Pic of the Week 7/16/21
“Grandview Vista Revisted”
Location: Rich Mountain, AR
Date taken: 6/12/21
Well, we have arrived to our final day of the Honeymoon Adventure and this would prove the be a very eventful one! Our morning started as it typically does for the landscape photographer, begrudgingly getting out of bed to go check the sunrise conditions. The prospect of low hanging clouds didn’t do much to motivate me to get out of bed. I looked over to see my wife soundly sleeping (and snoring) and so I pressed on into the cold morning without her. The Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge was now much different from the bustling busy atmosphere of yesterday evening. All the tenants were in the warm beds sleeping and I was up shuffling around the hallways looking a window with a good view to the east.
I reached the front entrance and turned my eyes toward the east. High cirrus clouds loomed overhead and were just starting to get some pink color. My body/heart/brain jumped into high gear, and I rushed back to my room to wake up my sleeping wife. It was time to get going for sunrise! After I woke Ashlee up we quickly gathered our gear and made our way to the 4Runner. Now the skies overhead had turned to a saturated reddish orange and the entire parking lot glowed in hues of purples and pinks. We could not miss this spectacular sunrise.
Driving down the Talimena Scenic Byway, I remembered a spot I used to shoot sunrise the last time I was here, Grand View Vista. Despite the fact there are incredible vistas all along this drive we could not find a vista that positioned us towards the sunrise. One thing I seem to forget about the Ouachitas is they run west to east not north to south like most other mountain ranges. Eventually we pulled into the Little Acorn vista, and we watched the sun rise just above the distant mountains before becoming shrouded in clouds. So much for our sunrise shoot.
Disappointed, we drove back to Grand View Vista hoping to capture some early morning light on the mountains. In the valley down below a thin veil of fog/mist hovered above the valley floor. Ashlee knew she wanted some tighter shots and took my Tamron 70-200 lens—the lens I was hoping to use for the sunrise photos. But I was ok with using her large 500mm lens and scope out small pieces of the much grander landscape. I used my tripod to try and stabilize the photos the best I can. At 500mm even the pulse of your thumb is enough to shake the camera.
For a brief few minutes the sun peered through a gap in the clouds. Strips of warm golden light spilled into the valley emphasizing the unique shape of the mountains. What a beautiful scene, I rushed back to the car to grab my wide-angle lens to try and capture the vista. I didn’t even have time to attach it to my tripod, so I snapped a few frames handheld. This image is not as sharp as I would have liked, but I did not have enough time to before the light faded away.
Grand View Vista Revisted © Ben Jacobi
Since I was limited with time and the light, I shot the first composition I saw. I framed up Round Mountain in the breaks of the trees standing on my tippy toes to get as high as possible. The fog/mist encircled the 2037ft peak in a semi-circle of hazy mystique. The dramatic side light on the mountain helped separate the scene into layers turning an almost flat and boring image into something far more interesting. I really wish I would have taken the time to get my tripod and do this scene justice. Not long after taking this image, the light evaporated and all the depth to the scene was lost. I went back to capturing the intimate details of the landscape. I even combined some of them to create this triptych. There wasn’t too much color with the lack of light, so I opted for a monochrome treatment to highlight the tones and textures of the scene.
Ouachita Mountains Triptych © Ben Jacobi
As morning progressed, more and more clouds rolled in. We decided to get back in the car and grab some breakfast back at the lodge. Along the windy roads we came across something I never expected to see—a black bear! The bear was crossing the highway was we rounded the corner. It was quite the sight to witness as the bear hurled itself over the guardrail in an action-hero-movie-like maneuver. We were so excited and happy to see the black bear that our sunrise bust didn’t even phase us. We returned to the lodge to enjoy a wonderful pancake breakfast and watch an early morning wedding taking place on the overlook. Our time at Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge was finished and we checked out of our room. We were not finished with the state park, however. We did two more trails before finally saying our goodbyes to Arkansas and bringing our Honeymoon Adventure to a close.