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September 2014

September 2014 (4)

Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:00

The Serenity of Little Indian

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It is difficult to know the soul of a river from seeing it in a single location. There are places in Hiawatha National Forest where Little Indian River appears to be little more than a marshy wetland with some water moving through it; but then you follow it for a short distance and it becomes a place of peaceful tranquility with well-defined banks bordered by beautiful forests of maple and alder; so serene you could imagine yourself spending a day doing nothing but watching the ebb and flow of life. By the time the stream has twisted and turned through the Upper Peninsula's Northwoods for some miles it will join with its larger sibling, the Indian River, and together they will journey to the waters of Lake Michigan. A "normal" focal length of 45mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 gave me depth of field; and a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. In processing, I darkened the sky slightly to bring out the texture of the wonderful overcast.

Friday, 19 September 2014 00:00

Reflections of Bond

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One of the most iconic locations in the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan is an amazing cataract on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River known as Bond Falls; and while the large falls downstream is very beautiful itself, the smaller upstream drop is where the art is found. This 6'-8' section of faulted rock stretching across the river in a senuously curving fracture seems to almost fold back on itself creating a semi-circle of falling water. On a fall afternoon the maple trees on the opposite bank reflect their colors into the stream and across the rock is such a variety of ways that you can spend the remainder of the day exploring all the possibilities. When I saw the single leaf on the wet rock reflecting the gold foliage and the blue sky, all on the rocky lip of the cataract, I felt that here was an image worth sharing. I wanted to isolate the leaf on the rock with enough of the falling water behind it to give a good sense of context. A focal length of 120mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. In order to have a shutter speed that would slow the speed of the water to an acceptable visual flow, I needed 1/8th second; and in order to achieve this with ISO 100, I has to use an aperture of f/13. I could have raised my ISO, but I decided that not introducing additional noise was the result I wanted. This reduced my depth-of-field; however, the surface of the rock was so wet that I decided some softness across its face did not pose a problem with the composition.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 00:00

In the Wings of Kitchi Gami

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It is with a deep love and respect that I approach the land of Kitchi-Gami. Its waters are magnificent, equalled easily by its forests of maple and birch and pine, whose needle-strewn and fern covered floors create a convergence of elements that is intimately serene and cathedral-like. It is as if, in coming to these woods, I have entered a sanctuary, and the same trees that spoke to Hiawatha are speaking to me. To be in the forests of Kitchi-Gami is to understand intuitively what Eliot Porter meant with his use of the term "intimate landscape." I saw the maple and pine saplings immediately in the context of their relationship with the mature pines and birches. It was a matter of moving left or right to uncover as many of the background trunks as possible, while creating an implied diagonal line from bottom right to top left with the colorful saplings. A focal length of 82mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 and a shutter speed of 3.0 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

Sunday, 07 September 2014 00:00

Reflections in Cirrus

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Purchase Knob, properly known as the Southern Appalachian Highlands Learning Center, has been an incredible gift to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to being a wonderful environmental education resource, it has had an outstanding role in the work of the Smokies All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, providing young people with excellent opportunities to participate as citizen-scientists, as well as experience the beauty and mystery of the natural world. It's also one of my favorite places to enjoy creative play in the early light of a late-summer day. As I was working with the intimate landscapes at my fingertips, I noticed the bands of cirrus streaming over my shoulder from the direction of Hemphill Bald. Quickly changing lenses to my extreme wide-angle 12-24mm, I found an attractive cluster of Queen Anne's Lace and placed my tripod as low as possible so that I could sweep out over the flowers and into the sky without having the stems become barriers to my background. A focal length of 18mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth of field and a shutter speed of 1/4th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. 

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