Larry Treadwell  

Home With A View by Larry Treadwell

May 2020 - Home With A View

About the Image(s)

A Home with a View
John Oliver Cabin, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park
In Camera Double Exposure:
First Exposure: The Cabin with Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens. ISO 200, f13, 25 seconds
Second Exposure: The Sky with Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens. ISO 1600, f2.8, 15 seconds
Since I love photographing the night sky my idea to improve upon last month’s image was to photograph the cabin with the Milky Way hovering above. I used PhotoPills to plot the location and time of the Milky Way even before I arrived on the scene. I was fortunate to be able to position the Milky Way in the narrow gap between the trees and the cabin. It was difficult to position the cabin and still be able to include the MW due to the surrounding trees. This is literally the only composition I could find. I used the same procedure as last month to light the inside of the cabin and the porches. I used a small LED flashlights to light paint the cabin and fence and a large ”deer shiner” flashlight to light the trees so they would not become just dark holes. The first half of the double exposure was taken moments before dark and included the light painting and the interior cabin lights. I then waited more than 4 hours for the Milky Way to get into position.

The night was not without some real drama. Enjoy the rest of the story below.

I had walked into Cades Cove the night before to handle the logistics for my photograph of the Oliver cabin and the Milky Way and so at about 6 p.m. on the night of the shoot, I set off down the road with a light step and a song in my heart. The walk to the cabin was only about a mile and would not take more than 20 minutes. As I arrived at the cabin site I noticed family of tourists emerge from the cabin. After exchanging greetings, they asked what I was going to do with all the gear I was unloading from my pack. When I explained I would be staying at the cabin until about 2 a.m. to take a photograph they looked at me with incredulity and asked, “aren’t you afraid to be here alone and in the dark that late at night?” I laughed saying that I had done it the night before and everything had been just fine. I thought what I heard was the wind in the trees, but now I am sure it was the fates laughing at me.

When the family departed I set up my tripod and lights and then took a seat on the front porch to await twilight. It was not long before a small herd of whitetail deer emerged from the forest and began to feed and frolic near the cabin. The inquisitive fawns would peak around their mothers to observe this strange human resting on the porch. Suddenly all activity stopped and in unison their heads turned toward for forest. Quick as a flash the deer dashed down the hill and vanished into the forest. I had heard nothing, seen nothing, but they certainly had. The silence was ominous, but nothing happened.

Twilight descended on the little glen and it was time to take the first part of my planned double exposure. I turned on the flash units, attached the camera to the tripod, carefully framed my image and practiced running my route in preparation for my light painting. Practice does make perfect and my first attempt came out satisfactorily. Now all I had to do was wait for the Milky Way. Knowing it would be dark when I finished I went into the cabin to take down my lighting equipment and stored it in my pack while there was still some remnants of daylight. With everything packed I walked out of the cabin and headed for my camera to change the settings for the second shot. It was almost completely dark in the glen as I walked toward the camera when I thought I saw a shadow move in the forest. I heard nothing. It must have just been my imagination. My imagination now walked out of the forest. A large, nearly 200 pound, black bear emerged from the shadows and began walking toward my tripod. As I have said before, I am passionate about photography. All I could think about was please do not hit the tripod! If the camera moved my photograph would be ruined.

With the bear only about 25 feet away I began waving my arms like a lunatic and yelling at the bear. He stopped. He was next to the tripod. I ran off to the left calling to the bear to follow me. I knew if he did I could dart into the cabin using the doorway on the back porch and then I could climb into the cabin loft because the little ladder in the cabin would never hold his weight. As I ran around the corner of the cabin the bear began moving in my direction. There were some rocks near the cabin and as I continued to yell at the bear I started throwing the rocks in his direction. The bear turned and ran off into the woods entering about 40 feet from where my tripod stood. I retrieved my large flashlight and used it to scan the forest. Nothing. I listened. Still nothing. Perhaps the bear was gone. I still had nearly 4 hours to wait for the Milky Way to make its appearance so I sat down and leaned against the cabin. I waited an hour, scanned the forest again and found no bear. I walked over to the tripod and changed the camera settings to be ready for the Milky Way.

A little after 1 a.m. I came out of the cabin, used the flashlight to scan the forest near the tripod, found nothing and threw a few rocks into the forest if only to make me feel better, and hearing nothing, walked to the camera to take my final exposure. Heaving a great sigh of relief I packed everything up and headed off down the hill and back to the safety of my car. Then I heard crashing and snapping twigs in the forest about 40 feet off to my right.

Telling myself not to run and act like frightened prey, I yelled a few times at the forest and quickly walked in the opposite direction from the noise. Over the next twenty minutes as I hustled down the road heading toward my car every time I heard a twig snap I spun around shined the light in the direction where the sound had come from, and then hurried on my way. After the night I had been through I was sure I was being followed.

After about twenty minutes I was feeling safe. I started to relax, all would be fine, I had made it. Suddenly, I heard a loud snort that came from right behind me. At that moment I am certain that I levitated at least 15 feet into the air and while in the air spun around and pointed the flashlight straight into the face--of a horse! Because of the dark I had not realized I been walking along a fenced meadow where the riding stable in the cove pastured their horses for the night. One black horse had been standing against the fence and snorted as I walked past.

