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Sunrise at Newfound Gap in The Great Smokie Mountains.
Sunrise at Newfound Gap in The Great Smokie Mountains.Submitted by Thomas Kotzur / UGC

Dec. 26

Congratulations to Thomas Kotzur, whose sunrise image of Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains generated the most votes in this week’s It’s A Snap travel photo contest.

Kotzur captured the picture during a five-day vacation in Townsend, Tenn., a small town just outside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. “I’ll take off on my own and take pictures” at least one day per vacation, Kotzur said.

Photography in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be challenging because of a hanging haze caused by vehicle traffic and pollution from nearby cities. “For some reason that week, it was just crystal clear,” he said.

Kotzur woke “way before dark” so he could make the hour-long drive to Newfound Gap, and he liked what he saw when he arrived. “I screeched to a halt and got everything together to start taking pictures,” he said. “The sun was just beginning to come up and [was] streaking through the clouds.”

Despite submitting the top-rated photo for this week’s contest, Kotzur remains modest: “I don’t even pretend to be a photographer — I just like to take pictures.”