What I saw in Skyline Drive, Virginia

I have always wanted to capture the colors of autumn. I am fascinated by pictures of beautiful trees with combination of green, yellow and red leaves. Every fall is different for me and each new display of colors gives me energy to get out of my comfort zone and capture those natural moments. My schedule was too full, so a fall trip was put on hold for long time. Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to set out to find and capture the beauty of the season.

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, I took leave from work and headed to Skyline Drive in Virginia. The Drive is a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridges of the mountains. The scenic drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. According to Wikipedia, each year, over two million people visit the Skyline Drive, which has been designated a National Scenic Byway.

The weather was so perfect that I didn’t notice almost 90 miles of driving from my home. As soon as I reached the park, I saw an amazingly harmonious blend of nature and human development. You can’t drive faster than 35 miles per hour due to curves on the road, wildlife crossings, and walking or cycling tourists. While driving, you can see stopped vehicles whose occupants are either enjoying the wildlife or viewing the valley from overlooks. As a driving precaution, you have to be extra careful about roads which take winding paths along the mountaintops where deer, bear and other wildlife crossing the road may appear without warning.

Skyline Drive, VA

When you get the $15 dollar visitor ticket at the entrance, (it can be used an unlimited number of times throughout one week) you will also get maps and information about the National Park. There are nearly seventy-five overlooks throughout the drive, which offers some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. I didn’t have time to drive through all the overlooks but each one I visited was fantastic. The park is also famous for hiking and camping on its many trails and biking and horseback riding, on the roads.

Please feel free to share your moments if you have been there and tell us how you felt about the park.


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  1. Perfect shot. Some places are heaven on the Earth. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Samir Dwivedi says:

    Thanks Umesh. Nice snaps.

  3. That’s a real beauty. Can you tell me what setup you had for this shot? Which lens you have used? Thanks for all the tips in your website. They are very helpful for an amateur like me.

    • Hi Sathish,
      Thanks for your comment. I used following settings for this shot.
      ISO: 200
      Aperture: f/5.6
      Focal length: 65mm
      Shutter speed: 1/40sec
      Exposure Compensation : 0
      Metering mode: Pattern (Matrix)
      Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority

      Also, there is a good news for you. We have just launched a forum where you can register and post your question and share photos. We hope to see you there.


  4. Hi Umesh,
    Thank you so much for your clarification.

    I have a Nikon D90 with (35mm 1.8 Prime and 70-300mm) lenses. I am able to manually control single point focus on portraits etc & I’m able to control the DOF I need and get the subject sharp in focus.

    However when I am out for taking some fall tree photos, I have a problem in getting everything in focus. I had used f7, 1/200 shutter speed. However, my main issue is getting lots of things in focus. My photos comes out sharp on the subject(few trees only) but not all the trees and other objects. I have tried to learn hyperfocal distance and make use it. But not good enough.

    Can you please help me what I am doing wrong.

    • Sathish,
      I guess you are not using single area (AF Area mode) and using Auto Area instead while shooting trees. The other reason I can think of is Depth of Field. DOF is affected by three parameters; aperture, focal length and distance to the subject. A while ago I have written a post about it and if you have time, please take a moment to read this article.

      Also if you can share your shots inside our forum, we would be happy to assist you further.


  5. Thanks for your timely replies Umesh.. I will have the photo uploaded in the forum shortly today

  6. Just one last question..

    Can you tell me where was your focus point in this photo? Was it AF-A or AF-Single?

  7. WOw! really cool and attractive color.

  8. It scared the hell out of me warning if you have fear of heights do not drive Skyline Drive LOL but very beautiful breathtaking views literally

    • Really? That is interesting. I am not big fan of height either but skyline drive was okay to me. But yes, I agree that some part where you go near cliff gives you some kick.

  9. Thank you for this post! Great reading – can you tell me what month you went as I would love to go and capture the same colours but unsure of what time of year exactly to go.

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