6 Tips for Becoming a Cades Cove Photography Master

Cades Cove is renowned for being one of the most beautiful sections of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you’re an aspiring photographer, you will find a treasure trove of stunning scenery to capture. The following six tips for Cades Cove photography will help you take the best pictures possible:

1. Be Familiar with Your Equipment

The most basic tip for being a good photographer is to have the right gear. To begin with, you should have at least a decent digital camera. Even the best smartphone cameras are limited when it comes to many features, such as shooting from a distance or when light is limited. Take the time to learn how all the settings on your camera work. For example, you can experiment and find out the best shutter speed for taking pictures with your camera.

You should also be familiar with how your camera’s zoom lens works. If your camera has both optical zoom and digital zoom, you should learn when it’s best to use each modality. If you’re not completely familiar with all of your camera’s functions, it’s best to practice a little before your trip to Cades Cove.

2. Have Goals Before You Set Out

If you set some goals for your Cades Cove photography adventure, you’ll be able to better plan your session. When setting your goals, you always have to take into account the season, time of day, and weather. If you want to take some pictures of a glorious sunrise, make sure you get there early enough. Learn which animals are likely to be out and about during the season of your visit. Early in the morning and near dusk are generally the best time to see animals, and this also coincides with some of the best lighting for taking pictures. Check out this article for some essential tips for Cades Cove wildlife viewing!

3. Make the Most of the LightA brilliant photo of Cades Cove at sunset.

The time of day and weather have a great impact on how your pictures will turn out. You can take good photographs under almost any conditions, but you will have to make adjustments. Many professional photographers prefer to take pictures either at sunrise or sunset, when the light tends to be ideal for capturing texture and shadows.

The middle of the afternoon on a sunny day is actually one of the worst times for photography, as you’re likely to struggle with glare. Cloudy days can be good for taking pictures, as the clouds act as filters and you don’t have to worry about the light being too harsh.

4. Take Lots of Pictures

One of the secrets of the best photographers is that they take a large number of pictures, even of a single subject. This is difficult if you’re trying to capture something fleeting, such as a woodpecker passing overhead. However, if you’re shooting a stationary natural scene or slower moving animals, you’ll have the time to take as many shots as you want. Even a slight change in distance, angle, elevation or your camera’s settings can result in a very different type of picture. The more pictures you take, the better your chances of ending up with some great ones.

5. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Another characteristic of top photographers is that they spend plenty of time at their locations. You can’t expect to just show up and immediately find the ideal shots waiting for you. This is especially the case if you want to capture some of Cades Coves’ amazing wildlife, which includes a variety of birds, white-tailed deer, coyotes, black bears, and lots more. You may have to wait a while before the perfect subject presents itself. That’s why you should count on spending at least a few hours at a time in Cades Cove with your camera.

Photo of a white-tailed deer in Cades Cove.6. Focus on One Subject at a Time

A setting such as Cades Cove has so many elements that it’s tempting to take pictures that include everything your eyes can see. This can result in overly cluttered pictures that don’t really highlight anything in particular. Therefore, it’s helpful to always have a specific subject in mind, even if nothing obvious is present. You can take creative and original shots of many natural elements, such as trees, flowers, streams, and smaller animals. It’s fine to take some wide shots of fields and mountains, but photos with single subjects are often more striking.

To find some great Cades Cove photography spots, check out five of the most popular Cades Cove hiking trails!

Jason Fishman shares the latest news and travel tips for Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains.