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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  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Thursday, 02 April 2020 22:59 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good evening Everyone. Thank you all so very much for taking the time to join our conversation and for sharing your thoughts and feelings about an Image I have offered for your consideration. In this world-in-upheaval may this be an opportunity for us to engage in a time of normalcy.
    Hey Jeff. It's always good to have you with me. Negative clarity will not necessarily serve to enhance every image; and over time and practice you will develop a sense of which images are good negative clarity candidates and which are not. As you go, you will find the practice with the concept to be very rewarding and a lot of fun.
    Hi Lynne. Thank you so very much for joining us. I really appreciate that you like this image. The impressionist, almost pointillist. outcome is truly fun to seek and when the outcome works, all the effort is more than worthwhile. Hope your recovery is near completion.
    Hi Joani. It's wonderful to have you with us. I hope you have been well and your creative adventures have been fulfilling. It would be wonderful to believe that Mother Nature has been taking care of us - who have done so little to be deserving - I'm afraid the cynic is be says that she's is taking care of herself. Either way,I am honored that you would have such a reaction to this image; it makes all the fun I had all the more worthwhile. Walk in Beauty.
    Hey Joel. It's great to hear from you. I must admit, whenever I create such as this, which tend toward the "expressive" side of photographic endeavor, I often think of you. When we get to Acadia, I want to spend some time with you plating with these sorts of images. Mount Desert Island is a wonderful place for this sort of play: spring or fall. Take good care, my Friend.
    Hi David. What a wonderful mind picture you create, the idea of "monster size TV's" to view this or any image. Very interesting, and I am honored that you could envision this image as a way of achieving a calmer state of mind. May you find many such places in the months ahead - as soon as we are able to be in the natural world freely once again.
    Hey Ray, As always, thank you so very much for joining us. I'm afraid you are so right about the importunity of the crisis in our midst; at the precise moment when our natural inclination is to reach out and touch. And I cold not agree more about the wonder of blooming dogwoods. The contrast of their beautiful blossoms with the still- unfurling larger hardwoods creates a beautiful moment in time that never fails to delight. May you be safe and well as you go about your work, wherever it may be.
    Hey Nancy T. It was great to talk with you this past week. As always, I so appreciate the elements you pull forth from an image to point us to and share for our consideration. Mother Nature does seem to delight in lifting our spirits even if she only looking out for herself. If we only delighted nearly as much in looking out for her best interests, what a wonderful world it would be. Have a wonderful week, my dear, and delight in the coming of spring - green or otherwise.
    Thanks, again, Everyone. May you all have a wonderful week and stay safe and well.

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Tuesday, 31 March 2020 15:27 posted by Nancy Tripp

    The negative clarity really added to the magic of the image. Mother Nature is trying to lift our spirits with the white flowers... and it works! The contrast of the dark trees makes it look even brighter. The beautiful spring green on the ground is also a reminder that it really is spring!!

    Be safe!

  • Comment Link Ray Foote Sunday, 29 March 2020 22:19 posted by Ray Foote

    Don, thanks for that very interesting image. It looks liquid, soft, gentle and more. I do love spotting dogwoods in the eastern woods around this time of year. They just leap off the land, don't they? Normally, in times of national crisis I'd say "get outside," but now even that remedy itself can become part of the problem if people crowd into the most popular places. Wicked timing for social distancing to be required as the land wakes up after winter and beckons. Hope you have a good week. Ray

  • Comment Link David Wilson Sunday, 29 March 2020 19:34 posted by David Wilson

    I need several monster size TV's with that image. It's been a crazy week and that image is a wonderful way to put it all behind us for a little while.

  • Comment Link Joel Price Sunday, 29 March 2020 18:41 posted by Joel Price

    What an incredible, wonderful image of Spring and rebirth!


  • Comment Link Joani Robson Sunday, 29 March 2020 13:26 posted by Joani Robson

    My heart stopped ---but fortunately only for a moment! Just lovely Don, and a creative touch. I too have been overwhelmed by this year's abundance of blooms. Mother Nature taking care of us!

  • Comment Link Lynne Diamond-Nigh Sunday, 29 March 2020 13:12 posted by Lynne Diamond-Nigh

    Beautiful image

  • Comment Link Jeffrey Eichinger Sunday, 29 March 2020 08:37 posted by Jeffrey Eichinger

    Thanks for the tip on Negative Clarity. I'll check it out.

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