Saturday, 27 April 2019 10:54

Ordinary Old Smokies

Over the years I have shared several images from my favorite sunrise location in GSMNP, from the quite dramatic to the quite mundane. Truth is, Luftee Overlook is, in my humble opinion, never mundane, and just before the arrival of the spring's new green, is one of my favorite times to go there. As the faint color creeps up the valley of Beech Flats Prong, the ridges and peaks begin to lose their distinct lines and round into the verdant hills of summer. April is a great time to experience the wonderful atmospherics for which Shaconage is so well known.

A focal length of 36mm, just beyond the edge of wideangleland, gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/25 second at ISO 200 gave me a very slightly lighter-than-medium exposure.

The contrasting clouds and the contrasting cloud shadows over the valley were anything in my mind but ordinary. Their subtlety spoke like a whisper of ancient poetry: "Whan that Aprille...."

Friday, 19 April 2019 22:56

The Shape of Floating Color

The small red maples that line the shore of the old mill pond at Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge, just a stone's throw from the marvels of Moonstone Beach on Rhode Island's incredible coast, offer themselves first as reflected leaves in the tannin-laced waters of the old mill pond. As the season progresses they continue their journeys often on the surface of the pond itself, where they join with the lily pads that have grown from the soft bottom of the pond to break the shallow surface. There they will run the wabi-sabi gamut of decay before finally becoming nutrients to help the next generation of lilies send their creamy blossoms to float with the Atlantic breezes.

A focal length of 450mm narrowed my angle-of-view into three distinct, but joined, areas of liquid surface. An aperture of f/16 at an ISO of 200 allowed for a shutter speed of 1/13th second, just fast enough to stop the slight motion of the light breeze and to provide an overall medium exposure.

The Ocean State's fall color is a jewel of rare beauty that sparkles in the light as if seen through a giant prism.


Thursday, 11 April 2019 13:28

A Communion of Trees

The gentle pastels of spring in the mountains are every bit as wonderful to me as the vibrant hues of autumn. There is an excitement to watching the world rebirth itself that the colors of spring seem to match with intensity and precision from the lowest valley to the highest peak. And there is no better place to begin than the cove hardwood forestlands between Sugarlands and the Chimneys. The great conflagration of November 2016 left scars that will outlast my eyes by many years, but in its wake it also gave Nature a chance at regeneration that shows the transformative power of beauty to heal.

A focal length of 200mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted to isolate the budding hardwoods about 250 yards away. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, given the camera-to-subject distance; and a shutter speed of 1.0 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

The interior of a cove hardwood forest is a realm of richness and diversity. The trees are the instruments of an amazing symphony that plays every day, all day long.


Saturday, 06 April 2019 21:44

This Ancient Land

A slender red maple (Acer rubrum) sapling struggles for a place among already-mature eastern yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Both are common to the eastern cove hardwood forests of the Smokies. Bonnie and I criss-crossed the Park yesterday in search of spring, and we found it nearly everywhere we looked already well-underway.

A focal length of 300mm, moderate telephoto-land, gave me the narrow angle-of-view I wanted to isolate portions of the maple and the tuliptrees. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, which, because of where I drew actual focus, and combined with the focal length, was not deep enough to carry all the way through to the background. These, combined with a shutter speed of 1.0 second at ISO 100, gave me an overall somewhat lighter-than-medium exposure.

The vernal splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains is the delightful outcome of the great diversity of the cove hardwood forests and other forest types. We are blessed by their presence and scope; we are their stewards; their gift to us in return is the beauty and serenity of a world simultaneously ancient and original.


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