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  • Robert Stephens

So Far (Part Deux)

Ahh, spring.


After the stark, dark desolation of winter, those first spring blooms are like manna from heaven.


If you haven't read my book "Seasons" (which is still available - click the link to order) or followed my work, you must know that spring is my favorite time of year. I'm sure that's the case for a lot of folks out there. Just the spirit of warmth, of the emergence of color out of monochrome, of renewal in general - the promise of God to make all things new - spring lights my spirit like no other time of year.


It was in that spirit that I enthusiastically leapt into spring 2021; first to capture the spring blooms in the South Carolina Low Country; and then, if all went well, gradually back into the mountains.


But spring had a hard time showing up this year. In 2017, when I made my first visit to "azalea land" in the Low Country, it was the second week of March. I tried that again this year to find a whole lot of nothing.


So I waited until March 30 - an awfully late date to see azaleas in bloom along the Atlantic coast - but the rewards were well worth that wait, as Magnolia Plantation in Charleston delivered:

That latter image is one of my favorites of the year, a better composed version of a similar image I'd taken four years previous during my last visit. A lovely blend of azaleas, Spanish Moss, and wisteria - not to mention the reflection off the pond - all making for a wonderful view.


But winter wasn't done yet - at least, not in the Smokies.


So while the apple orchards in Waynesville, NC were in bloom:

Winter was busy reasserting itself in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making for a stark contrast between the seasons. Was winter giving way to spring, or was it the other way around?


All I knew was that I witnessed a clash of seasons like I'd never seen before. Fall into winter? Been there, done that a few times. But winter into spring? Not until that late April day had I seen anything like it. And Chimney Tops was the epicenter of the action:

Of course, spring eventually took its rightful place, and the incredible Linville Gorge served as a wonderful canvas for spring blooms, as a two day trip with friends yielded much bountiful fruit:

That last image featured my friend Leslie, who posed for both myself and my friend and fellow photographer Tommy as we captured a scene with lots of mood.


The rhododendron began calling not too long after, but sadly there weren't many blooms to speak of. A few blooms along Carver's Gap:

And some flame azalea further up the Appalachian Trail near Grassy Ridge on Roan Mountain:

And scattered petals even further up trail:

All added up to a less-than-exciting spring along the Roan; but any trip, any hike in that area is always a treat, blooms or no blooms.


Summer tends to be less active for me, with the typical thunderstorms placing a damper on things. So the lack of compelling scenes often inspires me to venture out of my typical style, capturing images with a creative approach to editing.


Like this old truck I found along US 176 south of Rosman, NC:

And I also indulged in my love for capturing old train depots (I grew up at a house located only yards away from an old railroad in Georgia), as I found this old beauty (with permission) in Limestone, TN. I even created two different versions of the same image - one in a faded color, the other in old sepia tone:

And that brings us to today, with fall color fast approaching.


How will this season play out? Well, as always, I have a loose itinerary, and I hope to meet again with you in a couple months with a bumper crop of autumn color and magic.

Until then, I hope you've enjoyed what I have shot so far this year. God willing, more to come!

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