Saturday, 30 November 2019 20:58

Who Do?

One hundred and sixty million years ago a deposit of creamy, erosive entrada sandstone was laid down in the shallows of an inland sea in what is now southern Utah. Sixty million years later, along the margins of a younger shore, a harder, more resistent layer of sandstone, called Dakota, came to be deposited over the Entrada. Over time, both layers were covered over with additional strata, which eventually eroded away exposing the Dakota-overlaid Entrada. As this eroded, it produced amazing white columns topped with dark-capped, small-grained, igneous-pebbled conglomerate. Thus were created the amazing Wahweap Hoodoos of the southern edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, where Wahweap Creek empties into the Colorado River now flowing beneath the mudhole of Lake Powell.

A focal length of 292mm from about 30 yards away allowed me to magnify the relatively small hoodoo and compress it with its background, the wall of the Entrada deposit. It also allowed me to control the background and elininate the sky from the composition. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 1/13th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly lighter-than-medium exposure.

Even though the hoodoos of the Wahweap remain within the reduced margins of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and are thus still afforded some protection, the monument itself has been reduced in size by 47%, from nearly 2 million acres to just over 1 million; and places just as wondrous as the Wahweap have been stripped of protection and laid bare to loosely regulated mining development, expanded grazing, and other forms of exploitation. In the mountains of the Southern Appalachians, the GSENM may seem far away and beyond the need to consider, but our public lands are under attack, and if we wish to continue to have them, we must be willing to fight for their continued existence. Like the Wahweap, they are all special. 

Saturday, 23 November 2019 08:37


I was always taught that when the weather is changing, it's time to go outside. So about a month ago I took a student to Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway for sunrise. We knew from the forecast the day prior that there was a good possibility that the valleys on the south side of the great run of the Pisgah Ridge above the Cradle of Forestry in America would be filled with fog. When we arrived we were not disappointed; and to our delight, the clouds below us were a vast sea of tumultuousness, weather in motion as it were, and the sun rising above the fray gave birth to meterologic energy in motion.

A focal length of 200mm gave me the moderate telephoto angle-of-view I wanted, creating compression and magnification, and allowing for the isolation of a specific portion of the valley below me. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field from the camera-to-subject distance. It also allowed me to hold the ISO at 100 and still have a shutter speed of 1/30th second, fast enough to essentially stop the motion in the moving clouds.

It's raining in Western North Carolina today. When it begins to slow to stopping, get your gear and go play. You will likely be rewarded for the effort.


Saturday, 16 November 2019 22:09

Pointillist Redux

When autumn leaves start to fall, it might be a good time to consider intentional camera movement as a creative technique. What I realize more and more is that there are a number of unique approaches to the ICM idea and that it is well to try all of them as an opportunity presents itself. This Image was created along the Foothills Parkway East in Cocke County, Tennessee during the same adventure that gave being to the previous This Week's Image. I think that "pointillist" is an apt way of describing the outcome here, which can be pre-conceived and executed with just a bit of practice.

A focal length of 98mm, definitely short-telephotoland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, allowing for sufficient camera movement without introducing "sky" into the frame. An aperture of f/18 meant that there would be some sense of detail at depth in the image, and a shutter speed of 3.0 seconds at ISO 100 meant that there would be sufficient time in the exposure to carry out the complete technique, since the small aperture and small ISO number provided a longer shutter time than larger openings and greater sensitivity would have allowed.

Pointillism suggests a technique of painting in which small dots of color are applied to a surface in patterns that form images. In this particular movement approach, the allowance for detail in the elements of the composition created by specific steps in the process give a "pointillist" outcome to the result.



Saturday, 09 November 2019 23:20

A Leaf or Two Shy of a Tree

There is something magical about a fall-foliage forest that has lost a good part of its colorful leafy cloak. The foliage that remains after the initial attacks of wind and rain seem to offer ways of "seeing through" that are not present in the crowded, pre-storm canopy. Early last week Bonnie and I took a day to explore the extremity of the Foothills Parkway east of Cosby, Tennessee. A substantial storm a few days earlier had brought down a significant portion of the leaves covering the brightly colored hardwoods, yet what remained seemed to offer an impressionist palette of tonalities in a pointillist view of the woods.

A focal length of 40mm, just on the cusp of "normal," gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, an intimate slice of the whole. An aperture of f/16 provided depth of field; and at ISO 100 provided a shutter speed of 15.0 seconds in the absolutely still late-afternoon air, thus creating a slightly-lighter-than-medium exosure.

In the Southern Appalachian forests of late-October and early-November the vibrancy following the first storms is every bit as attractive as the forest of full-color that was two days earlier.


Saturday, 02 November 2019 16:19

When the Colors Fade

Sometimes my good intentions lead me astray. I had every intention, when I began to process this image, of allowing the appealing fall colors I had captured to remain the stars of the show. Somehow along the way the lines, shapes, and forms of this intimate place along the Blue Ridge Parkway took control and completely overwhelmed the scene and became a whimsical Black & White conversion, with a slight amount of negative clarity added for good measure.

A focal length of 100mm, somewhere near the far end of short-telephotoland, gave me the intimate angle-of-view I wanted with some slight magnification. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field and ISO 200 allowed me to cut the shutter speed to 2.0 seconds, which, along with patience, meant that I could stop the slight breeze wafting through the forest before me.

Even in the midst of a fall color extravaganza, it's always worthwhile to consider the visual field as a monochromatic possibility.

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