Friday, 22 February 2019 16:51

Abstract or Intimate

One very effective way to reach into the land of abstraction is by increasing the focal length of the lens you are using, since by doing so you narrow the angle-of-view of the image and you magnify and compress the elements; all of which serves to significantly reduce the information the image contains, leading toward some essential result which is no longer recognizable as a concrete landscape. Just where the line of this differential is crossed is surely open for discussion; and one of the stops along this journey may well be in the world of intimate landscapes, although focal length alone will never be the sole determinant of intimate-landscapeland. Perhaps we are just too familiar with the rising sun and its conditions to see this Image as anything other than a sunrise, or maybe we stopped before crossing the line and have found ourselves still in the land where intimate landscapes dwell. What do you think?

A focal length of 117mm, still somewhere in the mid-range of short telephoto, eliminated the information I did not want and gave me a compressed mirror-image of the early light reflecting on Pete's Lake in Hiawatha National Forest. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field given the camera-to-subject distance, and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 100 gave me a darker-than-medium overall exposure.

Even though a month of winter remains, my mind has flown to the Northwoods and the autumn adventure in store.

Saturday, 16 February 2019 19:39

The Joys of Oxidation

The wonderful Appalachian farmsteads of Madison County, North Carolina are treasured repositories of beauty. Often that beauty shouts at us from every angle we behold: the land, the structures, the beings - each sentinent in its own way. Sometimes, however, it is more subtle and must be uncovered through exploration and discovery, almost as if it were there just beneath the surface of our awareness, waiting to be brought to our attention by a look in a certain direction or the glancing reflection of a beam of light. What appeared to be old, or cast aside, now draws us with a depth that we must appreciate on a level that often has no words at first, only feelings.

When you read what I am about to say, you may, perhaps, be tempted to swear that I have gone over to the dark side; but consider this: I regularly use my iPhone to document locations to which I intend, or at least wish, to return with my DSLR. And usually I do return, but during a recent Appalachian Barns workshop, I was strongly attracted to the peeling paint and rust holding forth on an old mower at the Tom Brown farmstead in California Creek. Once one of the showcase residences of the county, the old home is now slowly falling under the spell of entropy and returning piecemeal to the earth from which it came. I have not yet had the opportunity to return, but in looking at what I had created, I realized that the work was sufficient to process and share as an Image for the Asking. The main camera on my phone is a 12mp device with a wide-angle (28mm in 35mm equivalence; in actuality 3.99mm) lens. It has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 and optical image stabilization (OIS). I did not engage the 5x digital zoom feature, but I did engage the auto-focusing sensor in the middle of the frame and released the shutter handheld from about 8" above the surface of the metal.

Perhaps I will manage to return with my D-810 and dedicated macro lens to work this place of beauty with a different technology; and perhaps I will share the outcome of that work, as well. The essence of the feeling will not be changed regardless of the device for capture; that awareness lives in my heart as a wordless reminder of the beauty that dwells within.

 

Friday, 08 February 2019 21:55

Sometimes When You Look Closely

In the Conservatory of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, there are some amazing plants on display, including some of the slightly more than 2000 palm species from around the world. In many instances I found, on my recent adventure there with Bonnie, the stalk or trunk of these lovely botanicals to be as interesting as any other part of the plant.

A focal length of 90mm with a 25mm extension tube (PK-13) gave me the angle-of-view and magnification I wanted. An aperture of f/22 and a shutter speed of 5.0 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure.

In the world of close-up imagery what is seen is often the essence of what is felt to be real; but the elements of design remain to nurture what is felt into visual expression.

Saturday, 02 February 2019 20:08

Coming on the Old Road

Over the years, nearly two hundred of them, roads have taken various routes over the crest of the Smokies between the Oconaluftee area and what eventually became Gatlinburg and Sevier County. One route wound around the east side of Thomas Divide above Beech Flats Prong to approach Newfound Gap from that direction. On a snowy, icy day, when there are no leaves to obscure, the trace of the old road can be seen as it ascends toward Newfound on its journey into Tennessee.

A focal length of 37mm, just beyond the realm of wide-angle, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/13th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall lighter-than-medium exposure.

In winter, the late afternoon sun is setting behind the Smokies Crest at such an angle that its light does not penetrate the deep watershed through which Beech Flats Prong flows on its way from the mountains to the Gulf of Mexico.

Site copyright © 2001 - 2019 Don McGowan & EarthSong Photography. 

All Rights Reserved.