Wednesday, 25 March 2020 11:48

Oconaluftee Snowflakes

In the lower stretches of the Oconaluftee River Valley, downstream from the confluence of Kephart Prong and Beech Flats Prong, and where all of the various branches - Kanati Fork, Bradley Fork, Straight Fork, and Raven Fork - have come together, there are forests where the lovely flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) hold sway. When you see them brightening the valley, think about the feathered ones, the bird people. Each mature dogwood is estimated to produce on average about 20 pounds of berries each autumn, which in turn feed perhaps 50 species of birds, including cardinals, juncos, bluebirds, waxwings, and tufted titmice. Our public lands are only as healthy as the living species that call them "home." Our work as stewards is to protect these homes.

A focal length of 52mm, about as normal as it gets, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, a small copse of blooming trees with their contrasting creamy white flowers and dark, dark trunks. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field; but I focused on the nearest dogwood (at left) which meant that some of the available depth was "wasted" back toward the camera and there was a hint of softness in the far-background gray poplar trunks. At ISO 100 the shutter speed for f/16 was 2.0 seconds for an overall medium exposure. What remained was the post-processing tool of "Negative Clarity" in Camera Raw for an impressionist effect.

My prediction for the first spring of the new decade is an easy one. It has been a very mild and quite moist winter. The blooming looks to be very profuse, perhaps even more so than the Spring of 2019; and it's running about 6-10 days ahead of last year. Be safe, enjoy, be considerate of others in the outdoors.



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