The Jocassee Gorges area of Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina is known to be one of the richest botanical sites in the United States. It is also one of the world's epi-centers of salamander diversity. There are 13 species of salamanders that have been identified in the area with an additional 8-9 species claims that have (to the best of my knowledge) not been verified to date.
On a recent shoot for a magazine that shall remain nameless until the story actually runs, I decided to explore the Horsepasture River Road that leads to the often photographed, Jumping Off Rock View of Lake Jocasse. I have always been one to avoid the classic vistas but thought that I would give it shot in hopes that I might come home with something unique.
At about 2/3rds of the way up to the pinnacle of my trip, I stopped at a clearing that offered a really beautiful view towards the North Carolina portion of the Southern Blue Ridge. Beautiful sidelight washed over the fresh green leaves of the hardwoods leading towards the horizon. Everything was working out great except for this one gnarled tree that refused to keeps its tendrils out of my frame. Finally, I came to my senses and realized that the tree really made a nice addition and added character to the composition. Sometimes you just have to go with what the moment presents and stop fighting for the vision that you've perceived in your mind. After shooting a few more frames, I jumped back in the car and quickly made my way up to the summit and enjoyed a beautiful view, a lackluster sunset and not much inspiration to draw from.
Looking back through my images the next day, I found the shot above of the old gnarled tree. There was the old brute that I had fought to keep out in my frame, shining like a beacon of light in a series of mediocre shots. Using Photoshop's black and white conversion, set to infrared and including toning, I was able to create a most unexpected image that I believe captures the majesty of the Gorges in a way that I haven't seen before. It pays to be open to the possibilities.