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Pictures of the Smoky Mountains and Newfound Gap road at night

6 Easy Steps to Taking Better Pictures of the Smoky Mountains

Whether you consider yourself a semi-professional photographer or you are just looking for ways to enhance your family’s photo album, it is always a good idea to learn about how you can take better pictures of the Smoky Mountains. Not only will this help improve your skills as a photographer in general, it will also ensure your vacation photos will be the ones all of your loved ones will be talking about long after the trip is over.

To get started bettering your photos, read through our tips below!

1. Choose Your Location

person taking pictures of the Smoky MountainsThe most important step in making sure you capture the best pictures of the Smoky Mountains possible is to pick the right location. There are several picturesque placed in and around the national park. The trick is to decide which of these amazing locations is right for you.

You can do so by deciding what kind of story you want your photos to tell. For example, if you want to capture the moments of your family or friends hiking a new trail, then clearly your subject will be the natural and unique views found along the way. If you want to capture the history found inside of the park, you may want to visit one of the areas that are known for its historical structures and homesites. If you simply want to capture the majestic mountains, then you should consider going to an overlook or one of the balds that offer views of the mountain range below.

An example of a few of our favorite places to take pictures of the Smoky Mountains include:

  • Newfound Gap Road
  • Cades Cove
  • Clingmans Dome
  • Mt. LeConte
  • Chimney Tops
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Laurel Falls

view of Smoky Mountain road in the morning2. Get an Early Start

The next tip we have to help you take better pictures of the Smoky Mountains is to pick the right time of day to start your adventure. We recommend getting an early start because it gives you time before the light of the sun becomes too harsh and you lose depth in your photos. Plus, the soft light of morning also gives your pictures an added peaceful touch if you can catch it when the sun first stretches out from the sky.

If you aren’t a morning person, early evening is also a good time to take pictures of the Smokies. Similar to earlier in the day, there is a sense of calm you can capture with the light during this time which adds an interesting element to your photos.

Depending on your camera, you can always adjust your settings to make up for the light if your only option is to go in the middle of the day. However, most of that is done in post-process editing.

3. Bring Extra Batteries & Memory Cards

close up on person taking pictures of the Smoky MountainsThe last thing you want to experience when you are taking pictures of the Smoky Mountains is to go to snap the photo to discover your battery is dead or your memory card is full. Not only does it prevent you from taking new photos, it also means your photo adventure is over.

However, you can easily avoid this by making sure you pack an extra set of batteries and a couple of spare memory cards in your bag when you set out. There is a good chance you won’t need these items, but you will be thankful to have them if you do.

Keep in mind, batteries and memory cards are not something you can find at one of the visitor centers in the park. You will need to stop somewhere on your way in or bring them from home.

view of camera on rock taking pictures of the Smoky Mountains4. Be Attentive

You never know what exactly you are going to find when you go on a photo adventure in the Smoky Mountains. Yes, you will capture stunning views of the mountains and the natural landscape, but the details in the pictures of the Smoky Mountains always seem to change.

This could be a close up on a new flower you haven’t seen before, a wildlife creature hiding in the edge of the forest or a new angle on your favorite historical cabin. All of these are sights are easy to capture with your camera, but if you aren’t looking for photographical moments, then you may miss it.

This is especially important if you are photographing family or friends while they are doing something. Plus, candid shots always  make for a good story later.

5. Take Multiple Pictures

pictures of the Smoky MountainsYou don’t often get the perfect picture on the first try. That is why we always recommend you try to take a couple of photos at a time. When you do so, make sure you change the frame a little bit to make sure you are capturing the full story of the moment.

You can do this by adjusting how far you are zoomed in, where you want to focal point to be on the image, shifting how you frame the picture in the viewfinder or changing from horizontal to a vertical view. All of these small adjustments can lead to significant changes in your final image.

It is also a good idea to always make sure you take a couple of photos just in case something is out of focus or blurry on your initial take.

man taking pictures of the Smoky Mountains with a tripod6. Use a Tripod

There are a ton of uses for a tripod to make your photo taking experience better. Not only does the use of the stand cut down on the chance of blurring your pictures, it also gives you a little more room for creativity when capturing the moments.

For example, if you are taking pictures at night you can lengthen the exposure a little bit to let in more light which will bring out more details of your photo. This is also a good technique if you want to capture the stars in the sky at night.

Tripods also allow you to be in some of the pictures you take as well. Instead of trying to extend your arm and hope you and your loved ones are all in the frame, you can set up the tripod, set a short timer, and jump in front of the lens before the picture is taken.

Now that you know how to start taking better pictures of the Smoky Mountains, it is time to start planning your next photographers getaway today! Start your search by browsing all of the amazing places to stay in the Smoky Mountains on our website. From peaceful campgrounds to relaxing cabins, we have everything you need to plan the perfect adventure!