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September 2013

September 2013 (5)

Saturday, 28 September 2013 10:41

It's the Time of the Season

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The richness of late afternoon light is beautiful regardless of where you are, but when that light happens to be falling on Cape Cod Bay in late-September, it can often leave you breathless. Up in the Outer Cape on the bayside of the extreme northern end of Great Island is a magnificent marshland created as the Herring River empties itself into the fecund waters of the larger bay. The island and the smaller Wellfleet Bay which it wraps to the south are part of the extensive outwash plain created by the retreating glaciers between 10,000 and 6000 years ago. Over time, these deposits formed dunes, some sixty feet tall and higher, whose erosional slopes seem to glow golden as the sun slips toward the watery horizon. The sidelighted tones of the fall grasses echo this aureate splendor, and the textured moodiness of the clouds simply adds to the mix. I found a place in the grass where I was high enough to see the entire dune line and where the grass itself was short enough so that it was not a barrier to the mid-ground. The sky contained sufficient interest so that I did not hesitate to include it as a third of my frame, but the primary interest was obviously in the grasses and dunes, and so the image was weighted in their favor. Then I waited for the light and shadow of a cloud-draped sun to sweep the elements of the image in ways that created drama and visual interest. A focal length of 52mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. With an aperture of f/22 I had depth of field; and with a shutter speed of 0.6 seconds at ISO 100 I had a medium overall exposure.    

Saturday, 21 September 2013 21:10

Off Into the Wild Blue Yonder

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Looking into the depths of Jonathan Valley from the heights of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Learning Center at Purchase Knob is often like looking into a vastness of blue space, especially when the valley is filled with morning fog as it frequently is in late-summer. The opening in the split-rail fence seems to be an invitation to pass through into the timelessness of the mountains and of nature herself. The late-summer grasses and wildflowers beyond the fence seem to add to the sense of wildness. The angle of the rising sun creates a strong back-sidelight which puts the front of the ridges in relative shadow and thus renders them in a blue light; and elementally it is all about the lines and shapes of the fence and the hillside and the ridges beyond; and, of course, the color of the blue. A focal length of 135mm, gave a narrowed, short telephoto, angle of view which isolated the blue ridges and created enough compression to enlarge and stack them. An aperture of f/16 gave enough depth of field, and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 100 created an overall medium exposure.  

Saturday, 14 September 2013 22:27

Bullish on Thistles

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It is a reasonably safe statement to make that most of the wildflowers of a Smoky Mountains autumn are members of the Aster family. And what a diverse family it is! They are often found growing together side-by-side, and their colors can make for some beautiful tonal combinations. Growing in a far flung field of Giant Golden Rod (Solidago gigantea) can commomly be found its cousin, Field Thistle(Cirsium discolor). Field Thistle and Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) look much alike, however Bull Thistle is typically a native of the coastal plain rather than the intermontane valleys of the Southern Appalachians, and so it is "discolor" that is usually seen when Cades Cove lights up with its September display. I was wandering along the edge of the field on Sparks Lane the other day when a small cluster of thistles, lavendar against a sea of golden rod yellow and green, yelled at me to come closer. When I had set up the camera I realized that a single exposure could never capture all the thistle flowers in my line-up sharply, at least not with the angle-of-view that was speaking to me; so I decided to use a fairly large aperture with which I could render the closest thistle sharply and let the mid-ground thistle be blurry but recognizeable, and finally allow the more distant thistles to become mere splotches of color in a gold and green background. A focal length of 180mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/5.6 - and focused on the front of the foreground thistle - gave me receding sharpness. A shutter speed of 1/500th second at ISO 200 froze the motion caused by the irregular but fairly constant breeze and gave me a slightly lighter-than-medium exposure.      

Sunday, 08 September 2013 08:59

Somewhere...

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Back in August, Bonnie was in Seattle visiting her daughter and grandsons, and I was busily trying to finish the newsletter. Our nextdoor neighbors had invited me over for a late-afternoon break and to talk about their new art purchase. As we sat in their living room, we suddenly looked out and saw the light  sprayed over the mountainside and the gray clouds above the mountains. We were looking east as the sun was disappearing westward, and immediately we realized the potential. Going out on their deck we confirmed the beautiful partial rainbow stretched over Craven Gap. I hastily thanked them and said farewell, and rushed home, stopping at the jeep long enough to retrieve my gear. Thankfully, the view from our deck is practically identical to our neighbors', so I determined the angle of view I wanted and tilted up on my tripod leaving nothing in the foreground-bottom of the frame except the tops of the ridges leading into the gap. It happened so quickly that by the time I began shooting, the light inside the valley was nearly gone, but the rainbow lingered. A 36mm focal length gave me the angle of view. An aperture of f/16, a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.  

Sunday, 01 September 2013 02:51

You Can Have My Lace

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Perhaps more than any other Caucasian, George Dorr loved Mount Desert Island. He worked tirelessly to promote the setting aside of the lands which now enfold the immense beauty of Acadia National Park, and he became its first superintendent. In 1909 he directed the construction of a spring house over a spring which he named Sieur de Monts at the south end of Great Meadow and on a nearby rock he had carved "The Sweet Waters of Acadia." Between the open expanse of Great Meadow and the site of the spring, whose name honors an early-1600s French Lieutenant Governor of New France (which included Mount Desert Island), there is a beautiful white birch forest. Strolling through that forest one day after the my spring workshop had ended I came upon this delicate arrangement of a fallen white birch trunk on whose surface rested the lacey shadow of a fern out of view. I chose to place the trunk at a diagonal through the frame and to allow it to divide the frame rather evenly with an amount of fallen leaf litter on one side balanced by an equal amount of the small growing ferns on the other. In doing this my aim was to encourage the viewers eye to stay, more than anywhere else, along the diagonal of the log with its filigree ornament. A focal length of 300mm allowed me to isolate the elements I wished to frame. An aperture of f/11 gave me the depth-of-field I wanted, and a shutter speed of 0.3 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. The aperture setting also allowed me a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the gentle motion caused by a slight breeze blowing through the woods.     

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