The Watchtower at Natchez Trace

A forest watchtower stands among the trees at Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee. Read all about it at Burnsland!

A forest watchtower stands among the trees at Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee.

At our church youth group retreat at Natchez Trace State Park last month, this watchtower captured my attention, for some strange reason. Every time we had a break, I would make my way over to it to try to get a good photo of it. I tried all sorts of angles and different lenses, just to see what I could get.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one fascinated with it. The tower seemed to be a magnet for our youth group members, drawing them over to it as well. The stairs going up to the top of the tower are visible here, but you can’t quite tell that the lowest set of stairs isn’t there. Fortunately, that kept the teens from trying to climb it. Mostly. There were a few who tried to climb up the structure to get to the first stair level until they were called off by some mean chaperon with a camera. Spoilsport.

And also apparently, the teens and I aren’t the only ones who have been fascinated by this and other towers, because a quick search turned up a listing of all of the watchtowers in Tennessee, including maps and GPS coordinates for each one. The list shows that several of the old towers have been removed, so perhaps this one is a bit historical since it is still standing.

I suppose that these days there are more technological methods to check for fires than to have people sitting in watchtowers looking out over things all day every day. But can you imagine what kind of a job that would be? Depending on your personality, it would be either the best job ever or the worst job ever. You could be the kind of person that would enjoy the view, enjoy nature, enjoy the alone time, and get some reading done. Or you could be the kind of person that would be bored after 10 minutes of being up there alone. And because these days I would love to be able to say that I was bored, since we always seem to have something going on, I think I would definitely fall in that first category. Maybe not 20 years ago, but definitely now. Funny how time has a way of changing your outlook.

Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. - Proverbs 4:6

About the photo:

I decided to go really bold with the processing of this photo and give it a unique look to match the unique structure. For starters, I used a fisheye lens to give it a different sort of look than just the standard photo you might see. After that, I used the Google Nik Filters in Photoshop to give the photo an antique sort of look, going along with the old nature of the tower itself.

I really liked how this look brought out the clouds, as well as some of the detail in the trees surrounding the tower. It doesn’t look exactly like an actual old photo, but it doesn’t look like something you might see every day now, either.

If you want to see just how drastic these changes were, here is a before and after split look at the photo, just to give you an idea of what all was changed:

Watchtower at Natchez Trace-beforeafter-600

As you can see, the clouds weren’t actually all that ominous, but in the processing I was able to take advantage of some of the detail present in the original Raw file and bring that out a bit, making it look just a little more spooky.

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens
Date: April 30, 2016
Location: Natchez Trace State Park, Tennessee

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.