Brilliant Foggy Dawn – Smoky Mountains at Sunrise

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This is a photograph of the Smoky Mountains at sunrise, which I took near Santeetlah Gap in western North Carolina. The fog in this image has nothing to do with why they are called the Smoky Mountains, but it is relevant. The real reason behind the name is actually the water vapor and organic compounds emitted by the forest. These molecules reflect a more light than normal air, which turns the sky above the forest slightly less clear. But on mornings like this, the fog contains the chemicals and water vapor under it. As a result, the sky above looks stunningly clear. I love this photo for that feeling of clarity. There are compositional features that are less than perfect, but the overwhelming natural beauty far outweighs those flaws. To me, I think this photograph looks a diamond reincarnated as a photograph. The clarity and brilliance were out of this world.

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