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I left home early on an overcast, mid-October morning last fall hoping to find some color still hanging around in the middle elevations of the Smokies and the Balsams. To my surprise, what I found was an early snow storm blanketing the upper reaches of those mountains above 4000'; and it was still snowing. In the forest below Bunches Gap, color was still abundant. I realized that grand landscapes were out of the question in the falling snow, but intimate forest scenes began to catch my eye. With an umbrella in one hand and the cable release attached to my camera on its tripod in the other, I set the focal length of my lens to 60mm so that I could isolate the young maple with no leaves, surrounded by maple and oak saplings still in bright color, from the rest of the forest. By focusing directly on the dark trunk with an aperture of f/18 I knew that I would have plenty of depth of field to show detail in the background forest, knowing also that the falling snow would keep it from being too distracting. The resulting shutter speed of 2.5 seconds also helped soften the effect. Going out with expectations of what you hope to find is natural, but being malleable to what you do find makes for a lot of fun along the way.

Sunday, 22 January 2012 10:19

Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC

 The winding paths of Charleston's Magnolia Plantation and Gardens all lead to beauty, especially in late-March and early-April when the azaleas and camellias are in the peak of their bloom. The stately cypress and tannin-filled streams together with the blossoms set the mood for a quintessential Low-Country spring. What really attracted me here was the subtle line of the moving water flowing through the trees as the creek slowed to enter one of the several ponds that dot the property. The difficulty here was in taking out enough of the visual surroundings so that what remained did not feel cluttered, but still carried the story of place and the feeling of being there. F/22 ensured sufficient depth of field to carry sharpness throughout, and a focal length of 75mm allowed me the in-camera framing I needed to provide an angle of view that retained the three primary cypress trunks and the nearby azaleas without including what lay outside.   

Sunday, 15 January 2012 16:46

Bonaventure Cemetery Angel, Savannah, Ga

                                                                                                                                                     Bonavanture Angel 10-1

 

One of the most incredible locations I know is Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. It is a place steeped in history, filled with awe and wonder, and replete with natural and man-made beauty: stately live oaks, delicate dogwoods, ethereal filigrees of spanish moss, color-drenched azaleas and camellias, and statuary that has been so finely wrought that it can serve only to inspire reverence. One March morning I was strolling through the lanes of monuments and markers and found this lovely angel standing atop a small pedestal serenely distressed at the duty it performed. I knew immediately that my image was only about the angel and her look of grief. Since the low morning sun was rising through the trees behind the statue, she was essentially being back-lit and would be fairly dark if I did not introduce some additional light on her front. I opened up my 22" gold reflector, found a broken limb lying nearby, and propped the reflector at the desired angle to bounce additional light where it was needed. Using an aperture of f/5.6 and a focal length of 255mm I framed that part of the statue's body that seemed to best convey the message I wanted to create and gave me the least amount of background information that could serve as a distraction.  

Sunday, 08 January 2012 04:00

East Branch of Ausable River, Jay, NY

West Fork of Ausable River, Jay, NY

 

It seems somehow fitting that the first image I would choose to share in this new part of EarthSong would be a wide-angle creation. Standing on the rocky outcroppings of the bed of East Branch of the Ausable River just beneath the Jay Covered Bridge in Jay, New York, I was struck by the deep blue and billowing reflections of sky and clouds in a large water pocket, edged and filled with the rounded evidence of untold ages of geological reduction. Looking for a place where I could use the worn rocks as a foreground to lead my eye into the reflection and to the river beyond, I found an ideal group of cobbles exposed by enough evaporation so that they were just on the pool's edge. Kneeling so that my camera was about a foot above the nearest rocks I estimated the hyperfocal distance based on my focal length and aperture (21mm@f/22) and focused on the appropriate rock. The beauty of the Adirondacks can be expressed in an infinite variety of ways, and using wide-angle imagery is just one of them.   

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