So, my self-assignment was to shoot the fall season in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in black and white; to focus on line and form and luminance, rather than the "vulgar colors." I did, and I got some pretty cool stuff, which I've posted on Flickr. But the shot—the one I went down there for—wasn't in black and white. Painted River

At the risk of being overly dramatic… whoa.

That's how I felt when I saw this. I'm pretty sure it's only been a couple other times I've been this excited about a photograph I made. I know that sounds a bit pompous, but I mean only that I really love this photograph. Nature provided everything you see; I just needed to be there to see it and save it for you.

The thing is, I probably wouldn't have made this photograph without embarking on the black and white self-assignment. As I said, I did spent quite a bit of time visualizing and photographing in black and white, despite the abundance of color around me. It forced me to pay attention to tone and luminance and contrast, instead of only focusing on color. It made me look at the world a little differently for a while; to take my own advice to look past the obvious subjects and dig a little deeper.

Sometimes I forced it and tried to make a good black and white photograph out of a subject that was clearly better in color, and maybe it was only because I knew I'd still have the color shot if I wanted it later. But when I slowed down and stopped thinking about the objects that were in front of me, I started paying attention to photographs. I shifted my thinking from photographs of the fall color to photographs about the fall color, and that's how I found this one.

I hope you like it as much as I do.