Saturday, 19 August 2017 20:57

The White Snakeroot and I

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum var. roanense) is a common late-summer composite in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as the meadows of Purchase Knob can attest. And in the early light of a new day it serves as an attractive foreground element, gathering and reflecting the golden tones of dawn from its tiny white clusters, even as I consider its toxicity to cows and through milk to people (Many believe it was milk fever that caused the death of Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln). Late summer is also the time of billowing ground fogs and low cloud masses hugging the valleys of the Pigeon River watershed far below, down Cataloochee Divide and rising into Cove Creek Gap. 

All of this makes for some wonderful moments as the sun lights up the fields and forests around the Southern Appalachian Highlands Learning Center. The forecast of the previous evening seemed to suggest that the following day could be a good time to be on the Knob.  Positioning the camera about two feet behind and slightly above the blooming snakeroot, a focal length of 39mm, just beyond wide-angle range, but wide for a normal image, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 200, chosen because of a very slight wafting breeze, gave me an overall medium exposure. From the top of the world that is the Cataloochee Divide there is a peace that is palpable.

Read 529 times Last modified on Sunday, 10 September 2017 07:41


  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Friday, 25 August 2017 10:46 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good morning Everyone. Thank you all for joining me for this conversation; it's great to hear from all of you. There are some really pertinent observations that have been shared, so let's get right to it.
    Hi Dianne. I appreciate your kind words, and it occurs to me that you have suggested something very important in your phrase "intimate and yet so immense..." We often think of intimate landscape imagery as revealing a more confined slice of a larger whole; but that doesn't always have to be so. The slice of the whole, as Eliot Porter considered it, can just as well be drawn with a wide-angle lens as with a normal or telephoto focal length. And in this Image, that is very much what I wished to do. Thank you for the affirmation that it seemed that way for you as well.
    Hey Dorsey. I'm not sure why you have had the difficulty with reCAPTCHA recently. I'm going to see if Janis Keim, my web guru, has any ideas. This is a very special location in GSMNP and one I have been privileged to have access to. I'll be happy to share it with you when the time comes. Thanks for sharing the verse with us. I remember it well; and thanks for suggesting, as did Dianne, both the depth and the emotional intimacy that I was attracted to in being there. If you're heading to the UP in September, let me know and I'll share some of that area with you also.
    Hi Sue. You have made my day with your words. In that my work brings you joy, I am grateful; and I appreciate your letting me know. Thank you.
    Hey Nancy T., I always love your descriptions; and here I really appreciate your description of the symmetry because that's exactly what I felt standing at the head of that little meadow's swale and feeling the land roll out beneath my eyes. The fog was, indeed, a hoped for bonus that morning. Just about anywhere in the Smokies now seems to require an early rise for me if I wish to capture the early light, but it's always worth the effort. I'm looking forward to having that coffee with you soon.
    Hey, Joani. Yes you can say "peaceful" again, and as often as you wish. It was good seeing you this week in Hendersonville. Wow, it's been too long! I hope you can get that knee rehabbed and get it back on the trails. Take good care and let us know how you are doing. Thanks, too, for the heads-up on the flowers at Sam's Knob. I'm afraid they will be gone by the time the Wildflowers and Waterfalls workshop rolls around in three weeks, but maybe there will be remnants. Walk in Beauty.
    Hi Aileen. I like you saying so. It's good to hear from you as always. Thank you for the kind words. I hope all is well with you.
    Thanks, again, Everyone for sharing your thoughts on one of my very favorite places anywhere. I don't get to Purchase Knob often, but it's always with gratitude that I come away. Be well.

  • Comment Link Aileen Fletcher Sunday, 20 August 2017 19:51 posted by Aileen Fletcher

    I like it!

  • Comment Link Joani Sunday, 20 August 2017 14:46 posted by Joani

    Can I say Peaceful, again? I'm unable to hike at this time, but understand the meadow at Sam's Knob off the Parkway is lovely and in full bloom now with colorful wildflowers. At least I can enjoy this vicariously through you. Thanks Don!

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 20 August 2017 12:45 posted by Nancy Tripp

    This is so peaceful; just looking at it makes me take a deep breath and relax. This is a new favorite image for me. I think the sweeping curves that are mimicked in the foreground to the middle then reversed in the sky on the right, make an almost symmetric image; everything is fitting together nicely. The first thing I saw was the fog coming in from the left like a cloak with fingers reaching out to touch the mountains. The white in the clouds makes the white in the foreground pop. You had to get up pretty early to get to the top of Purchase Knob to catch this light. Thanks for doing that and thanks for sharing.

  • Comment Link Sue Milligan Sunday, 20 August 2017 11:26 posted by Sue Milligan

    Stunning, peaceful....I could look at this all day! Thanks for sharing your wonderful images with us each week. They bring me joy!

  • Comment Link Dorsey Davis Sunday, 20 August 2017 10:42 posted by Dorsey Davis

    Once again, Don the blog site cannot confirm that I am not a robot. You may feel free to copy to your blog but don't feel obligated to do so. Here is what I wrote this morning: Thanks for sharing a location that I am not at all familiar with. You will have to tell me how to find this one sometime when we are talking. Your handling of the composition shows us the great depth of the scene and your description of "palpable peace" says it all from an emotional standpoint. I couldn't help but be reminded of this refrain from an old hymn we sung as a boy.

    Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
    Coming down from the Father above!
    Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
    In fathomless billows of love!

  • Comment Link Dianne Madden Sunday, 20 August 2017 09:38 posted by Dianne Madden

    Ahhhhh. Beautiful. Intimate and yet so immense at the same time.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Site copyright © 2001 - 2019 Don McGowan & EarthSong Photography. 

All Rights Reserved.