words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains 04

Mountain biking at Tsali Recreational Area in North Carolina

A photo challenge that includes mountains would not be a challenge without a difficult mountain bike to the summit. In this photograph I have just reached the top of the Right Loop at Tsali Recreational Area in North Carolina. The elevation at this point is around 5000 feet.

The popular Tsali Recreation Area has long been a top destination for mountain biking in Western North Carolina, and even the entire eastern US. Containing nearly 40 miles of trails in a system with four excellent loops, it has been rated as one of the top 10 places to ride in the USA. The area is located on a hilly peninsula reaching into beautiful Fontana Lake, at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains. The four long main trails at Tsali wind along the lake shore and onto the wooded, steep interior ridges. There are several connector trails, gravel roads and extension trails that give a few more options for rides besides the main loops. Three designated overlooks along the trails provide sweeping views of Fontana Lake with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side. The trails are fast, hardpacked singletrack, and they’re extremely well designed and well used.

6 responses

  1. You make me want to grab a bike! This is officially going on my list of fitness goals.

    August 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

  2. You will love it Diva. A variety of exercises and physical pursuits will keep you motivated.

    August 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm

  3. Lovely photo of you there! 😉

    August 10, 2011 at 2:04 am

    • Thanks Liz, it was a challenging ride to the summit. Cold too 🙂

      August 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

  4. You’re definitely more athletic than I could ever hope to be, so I’ll talk about the photo instead. I don’t claim to be an expert, but hopefully my comments will be helpful. 🙂

    For the most part, I like the composition because it fits well with the focus of your description, which tells a story. The subject of the photo (you) is positioned according to the rule of thirds and you’ve shot the image so that most of the frame is taken up by nature.

    I like the color scheme, but I’m not sure if it works wells for the story that you are trying to tell. If, say, you were running from the mafia, you’d probably want to include less trees and take up most of the frame with yourself to capture your face and body language. Then the current color scheme, or a colder color scheme would fit nicely because you’d be telling a story of fear and desperation. But, you aren’t running from the mafia. 🙂 In a nature scene like this, I think the photo would look much better if you pulled up the saturation to bring out the colors of your surroundings and adjusted the colors to be warmer. These changes should communicate the incredible pleasure that you experienced while biking up the mountain.

    Last of all, the contrast is much to high. Someone gave me a guiding principal that I’ve found helpful. He said that one should avoid crushing the blacks or blowing out the highlights because one should try to preserve as much color detail in those areas as possible. He said that better cameras detect a lot of detail even in the bright and dark areas, so one should try to emulate that when post-processing the image. In your image, the highlights are blown out very far, so I think you should reduce their intensity. However, I don’t that the shadows weren’t crushed too far, so I think that those can stay where they are.

    I hope this comment proves to be useful. This is just my $0.02, so you can take it our leave it. 🙂 But don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that this image is terrible. With a little tweaking, I bet that you can make it superb.

    August 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    • Thank you for writing and commenting on the piece. your $0.02 it very much appreciated 🙂 You are correct about the saturation being low, and more color would be more delightful. I often used a lot of color in my images, so the lack in this one can be thought of a some what of an engima. I think I was thinking about how cold it was and that it was late fall. I will go back and tweak the image with your suggestions in mind and see what I come up with. Most of my work is not so much photographic based but digitally abstract with a painting feeling to them. I come from a painter background not a photographer background. Check out my other work and I think you will see what I am talking about.

      Thanks again

      August 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

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