Cataloochee and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Bugling Elk
Bugling Elk

While attending the Fotofest 2012 photography workshop in Montreat, NC earlier this month, we were given the opportunity to photography with Bill Lee in the nearby Cataloochee the evening before the workshop began. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Firstly, Bill Lee is a fantastic photographer of Western North Carolina wildlife in general and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in particular so it’s a rare opportunity. Secondly, With a name like Cataloochee it has to be a magical place. Thirdly, while we knew the Fotofest provided a wealth of excellent information from the photographer’s presentations, photographing is what we all like to do best.

Cataloochee Elk
Cataloochee Elk in Fog

So I packed up my photographic gear: tripod, camera and lenses and made the drive to Cataloochee. I got there around 6 pm and I found plenty of photographers already there photographing elk in a field. The elk were far away and I did not have a lens that could get up close to the animals. No one is allowed to walk into the fields where there are elk during the rut season (mating season). I happened to meet up with a good friend from last year at

Elk Close-up
Elk Close-up

Fotofest and we decided to drive our cars a bit farther down the road where we had the good fortune to find a buck who was close to the road. We quickly got our gear out and photographed as fast as we could. He patiently waited for us then he turned away.

For the next morning, we made plans to get up before dawn and get over to the Blue Ridge Parkway to photograph the sunrise. I was having a difficult time getting up at 5:30 am but my friend was an inspiration. She was dressed and ready to go. We drove to the Blue Ridge Parkway and were there just in time to capture the sunrise through the clouds.  A little later in the morning we were able to capture the Looking Glass Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls
Sunrise through the clouds
Sunrise through the clouds