This shot was planned many months in advance. Headed up HWY 181, alongside the Linville Gorge, there’s the Brown Mountain Overlook, famous for the mysterious “Brown Mountain Lights” of Appalachian folklore. Looking to the other side of Brown Mountain, there’s a wonderful view to the eastern ridge of the Gorge, with its two most prominent peaks - Table Rock and Hawksbill. I wondered if the Milky Way ever lined up over them, and although the full arch never shows above, there is a vertical alignment for a few cycles. I planned to try later in the year, so that it would be an evening shot instead of a really early morning. I waited until the first predominantly clear forecast, within a few days of a new moon, and made the trip up. Often times, its the unexpected features which can add a spectacular twist to an image, and this night was an example of that. Despite the entirely clear forecast, the Gorge can frequently feature varying weather, and there were a few whips bands of clouds flowing by. Also, something I had no anticipation for was the brightness and scale of Venus, which happened to show up just within the core band. This turned out to be one of my very favorite images of the year, and of the Gorge, in general.
: Sony α99ii 24-70f2.8Z @ 35mm - 15 seconds f2.8 - ISO 2000