April 2017

April 2017 (5)

Friday, 28 April 2017 21:55

If Spring Were a Color

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In my home, in the Southern Appalachians, spring is eagerly anticipated not only for its heralding the end of winter and its return of the warmth and light to the world, but also for the palette of color that the awakening blossoms bring forth in a profusion of new life. Nothing seems to be overly saturated and "pastel" often appears to be the color family to which the emerging hues belong. Even the bright magenta of the redbud (Cercis canadensis) blossoms tends toward the pink-ish end of its spectrum; and the leaves, themselves, are an expression of "lime" green before they darken with the coming of summer. Such tonalities encourage me to consider softening the sharp outlines of the foliage itself, using any of several in-camera or post-processing methods, as well. Once I found the composition that drew me in and I had created the file of the image, I had a sense that the post-processing approach of "negative clarity" might be the way to proceed to an interesting impressionistic result. A focal length of 105mm, short telephoto, from about 100', gave me the angle-of-view I wanted and the apparent relationships I was seeking. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 0.6 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. I would never say the winter is not colorful in its own right, but the emerging spring always reminds me of what nature itself seems to consider that color is all about.

Friday, 21 April 2017 22:07

The Beauty of Litter

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In Japanese aesthetics, there is a worldview characterized by transience and imperfection. That worldview goes by the name Wabi-sabi, and it is described as a state of incompletion and impermanence, as well as imperfection. Rather than seeking to avoid this estate, in Japanese art, as in life, it is embraced. After all, it is one of the natural consequences of living which cannot be avoided or eschewed. Wabi-sabi can be said to nuture all that is authentic through its acknowledgement of three realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect. And in such recognition I find great beauty. Not long ago my dear friends, Warren and Ginny Bedell, invited me to wander a bit through Transylvania County with them. We stopped at a lovely old chapel in Cedar Mountain only to watch the clouds disappear and the conditions for landscape work disappear with them; but the environment was somewhat wooded (and therefore shaded) and the floor of the property was covered with last year's litter of leaves and sourwood seed pod clusters, through which tiny mushrooms were emerging, creating a garden of still life. I placed my camera about 2' above the ground and positioned it as level as possible. A focal length of 300mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 3.0 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure. There are many directions in which to look; always remember that "down" is one of wabi-sabi's favorite places.


Saturday, 15 April 2017 22:39

The Light That Lingers

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Our Smokies Extended Weekend Adventure has been a wonderful experience, even as climate change continues to present its array of planning and logistical challenges. One pleasant outcome of the season being nearly two weeks ahead of itself has been the amazing display put on by the Park's plentiful population of dogwoods (Cornus florida); and, as is often the case, the Tremont section and its watershed, Middle Prong of Little River, have offered some outstanding opportunities to explore beautiful water and late afternoon light punctuated by lovely white blossoms. Little else to say, we were blessed to be in the presence. A focal length of 48mm, perfectly "normal", gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1.0 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. The only thing normal about a Tremont spring is the beauty of its perfection.

Friday, 07 April 2017 08:27

Galilee Only Slightly Disturbed

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The grand landscapes are the straightforward part of the process, but photographic "seeing" involves so much other. "Being present" is the beginning and it proceeds from there to the connection with the everyday beauty that surrounds us. Even in a world seemingly turned on its head, that beauty is always present to remind us of the blessings we have been given and for which we are responsible. There are two spaces remaining in the Mindfulness and Photographic Seeing Retreat Bonnie and I are offering from May 4-7 at Mountain Lens Retreat Center. It's about making connections with the everyday beauty. Come join us.

The everyday beauty of the Ocean State, Rhode Island, is so much more than coastlines and harbors and wildlife refuges; it is the small inlet that shelters the fishing fleet at Galilee and the wonderful reflections that are found on a surface only slightly disturbed by the elements all around. On a day of broken clouds I watched the reflections of the docked boats as their hulls moved in the softly rolling water making marvelous abstract patterns on the surface. A focal length of 330mm gave me the restricted angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/18 provided adequate depth-of-field, given the camera-to-subject distance. A shutter speed of 1/25th second, allowed by ISO 200 gave me an overall medium exposure and allowed me to sufficiently freeze the motion of the water to create what my heart saw.

Friday, 31 March 2017 23:00

Rocks of Ages

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They are truly for the ages, these outcrops of Roaring Fork Sandstone, taking us back to the late-Precambrian times of 500+ million years before the present. And because they are such tightly bound layers of fine-grained, highly feldspathic sandstone, they are, indeed, hard. They exist as part of a massive sandstone complex known as the Ocoee Supergroup and are the lowest member of a subgroup called the Snowbird Group. True to the extensive, almost unimaginable, warping of these old hills, Roaring Fork Sandstone can be found in diverse locations like Sevier and Cocke Counties in Tennessee, and Haywood and Madison Counties in North Carolina. Where it breaches the surface in Greenbrier in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it interfaces with Middle Prong of Little Pigeon to create beauty beyond words. I never tire of being where it is. A focal length of 17mm, definitely wide-angle, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/11, given the camera-to-foreground distance, was sufficient for depth-of-field; thankfully, because at ISO 100, even at this opening, a shutter speed of 30.0 seconds was necessary to give me a slightly-darker-than-medium exposure. The cleft in these old layers of stone has always seemed that it was made for  me, but I am more than happy to share it.

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