I often get asked where to go to make interesting outdoor photographs. The easy answer is almost anywhere depending on how you define interesting. That is certainly true if you are willing to focus on smaller things such as individual flowers or abstract patterns created by leaf shadows. But I know most people are really saying they want to get away from the more familiar and photograph something different.
I have three favorite getaways within reasonable range. One is the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. The gardens offer a wide variety of settings to choose from. You can photograph fairly large, interesting landscapes like the rose garden or the water garden. And you can shoot more intimate things like flower clusters and butterflies. I have rarely spent an afternoon there that I didn’t come back with at least a couple of keepers. The gardens offer good photo opportunities year round.
The second area I recommend requires about an hour and a half driving time. That gets you up on the Cumberland Plateau around Monteagle, TN. There you can find several good hiking trails complete with streams, waterfalls, and the occasional vista. My personal favorite is the Fiery Gizzard Trail, though I really enjoy Falls Creek Falls State Park, too, with all its trails, streams, and waterfalls. This area is most interesting in the spring time to capture wildflowers and anytime there has been a prolonged rainy period to put a lot of water in the streams and give volume to the waterfalls.
My final one is The Walls of Jericho just off Highway 79 near Hytop, AL, just short of the Tennessee state line about an hour from Huntsville. I make this third because it is by far the most strenuous of the three locations. The final leg of the hike coming back up to the trailhead and parking area on the ridge line is pretty steep rising about 1000 feet in that last mile. Wind and leg strength will definitely be tested by this trail, but the whole hiking experience and the photo opportunities make it worthwhile for anybody in reasonable physical condition. I really like this trail in the fall. There are lots of maples and other colorful hardwoods. Be sure you bring a polarizing filter to get the intense color from the leaves.
What are some of your favorite areas? Share them by replying to this post. I look forward to hearing from you.