Photographing the Setting Sun
at Clingman's Dome

Photographing a sunset is a delightful thing to do no matter your vantage point. But doing it from Clingman's Dome at an elevation of 6,644' in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an exercise in patience and imagination. On this mid-May evening the skies were clear, the wind was gusty, and the temperature hovered at an unfriendly 37 degrees (F) requiring occasional trips to the nearby car to get warm.

The fact is, you can never know exactly what weather conditions you will find at the Dome until you get there.

The vista from the Dome changes with the movement of the setting sun, producing a myriad of contrasts and hues depending upon where you happen to be looking; and whether you are looking from near to far.

The inclusion of foreground elements and the dramatic ridge lines of the foothills offer opportunities for showcasing the Smokies in all their grandeur well before the sun itself actually sets. Therefore, to me, the setting sun really only serves as a pallet for photographing the surrounding landscape that is my primary subject.

Others around me focused their tripod-mounted cameras in the direction of the sun and generally waited with their hands in their pockets for colorful things to happen. My own choice of viewpoint was much more expansive, knowing that the position of the sun was going to be less important on this occasion than the global hues eminating from it.

I continually moved my Wimberley-mounted 300mm f2.8 (without extension) in order to track the unfolding lightshow as it cascaded with deepening hues across the ridge lines.

As is always the case, every image reflects the photographer's vision and world view.








Nature's pallet...





(Hot chocolate anyone?!)


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