Saturday, 27 October 2018 21:32

Autumn Will Come

To me there is no more quintessential expression of fall in the Great Smoky Mountains than an image of Shot Beech Ridge seen from Swinging Bridge along Thomas Divide. No matter when fall decides to arrive this year, just as in years past, its presence can always be felt high above the Deep Creek Watershed as the beeches, birches, maples, sourwood, and others join the chorus that tells us the color is here. We walk in Beauty!

To amplify the feeling, I used a focal length of 97mm, short telephoto, to slightly magnify the scene and compress Shot Beech Ridge just a bit. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 1/30th second, allowed for by an ISO of 200, created an overall medium exposure.

The discussion of superiority wil go on as long as there are trees and color to change; but Great Smoky Mountains National Park will always be at the top of my list. Dolly was certainly here first, but these are also my mountains, and they are "Home."

Friday, 19 October 2018 22:37

Meet Noland Smathers

Noland Smathers is a fisherman, a dry fly fisherman, and a fine one at that. He also stands Number 10 on the list of the all-time lowest lifetime Earned Run Average of any pitcher in the history of Western Carolina University baseball (3.33, 1970-73). I recently caught up with Noland on Straight Fork of the Oconaluftee River to photograph him at "work" for a magazine article on fly-fishing in the Smokies. Pure fun is the only way to make any meaning of the hours we spent together.

After placing Noland where I wanted him to appear in the frame, a focal length of 36mm allowed the angle-of-view I wanted. The top, back-sidelight of early afternoon was certainly contrasty, but the shadows were not so deep as to be too problematic; and it allowed me to create a highlight on Noland's line when he made a cast. An aperture of f/4.0 from the distance of the camera to the subject allowed me, at ISO 800, to use a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second for an overall medium exposure.

A river runs through part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park; and in that river there are fish to be caught. Noland Smathers is an expert at his craft and a man who knows how to have fun practicing it. Fish beware!

Saturday, 13 October 2018 22:45

An Arrow of Water

A very short distance downstream from the confluence of Beech Flats Prong and Kephart Prong, the newly formed Oconaluftee River passes under the Kephart Prong Trailhead bridge and starts a run down one of the straightest stretches of streambed in the Smokies. When the fall touches the canopy of beech and yellow birch with a golden cover, the rosebay rhododendron understory offers a deep green contrast to highlight the path of boulder-filled whitewater leading away into the distance.

A focal length of 27mm, near the middle of wide-angleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted along with the inherent lens distortion which made the background seem further away than it actually is. In the deep valley of the Upper Oconaluftee on a very overcast and foggy late-afternoon, a 30-second shutter speed was necessary, even at an aperture of f/14 and an ISO of 100 to create a medium overall exposure. The camera-to-subject distance allowed for the more open aperture, and the relative absence of large boulders and rocks in the streambed allowed for a relative absence of apparent turbulence or longer runs of extreme silkiness in the water.

As well as he knew these mountains, it is easy to imagine Horace Kephart standing amidstream surveying the water as it moved away from him and then starting up some path along the river on his way to the high country with George Masa alongside.


Friday, 05 October 2018 12:30

Light a Distant Fire

If Earth is my "Bucket List", then there is no natural place on its surface that I would not wish to return to over and over again. I already know this to be true of Cowee Mountains Overlook; and I also know that the beauty of sunset is not always seen solely in the West. This past week as Bonnie and I were scouting Smokies locations, we found ourselves near sundown at Cowee Mountains Overlook, Mile 430.7 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, as the sun sank lower and lower, what really caught my eye were the marvelous cumulus cloud mounds piling up in the South and East and being set afire by the golden hour's waning light.

A focal length of 34mm, barely, but still, wide-angleland, gave me the expansive angle-of-view I wanted, so as to include the mountainside falling away at my feet. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 2.0 seconds at ISO 100 allowed for a medium overall exposure without showing unwanted motion in the distant clouds.

A I watched the spectacle unfold, I thought of Lucia St. Clair Robson's wonderful historical novel of the life of Osceola, Light a Distant Fire. The great Seminole warrior probably never made it to the land of Tsul 'Kalu, but I believe he would have appreciated the sight of the mountains and learning the story of the Slant-eyed Giant.

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