The New River Gorge National Park & Preserve is America’s newest National Park. And it’s in West Virginia! With free admission, how could I not be excited about this?!
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed exploring the the New River Gorge when I’ve had the chance. Because I live north of the Park, my “chance” is usually when I’m driving to/from destinations south of West Virginia. The main drag along Rt. 19 crosses right over the iconic New River Gorge Bridge, and close to where Rt. 19 meets I77, there’s a famous overlook called Grandview I’ve wanted to stop at for a long time.
Well, this spring was my first chance to to stop there!
Our decision to stop was fairly last minute. Stopping would mean getting to our final destination pretty late. And that’s what makes shooting golden hour and sunset so difficult! But we were in the area at just the perfect time of day, and after weighing the pros and cons, we decided we would try to stop for golden hour.
And we almost missed it! When we pulled in, the parking lot was in shade. Thankfully, the trail to the overlook was short and easy. We we arrived, the golden light was still kissing the top of the ridges. The view was breathtaking!
I knew I didn’t have much time to shoot before the light was gone. Looking for a foreground element, the first thing that caught my eye was a rhododendron bush in full bloom.
Including the rhododendron blooms only allowed me to capture in the frame half of the river that was visible from the overlook. Both halves of the river could be included in a single shot, but only barely! The bend was quite wide, and was shooting as wide as I could (16mm on a full frame sensor) in order to get both halves of the river in the same frame without going panoramic.
But the composition that I liked best from this overlook, for this particular time of day, was shooting toward the sunset. The framing, and sense of depth, is just so wonderful!
Repositioning only slightly, I decided to include more of the tree and a different angle on the rocks to introduce a pattern of implied leading lines. The rocks, the tree, the clouds, and even the river all seem to now point over to where the sun is setting, the brightest part of the scene!
Floating Over the Gorge
Grandview Overlook, New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, West Virginia
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Of course, I couldn’t leave without trying to include a human element in a photo or two. The location was just so incredible, and I just love how this long exposure turned the trees around the rhododendron into a sea of green, setting off the purple blooms.
Ah. Breathtaking! I am so thankful for opportunities like this. Incredible location, amazing lighting, elements for composition. The perfect recipe for calendar photos!
And speaking of calendar photos, as I begin preparation for the 2024 Lenspiration calendars . . . I’m curious: what is your favorite hymn? As you know, hymns are the theme of each year’s calendar. What hymns should I include in the calendar?! Is there a particular verse of a hymn that you like?
I’d love to hear from my readership. Let me know in the comments below!