Friday, 27 April 2018 23:07

Down the Notch

In mid-April, just before the sun slips behind the slope of Welch Ridge and into the fastness of the Sugarlands, making Morton Overlook into the premier sunset location in the Smokies, it sets down the notch formed by Welch Ridge and the far ridges of the Smokies Crest rising and falling toward Thunderhead and Mount Squires. For those few days the prominent lines of the Crest make for images of stark graphic beauty filled with color and shape, a reminder of the changing seasons and what they bring to Nature's exotic dance.

A focal length of 135mm, short telephoto to be sure, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted from the parking lot of Clingman's Dome. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure.

Sometimes simple graphics are the only elements needed to tell the story you see in your mind's eye.

Saturday, 21 April 2018 12:29


There are so many beautiful stretches of water in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that it is truly impossible to choose a favorite; but I can say for certain that Little River (or as it is more accurately described, East Fork of Little River) has to be right up at the top of the list for any number of reasons. It is a wildflower haven in spring; it has beautiful foliage in autumn; its winter wonderland is wonderful; and in summer (and throughout  the year) it is a paradise for reflections. Knowing the time of day to be there and the best direction in which to travel can be discovered accidentally, or it can be learned from years of observation.

A focal length of 200mm from the edge of a fairly high bank gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/11 from that distance provided depth-of-field, and this aperture at ISO 100 allowed for a shutter speed of 1/5th second to provide some detail in water that was moving fairly rapidly. The color came from reflected light on the opposite bank into a shaded area below where I stood.

Having this much fun being abstractly creative can encourage hours of joy in a place already more joyful than is hardly imaginable.


Friday, 13 April 2018 23:17


Sometimes it's fun to approach a usual subject in a somewhat unusual way, and so I found myself looking down at the spreading blossoms of a beautiful dogwood (Cornus florida) on the edge of a small forest of dogwoods growing along the last stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway above Big Cove in the Qualla Boundary. It was a scene that seemed to demand the use of a short focal length lens and a somewhat unusual wide angle-of-view with the low-bending blossoms in the foreground and the spindly, angular trunks of neighboring trees in the background.

A focal length of 27mm, solid wide-angleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 1/13th second at ISO 100 froze any slight motion and gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure. A single deformed blossom in the foreground provided an interesting counterpoint to the otherwise lush and full array of white.

When out-of-the-ordinary compositions present themselves, don't hesitate to go outside of your usual box of compositional thoughts and see something unsual in the beauty around you.

Saturday, 07 April 2018 15:06

Sort of Like Surfin'

Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River in the Greenbrier section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park has long been one of my greatest teachers. Every time I begin to believe that I have "seen" this wonderful stream in all of its moods and in all of its faces, it proceeds to reveal to me another of its amazing features. The extensive Roaring Fork Sandstone outcropping near the entrance to cove has produced one of the most appealing cascades in the park, and so often I am tempted to include the entire drop, as well as the banks on either side of the river. Usually I'm also tempted to throw in some of the beautiful potholes that make Roaring Fork Sandstone so intriguing when exposed to moving water for a few thousand years. Recently, however, I decided to focus on the top of the primary drop itself and to only show some of the sensual curvature in the rock as the sky- and foliage-reflected water poured over it.

A focal length of 330mm, definitely telephoto-land, gave me the reduced angle-of-view and increased magnification I wanted to emphasize the reflection and the flow. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 100 gave me a slightly-lighter-than-medium overall exosure.

Colored water in motion; just when I thought an amazing river had shown me everything it has. What will it think of next?


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