery.  The Gallery is located in the historic Arts and Crafts area along Glades Rd.  In addition to framed and matted prints, there are magnets, mugs and notecards for you to find a special Smokies memory to take home.

Miles Away on Monday: Hot Tub Coffee Break

Miles Away on Monday: Hot Tub Coffee Break

Hot Tub Autumn © William Britten use with permission only
Hot Tub Autumn © William Britten use with permission only

Not too many days like this are left for us this year. Mid-autumn Indian Summer. The hectic days of October are done for another year. A hot tub and a couple cups of coffee beckon you to relax the morning away.

When you’re all softened up, please come on over and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Ready for Fall at the Gallery!

Ready for Fall at the Gallery!

Morning Mist Village Autumn Decor
Morning Mist Village Autumn Decor © William Britten use with permission only

It’s mid-September. The days are getting shorter and the air is getting crisper. Apples are ripe and pumpkins are everywhere. Out at Morning Mist Village along Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg, the autumn decorations are looking festive.  And at the William Britten Gallery in Morning Mist, I’ve got some new banner images in the windows and a new banner sign. The image on the sign is the Gallery’s best seller … Morning Majesty.

New Banner Sign!
New Banner Sign!

Even the sign on Glades Rd. at the entrance to the historic Arts and Crafts Trail has gotten its fall decor, thanks to Ted Osborn of Beech Branch Gifts.

If you’re traveling to the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg this fall, please stop in for a visit at the William Britten Gallery. All my Smoky Mountains photos are on display, along with magnets, mugs, and notecards. There’s bound to be a special Smokies memory for you to take home.

Arts and Crafts Community on Glades Rd.
Arts and Crafts Community on Glades Rd.
Wildflower Photography: Coneflower Dreamscape

Wildflower Photography: Coneflower Dreamscape


Coneflower Dreamscape © William Britten use with permission only

The photograph above is the Green Headed, or Cutleaf Coneflower.  It blooms all along the roadside in the middle of summer up near Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park .

Here’s a fun photo tip for taking a picture like the one above. One of my favorite techniques is to take the photo twice: once in a normal mode with your subject in focus, and a second time with the picture out of focus. You will need to have a camera or lens that allows you to turn the auto-focus off.  Then you will need some basic Photoshop skills to blend the two images together.  With this fairly simple technique you can create images with added depth.

The photo below is the blurred version that was blended into the image above to help create the dreamy effect.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. The Gallery is located along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Rd.  In addition to framed and matted prints, there are magnets, mugs, and notecards to help you take a Smokies memory home.

Blurred version of the Coneflowers
Blurred version of the Coneflowers © William Britten use with permission only

impressionism prints

Variations on a Theme

Variations on a Theme

High-elevation trail in the Smokies
High-elevation trail in the Smokies © William Britten use with permission only

These three Smoky Mtns photos illustrate something about how the process of photography happens for me. All were taken on a high-elevation trail near Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. Walking along the trail, the scene above caused me to stop. Something about the elements brought on an emotional response, which is what I am usually looking for in order to create a good photograph. The well-worn path leads off into the distance of a foggy morning. The ferns are soft and welcoming – a nice contrast with the mystery of the trail. Then there’s that big old stump on the right, which will be a very nice frame for that side of the image. Finally, there are some spindly pine trees to the left, offering a frame for that side. I set up the tripod and composed the photograph above. It’s nice, but not tight enough. Too many loose distractions, which will dilute the emotional response.

So, I maneuver around, trying to get the elements into an alignment that works. How do I know if it works?  Well, you never know for sure, but a good photo will feel like it has snapped into place when you see it through the viewfinder. Sometimes it can be frustrating to find it. The image below is what “snapped” for me on this morning. This image was given the title Peace in Wild Places, and it has become a very good seller in my Gatlinburg Gallery. But there’s more to the story!  Keep reading below …

Peace in Wild Places
Peace in Wild Places © William Britten use with permission only

The image below is another interpretation of the foggy trail scene. Obviously it is very different from the one above. It stretches the emotions of the scene to an almost surreal degree. The fog-shrouded trail is very mysterious, the path is very bright, and the stump on the right has become a bit sinister. The whole scene is Hobbit-like. These two images show how a finished photograph is an interpretation, and just as a musical score can be interpreted in different ways, so can a photographic image. Perhaps the most frequent question that I am asked is “was this really the way it looked, or have you enhanced it?” The answer to both parts of that question is yes … it really did look this way, but a good photograph will take it much further than simply recording a time and place.

Please stop and see my complete collection of Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery. I’m located along the historical Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg, TN.

Click on any of these pictures to see a larger version.

Smoky Mtns photos: impressionism
Smoky Mtns photos: impressionism © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains History: the Sugarlands

Smoky Mountains History: the Sugarlands

Sugarlands Panorama
Sugarlands Panorama © Knox County Public Library

This Smoky Mountains valley was named by early settlers for the large number of Sugar Maple trees growing in the valley. As can be seen in the historical photo above, this was a vast area of fairly level ground. Settlers arrived in the area around 1800 … the Reagans, Ogles and Trenthams who formed the foundation of the homesteading community.  The photo below shows how the forest has reclaimed virtually all of the former farming landscape.

This wonderful section of the Smokies can be explored today via several trails. The Old Sugarlands Trail starts from Newfound Gap Rd 200 yards before the Visitor Center. The trail follows the course of the old TN Route 71 through the farming bottomlands, past stone walls and homestead foundations. Eventually the trail turns away from the Left Prong of the Little Pigeon River and heads over to meet up with Cherokee Orchard Rd near the Rainbow Falls trailhead.  This is a good hike to do with two cars, leaving one at either end of the trail.

Farmland to Forest
Farmland to Forest © William Britten use with permission only

If you are traveling in the Smokies, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg. You’ll find my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos, along with mugs, magnets and notecards.

The historical photo on the top of this page taken by Jim Thompson. Used with permission of C.M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library.

Cades Cove: Elijah Oliver Homestead

Cades Cove: Elijah Oliver Homestead

Elijah Oliver Cabin
Elijah Oliver Cabin © William Britten photos use with permission only

All of the Smoky Mtns photos on this page are of the Elijah Oliver cabin. Elijah was John Oliver’s son, and he was born in Cades Cove in 1824. After a time away from the Smoky Mountains, he returned to Cades Cove after the Civil War. Notice the “strangers room” enclosed on the front porch. Smoky Mountains hospitality was so well known that hunters and fishermen travelled, knowing that the mountaineers would give them lodging at no charge.

This homestead is one of the stops along the Cades Cove Loop Road in the Smoky Mountains. Park your car and take the short hike to the cabin and outbuildings–it is very much worth the time and effort to see this fine example of an Early American log cabin and barn.

A Homestead Barn © William Britten use with permission only
A Homestead Barn © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of my Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located in Morning Mist Village, along the historic Arts and Crafts loop on Glades Rd.

Smoky Mtns photos © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mtns photos © William Britten use with permission only

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