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Saturday, 22 June 2013 08:49

It's All About Light

Pluton monolith doesn't sound nearly as poetic as Looking Glass Rock, but they are an identity. Looking Glass Rock's magnificent granitic dome, in technical geological terms a pluton monolith, rises to an elevation of nearly 4000' from its valley floor in Pisgah National Forest; and though this alone makes it quite photogenic, it really is an ordinary documentary image most of the time, at least until the light and clouds conspire to make it extraordinary. I was playing along the Blue Ridge Parkway a few days ago working my way to a sunset location when the late afternoon sun broke through the clouds and began to bathe the rock and the valley in golden light. As the clouds and sun moved across their respective paths, various portions of the valley and the rock were alternatingly cast in light and shadow, and it was a matter of patience to wait for the light to illuminate the monolith and the foreground while leaving the background ridges (including John Rock in the distance) and valleys in shade.The contrast was, in my mind, spectacular, especially with the dark cloud bands moving across the sky. I wanted an angle of view that would not be overly expansive, but would yield enough telephoto magnification to show the presence of Looking Glass Rock in its environment while at the same time showing the environment itself. A focal length of 142mm gave me this result, while an aperture of f/20 for depth-of-field at a shutter speed of 1/8 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.    

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More in this category: « Once Upon a Cowee Afternoon


  • Comment Link Don McGowan Wednesday, 26 June 2013 14:24 posted by Don McGowan

    Hey Geno. Thanks. It was a pleasure having you with me. I hope our paths will cross again. Have a great summer.

  • Comment Link Geno Goss Wednesday, 26 June 2013 13:39 posted by Geno Goss

    Don the image looks Great I consider myself very fortunate to have been shooting with you that evening Thanks Geno

  • Comment Link Don McGowan Tuesday, 25 June 2013 17:41 posted by Don McGowan

    Au contraire, Eugene Worley; you do have an artistic eye. I have seen it. What you lack is simply practice; but more than just repetition, it is a practice that applies the concepts of artistic (photographic) seeing, which are not only reducible, but learnable, in the same way you once learned the concepts of engineering you know so well.

  • Comment Link Eugene Worley Tuesday, 25 June 2013 16:15 posted by Eugene Worley

    See this is what separates me from all you artistic folks. I, as an engineer, would have waited until the light was on both rock peaks and then taken my shot. I just don't have an artist eye, but I am trying to learn.
    But this shot surely looks great to me.

  • Comment Link Don McGowan Monday, 24 June 2013 10:44 posted by Don McGowan

    Hi Everyone. Thanks for joining this conversation. I really appreciate that we all agree on the dramatic role of the light in this image. I have passed by Looking Glass so many times when the light was simply not appealing, but this time was obviously different. Yes, it's true that sometimes we have no choice but to make the best of the light we are in, and on those occasions we dig deeply into our creative reservoirs to try to discover something unique; but when the light is so dramatic, then we try to discover how we can use that illumination to an even greater purpose. Thanks again, for sharing this experience with me. Jim, we're going to have to visit that store together one of these days. You are right, it is special.

  • Comment Link Bob Grytten Monday, 24 June 2013 08:35 posted by Bob Grytten


  • Comment Link Drew Campbell Sunday, 23 June 2013 16:41 posted by Drew Campbell

    Great light in this image. I really like the way the rock is spotlighted. It makes for a nice dramatic effect

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 23 June 2013 15:22 posted by Nancy Tripp

    You did make that rock look spectacular! The light is magical. Sharing the image and your thoughts and settings to accomplish this is very helpful. Thanks for your Sunday morning inspiration.

  • Comment Link Jim Jenkins Sunday, 23 June 2013 09:09 posted by Jim Jenkins

    You nailed it, enough said. No need to explain the obvious. I visited the Folk Art Center last week only to learn that they don't consider photography an Art form. Spent the night at Pisgah Inn and they had a book of the area in the room and some lady had a picture of the old store at Luck, NC. which caught my attention.

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