Friday, 26 February 2016 09:51

R2D2 and Clintonia

We all know and love the fall extravaganza that is Acadia National Park; but what has been often overlooked is the amazing beauty of Mount Desert Island and its national park in the spring - the New England spring - which happens to peak considerably later than the Southern Appalachians. The joys of an Acadian spring include some of the wost wonderful floral blooms anywhere, and the delicate delight of the bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis) is at the top of the list. Several years ago I happened upon a cluster of these graceful beauties surrounding an old conifer stump, looking more robotic than organic. It created the most incredible illusion that the field of lilies was expansive, while in fact it ended just beyond the edges of the frame and was surrounded by winter's deadfall of branches and limbs. A focal length of 142mm allowed me to isolate the lilies and the stump. An aperture of f/22 gave me maximum depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. R2D2 stopped to smell the flowers; and I, I....

Thursday, 18 February 2016 16:10

Wildflower National Park

For the Tsalagi it is rightly spoken of as "There it is blue," which the Europeans corrupted to "Place of Blue Smoke." But to millions of lovers of beauty everywhere it is called "Wildflower National Park," and there is absolutely no mystery at all as to why this is so. Fifteen Hundred (1500) kinds of flowering plants are found here; and beginning in late-March they begin to put on a show, the likes of which are seldom seen elsewhere. The woods are full of flowers, a carpet of delicate color, a tapestry of form, a celebration at every glance. The Smokies in Spring are grand and glorious all in the same breath, whether you behold a single blossom, an intimate corner, or a spreading view. Where the wide-angle world can be found, I will eventually find my way with a smile. When I found this spot the first thing I noticed was the white question mark formed by the trillium grandiflora, so I knelt carefully with my camera about two-and-a-half feet above the ground, locating the large trillium in the lower left. Since the image in my mind was about flowers, I knew that the trunks of the poplars and sycamores were only incidentals. 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 1/6th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. Having no wind allowed me to use a longer shutter speed coupled with a smaller aperture and smaller ISO setting. Wildflower National Park in its ephemeral glory.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:40

Tiptoe Through the Boulders

The course of Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River as it nears the park boundary in the Greenbrier District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a rocky, boulder strewn wonder of a mountain stream. It is, in my estimation, one of the the most beautiful rivers in North America, and it offers something amazing to the photographic eye in every season, even and especially in winter. At the beginning of a long downslope run following a sharp right curve at the base of a ridge, the water slows long enough to unburden itself of boulders of all shapes and sizes. They seemed to create a natural leading line to carry the eye across the rock rubble and back to the water's edge just downstream from a small ledge. The early morning light beaming across the curve of the riverbed was casting some wonderful golden reflections across the surface of the less-turbulent areas of flow. This was a wide-angle image from the beginning, so I used a focal length of 27mm to give me the angle-of-view I wanted, which would allow me to use the boulders on the side of the river as foreground elements, including the leading line. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field using hyperfocal focusing, and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 400 gave me an overall medium exposure. The aperture-ISO combination allowed for a shutter speed fast enough to give greater definition to the flow of the water, which would have been slightly over 1 second had I used ISO 100 and f/22.

Saturday, 06 February 2016 16:41

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Great Smoky Mountains is the mists, or fogs, that are so common in the higher elevations, especially during certain times of the year and under certain conditions. As the passing storms release their liquid burdens, the clouds rise from the valleys below and roll through the high peaks with awesome effect; obscuring here, revealing there, and then reversing the entire decision only moments ago considered. To watch the process as it unfolds from a lofty purchase is to watch nature's beauty being born before your eyes. Looking west from Morton Overlook down the valley of Walker Camp Prong on a winter afternoon in the lee of a passing shower, I wanted to isolate a small section of the distant receding ridges as the mists moved among them. A focal length of 375mm allowed for this isolation and the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure and allowed for slowing the motion of the fog. It made me think of Earl Scruggs and friends.

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