Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles of lovely driving. No stop signs, no stop lights, just smooth cruising through beautiful scenery. Designed and built in the 1930's, construction started in 1935. Most of the construction was completed by 1967. The last 7.5 miles were completed in 1987. The Linn Cove Viaduct was specially built to prevent cutting through a beautiful stretch of ancient mountains. To read more about the amazing engineering of this elevated road, go to the Blue Ridge Parkway Association's webpage.

We usually spend about three days going down the Parkway. Our very first visit to the Parkway was in the 1970's. We had a very limited amount of time. We were coming up from the south and got as far as Mount Mitchell. From the top of Mount Mitchell, there was a sea of clouds that was just beautiful. However, the Parkway became engulfed in fog, we finally had to descend to the valleys because there was no visibility even for driving much less sight seeing. We've been back several times since and it is truly beautiful.

One of the nicest things about this road is that it follows the ridges, so there are many opportunities to look down to the valleys below from the overlooks. However, I find that while the view is gorgeous, it is difficult to photograph. Each of the overlooks is "maintained" by regularly trimming the trees that keep trying to grow into the view. That makes it difficult sometimes to get a "clean" image. Because you are on top of a ridge, you can see long distances. But I find it also makes it hard to get good sharp images of the details in the distance.

Here is one of my attempts to capture the beauty from one of the overlooks:

When I view this image at the pixel level, it does not match my standards for sharpness anywhere. However, I liked the image with the patchwork of farms and pastures in the valley, so I played with the Topaz sharpening filter. It worked better for this purpose when I had resized the image. I think I prefer this artistic version. You may need to click on the images to get a larger version to see better the effect:

I tried to take advantage of the trees that were on the ridge by the road. I focused on the leaves of the tree on the right. I think this image works except for one branch in the middle foreground that I could not quite find an angle without it.

One last image for today, the fall colors were gorgeous:

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