Spring Wildflower Workshop 2012 – The Wrap Up

Spring definitely came early to East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year!  We knew that things were going to bloom earlier than normal, so we moved the Spring workshop to the second weekend in April instead of waiting until the end of April as we normally do.  Even having done that, we still had some trepidation that we would miss the peak bloom of the flowers that we were hoping to get to show our class. As it turned out, the good Lord was watching out for us on this as well as so many other things!  This was probably our best class to date when it came to being able to find the blooms we were looking for, and in abundance!  Add a class full of fantastic students and it was quite a memorable weekend. We had a full class along with a few ride-a-longs and a total of 3 instructors.  Here is our group shot at the end of the weekend… ImageAren’t they a handsome group??? After our meet and greet on Friday night, we started bright and early with breakfast together at Tremont and then we headed out to Jake’s Creek Trail at Elkmont.  We made one stop on the way right outside of Elkmont to get a few shots of this beautiful flame azalea… ImageThis is part of the class setting up to photograph the flower.  Here is the more impressive photograph though… the following is a beautiful shot from one of our students, Ron Sentell.

One of our instructors, Brett Wells, took this opportunity to put his Sigma 120-300 2.8 lens to the test.  He decided he didn’t need to cross the road to get the shot!…

Flame Azalea by Ron Sentell

On to Elkmont…

Showy Orchis by Ron Sentell

Rare all white variety of Showy Orchis. Photo by Gail Patton

Jack-in-the-pulpit

I can never find Jack-in-the-pulpits on my own.  I mean literally, someone has to directly point them out to me.  It’s a good thing we had Harold Patton with us because he is a master flower scouter!  Brett and I decided that these plants actually call out to him because he speaks their language:)  So glad he found the one pictured above! And one last picture from Elkmont before we move on… While the flowers are certainly the main attraction for this class, we find all kinds of treasures while we are out exploring.  This bridge going back to one of the old vacation homes on “Millionaire’s Row” in Elkmont  was one of my favorite discoveries.  It looks like it should be in a fairy tale…(activate imagination and insert story here) While we could have easily stayed at Elkmont all day, we had other territory to cover!  Pictured above is a good portion of our class making their way up one of our favorite trails that shall remain nameless here due to the rare blooms that can be found there.  Unfortunately, there are people who like to dig these plants up and try to take them home with them.  The plants end up dying and everyone else is deprived of enjoying their beauty and splendor, so we try to protect their locations.  Here is one of the treasures of this trail…

Yellow Ladyslipper by Ron Sentell

This particular flower is very rare and difficult to find.  So much so, that if you ask people, even if they know, they generally will not tell you because so many people steal them from the Park.  So, if you ever find one, be sure to try and cover your tracks when you leave:)  They really are beautiful though.  Here is a shot of several of our students working together to get the best pictures of this magnificent bloom. This trail is chock full of treasures.  Here is another one of our favorites… This is a Vasey Trillium.  Notice that the bloom on this plant is under the three leaves instead of on top of then.  The most interesting thing about this shot is that the trees overhead have already budded!  That is something that you normally don’t see when photographing Spring wildflowers because they have usually come and gone by the time the tree cover arrives.  However, due to our messed up weather this year, the two collided and we had brilliant spring green leaves on the trees, lots of undergrowth, AND wildflowers.  While it made some things a bit challenging, it was also absolutely gorgeous! Here is another shot of the Vasey Trillium…

Vasey Trillium taken by one of our instructors, Brett Wells.

So, after a long day out in the field, we went back to Tremont for a BBQ dinner from Little River BBQ which has become a tradition and a favorite.  After dinner, we went right into sharing and constructive criticism of images from everyone from the day.  It was great to get to see everyone’s different vision of the same subject matter!  We definitely had a group full of talented people and after our discussions about composition, metering, exposure, and being aware of your background (that blasted stick ruined a lot of really good images!), everyone started the next day off with new tools in their boxes:)

Brett leading a discussion about some images from the day in Tremont’s Rec Hall.

