Rocky Top

Rocky Top you'll always be / Home sweet home to me.” I’ve gone to the University of Tennessee and lived near Rocky Top for a decade and hadn’t hiked it! So, today I hiked 12.3 miles and 4087 feet of climbing to see beautiful views of the southwestern Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, and Fontana Lake. The weather was clear with blue skies and fluffy clouds. “There ain't no smog, no smoke on Rocky Top / Ain't no telephone bills”. The trail wasn’t the best. It is also a horse trail, very wide, like a gravel road. No overlooks. A few rhodadendron have bloomed. The peak was much better than the trail and worth the hike. I took a nap at Spence Field overlooking the blooming azailias, mountain laural, and Fontana Lake. On the hike back I saw a black bear with her two, cute cubs 100 yards ahead of me on the trail. They crossed and I waited as they walked deep into the woods.

I can’t get over how beautiful the film photos look. I wanted to compare the color, look, and feel of film and digital, so i took photos of the same scene with the NEX-3N and the FM at Spence Field with azaleas in the foreground. Left is the NEX-3N and right is the FM, both have a polarizing filter. The colors on the NEX-3N are more punchy possible due to the film being overexposed. The mountains and sky are also much more blue on the NEX-3N, but I think the mountains look more life-like on the FM; they look flat on the NEX-3N.

The photo of the cairn was taken on the NEX-3N and the photo of the fern was taken with the FM. While they are different subjects the contrast on the cairn is similar to the fern, but it lacks the same feeling of depth and dimensionality. I used f/1.4 to take the image of the fern. Here there is greater contrast between the background and the fern. The flowers are not quite in focus and they are overexposed, but the fern still looks pretty and three dimensional. Finally, I used Kodak Gold 200 (fern) and Fujicolor 200 (other photos) to compare colors. I think I like the Kodak better. The green in the Fujicolor looks a little yellow.

I was inspired by this photo by u/embroideress, (Lands End on Portra 400, Mamiya C220, 80mm lens). She used the shallow depth of field of the medium format camera to isolate a spot on the path and in the forest near the camera. I tried to replicate it with the grassy field. I tried to focus on the fern as it is the only immediately obvious subject, but I was off slightly. It is still a pretty photo with only a thin strip of grass in focus. It also has the same look that I saw when I was there, very soft, green grass. Part of this is due to the polarization filter that cut out the glare of sunlight off each blade of grass.

Unfortunately, the shutter release and film advance lever on the FM stopped working at Rocky Top. Hiking and jostling it around might have shaken some small part. I’m looking to get it fixed because I love the photos it takes!