Behind the Shot: Belvedere on the Gorge

by | Jun 2, 2017 | Stories & Expeditions | 0 comments

170527-JAS-7737_Endless Wall Trail, West Virginia, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 17 mm 1-15 sec at f - 16 ISO 100 edited

Belvedere on the Gorge
Endless Wall Trail, New River Gorge Trail, West Virginia
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Behind the Shot

It’s sure is fun to explore and find beautiful places to take pictures at in one’s own home state, isn’t it?

This area of West Virginia along the New River Gorge is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit, but since “it’s so close to home I can go there any time I want”, it took a unique twist of circumstances before I actually ended up arriving here with time to shoot, and walking away with a picture that I liked.

For the past several years, my family has been going to the FEW Conference in North Carolina. This year, another family from West Virginia also showed up. I’d known the Cliftons already for a while, but I didn’t know any of them enjoyed photography until they came up at the end with some questions. By the end of our conversation, we had agreed we’d try to set up a time to get out and take some pictures together!

About a month later, a great opportunity came up. Sadly, plans changed and I had to cancel.

Not too long after, another opportunity came up. But again, you guessed it. Plans changed.

Finally, in mid-May a date actually worked out that wasn’t affected by a change of plans!


Since the Cliftons lived not too far from the New River Gorge, I suggested we scout that place out for an afternoon. When we arrived, it was one of those beautiful, bright and sunny day! The weather and cloud cover seemed just right for a perfect golden hour and sunset. And I had the perfect shooting location in mind too. Diamond Point overlook, looking up and down the gorge to the east and west even offered a glimpse of the famous, single arched New River Gorge bridge!

Well, it didn’t exactly turn out like I was expecting.

After climbing and hiking around in the area for a while, we reached Diamond Point at just the perfect time of golden hour. Problem was, there wasn’t much to see. Clouds; heavy, gray clouds were the only thing the sky had to offer. Of course, the gorge was still quite beautiful, and I still took some pictures (every situation always holds the potential of beautiful pictures!). But when I was expecting something epic and getting only heavy, gray clouds, well, it was sort of disappointing.

170527-JAS-7836_Endless Wall Trail, West Virginia, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 70 mm 0.3 sec at f - 11 ISO 100

So this made me really glad that I had decided to take other pictures throughout the day!

I took pictures while we were climbing around on the rocks. I took selfies and videos with my phone. I took pictures at unobstructed overlooks that I thought offered a potential shot. I still took each shot seriously, I set up the tripod a couple of times, I framed my compositions purposefully, etc. But I didn’t not take pictures because of the “well, good pictures can only be taken at golden hour or sunset” mindset. It’s always freeing to shoot for the fun of it more than for the perfection of it, right?!

So, the lesson I learned that day was: waiting for perfection won’t necessarily always yield perfect results. If you think about it, it’s very, very rare that perfection actually happens. Lighten up, and enjoy the fun of simply taking pictures!

Ironically, I’ve found that this is one of the most important ingredients in most of my best shots. Let perfection surprise you.

Going Deeper

To read about why I like this shot and how I edited it, click here to view the PRO-exclusive article, Behind the Shot: Belvedere on the Gorge.

If you’re not a PRO member, you can learn about how to access these PRO-exclusive opportunities here.


Grain comparision

170527-JAS-7736_Endless Wall Trail, West Virginia, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 17 mm 1-80 sec at f - 16 ISO 100 comparison

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