Wilson helping Gail pick out her best images from the day and giving some tips on how to edit them.

Sunday morning met us with an even earlier start than Saturday!  We split the class up into two groups on this day (only they had the option to choose which group they wanted to go with:)).  The Pattons, Brett, and I took one group into White Oak Sinks, which was an all day excursion and a little over a 5 mile hike round trip.  Wilson took the other group to Bud Ogle’s cabin and surrounding area and then they headed up top in search of trout lillies and wake robins.  It turned out that all of the group alumni went to White Oak Sinks and all of our newbies went with Wilson for the day.  It was a win-win either way you went because both groups had amazing days with spectacular finds!

If you have never hiked back into White Oak Sinks, it is definitely worth it!  The Sinks themselves are usually in peak bloom the second week of April, but with our wacky weather this year, we weren’t sure what we were going to find.  Turns out, they were a little past peak, but still beautiful, and you could still smell the sweet aroma of the phlox.  But the trail going into the Sinks, well, it was chock full of just about every wildflower that was in bloom in the Park!  And I’m not just talking about one or two of each species here and there.  You would see entire banks of Catesby Trillium, foamflower, bishops cap, mayapples, and the list goes on.  Here are a few favorites from the trail.  Ok, there are more than a few, but it was hard to narrow them down!

Fiddlehead fern

Star Chickweed by Ron Sentell

Pink Ladyslippers by Ron Sentell

Catesby Trillium by Gail Patton

Dwarf Crested Iris by Brett Wells

White Trillium by Brett Wells

Not really using my tripod to it’s fullest, but this is what you have to do sometimes to get the shot!

The sun coming up through some foamflower

Gail working with some Pink Ladyslippers

One of my favorite shots from the weekend…Harold, our flower whisperer, patiently waiting in the sun next to a Catesby trillium for all of us photographers to finish capturing our visions of God’s glory:)

Eric, getting low to get the shot!

“Don’t try this at home folks…” This is Brett caught in the act of trying to get the shot of this Catesby without actually bending his knees. While I don’t have the proof, I did actually see it on the back of his camera, and he did nail it! That takes some practice (and a little luck doesn’t hurt either!). While intriguing, not the method we recommend for students:)

Ron providing a little shade of his own for his shot of the Columbine!

Down in the Sinks…

Wild Geranium

While I don’t have as many pictures from the second group to share, they had a phenomenal day as well!  They spent a little more time in the car since they had to “go long” to get to the top of the mountain to find a few of the things they were looking for, but the payoff made it all worthwhile!  Here are a few shots from one of our first time students, Nancy Dill…

Wake Robin Trillium by Nancy Dill

Trout Lilly by Nancy Dill

Great job Nancy!  For those of you who are not familiar with trout lillies, they are tiny flowers (maybe 3-4 inches high) and the flowers point downward, so they are pretty hard to photograph!  Nancy’s picture makes it look like it was easy!  These two flowers in this particular spot usually don’t bloom until May, so the group was really excited to find them out so early!

Well, that just about wraps things up I guess.  If you would like to see more pictures from the wildflower class, please check out Tremont’s Facebook page here.  Our next photography workshop will be sometime in late October for the fall foliage.  So stay tuned to this blog and our Facebook page for the announcement if you think you might be interested in joining us for that workshop.  It fills up pretty quickly!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2012 Spring Wildflower Workshop.  We hope that you had as much fun as we did and that you learned something along the way!  We enjoyed seeing our old friends and meeting great new people that we hope will be back!  In the meantime, get outside, enjoy God’s wonderful creation, and take some pictures!

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2 Responses to “Spring Wildflower Workshop 2012 – The Wrap Up”

  1. Gail Patton Says:

    Had a wonderful time. Received the pictures that we had enlarged. f32 did a beautiful job. Thank you.

    • tremontoutdoorresort Says:

      Thank you Gail! We could not have done it without you and Harold! So glad you like your enlargements…proud of you for getting prints made!

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