Thursday, 24 August 2017 18:10

At the Edge of Big Creek

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

As more adventurers find their way to the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee, the wonderful area known as Big Creek becomes more of a destination for other than local folks. There are so many things to love about this place that any list I might make would be woefully incomplete. The creek itself is well-named for it adds substantially to the waters of the Pigeon River a mile away from where I am. Champion Fibre once operated a large mill, Crestmont Lumber Company, that covered both sides of the stream around me, but Nature, given time and opportunity, recovers from the wounds of humanity, even if scars remain; and today Mother Nature holds sway, to the great pleasure of all who come here. With water levels somewhat low in the stream, I worked my way out to a rocky point where I had seen this spade-shaped depression in the rock. Kneeling on the rock I set my tripod up about 18" above the surface and pointed upstream toward the bank on river right. Mother Nature had done her part by encouraging multiple leaves of nearby sycamores to decorate the rock and the water-filled depression. With a minimum of polarization, I made slight movements of my tripod until I had the reflections of the tops of the sycamores surrounding the depression's reflection and waited until a cloud-broken blue sky filled the scene. A focal length of 18mm, fairly extreme wide-angle, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 5.0 seconds, a patience-testing length of time, at ISO 100, gave me an overall medium exposure. I imagine the chaos and confusion that surrounded the company town, Crestmont, in its heyday, so well-captured in Ron Rash's wonderful novel, Serena; and the present contrasting serenity of Big Creek fills me with gratitude for the gifts that this place of spirit bestows.

Read 813 times Last modified on Sunday, 10 September 2017 07:41
More in this category: « The White Snakeroot and I


  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Saturday, 02 September 2017 08:30 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good morning Everyone. Thank you all for joining me for this conversation. What an interesting and thoughtful set of observations we have to share, and all from one of the very special places in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Big Creek is a fairly heavily trafficked location, but the majority of its visitors tend to be from the surrounding areas. They know of its attractiveness; and they and their families before them have been visiting it for years.
    Hi Warren; you are, indeed, rare, my friend; and I am quite thankful for that because it makes you very special, and I always appreciate your kind and considered comments about any Image. I asked Judy Grove if she knew of anything regarding the eclipse going on at the Folk School and she did not, so we just stayed with her family on their property and enjoyed the show. I wish we had known...., and I'm glad you enjoyed my wide-angle playfulness.
    Hey Ron. It's always good to have you join us, and I appreciate your kind comment. The 17-35mm you have is my favorite lens. Nikon and Canon both make excellent ones. The "effect" you mention is one of the great challenges and one of the great rewards of wide-angle work. Thanks for sharing your affinity for yours; may it always serve you well. I hope your autumn in the Pioneer Valley is shaping up to be a beautiful one.
    Hi Joani. I'm glad you like the "mitt holding the sky." It seemed to me to be the Ace of Spades, but who's counting? It was good to see you in Hendersonville. Bonnie and I hope that the knee surgery is completely successful and you are back on the trails in short order. Keep us posted on your recovery, and Walk in Beauty.
    Hi Terri. What an excellent question! Here's the best explanation I can offer: The rim of the reflecting pool is quite damp, and even though the water level in the pool has become lower due to evaporation, its edge - both the bare rock and the moss - is still holding enough moisture that in the face of a long shutter speed (5.0 seconds), enough light is gathered so that there is a thin line of reflectance around the depression. This effect is also compounded by the interplay between the surface tension of the water and its contact with the surrounding rock. The final element of this is, I believe, the angle of the camera in relation to the pool and the rock, catching the reflected light. That's my story, and...I think it's fairly accurate. Thanks for noticing and asking.
    Hey Michael, it's great to hear from you. I hope all is well in the Ocean State. Bonnie and I missed being there this year, but maybe next. I love your metaphor for the pool as window. It seems just that way to me, too. Thanks for pointing it our for us and for the excellent reminder of the truism that our images are nearly always metaphors for something in our world, if we only allow ourselves the wonder of imagination.
    Hi Nancy T., what would we do without your storied observations of what's happening in the Images I find. Like Michael's window metaphor, your stories let us experience the elements of photographic design in ways we could not have imagined, and we are enriched by your sharing. I believe you are exactly on point: the environs of Big Creek are filled with happy spirits just waiting to show us their world.
    Hey Nancy R. I am so glad that you have joined us, and I hope you are okay with my lifting your note and placing it in the comments. I'm not sure what's going on with reCAPTCHA, but I'll certainly look into it. Any time you can't get it to accept a comment, just send it to me, as you did this one, and I'll happily add it to the group. Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad you've been able to view the DVD from the Arrowmont class in 2016 and I wish you could be with us this year. Have an excellent conference. I'm sure your planning and preparation will produce very positive results and delighted participants.
    Hey John, what I always love about your nit-picking is that it reminds us of how every image we create can be seen differently by another person. In this Image the biggest factor in my decision about the top of the frame was that immediately above where I placed it there began to be the introduction of sky, which was somewhat distracting. Your thought about "breathing room" at the bottom of the frame is well-taken. I have found over the years that I seem to appreciate a smaller amount of breathing room than some other folks. I'm not certain of how to speak to that artistically, except to say that being too close can be problematic, but it seems to become a matter of subjectivity beyond some undefined point. That's one of the things I appreciate about our working together - the little differences that make us who we are. Thanks for your ideas and comments.
    Thanks, again, Everyone for sharing your impressions and feelings on the images I offer each week. I truly hope they coalesce to make us all more connected to the natural world, and, therefore, more creative as we journey through it.
    Walk in Beauty.

