Best Pictures Monthly

Best Pictures: August 2017

Milky Way, twilight, and tail lights on Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fuji X-T20 w/Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.

Here are my favorite pictures I took in August 2017:

Another pretty South Carolina sunset from my deck. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 18mm lens.

On August 6, I returned to Black Balsam Knob, an open-top mountain off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had hiked here this past winter, but 40+ mph wind gusts and low clouds prevented me from getting anything very useful, picture or video-wise. I returned and spent several hours taking panoramas, time-lapse, and still images. It was again a windy day, but I had plenty of company from other humans – and an astonishing number of butterflies.

Butterfly at Black Balsam Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T20 w/XF 50-140mm lens.

Black Balsam Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

In mid-August, my co-worker and good friend Ashley had her last day at Website Pipeline, and we celebrated her by going bowling and out in downtown Greenville.

Ray showing great form. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

Michelle, Ashley, and Jim. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

Ray on the left, Louis on the right.

The usual tomfoolery, featuring Ashley and Louis.

As the August new moon arrived, a big group of us headed up to Blue Ridge Parkway for sunset and the night sky. For at least a few of the group, it was the first time seeing the Milky Way with their naked eyes. It was also a fun chance to put some people in astrophotography pictures.

We had a blast and headed down through Pisgah National Forest to stop at Looking Glass Falls at about 1am, and then made the requisite stop at the Waffle House in Brevard for 2am diner food.

Taking in the sunset, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T2 w/Rokinon 12mm lens.

Frendo and Neiman shooting the setting sun, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T2 w/Rokinon 12mm lens.

CJ silhouetted with the Milky Way, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

Milky Way and stars reflecting on my car hood, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

We saw a ton of shooting stars (or asteroids, or meteors, or whatever), and I found a few of them when working through the time-lapse frames.

Shooting star & Milky Way, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T2 w/Rokinon 12mm lens.

Night sky and light trails, Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

Milky Way from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fuji X-T20 w/XF 18mm F2 lens.

I know you’re not supposed to shoot vertical video, but I really wanted the still images and shot a time-lapse anyway, which turned out okay:

Anyone who lives in the United States knows we had a total solar eclipse in August, and Greenville was in the path of totality. Frendo was kind enough to host us on the roof of his apartment building downtown, which gave us an amazing 360-degree view of the eclipse, which was dazzling. I didn’t really take pictures of the eclipse, since it only lasted about two minutes, but I did capture some pictures of our day up there.

Eclipse glasses and other required accessories. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

Danny and Spencer viewing the eclipse. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

The day after the eclipse, I stopped at the top of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on my route to Michigan. I was hoping for clear skies to make a few time-lapse clips and photos I’d been envisioning for a while.

I was not disappointed.

While waiting for darker skies, I experimented shooting light trails from the passing cars.

Light trails at sunset on Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fuji X-T2 w/Rokinon 12mm lens.

Light trails at twilight on Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fuji X-T2 w/Rokinon 12mm lens.

Once the sky darkened, I got both cameras running time-lapse, one with motion, one fixed.

This was exactly what I was hoping for, yielding both excellent video clips and still images.

Milky Way and light trails on Newfound Gap Road (with the searchlight type effect from a distant car), Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fuji X-T20 w/Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.

Milky Way, twilight, and tail lights on Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fuji X-T20 w/Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.

I stuck around for another hour or so shooting individual images, leveraging the bend in the roads to create some interesting trails.

Milky Way and light trails on Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fuji X-T20 w/Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.

Shortly after that, the sky clouded up, and I headed to my hotel in Gatlinburg for the night. I spent most of the next day driving to see the girls.

Playing Skip-Bo with Leah. Fuji X-T2 w/XF 16-55mm lens.

I stayed the last 10 days of August in Michigan – here’s that post.

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