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Friday, 08 August 2014 00:00

Broadway's Neon Can't Compare

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Sometimes the ordering of chaos into imagery can take you into all sorts of directions even while standing in a single location. Not long ago I went to Cowee Mountains Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway exactly because the afternoon atmospherics in Asheville looked quite promising; and even though there is never an assurance that conditions in one location will hold in another forty miles away, especially forty miles across the Southern Appalachians, on this day they did. And as I stood before the layer upon layer of receding ridges, there were so many possibilities, so many images within images, so many parts of the greater whole, that it was a challenge to isolate the pieces of the expansive scene simply because there were so many choices: wide-angle, normal, telephoto, intimate landscape, even abstract. As the sun dipped lower and lower toward the horizon, its rays began to penetrate the overcast, sending "God's-eyes" spreading across the ridges, even while ridges further south and east remained bathed in daylight-green and -blue. The area that I wished to convey was not a large part of the whole, and so I used a 60mm focal length, rather normal as it were, to isolate what I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 0.3 seconds at ISO 100 gave an overall somewhat-darker-than-medium exposure. One of my primary compositional considerations was to include the area of light in the top-left part of the frame, which, because of its orientation, seemed to direct the eye back toward to place where the sun was shining. 

Read 4199 times Last modified on Sunday, 14 September 2014 08:06

More in this category: « Sun Standing Still


  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Saturday, 16 August 2014 21:58 posted by Donald McGowan

    Hi Everyone,
    Thank you all for joining me in this conversation. I am truly amazed at the response to this Image, and I very much appreciate all of your thoughtful and kind comments as well as your expressions of how you responded emotionally to it. Michael, your description of feelings of calmness and peace are, I believe, exactly my response as well. Perhaps it is the stability of all the relatively horizontal lines that does it, or the softness of the gray and gold tonalities.Mike Di, I appreciate your question very much. I have come to believe that the secret of God's-eyes is in creating a file, in the first instance, that has all of the information possible in the fore- and mid-ground elements, but that also has as much contrast as possible in the overall file as well. Then, in processing, the approach is to open up the fore- and mid-ground areas with the shadows/highlights sliders while simultaneously holding back (building) contrast with the white/black sliders. I have found that Nikware's program, Viveza 2, is an excellent tool for creating detail and contrast at the same time. Sometimes the additional use of a graduated neutral density filter can provide the right amount of compression to help in this effort. On the compositional side of the equation, timing is crucial: watching the rays as they form and move, and waiting for the moments when they have achieved a clarity and intensity before releasing the shutter. Thanks, again, to all of you. I am pleased that this one resonated so strongly with you.

  • Comment Link Karen Lemoine Friday, 15 August 2014 09:22 posted by Karen Lemoine

    So beautiful!

  • Comment Link Nancy Kelly Wednesday, 13 August 2014 08:42 posted by Nancy Kelly

    I love you colors in this image. Your mountain images of the smoky mountains are spectacular.

  • Comment Link Michael Glover Monday, 11 August 2014 00:39 posted by Michael Glover

    Breathtaking image Don! I love the God rays. The whole scene represents calmness and peace to me.

  • Comment Link Pat Crutchfield Sunday, 10 August 2014 21:13 posted by Pat Crutchfield

    Wow, Don, this is magnificent! It takes my breath away. Thanks for going out on a hunch and sharing what you discovered.

  • Comment Link Mike Di Stefano Sunday, 10 August 2014 19:43 posted by Mike Di Stefano

    So Don what's the secret to exposing God Rays correctly? I tried this a number of times and haven't really got what I was looking for.
    Mike D.

  • Comment Link Rosemary Benson Sunday, 10 August 2014 12:35 posted by Rosemary Benson

    Very striking, Don!

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 10 August 2014 11:33 posted by Nancy Tripp

    This is awesome and very humbling. I like the cloud in the upper left leading you back to the light beckoning you to be still and you will know you are not alone.

    I see an opportunity for a pano here if time had allowed. I know these magic moments don't last long. Thanks for sharing.

  • Comment Link Rod MacIver Sunday, 10 August 2014 10:39 posted by Rod MacIver

    Truly beautiful and exceptional photograph.

  • Comment Link Jim Jenkins Sunday, 10 August 2014 10:34 posted by Jim Jenkins

    Great composition, beautiful light. Have a great week at Campbell, look after my friend Tari, she is so excited about working with you this weekend. Just got a text from her saying she would be there in 6 hours.

  • Comment Link Mim Shelden Sunday, 10 August 2014 09:46 posted by Mim Shelden


  • Comment Link Jessyca Stansbury- McCargo Sunday, 10 August 2014 09:41 posted by Jessyca Stansbury- McCargo

    The first and only word that came to mind as I looked at this was: YES!

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