Saturday, 09 November 2019 23:20

A Leaf or Two Shy of a Tree

There is something magical about a fall-foliage forest that has lost a good part of its colorful leafy cloak. The foliage that remains after the initial attacks of wind and rain seem to offer ways of "seeing through" that are not present in the crowded, pre-storm canopy. Early last week Bonnie and I took a day to explore the extremity of the Foothills Parkway east of Cosby, Tennessee. A substantial storm a few days earlier had brought down a significant portion of the leaves covering the brightly colored hardwoods, yet what remained seemed to offer an impressionist palette of tonalities in a pointillist view of the woods.

A focal length of 40mm, just on the cusp of "normal," gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, an intimate slice of the whole. An aperture of f/16 provided depth of field; and at ISO 100 provided a shutter speed of 15.0 seconds in the absolutely still late-afternoon air, thus creating a slightly-lighter-than-medium exosure.

In the Southern Appalachian forests of late-October and early-November the vibrancy following the first storms is every bit as attractive as the forest of full-color that was two days earlier.


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  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Friday, 15 November 2019 16:02 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good afternoon Everyone. Thank you all very much for joining me for this conversation. What a thoughtful array of observations and responses this Image has evoked that makes me grateful to be hearing from all of you.
    Hey Kev. It's great to hear from you! Hope all is well in St. Louis. As soon as the barn workshop that begins today is over on Sunday, I'll be in touch about our Acadia adventure. You raise an interesting observation about focal length and lens distortion. At 40mm there is a small amount, but not a great deal, of wide-angle distortion, especially with the lens being pointed directly at the subject. In this instance, is was, in fact, the trees that were noticeably leaning in to lead the eyes; but your point is well-taken. Bonnie and I had the initial emotional response as we drove by this area, and then we parked and walked up and down along the Parkway until we had the quintessential response, the "ah ha" moment. The biggest challenge was deciding how to eliminate the highway from the composition, as we were on the opposite side from the scene. You're quite, there was absolutely no question about eliminating the sky, even though there was a thin overcast that evened the contrast nicely. Indeed, there are some of those furry types of exposures in the folder. I may yet pull one out. Walk in Beauty.
    Hi Ray. Thanks for being with us; what a wonderful assortment of observations!I especially like your thoughts on light and tonal contrast.No, this was nothing close to a "grab shot." We we along this stretch of road for 2-3 hours; and it was, indeed, late afternoon moving toward dusk when we left. This part of the Parkway (East) is about 3/4ths of the way up the east side of Green Mountain, deep in a small hollow of the mountain, and as I mentioned there was a slight, but actual, overcast. I was at ISO 100 and was using a polarizing filter; but as I mentioned in the description, there was no wind, so 15 seconds was not really a problem Hope you enjoyed New England and even found a bit of time for camerawork.
    Hi Linda. It's always good to hear from you. I hope Ashfield was glowing this autumn.I love your introduction of rhythm into the conversation. We don't usually associate vertical lines with rhythm, but I think it fits perfectly here. Your drawing our attention to the vertical cant of the trees contrasted with the splashes of dancing color are reminders of how such relationships can be created; and in an autumn forest where leaves are dwindling, it's not the "in-your-face" color of full-blown fall that appeals, but rather the scattered dots and patches that catch and hold our eyes. Thanks for your keen observances.
    Hello Donald. I do appreciate your love of language and penchant for description. I think "impressionist" and "pointillist" are fine photographic terms that should be applied whenever appropriate. I am truly honored by your kind words. When are you headed back to Arizona? Have a beautiful and creative journey.
    Howdy Michael. I am honored by your kind words and your descriptive choices. I especially identify with "less is more." As I was working with this area, I could not help but reflect on all of Porter's magnificent work. I keep a copy of Intimate Landscapes by my computer and refer to it regularly this time of year. I hope you have found plenty of time over the past month to venture out into the New England fall. You have so many wonderful creative choices at you disposal, and I somehow know you have found ways to take advantage of them.
    Hi Michelle. It's great to hear from you! I hope your healing continues to go forward. Your words ring so accurately and so true, "slow down." It's the connections we make that give rise to art, not the speed at which we travel. Hopefully we'll be able to visit with you somewhere before long.
    What wonderful observations you have shared! Thank you very much. May we continue to be amazed by the beauty of the world we share.

  • Comment Link Michelle Jensen Thursday, 14 November 2019 20:50 posted by Michelle Jensen

    I really like the picture, Don. I especially like the way you helped me get a different perspective with your discussion. I saw the picture differently after I read your comments. Very interesting. I don't think I would have seen it on my own. Slow down, Michelle. Don't be so quick to draw conclusions.

  • Comment Link Mike Di Stefano Monday, 11 November 2019 13:26 posted by Mike Di Stefano

    Howdy Don, love your vision and your verb prose of the beauty of nature. A couple of other phrases come to mind to describe your image: seeing the “trees through the forest” and “less is more”. Not to mention as I’ve said before, your images are very much like Elliot Porter. Keepem comin.

  • Comment Link Donald Newsom Sunday, 10 November 2019 12:05 posted by Donald Newsom

    I love your use of the words "impressionist" and "pointillist" in your description. Had you told me that this image was a painting instead of a photograph, I'd have been hard pressed to disprove it. Beautifully done!

  • Comment Link Linda Taylor Sunday, 10 November 2019 11:01 posted by Linda Taylor

    It's the rhythm of the gray trunks that pulls me in and gives structure to the image. I like the contrast between their sure verticalness and the scattered dance of the foliage. When the foliage is peaking we get a little drunk on outrageous color and overlook the sweet little views. Thanks

  • Comment Link Ray Foote Sunday, 10 November 2019 08:56 posted by Ray Foote

    Don, what a pleasing image. I really like the verticals and the inner light. I knew even before I got to your technical specs this wasn't a quick hand-held grab shot which I would have been tempted to do (ugh). The gradation of colors from darker to lighter as the eye moves up is really nice, especially with those couple of red accents along the way. I am curious about why such a long exposure was needed to get where you wanted; was it near dark? Have a great week. I'm off to MA and VT for a quick work trip, but packing a camera just in case....

  • Comment Link Kevin Desrosiers Sunday, 10 November 2019 08:40 posted by Kevin Desrosiers

    I love the way the two trees in the front look like they are leaning back and lead us into the picture. I am guessing you used camera angle to get that effect. Also love the mix of colors and how you avoided including the sky. This is a little reminiscent of our roadside stop in the UP. A little surprised this wasn't a picture where you were rocking the tripod back and forth on 2 legs. ;-)

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