Friday, 26 July 2019 23:15

It's Cloud's Illusions I Recall

Bonnie and I were playing along one of our favroite stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway last weekend when we found ourselves looking out over the Cradle of Forestry from Pounding Mill Overlook. One of the wonders of working in July in the Southern Appalachians is the significant potential for wonderful atmospheric conditions as afternoon showers come and go, leaving in their wake valleys filled with moving clouds of white, hugging the low ridges as they wander.

A focal length of 112mm, still fairly short telephoto-land, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, which isolated the cloud cluster within the wider valley, and also a bit of magnification. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field and along with a shutter speed of 1/10th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall very slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure.

How often are we fascinated, as was Joni Mitchell, by the illusory amazement of traveling forms of water vapor, clouds which, when we see them, may never be seen in that same way again?

Friday, 19 July 2019 15:25

Spokes for a Butte

One of the most excellent adventures the High Desert of the Southwest has to offer is the dusty, dirt track of the Behind the Reef Road, northwest of Goblin Valley and roughly parallel to Utah Highway 24. And if you go in anything other than a high-clearance, 4-WD vehicle, don't say I didn't warn you. What you will see will be amazing - the Red Rock at its finest, the northwest face of the San Rafael Swell. There are buttes and canyons everywhere; and when the atmospheric conditions are right, the cloud-beings put on a fireworks show of their own. This is BLM land, it is public land, and we should work to see that it is always available for the public to enjoy, and care for, because with enjoyment always comes responsibility.

A focal length of 31mm, short enough to still qualify as wide-angleland, gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/30th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure. The shutter speed was sufficiently fast to freeze the motion of the expanding cloudforms as they radiated outward from above the butte like the spokes of a giant invisible wheel.

We have abrogated the regulation of so much of our western public lands to a corporation-influenced bureaucracy. We would serve ourselves well to get to know this land and to speak up for its preservation.

Thursday, 11 July 2019 11:32

When the Gales of November Come Early

At the far eastern end of Michigan's fabeled Upper Peninsula, Whitefish Point marks a turn to the south in the shoreline of Kitchi-Gami, as the biggest lake narrows and leads by decrease to the St. Mary's River and the great locks of Sault-Sainte Marie. In late-September, and 180 degrees in the opposite direction, the post-equinox sun slips away under a horizon line divided between the ancient dunes and the Big Sea Water. The often-cited gales blowing south over Superior are, indeed, a late-autumn concern, especially when they come a bit earlier than is customary, as the S.S. Edmund Fitgerald, discovered to its peril on November 10, 1975.

A focal length of 78mm, slightly short-telephoto, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted and a wee bit of magnification. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 1/15 second at ISO 100 gave me a somewhat-darker-than-medium exposure. In choosing these values, I accepted that my foreground would be a bit darker than my eyes experienced it, but the mood they created was an off-setting consideration that worked as I wished for it to.

The eastern UP sometimes seems a bit out-of-the-way from the great and colorful maple forests farther west; but its place in the beauty of Kitchi-Gami is without question.

Saturday, 06 July 2019 11:01

Intimacy in a Wet Land

By the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, 20,000 years ago, great ice sheets covered much of what is now Canada and the northern United States. By 8,000 years ago their immense weight had withdrawn beyond the boreal region along what is now the United States-Canada border, leaving a depression-filled land of lakes and their accompanying wetlands. The beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan is such a place, a water-world of forests and low-lying drainages often connecting in a patchwork of aquatic natural delight. The autumn color of this land is both actual and reflective. It is a land I deeply love.

A focal length of 135mm gave me an intimate landscape of a piece of a larger wetland. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/10th second at ISO 100 gave me a stilled reflection and an overall medium exposure.

The Land of Kitchi-Gami is many things; its wondrous beauty is a siren's song to which I gladly submit time and time again.

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