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Saturday, 15 September 2012 22:32

Looking Through Windows of Time

To stand on the flank of Chilhowee Mountain along Foothills Parkway West, looking over the valley of Hesse Creek and ultimately into the uplift of Rich Mountain high above Cades Cove, is to look as if through windows of time. Beyond Cades Cove the Crest of the Smokies rises on the billion-year-old rocks of the Ocoee Supergroup; but on the relatively narrow ridges of the foothills where I stand the shales, siltstones, and sandstones are a mere 300,000 to 500,000 years young. To me they are timeless. When I began photographing from this location seventeen years ago, I was struck with the serene, magisterial beauty of this place and this past week I was reminded of it once again; for it is in the returning that the connections we make with the land become strengthened. I wanted to isolate from the scene before me only that small part that showed the sidelight from the sun's rays filtering into the layered ridges as they led the eye to the mountain and to show the mountain itself near the top right power point. So I chose a 300mm focal length to narrow the angle of view. An aperture of f/20 gave me sufficient depth of field; and at ISO 100 a shutter speed of 0.4 second gave me a slightly darker than medium exposure, which included the use of my 5-stop GND filter to hold back the values of the bright sky above the horizon and to make slightly more darkened the layer of cloud at the top of the image.    

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  • Comment Link Don McGowan Monday, 17 September 2012 07:31 posted by Don McGowan

    Thanks, Everyone, for joining the conversation. I think you are absolutely right, Horace, that's what we do as photographers. We make places come alive in the eyes and hearts of our viewers. And the more we teach ourselves how to do this, the more we share the beauty of these places with everyone; we enlarge the world. Judy, I had to chuckle about "to live near...." It's a two-and-a-half hour drive from my front door to this overlook; but that's relative I suppose; and you're right, the Smokies has that sort of layered feel that is not found everywhere. It's interesting, Dean, as much as I love to travel, after a while I begin to be acutely aware that the (my) mountains and I have become separated, and I begin to long to return to them. That word "distracting" is a useful one. I think our task is to limit anything that distracts our viewers from what we wish to communicate to them. We, ourselves, have to be clear about what that is. Thanks Pat and Margene; I'm glad you like the image. It was a wonderful experience just being there.

  • Comment Link Pat C Sunday, 16 September 2012 19:42 posted by Pat C

    Don ... I love the echo of layers and color beyond the hills and into the sky. Lovely ...

  • Comment Link margene odom Sunday, 16 September 2012 17:31 posted by margene odom

    You are indeed a master...of the camera and of the language. Thank you.

  • Comment Link Dean Fikar Sunday, 16 September 2012 16:37 posted by Dean Fikar

    Don, I like your choice to limit the frame to the layered elements. I think the temptation is to include too much in a frame like this but you run the risk of distracting the viewer that way. I miss the Smokies already!

  • Comment Link Judy Sunday, 16 September 2012 11:25 posted by Judy

    Oh how I miss the Smokeys! I keep searching for something similar here in Western Massachusetts, and of course there isn't. We just don't have the layer upon layer of ridges. I do love how you chose to capture the spot where each ridge folds itself into the next, with the foggy light peeking up from behind. I also love the concept of returning to special locations to photograph again and again. You are fortunate to live near such a beautiful place.

  • Comment Link Horace Hamilton Sunday, 16 September 2012 11:13 posted by Horace Hamilton

    Amazing how even the most iconic scenes come alive in the hands (and mind) of a masterful photographer. I have shot from here several times but your geographical narrative adds to my appreciation of your image and will add to my own enjoyment of the scene the next time I am there. Once again, a timeless image of great beauty!!

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