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A week in the Smoky Mountains

Clingman’s Dome

The trek up to Clingman’s dome was some of the most pleasant hiking I’ve ever experienced. It was about 68 degrees, overcast, and every now and then a very slight mist would past through. The scenery and hiking trails were beautiful and had new sites at every bend.

When we reached the summit, we were higher than every mountain around us. Nothing in any direction could limit our site.

A storm rolled in, and we began to head back down. But not before I took one of my favorite photos from the trip.

This photo captures the namesake of the Smoky Mountains.

Grotto Falls

We decided we wanted to see some waterfalls. As Louisianians, any waterfall is impressive, and Grotto Falls did not disappoint. The clear pools of water and boulders to climb were plenty to keep our minds impressed.

This abandoned water mill was a nice treat on our way out. I snapped this shot of the tread.


Midnight Waterhole

We were lucky to stumbled across what is locally called the Midnight Waterhole.

After a day of ziplining, we made friends with the zipline workers who later showed us this hidden gem off the beaten trail. A cozy little tourist-free waterfall with a pool deep enough to jump off into.

Ahead of the falls I found some nicely flowing water over some rockbeds and snapped a few photos.

I also spotted a timber rattlesnake hiding in the brush.

Lorel Falls

We’d already seen a few waterfalls but we still wanted to hike. So we took the time to check out Lorel Falls. Along the way I came across a few noteworthy sites.

But my favorite part of this hike by far was seeing a mother bear and her cubs. They were so high up in the tree it was hard to snap a photo, but I managed a few just to prove the story.

Cade’s Cove

Horseback Riding

Our horseback riding was a fun and unique experience. There’s not much else to say, so here’s some photos.

Miscellaneous

Summer Stargazing & Astrophotography in Pecan Island, LA

It was clear skies, relatively cool outside for Louisiana, and the moon was at 3% with an early setting time. A great night for stargazing. So we head out to Pecan Island, Louisiana for some night hammocking and astrophotography.

Saw a few shooting stars but failed to capture any on camera. 

This 40 minute exposure was between some giant oak trees I found in a very dark part of the road along the marshy coast. One shot is closer to the true colors, and the other is edited to bring focus on the oak tree.

 

Took some shorter exposure shots of the stars behind these giant trees. Facing the coastal marshes.

A friendly moth came to hang out.

 

Weekend at the family pasture and woodlands

Alone time in nature has the effect of recharging emotions and grounding you to reality. You can absorb some of the calm energy that the natural world emits. A forest is a great monastery. It’s still and silent but you seem to come out of it a lot wiser.

I regularly explore the woods on the family land. I spent this weekend out there and I feel completely revitalized. Found lots of interesting flora, some salamanders, beetles, grubs, spiders, and one snake.

Also managed to total my bike. Apparently riding through uncharted woods is a good way to snap your drivetrain. Mountain bike on the wishlist.

Playing around with crystal photography

This is some fun and easy photography you can do at home with just cell phone cameras. We turned on the flashlight on one of our phones and put a crystal on top. We turned the lights off and went under some furniture for as much darkness as possible.

Then you can simply adjust your camera settings until the crystal shows detail and is well lit. The result is a floating crystal on a black background!

From there you can make some simple edits to polish off the image.

Abstract black & white photos

This is what a crack in the sidewalk looks like a 3am

This photo was taken by my girlfriend who has a great eye for photography. I edited it to look dark and abstract.

Pleasant-looking shadows

Photography of Louisiana

Louisiana Wildlife and Natural World

Macro photography is a great way to marvel at the smaller parts of creation.

thistles

Each year Louisiana Spring fills our fields with thousands of tall-standing thistle flowers, each with their own blend of purple and violet, attracting dozens of insect species.

thistle flowers louisiana wildlife

These vibrant pink and purple thistle flowers attract bees, ladybugs, and other insects every springtime.

thistle flower and lady bug

A lady bug exploring a thistle.

wisteria vine
Blooming

A blooming Wisteria vine is a favorite of the honey bee.

spring plants in louisiana

Spring flora prepare to seed and germinate as the first warmth arrives in South Louisiana.

wild rabbits in louisiana

An infant wild rabbit hiding in the underbrush.

Photographer Comment: I found this baby rabbit on a nature hike while looking to photograph wild rabbits running off as I walked through their territory. This was the only goober I found and I held him for a little bit before putting him safely back in his nest in the underbrush.

A hawk roams the skies over a cow pasture in Maurice, Louisiana.

Haunted & Abandoned Buildings in Louisiana


Nature adopts what we abandon – as is her sacred right. Eventually pulling it back into her Earth as dust through ancient alchemy.

The 20+ year abandoned school was quiet, but didn’t feel empty. Filled with the Ghosts of the old souls who once  walked the halls, eager/bent on being remembered

Louisiana Culture

Zachary Richard is a pinnacle of Louisiana music culture.

Zachary Richard photos. Old house photos. Festivals. etc

The Engineering group at ULL built a Formula SAE racecar with a 650cc motorcycle engine and other donated parts.

The Cajun Heartland State Fair is a long tradition in Lafayette, Louisiana in the Cajun Dome parking lot known as Cajun Field. These photos were taken in a long exposure, capturing the moving light of the attractions and creating a ghostly, empty feeling for the participants.

cajun heartland state fair
cajun heartland state fair
cajun heartland state fair

Cajun Heartland State Fair long exposure photos

Photos of Louisiana’s Night Sky & Nightscapes

breaux bridge sky photography

Wispy evening clouds over the sunset paint a skyscape over the Cargill Salt Mine in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.

louisiana long exposure star trails kisatchie national forest kincaid

Wise old pine trees contemplate a starry night over Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest at the Indian Creek campground. As the Earth rotates along her axis, the stars appear to move across the sky. After capturing over an hour of light, that movement appears as the star trails you see here.

Ever notice how trees never feel like strangers?

louisiana pecan island milky way photos astrophotography

The winter milky way over a family camp in Pecan Island, bordering the swamp lands leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Pecan Island ranks very well on dark sky maps offering some of the best stargazing in the South. While the exposure time was increased to bring out more of the sky, what you see is more aligned with how God intended Creation to be admired without light pollution.

  • NOTES:
  • cargill landscape / skyscape
  • ULL formula 1 car with sunset
  • close up thistles
  • alligator in pecan island / zoo
  • BEST star trail photos
  • milky way photos
  • abandoned photos (gas station, catholic school, eunice factory, homes, etc)
  • hawk and wildlife photos