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Saturday, 26 September 2015 00:00

Connecting the Lines of Color

As US441 climbs the long shoulder of Thomas Divide in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, rising from the steep-sided valley of Beech Flats Prong into the high country, it is possible to look back and see the lower reaches of Mt. Kephart come into relief. As I made this climb one mid-October morning last year, it occurred to me that I was witnessing some of the most amazing fall color I had seen in these mountains in the past twenty years. Perhaps it was due in part to the fact that the reds and yellows and oranges were all peaking at nearly the same time, and the maples were in sync with the other species rather than being ahead of them. It was an awesome spectacle. I stopped about midway up the ascent and found an open angle though which I could frame part of one of the spur ridges descending from Thomas Divide in the foreground and right side of the image. Using the triangles thus created allowed me to establish a sense of flow back up into the mid- and backgrounds and into the counter-posed spurs off Mt. Kephart. It was all about color and line, in which the lowering clouds added a touch of mood. A focal length of 117mm allowed the angle of view I wanted and provided just enough telephoto compression of the scene to establish the relationships among the elements. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field. A shutter speed of 0.4 second at ISO 200 gave me a fast-enough shutter time to prevent the wafting breeze from creating a blurring of the foreground foliage. Tsali would have loved it.

Friday, 18 September 2015 00:00

Color in the Walls and Floors

I know that Minnesota is called the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" and it's true enough; but there are also lakes almost too numerous to count in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well. Some of the most amazingly colorful places I know lie on waters between Baraga and Ontonagon; and on a calm autumn morning with light mists rising from the still surfaces of these beautiful ponds the bright hues of fall seem to reflect up from the very depths of the earth itself. These are the waters that touch my soul. I arrived at this location in time to watch the sun rise through the trees to the east and then illuminate the trees on the north shore. The light, in turn, bounced off the foliage and into the misty water. The foreground grasses became a line that turned into a reverse-C as it rounded the edge of the frame and pointed across the surface to the forest beyond. With the foreground elements in place, I felt comfortable in allowing the image to divide itself in half without creating a static result. A focal length of 157mm gave me the angle of view I wanted to isolate the edge of the pond and the woods of the far shore. An aperture of f/22 gave depth of field, and a shutter speed of 0.3 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. Hiawatha's garden.

Thursday, 10 September 2015 00:00

Complex Simplicity

For fourteen Septembers I found myself excited to be in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There is the most beautiful fall foliage I have had the privilege to encounter. Over all of those years my sense of the beautiful has been expanded immeasurably by all of the tiny, out-of-the-way pockets of amazement that I have discovered in my travels; for instance this small wetland just off the edge of US 41 south of Baraga. For me, its complexity spoke a simplicity highlighted by the reflections in the still water and the early morning light playing through the grasses. I think I heard Eliot Porter speaking as well. A focal length of 180mm, the long end of short telephoto, allowed me to exclude unwanted information; compress the elements; and emphasize the relationships among the water, grass, and stumps. An aperture of f/22 allowed for depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 0.6 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

Thursday, 03 September 2015 00:00

Cloud Dance

It is called Kuwahi, Mulberry Place, where the Bear Clan gathers for councils and to dance before retiring to their dens for the winter months. At 6643' it is the second highest peak in eastern North America and the highest point in Tennessee. In the early light of a new day it is beauty all around. Oh yeah, to the European settlers it became known as Clingman's Dome. I visit Kuwahi for sunrise at least once every year and more often if possible. Spring and fall are excellent times because amazing atmospheric activity is more common as variously heated air masses collide and mingle. Finding just the appropriate amount of visual information to tell the story is the biggest challenge; and, of course, Kuwahi is often shrouded in clouds, so no visibility at all is not unusual. As I looked on this morning, it was the normal focal length angles-of-view that kept catching my attention, so I chose a focal length of 60mm for this image. An aperture of f/20 gave me depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 1/10th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-darker-than-medium exposure. No bears in sight.

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