Friday, 24 August 2018 14:56

Foggy Went a Courtin'

Far below the 4700' vista from Pounding Mill Overlook, on the small tributary of Davidson River called Poundingmill Branch, there once was a particular kind of milling operation known as a "pounding mill": a water-powered hammer of sorts whose obvious function was the grinding of corn into meal. The old mill has long since disappeared, and we are left with a oblique reference to its existence that marks a wonderful location to photograph sunrise along the Blue Ridge Parkway as the road passes above Transylvania County and the Cradle of Forestry in America. In August, the valleys below the overlook often become spawning grounds for early morning fog, and as the light begins to pour over the mists, they are variously highlighted with the warming colors of dawn.

A focal length of 180mm from several miles away (discounting the foreground ridge) gave me the angle of view I wanted of the fog-filled valley. An aperture of f/11, considering the camera-to-subject distance, provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 13 seconds in the dim early morning light at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure, to which I added 3/4-stop of exposure value in post-processing. It's a good thing that the air was completely still, even though the fog was drifting below me.

Surreal was the term that came to mind, but beautiful was the feeling that came to heart.

Saturday, 18 August 2018 23:21

There Is a Crack in the World

The rock through which the Gunnison River has carved its mighty canyon is of Precambrian age, which is to say it is from the earliest geologic history of our planet. Since the Precambrian ended a mere 541 million years before the present, the rocks of this ditch represent more than half-a-billion years of Earth's time, making Black Canyon a basement of our continent in the truest sense of the term. The walls of the canyon formed 1.7 billion years ago during a period of metamorphosis triggered by the collision of even more ancient landforms.  To stand on the rim, peering into the jagged recesses, is to feel a majestic smallness that seems to capture in the truest sense possible what it means to be human. It is an invitation to know humility and awe.

A focal length of 52mm, normal to the human eye, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, down into the ebony depths. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 0.3 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

There is an arrogance that seems to have gotten loose in the world that seeks to place man on an equal footing with Nature. From where I stand it is a hubris that bodes ill lest we recognize our insignificance and act from that understanding.

Saturday, 11 August 2018 22:24

A Marbling We Will Go

From Cedar Point Overlook looking across an abyss hardly more than a thousand feet wide into a solid wall of gneiss marbled with nearly horizontal bands of pegmatite, it is almost impossible to believe that a canyon over 2250' in depth lies directly in between. But, then, there are many aspects of Black Canyon of the Gunnison and its National Park that seem to invite disbelief. I was last here in 1974, when this majestic public treasure was still classified as a national monument (1933); and standing wide-mouthed above the seemingly bottomless gash of a gorge below me, I found it hard to fathom, in the waning afternoon light, why it had taken so long for me to return.

A focal length of 40mm, right on the edge of "normal," gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/6 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure.

The Gunnison is the second largest river in Colorado and the largest tributary of the Colorado wholly within the State of Colorado. For more than two million years, it has gnawed relentlessly at the igneous walls that bind it. In the end the river will chew its way to freedom.


Friday, 03 August 2018 22:55

Courthouse Morning

From a small area just north of the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint in Arches National Park, Sheep Rock and the side of The Organ closely frame the more distant, cottonwood-filled opening of Courthouse Wash, behind which rises the imposing southern expanse of The Great Wall. It seems to me that such views are the quintessential expression of the Colorado Plateau; not iconic, just red rock in its awesome beauty. Add in some of July's textured stratocumulus, and I can easily imagine Edward Abbey penning, "Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit, as vital to our lives as water and good bread."

A focal length of 150mm from half-a-mile away gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, given the framing elements and amount of sky I had chosen. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/10 of a second at ISO 200 gave me an overall medium exposure.

The early morning light shining across Entrada Sandstone always seems the suggest that stone is glowing from within.


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