When my heartbeat returned to normal, I laughed at my unfounded fears, and conducted a short chat with the horse before turning and finishing my walk to the car.

And now you know the rest of the story.

37 comments posted

Richard White   Richard White
Larry, love you story. It really adds to the photo and your fortitude.

Really liked the result of your time and effort. My eye went straight to the sky and the galaxy. You double photo works very well. You should be proud of this photo. Next time take a bigger, brighter flashlight.   Posted: 05/02/2020 13:26:31
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks. I could not figure out any other way to do this. The glen with the cabin was just too dark and I needed time to light paint, thus the double exposure.   Posted: 05/03/2020 08:41:06

Michael Jack   Michael Jack
Great story, and I can appreciate your concern. My story is too long, but needless to say, I now always carry bear spray on shoots like this.

At only 15 seconds, you got an amazing sky without star trails. Your Milky Way processing looks right on to me, but based on the horse nebulae, it appears you may have enlarged this part of the Milky Way? Regardless, well done. I like the way the fence appears to circle around the cabin and that you left an opening in the fence on the right to let the viewer go into the cabin. I might consider darkening the path, grass and fence to the left of the cabin to keep the eye from focusing there. The light emanating from the cabin is exceptionally well done and looks natural. Aesthetically, if possible I also might have tried to have the light on the trees near the cabin look like they are being lite from the cabin rather than a remote light. However, this is an amazing image, reflects a lot of thought and work, and bravery...

  Posted: 05/02/2020 15:55:33
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
When I shoot the Milky Way with my 24-70 f2.8 lens I never drag the shutter more than 15 seconds or it lose the pin point nature of the stars. So that leaves me to play with the ISO. I did use the adjustment brush to brighten the MW and I brushed in noise reduction as well and increasing the whites.

I actually darkened the path, but I could bring it down a bit more. I had bot thought about about making the left fence darker.

Finally I not sure about the bravery---maybe some stupidity. :-)   Posted: 05/03/2020 08:49:31

Tom McCreary   Tom McCreary
(Groups 7 & 32)
Quite a story and quite an image. You should be very proud of it. If you had been looking for a bear, you would never have seen one.   Posted: 05/02/2020 16:59:56
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks. I try to remember to LOOK harder for bears in the future.   Posted: 05/03/2020 08:50:51

Beverly Caine   Beverly Caine
(Groups 48 & 80)
Visiting from 48 & 80
The image is super. Your story reminds me of what I used to tell my husband before I got into photography. We were planning our 20th anniversary trip to Europe and I admonished him that if he tripped over one more bench trying to get a picture I would leave him there. Motto, no that I am a photographer as well, I can say with a smile that all photographers, including myself, are absolutely nuts!   Posted: 05/03/2020 08:31:03
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for stopping by. Sometimes I wonder about what we photographers will do to get a picture. This all seemed simple when I was sitting at home dream it up. :-)   Posted: 05/03/2020 08:53:08

Arne Skinlo   Arne Skinlo
A fantastic picture with a thrilling story! I have no suggestion for improvements. I have never done double exposures in camera as there is a rather big chance for something goes wrong. I see you have changed the settings in the camera and then there is a possibility for moving it slightly, but it has not happened here. I just join the others prise of a well done work.   Posted: 05/03/2020 14:34:20
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks so much. I give full credit to the bear for NOT bumping the tripod----I was so worried he would. I also credit my Gitzo tripod and my Really Right Stuff ball head. They really create a very solid support.   Posted: 05/03/2020 15:12:43

Martin Newland   Martin Newland
(Group 2)
Great story and a wonderful image.   Posted: 05/04/2020 19:33:00
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thank you for stopping by. I do appreciate it.   Posted: 05/05/2020 15:52:40

Ian Chantler   Ian Chantler
(Groups 4 & 31)
Hi Larry the picture is as good as the story The image is beautifully composed wonderful detail in the shadows you have much more courage than I would ever have.   Posted: 05/05/2020 14:38:45
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I'm really glad you liked the shadow detail. I brought a special flashlight just to hit those trees. Good to know it was appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by to look and comment.   Posted: 05/05/2020 15:54:13

Bill Peake   Bill Peake
That's an fantastic image and amazing story! The only thing I can see that you might change is the path and hill in the background seem a little hazy. Was there haze, or is that an artifact of post processing. You might want to consider darking it a bit. I don't really have a problem with the path to the left, although it would be interesting to see what it would look like darkened as well. You really did a lot of work to get the image and the results show it!   Posted: 05/05/2020 16:15:56
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for the comments and suggestions.
Yes there was haze, mist beginning to form in the valley. By 6 a.m. there was heavy fog throughout the valley.

