Choosing the Best Photo from Snowshoe

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Pic of the Month, Stories & Expeditions | 8 comments

This year, my family did something we have never done before. You see, my family is from West Virginia. And this summer, we decided to take a family vacation to . . . West Virginia! Not a field trip. Not a day trip to and from a vacation destination. This was a legit, multi-day family vacation to the mountains! We rented a big house. We took off work. We explored the area! In short, we spent a lot of money to explore our backyard.

But it was worth it! Jonathan & Esther (and their family) were in town from Quebec. Robert & Kendalyn (and their family) were in town from Texas. Julianna and I were in town between spring and summer travels. So we took advantage of this unique time and headed off to Snowshoe Mountain!

Of course, I took a lot of pictures while on that vacation. And when it came time to find a photo for this month’s desktop background, I decided I would go through through the photos from that trip to see what I could find. Surely I could find something that would work!

This first shot was from the day we arrived. We traveled up in several vehicles, and Julianna and I happened to arrive first. So, since the rest of the family wouldn’t be arriving until shortly after sunset, we drove around until we found a nice little view to enjoy and photograph the sunset.

230719_James Staddon_6278 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 35 mm, 1-100 sec at f - 11, ISO 200

The next day, while most of the family slept in, Donald, Julianna and I went for a morning bird watching excursion! We started out our hike along a boring service road. But when we followed little trails off into the forest, we found ourselves in a lush, photogenic wonderland!

230720_James Staddon_6296 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 800

230720_James Staddon_6286 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16 mm, 1-40 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 800

230720_James Staddon_6300 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 35 mm, 1-40 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 1600

We didn’t see too many birds, but we did see some deer on the way out.

230720_James Staddon_7079 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 160

Before driving back to the big cabin, I stopped to take pictures of this little cabin that was close to the trailhead. One of my photos was accidently overexposed, but when I pulled it up in post, I thought it was actually a pretty neat effect.

230720_James Staddon_6304 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 30 mm, 1-40 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 800

This was more what I was going for.

230720_James Staddon_6307 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 35 mm, 1-320 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 100

That day, we took the ski lift from Snowshoe Mountain down to a pristine little lake where we went kayaking. At this time of year, the ski lift was the only practical way for us to get down to the lake. However, there was a problem. It wasn’t safe to take a baby on the ski lift without some sort of baby carrier, and we had 3 babies in our group. So, we put our heads together to figure out what to do. Turns out that Esther had one of those handy front-facing baby carries with her, so with a 7.5min ride one-way, they had all three babies at the bottom 45min later. Smile

230720_James Staddon_0642 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 100

230720_James Staddon_0675 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-125 sec at f - 4.5, ISO 100

In case you were wondering, in the above photo, Jonathan and David are playing Rock, Scissors, Paper with my ski lift companions. Smile

My sky lift companions also enjoyed spotting wildlife along the way too!

230720_James Staddon_0663 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 4.5, ISO 100

I didn’t take my camera out down at the lake. I wasn’t going to risk taking it out on the kayak. But by the time we were finished our time at the lake and had all made it back to the top of the mountain, it was getting on to late afternoon and I couldn’t help but snap a photo from the parking lot.

230720_James Staddon_0682 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 43 mm, 1-1000 sec at f - 4.5, ISO 100

And guess what else we saw in the parking lot. Smile

230720_James Staddon_0683 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 100

That evening, as we sat down to dinner and reflected over a fun day together as a family, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful golden rays of the direct sunlight filtering through the trees onto the front side of the big-cabin porch. I asked Mom and Dad if they wouldn’t mind modeling for me for a few minutes, to which they romantically accepted.

230720_James Staddon_6312 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16 mm, 1-50 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 400

But I think the shot that I liked best from the day to use for the desktop background is a more simple shot of the the exact same golden-hour scene. You can just imagine soaking in the golden light side by side with your best friend.

230720_James Staddon_6310 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16 mm, 1-50 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 400

A Day Together

Monongahela National Forest, Snowshoe, West Virginia

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“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

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  1. Warrior Princess

    What a perfectly lovely family vacation! I am so glad for your family, and glad to see the pictures you took, James. 🙂

    • James Staddon

      It’s amazing how many family vacations I’ve been on, but don’t think of them as being “lovely” because I didn’t take the time to create lovely photos of it. 🙂

  2. Lydia Bennett

    Wow, that overexposed photo looks like a pencil drawing. Never realized there could be an art to extreme overexposure! 😀

    • James Staddon

      Yeah, it would be an interesting “art” to experiment with. I don’t like that photo as it is currently. There’s something wrong with it. But don’t know what it is yet! I played with it quite a bit in post, but didn’t figure out a way to really make it salable.

  3. David Tremain

    The shot of the moss covered forest floor with the highlights from the sun is my favorite!

    • James Staddon

      Yeah! that shot would be worth setting up on a tripod and shooting with a narrow aperture or focus stacking.

  4. Robert Staddon

    Amazing photos, bro! That was such a refreshing time together in the mountains. I love the photo that you chose. It’s now my Desktop background. 🙂



  1. Beware of Beauty - Lenspiration - […] day after exploring Snowshoe, we headed over to another iconic West Virginia attraction. The old, historic Cass Scenic […]

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