The Great Smoky Mountains: A Visual Journey
The Great Smoky Mountains: A Visual Journey

The Great Smoky Mountains: A Visual Journey


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253023773
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 01/30/2017
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 580,988
Product dimensions: 10.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

For Lee Mandrell, photography began as a hobby that quickly ignited into a fiery passion and then into a lifelong career. He started out at age 14 with a secondhand Minolta Hi Matic E rangefinder. Mandrell worked as a custom darkroom technician in a pro lab for years and was eventually promoted to production manager. An early adopter of both digital technology and Photoshop, he is still actively involved in all current photography techniques and practices. He is author of Indianapolis: The Circle City (IUP, 2016).

DeeDee Niederhouse-Mandrell’s interest in the art of photography began over twenty-five years ago. What started out as a hobby eventually turned into a paying photography job—Niederhouse-Mandrell became the creative photographer for Ray Skillman Ford and Southside Hyundai Corporation’s upper-end magazine advertisements. She also is now their performance inventory manager.

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The Great Smoky Mountains

A Visual Journey

By Lee Mandrell, DeeDee Niederhouse-Mandrell

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2017 Lee Mandrell and Diana Niederhouse-Mandrell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02388-9



LEE For over a quarter of a century now, I have been in pursuit of capturing the Great Smoky Mountains and the surrounding areas in photos. I remember my first Smokies trip as if it was yesterday. Young, dumb, and naive about a good many things, I was very much in photographer shock and visual overload upon arrival, to say the least. Born and raised in Indiana, I had never seen anything like this firsthand! I instantly wanted to photograph everything I saw. I knew immediately the mere six rolls of film I had brought for the trip were not going to be enough, nor was the small amount of time that we would be there. I wasn't even sure where to point the camera first. The visual stimulation was overwhelming, and it took a good deal of self-discipline to contain my excitement for the photo opportunities I was seeing and not to just randomly start shooting and wasting my shots. Remember, film was a whole different beast than digital, and careful consideration had to be taken not to waste a single frame. Unlike digital, there are set limits with film, and that was always torture! Trust me, there was always something else you wanted to shoot once you ran out of film. As fate would have it, the camera suffered a shutter malfunction on that very first trip, and I instantly learned the importance of bringing backup equipment. Fortunately, I was able to get it going once again during the trip, but since then I have never left home without spare equipment, a very valuable lesson I learned the hard way.

Our trip was in January that particular year, and it happened to be seventy degrees and sunny. It was just beautiful, even with no leaves or snow. I don't know how many deer I saw the next few days, but there were certainly lots of them — more than I had ever seen in one place at any given time in my life. And the rivers, the streams, the cascades, and the waterfalls — oh man! Everywhere I looked! The first drive along the Little River Road was amazing. It felt like it took two whole days. The first trip through Cades Cove left me speechless. And the actual mountains — what wonder, what sights to behold! They just kept going on forever, it seemed. It was pure happiness! It's just as amazing to me all these years later. In fact, I think it's more beautiful since I have grown more aware and appreciative of nature and conservation; yet the feelings of that first trip are still there every time. You can't help but smile and feel at peace. You can't help but sense the happiness that surrounds you in this place. To me, there is nothing else quite like it. Of course a person is not able to see all of the beauty in one weekend, week, or month, and I strongly believe that even people who live there would be hard pressed to ever see it all in their lifetime. One thing was for sure though: on that first trip I was immediately hooked on the Great Smoky Mountains' beauty, and I have been ever since. There was no turning back because what I had seen couldn't be unseen. Twenty-five plus years and countless trips later, I am still discovering new things and places there and am still excited about every one of them!

Many times we were on the road at ten pm, eleven pm, or even midnight in order to get there in time for the sunrise and hopefully capture something inspiring. Lots and lots of coffee has kept us going more times than I can actually recall. I'd guess gallons most likely. There have been miles of hikes throughout the years. Some hikes are easy, of course, but others can certainly put a person to the test, forcing you to really push past your limits. The payoff at the end has always been worth it, in my opinion.

Then there are the bears. Let me tell you, it's a bit unnerving to happen across them on trails with no one else in sight, or have one sneak up on you and catch you unaware. And yes, they can be sneaky. Luckily, they have only had a passing curiosity regarding what we were doing before quickly going about their business. Of course the elk need their distance as well, and also the deer. We have always treated wildlife with great respect and taken our photos from a distance with very long lenses. With the proper equipment, you can take up-close-and-personal photos of any wildlife and never put yourself in harm's way or be invasive of their space. If you don't have the proper equipment, don't even try it. It's just not worth the risk. It never ceases to amaze me to see someone actually chasing after a wild animal — particularly a bear! I realize they look cute and cuddly and in need of some petting between the ears, but they are wild animals and could pose a danger to you or your loved ones if they feel threatened. You wouldn't want someone to come into your house and chase you around, take a picture with you, and try to pet you, would you? Treat them with the respect they deserve, and give them their space.

