Behind the Lens: Beauty Spot

Autumn’s morning light, Appalachian Trail, Beauty Spot

Recently, I decided to take a sunrise drive up to one of my favorite local spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains to assess the impending fall colors. Beauty Spot (altitude 4,400 ft) is in the Unaka Mountains, along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Access is easy due to FS Road 230 (Beauty Spot Gap Road) and by the Appalachian Trail. This easy access can be a double-edged sword though, with regards to people and on beautiful weekends be aware that you will always have campers scattered throughout the open bald. Also, know that sunset is almost always crowded in the summer and fall seasons.

Beauty Spot is most notably a sunset location, but I love working with early light as it filters in over my shoulder. I’d planned this fall season composition in my head many times, but just couldn’t get all the needed elements to align. The foreground elements are never the problem if the autumn goldenrod and golden grasses haven’t been mowed, but this does happen every few years, just as it does on Round Bald in the Roan Highlands.  Also, it’s much better if the wind is light, but that’s not a huge factor with the modern digital camera and their ability to capture beautiful image files at high ISO. Anyway, on this day everything did align, minus epic sunrise color, with the clouds streaming in exactly like I wanted.

My goal in this composition was to use the iconic Appalachian Trail as my leading line and all the elements, including the sky, to converge on the far peaks in the center of the photograph. I used an ultrawide angle lens to exaggerate the visual movement through the photograph. An Ultrawide lens distorts the composition and adds to the feeling of depth. I don’t feel that this image is diminished due to the missing orange glow of sunrise. The wonderful fall grasses and wildflowers with the addition of the cloud movement makes this a powerful image and it will certainly find its way into my Blue Ridge Mountains portfolio. I’ve added a visual aid below showing my design idea for this composition.

I used a Canon EOS R with drop-in CPL filter mount adapter EF-EOS R and Irix 11mm f4 Firefly lens (Exposure: 1/30 sec; f/14; ISO 800). Support was provided by a Feisol Elite Tripod CT-3372 Rapid and Carbon Fiber Ballhead CB-50DC.

Jerry is a professional outdoor photographer and author with a focus on conservation and the environment. Jerry is also a photographic book printing consultant/broker with 20 years of industry experience. He leads photography works throughout the United States. To see his work, purchase image licenses or prints and review his workshop schedule visit You can also follow him on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook.

Jerry Greer Photography featured on the cover and inside – June 2012 Issue of WNC Magazine

I just received my advance copies of the June issue of WNC Magazine and I had a wonderful surprise! I was aware that they had chosen to use 5 of my photographs for a photo essay titled Calm of the Wild but I had no idea that they were going to use an image on the cover as well! It’s great to be back on the cover and on the inside pages of such a beautiful Magazine (and they did a great job with the images). Here’s the cover and the full bleed spreads. All of the inside images were printed  as  “full-bleed double-truck”, or  two page, full-bleed spreads. If you get a chance stop by any book retailer and pick up a copy!







Back on the Cover!

It’s been a few years since one of my photographs have been printed on the pages of WNC Magazine. For the first two years of their existence, as a new magazine release, my photographs were a regular fixture. Then the economy took a dive and the funding to pay for beautiful images from working photographers dried up. I still have the email sent to me explaining the reduction in funding and the elimination of the “Vistas” series. It was just another hit on a long list of photo budgets for working photographers trying to pay the bills and feed the family. Later that year I received an email that requested an image but they could only offer a credit due to the, still in effect, photo budget freeze. And as I always do, I refuse to allow the use of my images without proper payment. Credits just do not pay the bills and I’ve yet to find a bank that would accept those photo credits.

I commend the good people at WNC Magazine for deciding that it is important to offer payment to working photographers for the use of their images,  it shows that they truly care about those full-time photographers that strive to offer beautiful photographs. I’m so glad and encouraged to be working with WNC Magazine again. So, for all that are subscribers and for those in the region that buy off the shelf, check out the July 2011 issue, you’ll see my “Roan Highlands” photograph on the cover. Here’s a quick shot of my issue that I received in the mail today.

WNC Magazine_July 2011_Cover

The Southern Appalachian Beech Gap – Critically Imperiled!

At high elevations pure stands of American beech trees are know as beech gaps. Beech bark disease, a complex made up of the beech scale insect cryptococcus fagisuga and a closely associated fungus Nectria coccinea var. faginata poses a serious threat to this community. Most all of the beech gap communities in and around the Great Smokies have succumbed to the beech bark disease or a combination of the disease, pests and pollution.  This trend is being felt throughout the southern Appalachians, with the possible extinction of this forest community in the next few years. The beech gap community is assigned a Global Conservation Status Rank of G1. A G1 ranking translates to – Critically Imperiled—At very high risk of extinction due to extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer populations), very steep declines, or other factors.

