Saturday, 25 May 2019 11:20

Pixies in the Mist

One of the really fun opportunities of being in the "Pixie Forest" of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) along the upper stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway as it passes through the Great Craggy Mountains northeast of Asheville is the chance to create images using some alternative camera and/or processing techniques. When Bonnie and I were last there a couple of weeks ago I decided to make some intimate landscapes with the ultimate purpose of using the technique of "negative clarity" as a way to introduce some impressionistic ideas into the image. Having the forest enshrouded in cloud was just icing on the cake.

A focal length of 135mm, heading toward medium telephotoland, narrowed my angle-of-view to focus the view and eliminate excessive sky/fog. An aperture of f/18 provided enough detail (depth-of-field) in the trees, considering my ultimate purpose; and an ISO of 800, given that digital noise was not going to be an issue, allowed for a shutter speed of 1/20th second, fast enough to give some initial detail to the slightly moving grasses.

There are numerous locations in the natural world that are given to multiple creative possibilities. The beech gaps of the Southern Appalachians are high up on that list of locations.

Saturday, 18 May 2019 13:48

Roaring Fork Sandstone and Friends

If you could travel beneath the surface of the ground from this point near the Greenbrier Entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you would discover that this thin outcrop of Roaring Fork Sandstone is actually the tip of a lithic iceberg hundreds, if not thousands of feet thick. Where it does outcrop across a streambed it creates some amazing erosional patterns and forms and sculpted waterpockets which allow for intriguing reflection images. The entire Greenbrier section is a fascinating cove of plant-life and rock throughout the year.

A focal length of 28mm, medium wideangleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, looking directly upriver from behind the outcrop. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and ISO 200 gave me a shutter speed of 1/8th second, fast enough to create texture in the water coming over the drop and a medium overall exposure.

I can only imagine the sadness that tore at the hearts of those Greenbrier settlers forced to sell and leave their homes so that the Park could become a reality. I am grateful for their sacrifice that allows me to walk in their places of beauty.


Friday, 10 May 2019 13:10

Any Pixies 'Round Here?

A couple of days ago Bonnie and I decided it was time to visit one of our favorite locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway, not so very far from our home. We try to visit at least once each spring. The Mountains-To-Sea Trail bisects the ridge going eastward off Craggy Dome passing through a series of wonderful Beech Gaps as it heads generally in the direction of Mount Mitchell. While we did not see any direct evidence of beech blight fungus, the beech forest here did not look exactly healthy, either; and the wonderful undercover of grass that has been so characteristic of the area is slowly being overtaken by competing species. Still, it is a beautiful place; and we'll continue to return.

A focal length of 28mm, wide enough for an interesting view, but not so wide as to include an overabundance of clutter, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field and along with an ISO of 200 allowed for a shutter speed of 1/4th second, fast enough to stop the movement in the grass as the winds criss-crossed and shifted over the gap.

When we left home there was no indication that the gap would be shrouded in a cloud. Sometimes you just have to go and see. Beauty is full of surprises.

Saturday, 04 May 2019 07:46

After the Loggers Left

When the men, women, children and machines of Little River Lumber Company left the logging town of Tremont in December 1938, there was nothing left for Middle Prong to do but purify itself of the stain of men and flow on. It had officially become a part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1926; but, as the holder of all the aces in the game, Wilson B. Townsend, the logging company's owner, had wrangled a concession from the Park Service that he be allowed to continue logging in the Tremont area for an additional fifteen years from the date of the sale. When I first put eyes on Middle Prong in 1955, I knew I was in love with a river; I still am. And the wonderful regeneration of the great forest is merely icing on the cake.

A focal length of 68mm, at the very short end of short telephoto, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted from about 5' away from the near edge of the rapid. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and ISO 200 allowed for a shutter speed of 0.6 second, fast enough to create a bit of texture in the white water below the drop.

Dorie Cope's account, as written by her daughter, of living with her husband, a logger of Little River Lumber Company, and their children in Tremont is a wonderful story of some of the people whose lives were intertwined with this river and who came to know and love it with an intimacy I can barely imagine.


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