Saturday, 26 May 2018 11:16

Who by Fire

Over the years I have shared several images from Purchase Knob, one of my favorite places in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Several days ago we were there again hoping for a glorious sunrise with which to welcome the new day. What we were given was so much more than we could have imagined that I wanted to share one more Image from this beautiful place. I know why my soul calls this land "home."

A focal length of 52mm, truly normal, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted to isolate the portion of my visual field in which the most intense drama was occurring. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1.0 second at ISO 100 gave me a slightly darker-than-medium exposure and provided a compromise between noise introduction and cloud motion.

As I looked on, almost too enthralled to photograph, the title of a Leonard Cohen song occurred to me, "Who by Fire?"

Saturday, 19 May 2018 08:48

Rocks for the Ages

The old rocks of Franklin Cliffs Overlook in Shenandoah National Park have seen the patience of time. They are gifts of a distant Precambrian world and its Mesoproterozic Era, which ended more than a billion years before the present, long before some of these strata were uplifted to become part of the crest of these ancient mountains. Once exposed, nature's inexorable forces immediately began to lay them low: the primordial lichen, eating rocks, giving birth to soil. As I sat gazing at the great valley miles away, I could not help but contemplate the march of time taking place beneath the soles of my Chacos.

A focal length of 112mm allowed me to isolate - from about 2.5' -  the lichen patterns that attracted me. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/15th second at ISO 100 gave me a slightly-darker-than-medium exposure.

More than mere patches of lichen, what I saw before me were shapes and lines of the march of time itself: an abstract from the dim past moving across the present day.

Friday, 11 May 2018 21:32

If Forestry Had a Cradle...

All of the land in the fog-filled valley below my perch was once owned by George Washington Vanderbilt II, and on it, with the dendrologic knowledge of Carl A. Schenck, was established the first school of forestry in America. The Cradle of Forestry is now a part of the Pisgah National Forest and serves to share with everyone the knowledge of Vanderbilt's and Schenck's work and its heritage for all of us - the successes, the failures, the wisdom of trees. As the sun peeked cautiously  over the eastern mountains, I watched the valley mist roll like waves on a woody sea.

A focal length of 62mm, still within the "normal" range, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/8, given the camera-to-subject distance, and a shutter speed of 0.3 second at ISO 200 allowed me to stop the movement in the fog to avoid unwanted blurring, provide depth-of-field, and also to create a somewhat darker-than-medium exposure: all without building unacceptable amounts of digital noise into the file.

I often wonder if Schenck came to this spot, before there was a Blue Ridge Parkway, to watch in silence as the new day began.

Thursday, 03 May 2018 09:23

Still Life with Nail Kegs

Spring Creek, North Carolina is far off the beaten track, as they say; and many of its 19th-Century barns have fallen victim to the passage of time. On the other hand, though a mere 65-years-old, the Homer Reeves livestock barn is a classic that served the hanging of burley tobacco, as needed, as well as operating as a dairy on the lower level. The lumber for this barn was milled from timber cut on the mountain across the valley. Among the wonderful artifacts found in the loft, a couple of old nail kegs and a tobacco basket saw their way clear to serve as a still life, framed by light pouring in through vent openings in the walls and that same light reflected onto the loft floor.

A focal length of 35mm, the cusp of wide-angle, allowed me to place the still life and the lines of incoming light so as to show almost the entire wall. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field and the small starburst effects, and a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds at ISO 400 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure.

The barns of Madison County are always an adventure waiting to happen.

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