During my Roan Highlands workshop this past weekend I found that one of my favorite locations to spend time studying and photographing in is sick, very sick. It looks to be a really tragic end to another huge beech gap. I’ve thought that this location was OK in terms of health with good leaf coverage and little tree kill. This year is drastically different. It looks like 70% to 80% of the beech trees have not leafed out and this is not good. It all happened in one years time. Not sure until the botanists get in to the location and study the trees. The way I see it is this, the trees will not survive if they do not leaf out and this was not a gradual die-off. It is real sad to see one of the largest beech gaps remaining in the southern Appalachians succumb to the disease. Over the next couple of years we will see this forest community make a dramatic shift and those beautiful flowing grasses will eventually die off as well. This was a very sad day for me and for those that have felt the same connection to such a unique ecosystem. I’ll be posting more images from this location over the coming months. My intent is to personally document, in stills and in motion, its transition, and to bring botanists, biologists, photographers and other scientists to this location as well. Maybe, just maybe, there is a slim chance that there could be a recovery but the cards are stacked against this notion.

At least I did have the chance to spend the past few years working and bringing friends and colleagues into this wondrous location. And I can say for certain, every person that witnessed this community first-hand came home with a strong connection with this unique and beautiful place.
Canon EOS 5DmkII w/ TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

Fern in summer beech gap, Roan Highlands, TN & NC

North Carolina Coastal Landscapes and Wildlife Workshop – a great success!

This workshop started off with a loud BANG (or series of goose calls)! Richard, me, our participants, and about 200,000 snow geese, it was a truly humbling experience.

Here’s a few still images from the scouting days before the workshop. I’ll make another post with images taken during the workshop in a few days. Also, stop by and see other images taken by me and co-instructor Richard Bernabe.

Richard and I will be offering this workshop again next year, so stay tuned! We will be posting the dates very soon!

Tundra swans in flight, Pungo Unit, Pocosin Lakes NWF, NC

Sunset and tundra swans on Pungo Lake, Pocosin Lakes NWR, NC

Tundra swans in flight, Pungo Unit, Pocosin Lakes NWR, NC

Snow geese taking flight, Pungo Unit, Pocosin Lakes NWR, NC

Snow geese taking flight, Pungo Unit, Pocosin Lakes NWR, NC

Snow geese taking flight, Pungo Unit, Pocosin Lakes NWR, NC

Whiteoak Canyon, Shenandoah National Park

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve been so busy that I have not posted to the blog in weeks. I do apologize and I can only promise that it will get better. My Blue Ridge book project is coming down to the wire and I’m just doing all I can to fill in those areas that I’m missing but feel that they need to be represented. Please bear with me, I have about six weeks before the shooting is finished and the design phase really gets cooking. Anyway, I have a little time tonight and I thought that I would post some of my new images taken over the past few weeks. These are from my trip to Whiteoak Canyon in the Shenandoah National Park.

Thanks so much for stopping by for a visit! Feel free to comment and enjoy the photographs.


Spring forest and canyon walls, Whiteoak Canyon, Shenandoah Nati

Whiteoak Falls_upper_spring fog 1

Spring flow, Whiteoak Canyon, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Goodbye Winter!

Well, it has been a while since I’ve posted to my blog and please accept my apologies for my negligence. It has been a very busy few months with all of the new books and calendars that we are releasing at Mountain Trail Press. Also, having a 13-month old little girl takes a lot of my free time. So, with this post I thought that I would post a few of my favorite winter images that I’ve taken over these cold months. Let me know what you like or dislike about the images. Thanks in advance for your responses.

Snowy beech forest, Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee

This photograph was taken in the Cherokee National Forest during one our best snowstorms of the season. I wish that we could’ve had a few more inches and a few extra days to shoot it. This next image is the same area, I’m enamored with the winter beech leaves!

Snow accentuates the winter beech trees, Cherokee National Fores

How about another!

Snow blankets the forest along Rocky Fork, Unicoi County, Tennes

Urban sprawl and development of farmland into subdivisions

I’m working on an assignment for a client on urban sprawl, including the development of farmland into subdivisions. I’m also looking at city infill projects and good development within the city limits. Here are a few of the images that I have so far. If you’d like to discuss these photos feel free to post. I’ll be working on this project for the next few weeks.