  • Comment Link John DiGiacomo Monday, 28 August 2017 09:13 posted by John DiGiacomo

    Ah!! a quintessential Don McGowan image that I haven't seen in awhile. If I were to nit pick, I would like just a smidge more breathing room at the top and the bottom. Best, John

  • Comment Link Nancy Richardson Sunday, 27 August 2017 22:38 posted by Nancy Richardson

    I LOVE this photo. I have tried to send you several comments, but your system will not accept the message. I don’t know why. I no longer have a website, so I skip that question, but complete the others.

    When I first received the disk from last year’s class at Arrowmont, I could not play it on my computer. Since then, I have updated to Windows 10, so have tried it again and am THRILLED that it now works. I think I thanked you before, but now I’m thanking you more profusely because I not only appreciate the disk itself, but it brings back so many wonderful memories.

    I hope to take another “Smokies” class. I can’t do it this year because I will be up to my ears working on a November conference I am helping to plan and lead and I still don’t think I can do two weeks, but hopefully……

    Thank you,

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 27 August 2017 15:23 posted by Nancy Tripp

    Each puddle reflection image you share is such a treasure. In this one, the spade-shaped one would have made an awesome image by itself but it is pointing saying, "Wait, there's more!", and there is much much more. I think anywhere you point your camera in that scene would be a great image. You mentioned it was a place of spirit and I think there must be a lot of happy spirits hanging out there. Thanks for sharing.

  • Comment Link Mike Di Stefano Sunday, 27 August 2017 15:13 posted by Mike Di Stefano

    Howdy Don, love the little reflection pool, it looks like a window to another world.

  • Comment Link Terri Joyce Sunday, 27 August 2017 12:52 posted by Terri Joyce

    My husband thinks you have something artificial surrounding the pool in the foreground. I'm thinking it looks that way due to your camera setting. Can you please verify?

  • Comment Link Joani Sunday, 27 August 2017 11:59 posted by Joani

    Dramatic. Especially love the mitt holding the sky above in its palm.
    Fun seeing you and Bonnie on Tuesday.

  • Comment Link Ron Belovitz Sunday, 27 August 2017 11:48 posted by Ron Belovitz

    Beautiful image! I love the effect a wide lens is able to produce. I do a lot of shooting with my 17-35.

  • Comment Link J Warren Berry Sunday, 27 August 2017 08:35 posted by J Warren Berry

    Such patterns and reflections of beauty! I am nearly speechless when loooking at it. (That's rare in itself.)

    I wondered where you would be photographing the eclipse, but had no idea you were in Brasstown. I was in the field behind Orchard House. Sorry I missed you--and thanks for this week's image.

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.