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Saturday, 27 July 2013 19:54

Lines, Lines, Everywhere Lines

Sometimes it's after the sun has disappeared below the horizon than things become really interesting. One thing that can be anticipated is that the light which remains will be very cool and thus quite blue. Exposures will be quite long as a relative matter; but as long as you can achieve a meter reading in the range you desire, you can always be creative. At Cowee Mountains Overlook recently the late light had been spectacular with the clouds and fog rolling in and then rolling out. The sunset had been interesting enough even with the clouds that had obscured the sun as it set. After the sun disappeared the wind calmed to a whisper and the mists began settling in the valleys below. "Thinking" like a telephoto lens I reached out into the lines and triangles created by the narrowed field of view and picked out a selection of them where the fog was thin enough to be seen through, more so than less. A focal length of 157mm gave me the angle of view I was looking for. At f/18 I had enough depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 30 seconds at ISO 100 gave me a medium overall exposure with no loss of highlights which I could then darken in post-processing to return the tonality closer to what I had experienced. 

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.

Saturday, 13 July 2013 22:07

Placid Even From Whiteface

Whiteface Mountain stands out from the rest of the High Peaks like a lone sentinel. At 4,867' it commands an amazing 360-degree view of the surrounding Adirondack Park. To the south it looks down on the serene face of Lake Placid holding Moose and Buck Islands within its azure waters. The granitic face of the mountain has become a host for a world of colorful lichen that are slowly reducing the mighty peak to the level of the lower plains. To stand on the pinnacle of Whiteface is to stand often at the level of the floating clouds whose shadows touch the land with no trace at all of ever having been. I wandered along the broken rim noticing the weathered cracks in the great blocks of stone until I found a pair that I could use as leading lines to direct attention off the mountain, down the jagged slope and out into the space of the wider world. In order to bring the surface of the peak into play as a primary element, I set up the camera on its tripod about a foot above the rock and then tilted up until I had included the band of wafting cirrus, which gave the sky the visual weight of about one-quarter of the image and the rock about one-half. I positioned the cracks in the rock so that neither of them came from directly out of a corner of the frame; and I included the rock outcrop on the right to show the line of the top of the mountain. A focal length of 18mm gave me the angle of view that I wanted. An aperture of f/20 at a shutter speed of 1/25th second at ISO 100 gave me a medium overall exposure. Artistic work can be done even in the middle of the day when you have the right elements to work with.     

Saturday, 06 July 2013 21:59

Cloud Hidden Whereabouts Unknown

It's the time of year when cool dry and warm moist air masses are often mixing over these ancient mountains of the Blue Ridge; and when they do something interesting is almost bound to happen. At Cowee Mountains Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway recently the late afternoon atmospherics were in motion, coming and going over the high ridge at 6000'. There were moments when it was very unclear that we would be able to see anything at all and the overlook was completely socked in; then there would be moments of clearing. Patience and responsiveness are the keywords as you wait for the elements to present themselves for your consideration. As a band of clouds cleared from northwest to southeast in front of me, the sun broke through between them and the next on-coming band, backlighting the foreground trees and the thinning mists below them. The sun was low enough that the most distant lower ridges were already in shadow and practically silhouetted. I wanted to include just enough of a strip of sky at the top of the image so that none of the fast-moving cloud bank was clipped. A focal length of 60mm gave me the angle of view I wanted that included somewhat more than the three trees on the foreground ridge. An aperture of f/22 gave me depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 0.3 second at ISO 100 gave me a slightly lighter than medium overall exposure.   

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