May 2017

May 2017 (4)

Saturday, 27 May 2017 20:14

Gnarly Duc with Sol

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The great evergreen forests of the Olympic Peninsula, though extensively logged as they were, are surely living visions of what the North American forests once revealed; and nowhere does their majesty seem more obvious than in the mighty rain forests of Olympic National Park, and in the Sol Duc River Valley in particular. The trail to Sol Duc Falls is a wandering through a fairyland of giants, and the forest itself is alive with wonder and magic, even in the gnarly twisting of death and decay. Oneness is the only word that seems to apply. We came here to celebrate Bonnie's birthday and the life of the great Northwest Woods as well, and what "sparkling waters" we have seen. A focal length of 28mm, still wide-angle, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, over the gnarled roots of the foreground, past a fallen giant, and into the depths of the forest behind where the light poured in. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 5.0 seconds at ISO 200 gave me an overall medium exposure. It is easy to imagine how the first trappers felt when they entered this country, and awe is what quickly comes to mind; gnarly, Dude.

Friday, 19 May 2017 11:20

While You See a Chance Take It

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There is a good reason why so many folks show up at Clingman's Dome when the atmospherics seem to herald a sunset worth watching, even though the deities that influence the sunset can be fickle beyond imagining. The recessional layers of Smokies ridges trailing westward as seen from the third highest peak east of the Mississippi are enough beauty in themselves; but when the disappearing star lights the clouds with fire and the surface winds are calm enough for the evergreens - living and deceased - to stand tall and still, then it is a place of magic and mystery. Then, it is Kuwahi, Mulberry Place, where the bears gather to dance and council in the home of the great White Bear himself; then it is sacred; and the connection that is possible leads simply to wonder. A focal length of 52mm, just normal, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/8 - given the camera to subject distance - provided depth-of-field; and with a shutter speed of 4.0 seconds at ISO 100 provided a slightly-darker-than-medium overall exposure. My 5-stop GND also helped to compress the dynamic range and open up the foreground. Perhaps if the bears, in their council, had been able to devise a more effective plan for preventing the spread of humans...ah, but that's another story. This story is about the beauty of a Kuwahi sunset.

Saturday, 13 May 2017 08:45

Wooly Bully

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In mid-April, just as spring was unfolding and uploading its presence in the lower reaches of Sugarlands Valley and beginning its climb out of the West Prong watershed, a vernal snowfall dropped several inches of whiteness along the crest of Mt. LeConte, including its westernmost peak, The Bull Head. The venerable old uplift was stoically recovering from the Great Fire of 2016 that had deeply singed its lower ridges, including where I stood, and the juxtaposition of all these events presented one of the most striking portraits from Campbell Overlook that I can recall in many years. A focal length of 90mm, short telephoto, gave me the angle of view I wanted and magnified the visual elements slightly. An aperture of f/20 gave me depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/15th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. As I watched an overcast that was slowly breaking, the contrasting highlights and shadows rolled across the land, reminding me that the light is always coming and going before us. Perhaps beauty, itself, really is more than skin-deep.

Friday, 05 May 2017 19:52


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My home in the Southern Appalachians, and the Great Smoky Mountains in particular, is blessed by water. When the rains of spring kiss the mountains with moisture, the streams are enriched with an abundance of flow. So it was, less than a week-and-a-half ago in the Smokies Greenbrier Cove where 48 hours previously the watershed of Middle Prong was drenched with a downpour that brought several inches to the surrounding ridges. As the channel filled the embrace of gravity dragged the waters ever downward on their journey to the Gulf of Mexico. As I scouted locations for a half-day workshop with the Great Smoky Mountains Association I spotted a small beech tree in early green hanging over the torrent, and their relationship compelled me to stop and create this image. A focal length of 92mm, short telephoto, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/11, given the camera-to-subject distance, provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/10th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure. Together the dance of life goes on, caught up in the flow.

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