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Saturday, 25 April 2015 00:00

Like Shadows in My Mind

Just before the forest turned to green and changed the nature of the reflections in the water of Smokies streams, I played in Greenbrier just above the rapids in the lower section of Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The sky was clouds-and-blue, and last winter's leaf litter was still golden along the edges of the stream. What caught my eye very quickly was the gold showing on the more slowly moving flat water and the blue stirred up as the water broke over a submerged rock shelf, creating a small standing wave and a ripple turning back on itself as the water moved on. Gold and blue will capture me every time. I wanted to isolate the dimple in the river, so I used a focal length of 450mm to severely narrow the angle of view. I wanted to slow the motion of the water quite a bit, so I used an aperture of f/11, which gave me a shutter speed of 1/15th second at ISO 200, which allowed me to accomplish the result I wanted and still have an area of sharpness to draw the eye in along the diagonal created by the changing color and texture.

Saturday, 18 April 2015 00:00

A Day in the Life of an Icon

There is no more iconic location in Great Smoky Mountains National Park than Cades Cove; and the high point on the Cades Cove Loop Road is perhaps the most iconic of all. Maybe that's why I don't photograph it very often; but sometimes I just can't help myself. At the beginning of April I was in the Cove watching a storm as it blew in over the Crest of the Smokies Ridge from the southwest, and I knew that with the clouds-and-light show taking place there was one excellent place from which to see it all. The brooding atmospherics and the moving light made an all-too-familiar scene something very special. After all, it's always about the light. A focal length of 72mm, short telephoto, gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth of field, and a shutter speed of 1/4th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker than medium exposure. I was careful to wait, as the beams came and went, for a moment when the foreground meadow was in highlight and there was also light dappling on the distant ridges. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015 00:00

Down Bound

Whenever I find myself alongside the flowing stream of Little River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park I feel that I am in the great circle of waters that enfolds the planet, for this anything-but-little river begins existence on the flank of Clingman's Dome and ultimately becomes one with the vastness of the mighty Atlantic Ocean by way of the Tennessee, the Ohio, and the Mississippi. For more than a dozen miles it descends through one of the most awesome gorges in the East, cutting through rocks of the Ocoee Super-group and rounding, as it goes, massive sandstone blocks into a bed of boulders from jagged to smooth. Just above the place known as the "Sinks" the river cuts through a fault line creating a tight "S" curve of beautiful lithic wonder, and it was here that I found myself recently as I considered the oneness of all waters. Kneeling down so that I could shoot more out across the water than down onto it, I carefully formed the "S" of the stream and framed it with rocks except where it exited the frame. The exit came just as the turbulence of whitewater ended. The river and its bed formed about two-thirds of the image and the forest beyond the edge formed the remaining third. A focal length of 42mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/14 allowed for a shutter speed of 1/4th second at ISO 100, which gave the water just the turbidity I wanted.

Saturday, 04 April 2015 00:00

Going with the Flow

Late one afternoon this past week I drove slowly up Little River Road looking for the gold and blue reflections for which this stream is so widely known, especially in spring: blue from the sky and gold from last year's leaf litter which covers the opposite, sun-drenched banks of the gorge. In a place where the bottom was shallow and rocky, with boulders near the surface but not actually breaking it, I found the flow I was looking for: small continuous ripples and standing waves. The area was in open shade across from a well-lit section of forest covered in golden leaf-litter and open to blue sky overhead. As I observed I found an area where the flow seemed to create a repeating "V" above which small standing waves curled back on themselves. I polarized the scene slightly to reduce the harshest surface glare without polarizing away the wonderful gold and blue colors being reflected. A focal length of 285mm isolated just the area I wanted. An aperture of f/8 gave me enough depth-of-field to create a narrow band of apparent sharpness, and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 200 gave me a visual flow which was neither blurred nor critically sharp, but smooth with detail.

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