The tours are free and it was very interesting to see how this whiskey is made. And...no...there is no tasting room since the distillery is located in a dry county. Funny...but true!
This is one of the older buildings on the premises, where JD is still made. There are large barrels (approximately 21 feet high, filled with 14 feet of charcoal) where the raw whiskey is poured in from the top and filtered through all of the charcoal. After the distilling process the whiskey is put into burnt barrels for 5 years.
The town of Lynchburg is really small. Most of the town's inhabitants either work for Jack Daniels or are somehow affiliated with the distillery in one form or another.
As we made the hour long drive out to Lynchburg, we passed an amazing field of sunflowers and thought "we need to photograph that on the way back", which we did. We parked the car on the side of the road and walked down into this field and basically shot images and video there until the last light of the day.
As I walked around and shot images of the sunflowers, I caught a glimpse of this beautiful butterfly out of the corner of my eye. I follow it until it landed and quickly grabbed images before it took off again. I was (and still am) very excited about the amazing brown and blue wings against the yellow pedals.
After getting some close shots, I zoomed out (using the Canon 100-400mm lens) to show the butterfly and more of the field in the background. I shot this at f4 to maintain a focal point on the butterfly but give a hint to what is behind my main subject.
For the last day of our trip, we headed towards Chattanooga, TN to shoot some more video, but the day was filled with lots of rain and thunder storms, which scrubbed those plans. So...we decided to check out a local cave in Lookout Mountain. You could not take tripods into the cave, so I set my Canon 5D Mark II to ISO 3200 and held still for shots like this one.
The most amazing part of this cave is Ruby Falls, which is the nation's largest and deepest underground waterfall (at 1120 feet below the surface). They have really cool LED lighting in this chamber, which changes color every couple of seconds. After getting my "safe" shots at ISO 3200, I turned the ISO to 800, wedged myself up against a rock on the wall, and while holding the camera very still, shot images like this one. The shutter speed slowed down to 1/4 second which helped create more drama in the waterfall.
After many hours of driving (in heavy rain) we returned to Nashville for a quick shower and dinner. After we ate, we were walking back to our hotel and I realized that I really had not taken any shot of Broadway, which is where a lot of the fun bars and restaurants are located. So, being the crazy photographer that I am, and the fact that sleep is overrated, I headed back to the hotel, grabbed my camera and tripod and walked back downtown to shoot some night shots.
Funny story: I wanted to shoot images from the middle of the street, but wasn't sure, even at midnight, how to avoid the traffic to get my shot. Well...as luck would have it... a concert had just gotten out and the police closed off the street to force traffic in other directions. Voila - I had the street to myself! There I was shooting images with the police blocking all traffic, and people assumed that they stopped traffic for me. I had all kinds of questions, like "which star is here?" or "what is happening tonight that is so special?", and I just laughed and let their imaginations run wild.
After shooting numerous images of the bars, I thought that the photos needed something more, so I started rolling the zoom during the long exposures. (Photographer's note: For most of these exposures, the shutter was open for approximately 4 seconds, with me rolling the zoom at various times during that time. You will notice on the image above, that the neon signs are visible at the beginning and end of the light trail. This is because I left the lens at 200mm for one second at the beginning of the shot, then zoomed for 2 seconds, and left the focal length at 45mm for the last second.)