March 2017

March 2017 (4)

Saturday, 25 March 2017 13:18

My Heart Blooms

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When we think of the genus Dicentra in relation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, most likely we think of its two much more common members, "canadensis" and "cucullaria", or, as we know them, Squirrel Corn and Dutchman's Britches. However, their lesser known and more rarely seen cousin, "eximia", the lovely Bleeding Heart, is a special find; and, as spring seems to arrive earlier and earlier, finding it as April arrives is something to which I increasingly look forward. The delicate pink blossoms bear the distinctive mirrored Dicentra form, and their openings always remind me of diminutive hearts wearing lacy bonnets. Using my great old Kiron 90mm macro and a Nikon PK 13 Extension Tube focused from approximately 8", I had the angle-of-view and background I wanted. An aperture of f/5.6 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/50th second at ISO 200 gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure and sufficient motion control. My heart will always bleed for beauty such as this. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017 10:06

Slip Sliding Away

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Perhaps Morton Overlook stands out in your mind as the quintessential sunset location in the Smokies, or maybe its Clingmans Dome. And on the western Blue Ridge Parkway possibly Cowee Mountains Overlook comes to mind. Yet there are others, lesser known, but equally lovely in their own way; and Lickstone Ridge comes quickly to mind. Looking down on Qualla Boundary from the heights of Bunches Bald at 5000'+, Lickstone offers something in every season - whenever the Parkway west of Soco Gap is open to travel. I supose the sad truth is that the dearth of maintenance revenues available to our Parks has led to Lickstone commonly being choked with undergrowth making composition a chore at best. When there has been a clearing made, I try to go there as often as possible, and I am usually rewarded. There is an old - I wouldn't say "ancient" yet - oak just below the overlook which can become an interesting frame as the sun slips below the distant ridge. A focal length of 93mm - short telephoto - gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/20th second at ISO 100 gave me a noticably darker-than-medium overall exposure. The Southern Appalachians are filled with little known places full of creative opportunities. Why not explore all of them?

Saturday, 11 March 2017 22:08

Dolph Robinson and Quince

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For most mountain farms, having beauty at your fingertips meant flowers - as early and as often and as prolifically as possible. Quince japonica, or as it is botanically known, Chaenomeles speciosa, was widely distributed throughout the Southern Appalachians and loved by all for its fetching loveliness. Even remote farmsteads, like Dolph Robinson's, were grateful to have this charming splash of early color to break the drabness of winter. Last year the flowering quince was peaking exactly on the cusp of April as our barn adventure began. Yesterday it looked like this, perhaps 4-6 days ahead of peak and two weeks ahead of 2016. Perhaps my implication is clear, and I'll leave it at that. What I know to be true is that Dolph Robinson would have been elated to see it whenever it might appear, and I am happy to be able to share it with you today or any day. A focal length of 50mm, straight on "normal", gave me the angle of view and magnification I wanted. An aperture of f/22 maximized my depth-of-field,and a shutter speed of 0.4 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. My great-grandmother had several flowering quince bushes in her yard; their sight and smell always made me happy to be there in early spring.

Saturday, 04 March 2017 18:16

That's How the Light Gets In

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I promised last week that this week's Image would be a different composition from the same location and time as last week's offering. And since last week was an intimate landscape of the larger whole, I thought that this week I would offer a version of the whole itself. What I would point out about both of these Images, as well as any of the others in the series, is that it is so important to be patient, both upon initial arrival at a location with conditions such as these, and as the changing conditions themselves unfold. As Bonnie and I watched in wonder at the light show before us on display moving and dancing, no fewer than half a dozen other photographers came to and left the overlook where we were stationed. After more than an hour of this, we finally convinced ourselves it was okay to leave. Here, a focal length of 68mm, Slightly more than three times the view of the previous Image, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/16, given camera-to-subject distance, provided depth-of-field, and with a shutter speed of 0.6 second (which slowed the motion of the clouds) at ISO 100 gave me an overall somewhat darker-than-medium exposure. Learning to evaluate the weather forecast is the important first step; and showing up to take advantage of how it unfolds is the essential second step. Mostly it's just about having fun.

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