Shenandoah National Park

Last Saturday, I went to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to shoot the sunrise from one of my favorite locations along Skyline Drive, as well as photograph some of the late summer foliage. When I left the house at 0430, it was obviously dark, and therefore, I could not tell the extent of the cloud cover. Clouds significantly improve the beauty of a sunrise, so I was hoping for some clouds.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a very overcast morning and day. The sunrise was less spectacular than many I have seen from that location, but it was still beautiful. Regardless of the cloud cover, it turned out to be a great day in the mountains, and a day for some unusual views and photographs of the Shenandoah Valley. I also had a black bear sighting, which is always exciting. Last fall, I photographed a bear hunting acorns 75 feet up in a tree.  (Good subject for another blog article.)

In the above image (Nikon D700, 28mm, f/9, 30 sec), it was still very dark, but as the sun was beginning to near the horizon, it began to glow in shades of red while the clouds in the sky began to turn deep shades of blue.

In the above image (D700, 70mm, f/9, 30 sec), as the colors changed and intensified, I zoomed in for a closer exposure. (Below image: D700, 70mm, f/9, 2.5 sec)

After shooting the sunrise, I spent the day photographing Shenandoah Mountain landscapes and views from various overlooks of the Shenandoah Valley, which was covered in clouds that hugged the valley floor while the sky was very overcast. It was a scene that I am sure happens often, but one that I had not photographed before.

(Above images: Nikon D700, 62mm, f/11,  1/40; D300, 70mm, f/11, 1/40; D300, 70mm, f/18, 1/160; respectively) (Opening image: D300, 180mm, f/11, 1/100)

Later in the day, it did brighten up, and I was able to shoot some early fall colors. I will post another article tomorrow with some of those images.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. It is a season for dramatic photography with its brilliant colors and invigorating weather. The colors in the Shenandoah Mountains can be breathtaking, and I will definitely be heading back in October and November. In two weeks, I will be at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania to photograph many of the 22 named waterfalls, hopefully framed by colorful trees. I was there in May and posted this article after the trip:

Additional images can be seen on my website at

About Stephen L Tabone

Retired Executive Consultant and Nature Photographer
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2 Responses to Shenandoah National Park

  1. Ernie Sears says:

    I really like the use of B&W in the opening shot, but I think my favorite is the third sunrise shot (Sunrise Begins 2). The intense reds and oranges provide a great contrast to the blues, greens, and grays of the clouds and mountains. It has to be seen full size to appreciate the beautiful mix of color. This one shot made the trip worthwhile in my opinion. As usual, great work!

  2. Anne says:

    I, too, love the opening shot in B&W, and agree that the 3rd sunrise is super for all the reasons Ernie said. The clouds rising from the valleys make the mountains look as if they are on fire … very, smokish. And I agree with you, Steve, autumn is my favorite season and I’m wondering where it is …

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