Great Smoky Mountains Fall Photography Workshop

Workshop location; This high elevation, panoramic, image has back lit, autumn colors glowing on each side of the image forming a v shape that frames the view down a long twisting valley. The valley, in the middle of the frame, has alternating hazy, blue layered mountains dipping into it from each side repeating into the distance.

OCTOBER 24th - 29th, 2023

Space Available
$1690 USD
Instructor: Andy Cook


Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the best place to merge autumn color and flowing water into stunning landscape photography. Not only that, fall is a great time to capture the classic, layered Smoky Mountains image and the park's historic buildings look absolutely captivating surrounded by vibrant autumn colors.

FOCUS: Photograph fall colors with streams, cascades, waterfalls and a few historic buildings.

ADDITIONAL: Photograph several sunrises and sunsets from different overlooks, and photograph intimate details such as leaf litter or fungi.

A favorite workshop location. Three layers of cascades and waterfalls fill the bottom two thirds of this image. The water flows through, over and around shelves of rock covered in green moss and freshly fallen autumn leaves. The sides of the stream are hugged by rhododendrons and above them are the autumn colors of a hardwood forest in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Waterfalls in Autumn Forest
Photography location; No sky is visible, just tree trunks and a golden, autumn forest which glows more intensely farther away. From the bottom of the frame and into the forest Roaring Fork road meanders and eventually disappears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Roaring Fork Road


The workshop starts on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023 at 7:30 pm with an introduction and discussion in the hotel lobby. We start photographing on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.

LODGING LOCATION: Hampton Inn, 967 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. 865-436-4878

Check-in Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023; Check-out Monday, Oct. 30, 2023.

Workshop ends after photographing on Sunday evening, Oct. 29, 2023.

During our workshop it is impossible to visit all of the wonderful locations in the park. We feel participants may benefit by staying a few days after the workshop and continue photographing on their own.

We will reserve a block of rooms at this hotel that will give the best available rate. When the group link/code is created we will email it to participants.

Workshop location; The image is from inside a historic cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A window, the subject, and some of the cabin interior wall is shown. Viewing through the six panes of the window, three on top, three on bottom, one sees an old zig zag fence and a dogwood tree with red, autumn leaves.
Historic Cabin Window


MORNING: We'll be at a photography location for the start of civil twilight. Usually we relocate to another photo location before going to breakfast.

MIDDAY: On some days we continue to photograph throughout the day, on others we have midday time at the hotel.

EVENING: Photography is does prior to evening meal. We do not schedule an evening group meal because Gatlinburg is very busy and often we return late (7:30 and 8:30 pm) from the field. There are many diverse restaurants in walking distance. Some choose to dine in small groups. Others dine on pre purchased meals while downloading and preparing for sleep.

Photography location in Cades Cove; A large, red leafed tree positioned to the right of middle, fills most of the vertical frame. Just behind it and to the left is a smaller tree with dull yellow leaves. Further back are a few, short, golden trees and then in the distant, filling behind everything, is a mountainside showing autumn colors.
Autumn Trees in Cades Cove


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Big Creek workshop location; Long exposure creating smooth, flowing water enters across the bottom of the image. The river flows around large boulders partly covered with green moss and peppered with freshly fallen, autumn leaves. It's a long view up the river, which pinches down to a vanishing point near the middle of the frame. Each side of the river has a layer of rhododendrons topped by yellows, oranges and reds of an autumn hardwood forest.
Autumn decorates Big Creek


participant experience level

EXPERIENCE: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

workshop group size

GROUP SIZE: Target number of participants is 8.

workshop effort scale

EFFORT: Moderate - Some photography locations are just beyond the parking lot, others will involve trail hiking and mild elevation gain. The longest trail is about 1.5 miles each way. When photographing along streams participants will seek vantage points amongst large boulders and rocks. This takes extra strength and increases one's risk of slipping and falling. Hiking boots are recommended.

workshop weather conditions

CONDITIONS: Be prepared for changes in weather. Mornings can be very cold, like winter.

ELEVATION: The elevation range of our photography locations is 1,300 to 6,600 ft.

Workshop location; The soft light of early morning allows for a long exposure, which blurs the moving water spilling over the sides of the elevated water chute supplying Mingus Mill, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Above and to the side of the chute autumn colors decorate the trees of the hardwood forest.
Mingus Mill Water Chute


suggested workshop airports

AIR TRAVEL: Most people flying to this workshop will find flying into Knoxville, TN to be the best choice.

Driving time from Knoxville to Gatlinburg, TN is estimated at 2 hours. To reach the hotel, participants are highly advised to access via Townsend and then through the national park to Gatlinburg. Avoid the apparently shorter route through Pigeon Forge as it usually takes twice as long due to heavy traffic.

car information

DRIVING CONDITIONS: Paved roads and maintained dirt roads. A standard rental car will be sufficient. When possible, we prefer participants car pool with each other to limit our impact and get to know one another.

Workshop location; From a high view point, this is a long lens, black and white photo showing numerous ridge lines, layered mountains, through all of the image except for a small amount of hazy, partly cloudy sky at the top. It is hazy and cloudy enough to cause sun beams to project down into the top half of the image.
Layers - Smoky Mountains


equipment information


FOR SMOKY MOUNTAINS AUTUMN: Lens range from at least 18mm to 400mm after the lens multiplication factor, polarizing filter and a 6 stop or higher neutral density filter.

Rain is a real possibility. Yes, we may photograph in the rain, if we're lucky, bring an umbrella and rain proof cloths.

Shoes for wading in water, yes, it's cold, but worth it.

NOTE: The hotel has been selected for ease of access in and out of the park during a very busy season. It is highly recommended that participants stay at this hotel.

Workshop location; No sky is visible, just tree trunks and a golden, autumn forest which glows more intensely farther away. From the bottom of the frame and into the forest Roaring Fork road meanders and eventually disappears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Roaring Fork Road