Friday, 21 February 2020 18:20

Sunlight and Choppy Water

The lilypads at Schooner Head Pond, one of Acadia National Park's out-of-the-way beauty spots, are taking on water in the wake of a morning onslaught of onshore wind from the Atlantic. A cloudless sky's deep blue tones have joined the sun's golden light to produce some wonderful reflected patterns in the early day. At the far west end of Schooner Head and beyond the Loop Road, the granite face of Champlain Mountain rises to greet the coming light.

A focal length of 405mm, toward the long end of medium telephoto-land, allowed me to isolate a narrow angle-of-view with a small cluster of pads. It also allowed for some magnification and compression of the scene. An aperture of f/8 and an ISO of 800 gave me a shutter speed of 1/80th second and a way to nearly freeze the choppy surface. The aperture setting, given the camera-to-subject distance, allowed for sufficient depth-of-field to give an illusion of sharpness across the image, at least to the extent that the human eye can discern sharpness in moving water.

Acadia National Park holds the distinction of being the first national park in the United States created east of the Mississippi. It is the story of tourism run amok, the greed of land speculators, and the ravenous eyes of the timber industry coming into focus on a small island on the Downeast coast of Maine. And, it is the story of all of those souls who saw in that same land something more than resources to be exploited for the benefit of a few; rather, instead, a beauty beyond description to be preserved for the many. 

Saturday, 15 February 2020 10:50

Blue La Sal

From the advantage of the La Sal Loop Road, high above Castle Valley and the flow of the great Colorado River, it is an awesome view to the northwest and into the dusk-blue fastness of Arches National Park. The lines of the great butte known as The Rectory, with its distinctive Castleton Tower (left) and The Priest and Nuns (right) standing in the gloaming, is an erosional feature of that canyon-building creation we call The Colorado Plateau. We are easily fooled into believing that the Public Lands of the American West go on immutable forever. They do not. For reasons of self, for reasons of power, for reasons of money and greed, our shared common is constantly under attack by private interests and the politicians who would do their bidding. It is not sufficient merely to visit them, we are obligated to preserve and to protect. If we do not, they will be lost to us.

A focal length of 157mm, just on the cusp of medium-telephotoland, provided the angle-of-view I wanted and some magnification/compression as well. An aperture of f/20 from the camera-to-subject distance provided dept-of-field; and a shutter speed of 2.0 seconds at ISO 100 gave me a somewhat darker-than-medium exposure. ISO 100 was chosen to minimize the digital noise inherent in low-light situations.

There are lots of great people in Utah, but the Utah Congressional Delegation seems determined to do everything it can to gain complete state control of the public lands of the Beehive State. I do not consider this to be an acceptable outcome, and I hope you will agree with me and act on behalf of places such as Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. The La Sals and other icons of Southern Utah may ultimately be at risk, as well. On February 6, the BLM announced its plans for the 2 million acres of public land removed from Bears Ears and GSENM. Big Oil/Big Dig +1; Public Lands 0. My idea of photographic beauty has a hard time wrapping itself around a uranium mine or an oil derrick and pumpjacks.

Saturday, 08 February 2020 10:31

Wooden Ships on the Water

There are so many wonderful locations that lend themselves so readily to panorama expression; but for me none more so than City Pier in the Village of Bernard, Maine. There are innumerable possibilities, for example, looking across Bass Harbor through the everpresent armada of lobster (lobsta', actually) boats, and over to the Village of Bass Harbor. These are old and long-time fishing villages, both being part of the Town of Tremont, settled in 1762. Some of the best seafood on the Maine Coast can be found here, and some of the most creative photography, as well.

Using my usual method of creating a panorama image: a focal length of somewhere between 24-50mm with my camera in portrait orientation, beginning on the left side of the frame beyond where the actual edge will ultimately be located and moving to the right, overlapping each frame in the sequence by about 33%, and continuing in this manner to the last frame beyond the actual right edge of the image.There are any number of programs with which to merge the individual images into a single frame. I still use PhotoShop CS6~~File/Automate~~Merge, and process a single large frame from there. I will also say that while I am working with the individual NEF files in Camera RAW, I make adjustments to individual frames, and I select all of the files and make some global adjustments to them collectively before opening them in PhotoShop and beginning the Automate functions. With the individual images in this pano (there were 7 of them) my focal length was 50mm, my aperture was f/16, my shutter speed was 1/160th second, and ISO 400 was my sensitivity.

While these lands are privately held, they are open to the public for visitation, as with City Pier; or else they should be treated as any other private property and permission to be on them should be asked and obtained prior to entering.


Saturday, 01 February 2020 00:29

Once Upon a Time On West Fork

Although its headwaters are found within the footprint of the Blue Ridge Parkway, West Fork of the Pigeon River quickly leaves that boundary and begins a corkscrew journey through Pisgah National Forest on its way to join the mighty French Broad just outside of Newport, Tennessee.  It is a stream likely as old as the venerable French Broad itself, whose headstreams are just on the other side of the spine known as the Pisgah Ledge along which the Parkway travels here. And although Mr. Google Maps insists on calling it Sunburst Falls, my preference is the more colloquial West Fork Falls.

A focal length of 17mm, on the wide end of wide-angleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, even as it gave the most distant part of the falls the appearance of being further away than it actually is. An aperture of f/11, at the camera-to-subject distance, provided depth-of-field. More imortantly, it allowed me at ISO 200 to achieve a shutter speed of 1.0 second and a medium overall exposure. Longer shutter speeds would have rendered the already white water a chalky blur, which was not what I wished for an outcome.

Pisgah National Forest is one of the many beautiful eastern Public Lands that belongs to all of us. The management of Pisgah is currently undergoing a five-year plan revision. The outcome of this will determine the usage goals for this amazing place for the crucial years ahead. This link will take you to the Forest Plan Revision Homepage. If this is your national forest, please become involved in its planning. 

Site copyright © 2001 - 2019 Don McGowan & EarthSong Photography. 

All Rights Reserved.