We had, myself in particular, great difficulty sorting through our massive archives of Smokies photography and trying to decide what to place in this book. It really seemed overwhelming at first. Some locations hold strong sentimental connections, and some are just too beautiful to accurately portray with only a photo, no matter how good the photo is. As awe inspiring as a photograph can be, you don't get the sounds, the smells, or the feelings you had while with your spouse, kids, friends, or family. Trees creaking in gentle winds, leaves rustling, and birds chirping reach your ears. Salamanders scurry out of sight. Chipmunks scamper along a fallen tree. Water trickles over and through rocks and is, perhaps, the greatest sound nature has ever given us. The smells of the damp undergrowth, decaying vegetation, wood, and leaves fill your nostrils. The flickering light levels as you progress up a trail play peek-a-boo with your eyes. The feel of the earth grounds you as you make your way up to some unknown, hidden, magical place. The cool, flowing water touches and refreshes your skin as you pass through it. The changes in air temperatures cool or warm you as you walk. Wildlife peeks through the forest at you with curiosity. The park ignites all of your senses and lets you come alive! In fact, I get so caught up in the moment and place and what they're doing to my senses that I sometimes forget I am there to take pictures. There really isn't anything else quite like it, and I will never tire of its endless beauty, sounds, and smells. Hopefully this collection of photos will give you as real a sense of place as is possible with photos. If we could bottle the smells and add the sounds, we certainly would!

As you look though this book, please be aware that we have researched all of the names and locations to the best of our abilities. We have consulted maps, books, the Internet, professionals, and friends who are local to the area and have sought them out to be sure we are naming things as accurately as possible, even though some people may not agree, and for that we do apologize. Their assistance is greatly appreciated and invaluable in an undertaking such as this. Some of the features would have undoubtedly gone nameless or been named incorrectly without help.

Enjoy the time you spend in the park and in these pages.

DEEDEE The Great Smoky Mountains National Park represents why I became a landscape photographer. Among giants such as Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Acadia National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains has a natural beauty all its own! It's not easy to describe this amazing place, but when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains you understand just how special it is!

Besides the beautiful landscapes, something that really fascinates me is the history of the Smokies. The strength and dedication of the people of the Smokies to preserve the area they called home for generations show us the love they had for the land long before we did. With a life rich in faith, tradition, and a culture all its own, it is like no other place in the United States.

My first experience of the Great Smoky Mountains was in September of 2011. It was difficult to take it all in. There is something there for everyone, but for Lee and me, it is about the land and undisturbed natural beauty. This unmatched beauty is at every turn in the road and on every stretch of trail. Once you drive through Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the first thing you see is the park entrance sign: "Great Smoky Mountains National Park." It seems like the very moment you pass that sign, something magical happens. You have entered one of the most beautiful places in America! You can't help but be stopped in your tracks. Driving through the mountains with anticipation of what is around the next corner makes you realize that you just won't be able to capture the true essence of this place, and you surely won't be able to capture it in one trip! Since that visit, we have been back several times. Each trip reveals new adventures and new images with the changing seasons and always-changing light.

One of the first things I noticed about the Great Smoky Mountains was the variety of landscapes all within a radius of a few miles. The scenery in Cades Cove is peaceful, with rolling meadows and an array of wildlife, as well as historical cabins and homesteads nestled at the base of the mountains. Small creeks and long fence lines add to the scene and help us see what life may have been like for the original settlers. Only thirty-seven miles away from Cades Cove is Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The 5.5 mile loop, full of steep grades, mountainous scenery, waterfalls, cascades, hiking trails, and wooded landscapes, is all photograph worthy! A short drive from there is Greenbrier, an area of the park with yet another completely different environment. There you will find beautiful creeks; large, heavily moss-covered rocks and trees; and wooded trails again leading to many unforgettable opportunities to create beautiful images.

The trail to Alum Cave Bluffs is my personal favorite. The trail is about 4.4 miles round trip and is absolutely wonderful! It's a nature girl's dream, and the photo opportunities are endless! Stopping all along the trail to just experience the scenery, the sound of nature, and the creek going along its way is something you just don't forget. I love to find a spot to sit and become part of the serenity for just a moment. I feel that taking this time to connect with a place helps make better photos. During this time, I find so many things besides the "big shot" that I want to capture with my camera and take home with me — like the way the water falls over a setting of rocks, a small creature, some colorful rocks, or even native wildflowers. This is why I became a landscape photographer. It combines two things I love dearly — nature and photography! I find it to be so peaceful, tranquil, and rewarding.

The Great Smoky Mountains are very special to Lee and me. We visit there often and always will. I truly hope that our love of the area shows in these images and that this book will inspire you to visit this land and have your own Great Smoky Mountains adventure.


Excerpted from The Great Smoky Mountains by Lee Mandrell, DeeDee Niederhouse-Mandrell. Copyright © 2017 Lee Mandrell and Diana Niederhouse-Mandrell. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Steve Kemp
Reflections on the Smokies

What People are Saying About This

author of Brown County Mornings - Gary Moore

As you turn each page, feasting your eyes on this photographic treasure trove, you will be lured to follow in the footsteps of photographers Lee Mandrell and DeeDee Niederhouse-Mandrell. Take in the beauty of the Smokies, as you encounter streams, waterfalls, and forests as well as black bears and other wildlife. The Mandrells use their photographic gifts to record the beauty as God’s ever-changing light transforms each scene before them. This book has been a true labor of love.

author of Top Trails: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Johnny Molloy

With their timely and exquisite photography the Mandrells capture the seasons, sensations and moods of the national park level scenery that is the Great Smoky Mountains.

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