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Saturday, 25 August 2012 20:00

Welcome to Spiderville

Welcome to Spiderville. It is interesting to me that when we think of photographing dew-covered spider webs, it seems that we usually think about that one perfectly shaped set of strands strung like pearls across a soft background thrown completely out of focus. On this morning in Cades Cove, however, I couldn't resist seeing an entire community. There were webs everywhere I looked; and it would have been impossible to approach the perfect ones without destroying others, so I decided to photograph as much of the village as I could compose without introducing sky into the image. As you can see, the sun had risen with no atmosphere on the horizon to impede the light, so contrast was strong and immediate. I changed my perspective until I could find as much contrast between the moisture-laden webs and their background as possible, and I tried to place as many webs as I could against the darker background areas. From about ten feet away a focal length of 135mm accomplished the framing I wanted. At f/22 I had plenty of depth of field to create sharpness across the field of webs; and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 100 created a slightly darker-than-medium exposure.  

Sunday, 19 August 2012 09:08

Cosby Creek Daydreamin'

Cosby Creek is just one of the many awesomely beautiful streams that flow through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, some 900 miles of them roughly in total. Its watershed drains the Crest of the Smokies between Snake Den Mountain and Inadu Knob on the west and Mount Cammerer on the east, finally emptying into the Pigeon River east of Newport. Moss-covered stones and old-growth forest are hallmarks of Cosby Creek as it winds through and beyond Cosby Campground on its journey northward. I searched along the stream looking for a long C-curve that I could incorporate into a diagonal line through the image. Since I wanted the stream itself to be the story, I positioned myself so that I could minimize the bank on the right, keeping the irridescent mossy rocks as a border. I placed the camera about 2' above the rocks in the foreground and tilted up to allow the stream to disappear almost out of the top of the image, and I was careful to include all of the boulder in mid-stream on the left. I was also careful to tilt high enough to avoid cutting off the boulders in the back of the frame. Since I was as close as I was to the foreground rocks, I chose an aperture of f/22 to maximize depth-of-field. At ISO 100 a shutter speed of 1 second gave me an overall medium exposure. This shutter speed was acceptable in terms of the effect it had on the appearance of the flow of the water. At 19mm in focal length I was nearly as wide as the lens would allow.  

Friday, 10 August 2012 19:12

What You See Is What You Get

Sometimes it's true that what you see is really what you get. Several years ago I was at one of the many, many lakes that punctuate the landscape of Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The amazing fall foliage was more than obvious, and I was interested in finding reflections of color on the still surface. As I skirted the lake's edge I found a wonderful reflection of a red maple that was leaning out over the water, but what I really saw were the two sections of sawn white birch trunk that had fallen in and settled on the shallow depth of the bottom. The dilemma was clear. If I polarized the surface in order to see the trunks, I could lose the reflection entirely; but if I did not polarize at all, the surface glare that included the reflection might obscure the trunks completely. So I turned the polarizer incrementally until some of the glare had disappeared and there remained enough of the reflection of the leaves and branches so that they were still primary elements. An intimate abstract, if you will. I needed to isolate the reflection so that there was only foliage and branches with no reflected sky, and I needed to have a long enough focal length so that the birch trunks were large enough in the frame to compete for the eye's attention with all of the powerful color. A 175mm focal length worked well. An aperture of f/16 gave me enough overall depth-of-field for sharpness, and a shutter speed of 0.5 second at ISO 100 gave me a medium exposure.    

Sunday, 05 August 2012 12:49

Impressions in Maples and Ferns

Having photographed for several hours in this location in Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in a straightforward sort of way, I began feeling somewhat impressionistic as I stood before this small cluster of maple saplings with their lighter-colored trunks and leaves in glorious fall colors. They were surrounded by a golden-toned fern forest with the more expansive green piney woods all around. I began with an in-camera double exposure which combined one tack-sharp image with one somewhat out-of-focus image. This gave me a single image with an interesting blurred sharpness. I took this image into post-processing and at the point of using the "clarity" tool I chose to create "negative" clarity rather than positive. This added to the softer, impressionistic effect because negative clarity has the opposite effect of the mid-tone sharpening created by "positive" clarity. The image itself was conceived of as an intimate landscape which emphasized the maples and the ferns set off against the green of the background pines. The initial image was exposed at a focal length of 93mm with an aperture of f/22, a shutter speed of 6.0 seconds, and an ISO of 100.  

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