I did darken the path on the left. If I went any further it started to get a bit muddy.   Posted: 05/05/2020 18:21:40
Bill Peake   Bill Peake
Yeah I was wondering about that haze - it does look natural. I really like this image! I want to get try long exposure sky photography myself, I haven't tried it yet and I would like to give it a shot.   Posted: 05/06/2020 21:58:26

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Larry, this is a truly fantastic shot, and I love this story more than any of your other stories. I know you will keep up the stories.
But, if we ever meet in person, I am NEVER going out on a photo shoot with you.   Posted: 05/06/2020 14:10:05
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Awww Stephen. I'm crushed. I was so looking forward to photographing the pyramids together.

Lots of times nothing happens, sometimes I don't even get a picture.

Guess you will just have to get the thrills and the chills, from my stories.

Glad you liked the image.   Posted: 05/06/2020 17:05:00

Cheryl LaLonde   Cheryl LaLonde
(Group 96)
I totally love this image and I don't think I would change a thing. Beautiful color, beautiful mood. Love the lights in the cabin, the exposure on the trees and the grass. Fantastic job, I don't think this would have been easy even without the bear drama!!!   Posted: 05/09/2020 02:09:27
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thank you for the compliment.
I dropped by your group to see your image but noticed you had not posted one as yet. I'm looking forward to seeing your work.   Posted: 05/09/2020 08:23:38
Cheryl LaLonde   Cheryl LaLonde
(Group 96)
I have sent in my first photo and I'm sure it will be posted soon. I am really looking forward to some feedback!   Posted: 05/09/2020 11:07:11

Paul Smith   Paul Smith
(Group 93)
Larry, I am Paul Smith from Group 93. You recently said I could ask questions...I have a few. I think it best we communicate on my issues away from these pages. At your convenience, please contact me at Thanks   Posted: 05/09/2020 10:47:30
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I sent you an email and will be more than happy to answer your questions.   Posted: 05/11/2020 10:49:34

Joseph J Zaia   Joseph J Zaia
(Group 22)
Congratulations Larry on your successful picture and confrontation. I am pleased that you are around to tell us the story.   Posted: 05/09/2020 11:37:30
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
That makes two of us.
Don't think I was really ever in danger, but in the dark, your mind sure can play tricks on you.   Posted: 05/11/2020 10:50:43

George R Phile   George R Phile
This is a really nice composition. My eye went from the fence to the cabin and then the Milky Way. The break in the fence line gives one an opening to the cabin and the red/orange light on the porch at the right is really nice. I like the dark brooding character of the image. This is a really nice image as the posted comments by everyone attests to.   Posted: 05/11/2020 09:17:57

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks George. Looking at the photo really brings back memories. Wish I was on that porch right now.   Posted: 05/11/2020 10:51:48

Larry Beller   Larry Beller
(Group 14)
Really fine image. It's one of the best "wish I had done that" images I've seen in a long time. Let me suggest a very thin (two or three pixel gray) border to separate it from a black background; you don't want the border to call attention to itself, it needs to be something that is just there.   Posted: 05/12/2020 16:00:57
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
Your idea of a thing grey line sounds like it just might be worthwhile.

Before I post online again I'll look in to it.

The framed copy onmy wall doesn't need the line.   Posted: 05/12/2020 20:10:15
Larry Beller   Larry Beller
(Group 14)
Correct. Your framed copy has a frame to separate it from the background, and your wall probably isn't black (enough, at least) to confuse the separation of the two. I also suspect that a thin gray line border separation might make the cabin seem to be brighter, and I suggest that such might help the presentation. One should remember that our images are not displayed in isolation, but always in conjunction with its background.

  Posted: 05/14/2020 18:05:24

Brad Ashbrook   Brad Ashbrook
(Groups 27 & 44)
Wonderful image! I also love to photograph the night sky when I have the chance. Curious, why did you take the risk with the double exposure and not merge the files in post?   Posted: 05/26/2020 10:46:50
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Because PSA does not allow merged posts in some of the competitions but they will accept a double exposure.

I've got a real solid tripod and because of camera presets I only had to make two adjustments both of which I practiced may times before I even got to the cabin.

Thanks for looking.   Posted: 05/26/2020 14:05:36
Brad Ashbrook   Brad Ashbrook
(Groups 27 & 44)
Ok, good to know even though I don't enter exhibitions anymore.. BTW, love the composition!   Posted: 05/26/2020 17:16:42

Marge Barham   Marge Barham
(Group 38)
Larry, I think your title is great! Makes me want to sit right in that cabin and stare out to the stars. I love everything about your photo and I wouldn't change anything. The composition is perfect, your lighting the areas are perfect. Great, great job Larry. And your story just made me laugh and happy that your safe. I guess there was a chance that no one would have gotten to see this photo. LOL.
Thank you for taking all the time to describe your thoughts before during and after taking this beautiful photo. You surely love what you do and I love that.   Posted: 05/28/2020 08:42:04
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks Marge.

I really am happiest when I'm out with my camera. I do have a passion for making images and hope it comes across in my work.

Thanks so much for stopping by.   Posted: 05/28/2020 08:46:28

Marge Barham   Marge Barham
(Group 38)
Your passion does show Larry, very much so. I caught your photo from Blowing Rocks a few months ago and I loved that photo and story as well. I will have to stop by more often to read more of your stories, and see your photos. Thanks again.
  Posted: 05/28/2020 08:50:43


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