Morning in Shenandoah National Park

May 26, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Last weekend, I really wanted to shoot waterfalls. Some of the best waterfalls in the mid-Atlantic region are located in Shenandoah National Park. So, I got up very early and headed out west to the park. Not long after entering the park and turning down the famous Skyline Drive, I came across this vista and beautiful sunrise. I immediately pulled over and grabbed my camera and tripod.

Fine art photo by John Baggaley of a spring sunrise in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.Shenandoah Sunrise I love how the rising sun lights up the tops of the trees and highlights the foliage in the foreground. The broken clouds add interest to the sky and I like the sense of depth created by the faded mountains in the background. I created the streaks of sunlight by using a tiny aperture (f/22).

Energized by the sunrise, I headed over to Whiteoak Canyon to shoot Upper Whiteoak Canyon Falls. The hike through Whiteoak Canyon to the upper falls was 2.3 miles downhill (4.6 miles round trip). The return trip was much more difficult because it was all uphill. However, the hike was very much worth it.

Fine art photo by John Baggaley of Whiteoak Canyon Falls in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.Whiteoak Canyon Falls When I finished the Whiteoak Canyon hike, it was still fairly early in the morning, so I decided to try another nearby waterfall hike. The Cedar Run Trail was noticeably shorter than the Whiteoak Canyon trail, but much more difficult. Like the Whiteoak Canyon trail, the Cedar Run hike was all downhill to the waterfall. While only 1.7 miles (3.6 round trip), it was 1,500 feet of elevation change in just 1.7 miles. The hike back was very difficult.

The Cedar Run trail was very beautiful, but I wasn't particularly impressed with the actual falls. Perhaps, my inspiration was waning as I got tired. 8.3 miles in one morning is a lot, particularly with significant elevation changes. A brief late morning rain shower didn't help either. However, on my return trip from the falls, I came across this surprise:



I've never seen an owl in the wild before. This one was significantly larger than I expected. It took my breath away. I dropped my bag and scrambled to grab my camera, swap lenses, and change all my camera settings (wildlife and landscapes require very different camera configurations). The owl didn't sit still for long. After flying from branch to branch, the owl swooped down to Cedar Run, caught the crayfish you see in the photo, and landed on a nearby branch for just a moment to check me out and fly off for good. I barely had enough time to take this shot. It was really nice to finish my trip to Shenandoah on a high note.

 

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