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Saturday, 20 July 2013 09:20


A couple of days ago I found myself at Pounding Mill Overlook high above the "Cradle of Forestry in America" section of Pisgah National Forest and Transylvania County. The sunrise itself had been a beautiful experience; but what happened after the sun came up was spellbinding to say the least. There was no cloud cover above the haze on the horizon, so the light that shown over the low-lying, treetop fog was direct and high in contrast. It was like a scene from the dawn of time, or like a Tolkein description from Middle Earth; and as it began to spread across the valley, it was golden. Since the ridges and the clusters of trees were essentially backlit, they were, for all practical purposes, silhouettes; and there was no thought of creating of them anything other than the shapes they revealed. My primary thoughts were about creating relationships and balance between and among the fog and the shapes, thus I included the dark mass of forest at the bottom to balance the weight of the dark ridges at the top of the frame, and I placed highlight and shadow throughout in ways that sought to create a flow for the eye to follow, including the diagonal line of fog that moves from bottom right toward the upper left. When a moment is magical, working with the magic is tremendous fun. A focal length of 142mm gave me the angle of view I wanted, while an aperture of f/22 and a shutter speed of 1/10 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

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  • Comment Link Don McGowan Monday, 22 July 2013 11:47 posted by Don McGowan

    Hello Everyone. Thank you all for joining this conversation. Everyone has suggested a different, but quite relevant, aspect of this image to which they were drawn. How wonderful! Drew pointed out the radiation of the light out over the fog, and that was surely magical to see. Dorsey reminded us that it's really, in the end, about the quality of the light, whatever that quality may be, in this case warm and golden. The quality of early light has a beauty and a magic all its own. And Michelle points us to the fact that unlike the intimate landscapes of Eliot Porter which she finds in her garden, this image is about the whole, the grand scene. Joe tells us something very important, that what makes this image work is the contrast - not only the light, but the shadow as well; and for me it is the contrast that creates the emotion that I feel in what Patricia says. But then I think that all worthwhile photographs encourage us to respond on multiple levels, and certainly the gestalt is one of those, the image as a whole, which either brings forth a response from us, or it doesn't. Either way once we have responded, or not, we usually begin to say why, to say what it is that has evoked the response we have felt. And I appreciate that it resonated so strongly with Tammy. Thank you all for your thoughts and shared feelings.

  • Comment Link Tammy Henry Sunday, 21 July 2013 19:45 posted by Tammy Henry

    Incredible shot Don. Doesn't get any better than this!

  • Comment Link Patricia Page Sunday, 21 July 2013 19:04 posted by Patricia Page

    Foremost, I experience photos on an emotional level. This picture for me is very emotional. My goal is to keep learning the technical aspects of photography so that I may one day capture the emotions of a landscape as this one does.

  • Comment Link Joe Rone Sunday, 21 July 2013 12:55 posted by Joe Rone

    I too was drawn by the shadows. Great shot from a premier sunrise location. It is magic.

  • Comment Link Michelle Jensen Sunday, 21 July 2013 12:12 posted by Michelle Jensen

    Beautiful. This must have been one of those moments when you say to yourself, I want to remember this moment, it's so unusual. How fortunate that you have the skill to capture it so beautifully. I try it in my garden; I can capture details, but not the whole overall with all the beauty and feelings.

  • Comment Link Dorsey Davis Sunday, 21 July 2013 08:16 posted by Dorsey Davis

    And the Lord said, "Let there be light and there was light" and the light was good. Beautiful, Don.

  • Comment Link Drew Campbell Sunday, 21 July 2013 08:12 posted by Drew Campbell

    Interesting shot! I really like the way the shadows fall over the fog and create a kind of surreal landscape. This summer has presented a lot of challenges and opportunities for me too. I love the look of morning fog too.

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