Friday, I decided I was going to head up to the top of Clingman's Dome to see the sunset. I hit a major traffic jam in the park and decided that there was no way I was going to make it up before the sun set so I turned around and went back to the cabin.
Saturday I decided to wake up early and try to catch the sunrise. I woke up at 5 am, got ready and went outside and saw that the sky was overcast. I figured I wouldn't have another go at it, so I decided to take my chances.
Drove for about an hour and finally made it to the parking lot, still in complete darkness, when I realized I still don't have a flashlight in my bag. I walked around the parking lot for a few minutes and decided to just go for it.
The half mile path to the top is pretty steep, but it was paved. The farther up I got, the heavier the wind became. I hadn't packed for this, in pants and a short sleeve shirt, I continued up to the top in the 40 degree weather.
As I got to the top of the observation tower the wind had really picked up and was blowing constantly.
Luckily, there was a faint red glow on the horizon and I knew I might get lucky.
I set the camera up, and started shooting. Spent about an hour on the top taking photos. Shivering, freezing, and just enjoying the scenery, regardless of the weather.
And as luck would have it, the clouds opened up enough and gave me an amazing sunrise. This was taken moments before the sun rose above the horizon.
I went to review my photos, and due to a combination of difficulties focusing because of the dark and the wind, about half the photos I took on the top were blurry. But a few were sharp enough and a select few, like this one were tack sharp.
So, I hope you enjoy this because I am extremely pleased with how this turned out. This sunrise was beautiful and this photo has minimal processing.
Camera: Canon EOS 60D
Lens: EF-S 15-85mm at 24mm
Shutter Speed: 1/5s
Filter(s): Lee 0.9 HE Grad ND
Processing: RAW conversion, curves, selective dodging and burning
Update 12-19-2011: I picked up a colorimeter today and calibrated my monitor. Wow, this shot was WAY darker than it was supposed to be. This shot did not represent the way I wanted to present the scene. Went back today after calibrating, created two different exposures from the same shot then manually blended them. I hope you enjoy this new version as much as I do!
Update 2-04-2012: After reviewing the old shot and receiving a few comments I realized that my last processing left this shot way more blue that it should have been, and as such as a bit unnatural. I have gone back and re-adjusted the color balance, to provide what I feel is a more natural, more pleasing, and a warmer image. I hope you like it. Hopefully this will be the last version.
For reference, the original version can be seen here :thumb274783603: and the last version here :thumb283264328: