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.


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  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Friday, 19 April 2019 12:47 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good afternoon Everyone. Thank you all for joining me for this conversation, as a day of thunderstorms rolls through the mountains and spring continues to roll up their ridges. It never ceases to amaze me how the season seems to last and last through its three-month cycle, yet when I examine it closely the individual pieces come and are gone almost in the blink of an eye.The delicate colors of this week's Image have almost become the lime green of new leafy growth. And on it goes.
    Hey Ray. It's always good to hear from you, to consider the thoughtful comments you will share, and to get a glimpse of the adventures you've had. It's interesting to read your description of the leftward-leaning energy here and the contrary tendency of the observing eye. I was quite conscious of that energy, but I also felt the sweep up from bottom left across to mid-right, finishing out a circular encapsulation of the area of greatest color. That circularity allowed me to remain within the frame and experience it as an integrated whole. What an excellent technical question. My usual approach is to consider the smallest aperture I may need for the depth-of-field I want. Occasionally, I will then decrease the aperture size by an additional stop just to be safe. Using depth-of-field preview (and hyperfocal focusing in the case of a wide-angle image) are also useful tools. I also use the lowest ISO setting I can in order to introduce the least noise into the file. Of course, there are nuances to this that would fill the chapter of a book, but that's essentially how I think about it, and motion rendition is always a part of the thought process. I-phones are great for "images on the fly" for the reason you suggest, and also as a way of documenting somewhere I might wish to return for more in-depth work. One of theses days I've got to make it to Missoula, if only to honor Norman MacLean. Walk in Beauty.
    Hey Chuck. I have come to look forward to seeing your contact appear. Thanks for your kind comment and thoughtful words. What I know is that what I do can be done by almost everyone who learns to pay attention and be present. Bonnie and I are looking forward to a new Road Scholar group coming in on Sunday. Hope all is well with you.
    Hi Nancy T. I've been thinking about you all week. I'll try to give you a call this evening. I really appreciate that you picked up on the wonderful contrast between the char and decay of the burned trunks and the new life beginning in the color of growth. It makes me feel very cheerful and upbeat. Thanks.
    Howdy Donald. Always excellent to have you with us. You have exactly described the circularity of framed color that I mentioned to Ray. I'm honored to have reminded you of your ancestor. I hope you have some of his work to keep his memory fresh and alive. I now have all of your prints and will get them out to you after we get home from Lake Junaluska on the 27th. Be well and enjoy this beautiful spring.
    Hey Kev. I hope this finds you and Elizabeth both well. As you suggest, early in my career I thought the color had to hit me on the head in order to be a useful element. What a great day it was when I realized that subtle color could be just as wonderful. It made me appreciate the seasons in a whole different way. Our adventure gets closer by the day.
    What thoughtful observations and questions: I appreciate all of you for the ways small and large you encourage me to see and to grow. May each of your days be filled with beauty and magic and wonder.

  • Comment Link Kevin Desrosiers Sunday, 14 April 2019 19:58 posted by Kevin Desrosiers

    Beautiful image. This is a great example of how colors to not have to be overly bright and hit you over the head to make a good image. Sometimes lighter colors are a better choice. Just makes me even more excited about our adventure this October.

  • Comment Link Donald Newsom Sunday, 14 April 2019 14:09 posted by Donald Newsom

    A very evocative image. It made me think of my grandfather (1896 - 1966) who painted images of such scenes around the hills of southern Indiana. I love the framing effect of the lower and the left-leaning tree trunks, drawing the eye into the swath of color.

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 14 April 2019 12:30 posted by Nancy Tripp

    Mother Nature wins again. The show must go on and Mother nature is showing off her spring colors using the charred wood for contrast and it somehow makes spring look a little more springy! Thanks for capturing the moment in the healing that shows Mother nature never gives up!

  • Comment Link Chuck Dildine Sunday, 14 April 2019 11:25 posted by Chuck Dildine

    It is amazing how you are able to capture the pastel look of spring in a photo. I thought this was only possible with acrylics or watercolors. Thanks for your gift.

  • Comment Link Ray Foote Sunday, 14 April 2019 09:05 posted by Ray Foote

    Don, thanks for that lively image. The verticals and all the energy leaning to the left sort of challenge our brains which, understandably, want to move to the right.

    A technical question: I notice many of your exposures are longer, say one second, two seconds. Of course, with a tripod (which I know you use faithfully), you can do that. Are your exposure times the result of small apertures and low ISO? Or something else? Thanks.

    I spent the past week in Missoula, MT (for work) and managed only a couple of brief moments outside with an iPhone to capture things that caught my eye. Hardly an example of 'being in the moment;' more one of 'images on the fly' though they'll give me a good reminder of that trip in the future.

    Have a great week.

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