Saturday, 29 September 2018 08:30

A Gathering Place

For fifteen of the past eighteen years I have spent this exact week in the awesome Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the Great North Woods of the UP, I have found the most amazing fall colors of anywhere I have photographed in this country. The Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River, as it flows over the upper cataracts of Bond Falls, offers one of the most outstanding autumn opportunities to be had: color, water, reflections - all in one small space. The fallen litter seems to gather on the edges of the rocks just to talk about the journey before continuing downstream. I'm looking forward to visiting this wonderful place one more time.

A focal length of 21mm, heading toward extreme wide-angle, gave me the opportunity to get very low and to include the rock outcrop with its leafy burden and a wide swath of the multi-faceted upper cataract. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 0.6 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure and an apparent flow rate to the water that seemed interesting to the eye.

The land of Kitchi Gami is a magical place, sacred to the Anishinaabek, where the spirit of Hiawatha still lives and the call of the loon haunts the quiet waters.

Saturday, 22 September 2018 21:53

Cloud Dance

The amazingly beautiful drama that unfolds from a Purchase Knob dawn seems, on most occasions, to lend itself more readily to the grand landscape variety of image with sweeping lines and foregrounds offering a sense of depth as far as the eye can see. It is seldom that what attracts my eye most readily is a tightly drawn graphic scene such as this one, but the low clouds and fog-filled valleys and their intervening ridges seemed to be oriented toward just that sort of presentation; and so I followed that attraction and allowed it to lead my creative response.

A focal length of 300mm, medium telephoto, gave me the magnification and angle-of-view I wanted, tightly in on several distant ridges. An aperture of f/11, given the camera-to-subject distance of two or three miles, and an ISO of 100, allowed for a shutter speed of 15.0 seconds, the movement from which is evident in the foreground cloudforms; and it also gave me a slightly darker-than-medium overall exposure.

Sometimes previsualization of what you wish to create is exactly the approach to take, but sometimes being open to receiving whatever gifts may come allows one's eyes to see in an unexpected and unanticipated way. It's all about the fun of finding what is before you and expressing whatever that may be.


Saturday, 15 September 2018 17:55

Through a Glass Just Looking

As it slides off the Pisgah Ridge, flowing thinly past its namesake Looking Glass Rock, the small creek takes on feeders from its watershed until it joins the Davidson River nearly as fulsome as the parent stream. Half-a-mile, or so, upstream from the confluence, Looking Glass Creek pours over an exposed band of Whiteside granite, an interesting composition of orthoclase and plagioclase feldspar, quartz, muscovite, and biotite that is extensive across this part of western North Carolina. It is old rock, dating to 440 million years before the present. Spreading out over the face of the band, the creek plunges 60' to a wide pool at its base before continuing downstream to its rendezvous, past a garden of wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) one of summer's last bloomers.

A focal length of 34mm, just inside of wide-angleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. I was far enough from the foreground flowers that I was able to use an aperture of f/11 and careful focusing for sharpness throughout; and that with an ISO of 200 allowed for a shutter speed of 0.8 second, fast enough with patience to stop the slight motion in the spindly composites.

I was the first person to arrive at the falls on this particular morning, but the crowd began to gather quickly. The solitude was fun while it lasted.

Friday, 07 September 2018 12:56

I Wave, You Wave Back

There is no place more meaningful to me on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon than Cape Final; and while there are many amazing views into the grand chasm from this location, the profoundness of this old juniper snag along the path to the overlook caught my attention and refused to release me until I had interacted with its essential being. It seemed to be engaged in some final conversation with its relatives, and a black & white conversion seemed to express that discussion most sincerely.

A focal length of 31mm, technically a wide-angle focal length, allowed me to see the entire snag as well as the wooded pathway beyond, thus providing the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/6th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure with which to create the conversion. The contrast afforded by an essentially cloudless sky actually worked as a benefit in this situation.

Major Clarence Dutton had accompanied the Powell Survey in 1875 during Major Powell's second expedition to map the West. It was in 1880 that Dutton finally reached this beautiful site on the North Rim, giving it the name we know: Finally found; always beautiful.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018 19:46

Jewelweed Forever

Sometimes images simply leap in front of you as you pass them by. It happened along Newfound Gap Road just the other day as I was in the Park scouting for our upcoming Arrowmont adventure which began on Thursday and concludes today. Looking up the mountain I saw a sea of green rolling waves of pale jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) coming toward me, and the only thing to do to escape was stop and play with it. The anchoring boulder was a gift of the Smokies.

A focal length of 40mm, fairly normal, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

The jewellweed bloom in the Southern Appalachians this year is the most profuse I can remember in 25 years; perhaps it coincides with the profundity of 2018's poison ivy crop.

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