The Potomac River flows some 383 miles in length. After the first 275 miles or so through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, one encounters a tremendous fall zone at Great Falls, just one hundred miles or so from the Potomac’s termination at the Chesapeake Bay. Great Falls is located in the Piedmont Region and features an overall drop of seventy-five feet or so through a series of cascading waterfalls framed by rock cliffs. At the bottom of Great Falls begins the Potomac’s winding path through Mather Gorge, named after Stephen Mather the first director of the National Park Service. This photograph is looking downstream, over one of the many waterfalls and into Mather Gorge as the sunrise illuminates the cloud-filled sky with early morning winter light.
On this particular morning I arrived about fifteen minutes later than I had planned. I saw the sky getting pretty spectacular when I was in the parking lot and I practically sprinted over to the overlook to see what it looked like. I then dangerously began boulder hopping and break necking along the river bank until I found something–anything–for a foreground element. When I eyed the little yellow pine-like tree catching some early morning light I figured that it was as good as anything else. This shot, then, was a bit of a lucky accident as I frantically tried to “not miss” what was happening with the sun and sky!