October 2017

October 2017 (5)

Saturday, 28 October 2017 15:48

Oh When the Sun Beats Down

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Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River in the Greenbrier section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is as quintessential a mountain river as I can possibly imagine. Flowing down the steep slopes of the north face of the Smokies Crest Ridge between Laurel Top and Old Black as a collection of individual diminutive creeks with names like Eagle Rocks Prong, Buck Prong, Lost Prong, Peck's Branch, Shirt Tail Branch, Millfield Branch, and Chapman Prong, it collects Ramsey Prong and Porter's Creek on its way to meet West Prong and East Fork to become the Little Pigeon. Its addition to the French Broad is not insignificant; its beauty in all seasons, awesome. In fall, the golden light of a waning day reflects off the surrounding forest and lights a fire to the flowing waters. It is then, especially, that I love to stand along its edge. A focal length of 19mm, wide-angle to be sure, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 0.5 second at ISO 400  gave me an overall medium exposure. The chosen ISO kept my shutter speed faster than a full second so that I could avoid more silkiness in the flow than I wanted. Middle Prong opens my heart to the haunting rush of mountain water.

Saturday, 21 October 2017 09:14

Into What Abyss?

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From Angel's Window Overlook, Vishnu's Temple, seen beyond the edge of Freya Castle, seems poised on the edge of the abyss that makes the Grand Canyon one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. There is such a vastness to this place that it is sometimes easy to overlook the intimacies that can be created from small (relatively) portions of the chasm that stretches for so many miles in each direction. From high above, the great rocks and deep gorges seem almost like puffy, colored marshmallows or swirls of melted chocolate in a giant saucepan. A focal length of 78mm, very short telephoto, gave me the narrower angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/13th second at ISO 200 gave me an ovreall slightly darker-than-medium exposure. Even in small sections the abyss of the Canyon seems to point your gaze into the heart of the Earth.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 14:22

Somewhere Along the River

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Its name from the Tsalagi translates roughly to "by the river," so that it perhaps refers to an ancient village that was located somewhere along the waters of the beautiful stream now known as Oconaluftee. Where Kephart Prong and Beech Flats Prong converge, perhaps half-a-mile upstream from here, the Oconaluftee is born and begins gathering its children as it plunges southward to its rendezvous with the Tuckaseegee on the way to the Little Tennessee. In autumn, the Oconaluftee's boulder-strewn bed and banks blaze with the colors of American beech; and following a gushing rain its flow turns frothy as it runs toward the sea. A focal length of 33mm, just inside of wide-angle, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 4.0 seconds at ISO 100, on a soggy, overcast day, gave me an overall medium exposure. As I reflect on the intimacy of this little landscape, I am reminded of the everyday beauty that surrounds us all of the time.

Saturday, 07 October 2017 08:50

A Day in the Life of a Bright Angel

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There are so many wonderful locations along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that it is very difficult to even consider a favorite, but when the late light just before sunset illuminates the great domes of the Brahma Temple and the Zoroaster Temple as they are seen from high up along the Bright Angle Point Trail, "favorite" takes on a whole new meaning. I wanted to frame the great rocks with the pinon and juniper just below the trail that were absorbed in the same golden light, leaving the depths of Bright Angel Canyon as contrasting shadow. A focal length of 56mm, as normal as you could ask, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. To focus, I chose a pinon growing down the slope out of view on the right of the frame a bit farther away than the pinon on the left. An aperture of f/18 afforded enough depth-of-field, maximized by that focus point. These settings, along with a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure. Perhaps one day I'll find an equally intriguing "favorite" place, but the Bright Angle Point Trail will always take my breath away.

Friday, 29 September 2017 12:51

All the Way To Tropic

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The amazing structure that is erroneously called Bryce "Canyon" is geological wonderment at its finest. Rather than a canyon, it is a collection of interconnecting amphitheatres forming on the eastern slopes of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, in itself another geologic wonder, whose name comes from the Paiute word for "home of the beavers." As the Paunsaugunt began uplifting 10-20 million years before the present, its eastern slopes began an erosion of the underlying sandstone strata whose dissection led to the extravagant hoodoos of the Claron Formation. To stand along the rim of Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park as the morning light spreads through the silent sentinels of stone below is to witness the Earth's handiwork as it shares the marvels of its domain from the ground beneath my feet all the way to Tropic and beyond. A focal length of 90mm, short telephoto, isolated the hoodoos that were speaking to me. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1.0 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly lighter-than-medium exposure of what seemed almost pastel in its tonalities.

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