Friday, 29 March 2019 22:41

Calf Creek Lagoon

The plunge pool formed by the falling waters of Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument collects seepage from points along the canyon wall. Over time these small interfaces have formed diminutive mudflat deltas where seepage meets pool. The falling water creates a constant breeze which ripples the lagoon's waters, distorting the reflection of the canyon's walls. A blue sky reflects strongly in the nearly still water of one of the seepages, where an errant cottonwood leaf and several twigs have come to rest.

A focal length of 123mm, still somewhat short telephoto-land, gave me the angle-of-view and isolation I wanted. An aperture of f/11 with an ISO of 100 allowed for a shutter speed of 1/8th second, slowing but not freezing the movement of the pool's water and giving me an overall medium exposure.

If I never find the wherewithal to again make the six-mile-journey into Lower Calf Creek Canyon and back, I will never forget the thrill of entering this oasis in the desert and being in the midst of the beauty present there - a lesson in being present that lives within me.

Saturday, 23 March 2019 17:05

Peek-A-Boo and River Too

Over the years I have come to believe that being mindful in the presence of Nature involves some basic truisms of walking in the world around me: seeking to be still, to be present, to be patient and to be persistent. The "4 Be's" as Bonnie and I call them are distillations from the writings of Patricia Turner. Before Patricia Turner there were the teachings of Native Elders too numerous to name and Taoist sages, also an acccounting lost in history. All of them pointing me to a single reality: it is in connection that "seeing" is born. In connection, Nature speaks, and so my wandering is about this and nothing more.

On a very rainy day recently we were wandering along Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River in the Greenbrier section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a place we have wandered many times. But each connection is different, and so this image was what spoke this time. A focal length of 17mm gave me the angle of view I wanted - wide-angle with a bit of a twist. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and, at ISO 100, required a shutter speed of 10 seconds for an overall medium exposure.

Holding an umbrella to keep water off a lens and adjusting settings on a camera have always been a fun balancing act, no matter where you are; but nowhere more so than in Greenbrier. 

Saturday, 16 March 2019 07:49

A Road to Somewhere?

Four weeks ago I shared an Image, the first iPhone image, actually, of a macro composition of cracked paint and rust on an old farm implement at the Tom Brown farm in the Beech Glen Township of Madison County, North Carolina. This morning I thought I would be a bit more realistic and share a wide-angle view from the same wonderful old farm. It, truly, is one of our favorite workshop locations. Barns are on my mind because all weekend Bonnie and I have had the pleasure of attending the 42nd Annual Appalachian Studies Conference at UNC-Asheville. It has been a wonderful experience being with so many folks who seriously study and share the natural and cultural history - past and present - of these mountains we call home. We look forward to our fall barn workshops with new eyes. What is it that allows, or encourages, you to find connection in your world?

A focal length of 27mm, toward the upper end of wideangle-land, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted so as to include the abandonded implement and both of the barns with the road to connect them. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field and an ISO of 200 allowed me to set a shutter speed of 0.6 second to achieve a medium exposure, and along with a bit of patience to freeze the very slight breeze wafting through the trees.

I think of Tom Brown and his farm this morning with a renewed sense of connection and respect for the farmers of these wonderful old mountains

Friday, 08 March 2019 15:43

About to Sprung

For each of the previous three weeks there is one characteristic that the Images of the Week have featured in common: each has had an abundance of warm tonalities, especially reds and oranges. So today I thought I would change up and share something that borders on the monochromatic. How significant is a plethora of warm tones in the human reaction to a visual stimulus. What is it about this new Image that either evokes or suppresses a response of any kind - positive or negative?

Bonnie and I have been watching as one winter storm after another has tracked across the country, and last week we took a day to play in my favorite place, GSMNP. When we got to Newfound Gap, in late afternoon, the clouds were riding the ridge of Thomas Divide. Very little color to report, but the new growth tips on the hardwoods showed a blush of incipient spring. Holding our umbrellas, as we had all day, we watched as the clouds covered-then-revealed the various knobs of the ridge as it declined away from us on its journey to lower reaches of the Smokies and into Qualla Boundary.

A focal length of 135mm (somewhere on the cusp of short-to-medium telephoto) gave me the angle-of-view I wanted and some magnification-compression to boot. An aperture of f/22 assured depth-of-field from the camera-to-subject distance, and ISO 200 allowed for a shutter speed of 2.0 seconds.

No matter how many times you see a scene like this, you quickly come to realize that each one is very unique; and with some patience, each reveals its own special beauty.

Saturday, 02 March 2019 09:02

Ontonagon or Bust

On the maps of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it is known as Bond Falls Flowage, a sparkling lake managed by the U.P. Power Company. Into this impoundment flow Deadman Creek and the Middle Branch of Ontonagon River, and out of it flows Middle Branch on its way north to join East Branch and West Branch before merging at the village of Ontonagon with the waters of Gitchi Gami, the greatest lake of them all, Superior. Not long released from the Flowage, Middle Branch tumbles over a series of cascades ending in one of the most spectacular drops in the UP, Bond Falls. Along the run of cascades is, in autumn splendor, one of the most amazing small falls I have ever encountered; and if you arrive at the right monent in the diurnal and seasonal cycles, and on a reasonably clear day, your reward is assured. Two dear friends who have sadly left us since the turn of the century, Bob and Gloria Epperson, introduced me to Bond Falls from their many adventures to photograph the wonders of America. I never tire of standing beside the flow, in gratitude for the beauty before me.

A focal length of 255mm from a distance of 25-30' allowed me to isolate a small section of the cascade, with the rich reflected colors reaching into the lip of the drop. An aperture of f/13 provided depth-of-field and, at ISO 100, allowed for a shutter speed of 1/6th of a second, fast enough to almost freeze the flow of the water at the drop's edge.

In considering a label for this image, I would discard both Intimate and Abstract in favor of calling it a straightforward (moderate) Telephoto creation characterized by magnification and compression. How do you see it?

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