July 2017

July 2017 (5)

Friday, 28 July 2017 17:50

Through a Fog Dimly

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Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) will never be accused of being  "large"; however, in my mind there are many other qualities of this small native of our Southern forests that make it well worth celebrating. The Tsalagi made tea from its roots to cure headaches and the colonists used it to flavor root beer; but its golden (and sometimes crimson) fall foliage make it a wonderful color-element addition to a Smokies autumn landscape. Looking beyond Big Cove into Hughes Ridge on a foggy fall morning, this small stand of sassafras saplings became an excellent foreground of shape and color, echoed by a line of mixed hardwoods in the mid-ground through which the fog-shrouded ridges beyond appear silent and somber. A focal length of 46mm, just normal, gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field and sharpness throughout; while a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. Waiting for the fog to clear sufficiently for the image was the most difficult aspect of this creative process.

Saturday, 22 July 2017 12:52

Leaf in the Creek

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The hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is spectacular for many reasons; but it's the unexpected beauty that takes you by surprise and bends your vision to its presence, like a newly submerged cottonwood leaf in the sky-reflected swirling water just downstream from the magnificient pool at the base of the falls. Obviously this leaf had siblings that found the stream earlier and waited for this one to join them. Roots and rocks in the streambed found a way to anchor these until I could discover them. A focal length of 450mm, medium telephoto, gave me the isolationist angle-of-view I wanted. Great depth-of-field was not completely critical, so I used an aperture of f/5.6 (and focused on the leaf), which, along with ISO 800 gave me a shutter speed of 1/30th second and a way of freezing the surface tension on the water. It also combined to create an overall medium exposure. This small remnant of a great tree may never arrive at the mouth of the Escalante to join the mighty Colorado, and I am grateful that it waited in Calf Creek for our paths to cross.

Saturday, 15 July 2017 13:33

The Front of Allegheny

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From the great east/southeast-facing escarpment of the Allegheny Mountains at Bear Rocks on the edge of the Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongehala National Forest, the view to the East and South seems to go on forever; but it is the rocks themselves that invite closer attention. These outcrops of Pottsville Conglomerate rim the edge of the uplift from which one can, on a clear day, peer over into the Shenandoah beyond the synclinal ridge of Massanutten Mountain. The sandstones of the Pottsville formation take us back to the early-to-middle Pennsylvanian Period, from 323-307 million years before the present, when the great swamps of the Carboniferous were in full march, the word "coal" had yet to be invented, and magnificent plants covered the Earth. Kneeling along one of the rimming outcrops and looking to the southwest along the escarpment, I used a focal length of 32mm to give me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure. It is said that only the rocks are forever; I pray that it will be our keen wisdom to preserve the Bear Rocks safe from our baser tendencies.

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 20:21

The Hills Are Alive

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On the night of July 1, there was a promising weather forecast that included the possibility of fog the following morning, so Bonnie and I rose very early in order to be at the Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway for sunrise. It seemed there was fog below every ridge in sight except Pounding Mill, so we switched to Plan "B" and drove further south and west ultimately landing near The Devil's Courthouse in time to catch the growing light in the fog shrouded valleys below Fetterbush. One of the most wonderful feelings in the world is to stand on top of a mountain on a still, calm morning watching the fog in the valleys and coves roll like a slowly moving ocean of condensed vapor. A focal length of 230mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field given the camera-to-subject distance; and a shutter speed of 1/10th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. Somewhere near, there must be a Von Trapp family member singing. 

Saturday, 01 July 2017 08:41

Fun with Gears and Triangles

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Photographic fun is wherever you find it, and the graffiti of the River Arts District of Asheville, North Carolina is about as much fun as anyone could wish. Creativity seems to float on the breezes. Recently I found, on an old commercial building in the district, a window that had been boarded up and plastered over. Not content with mere closure, the creator had added a wonderfully graphic and geometric design of cogged circles and triangles to change the plain space into art. Just plain fun.  A focal length of 170mm from about 20' allowed me to isolate just the decorared wall. An aperture of f/11 provided depth-of-field, and since I was perpendicular to the wall it allowed edge-to-edge sharpness as well; and with a shutter speed of 1/15th second at ISO 100, I had a slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure. Color and geometry alway make for something interesting to a camera.

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