Saturday, 28 September 2019 06:19

Talking Leaves

It is the Land of Gichi-Gami, the Great Sea. It is sacred to the Anishinaabe People. In autumn the maples (Acer) put on a display of color. They are joined by others - from the cinnamon ferns (Osmunda cinnamomea) to the hickories (Carya) and every imaginable botanical size and type in between. It is a rainbow of visual delight dotted with 10,000 bodies of water, from the smallest of springs to the Great Sea itself. When a father read to his six-year-old the words of Longfellow's epic, he generated in the boy a love of people and place that has only grown deeper and wider with the passage of time.

A focal length of 117mm, the middle range of short telephotoland, gave me an intimate field-of-view that highlighted the foliage color and the trunks of the densely growing forest. An aperture of f/18 provided depth of field and allowed for a shutter speed of 1/13th second at ISO 100, in the very slightly wafting breeze, to create a medium exposure.

I have been blessed to visit this amazing land many times, and my favorite visit will always be now.



Saturday, 21 September 2019 11:49

Ballot Box Gone Missing

The Noah Waldroup farm is nestled a scant half-mile below where the Appalachian Trail passes through Taylor Hollow Gap on its way to Hot Springs (Madison County), North Carolina. The 4686' majesty of Bluff Mountain rises to the west. Noah's descendant, Floyd Waldroup farmed this land early in the Twentieth Century, and he was quite active in the politics of Spring Creek Township. Perhaps the old ballot box came to be in Floyd's barnloft via a completely innocent route, or perhaps it was conveniently squirreled away so that its contents could forever remain a mystery. The stories Floyd might tell...but the barn is silent.

From the top rung of the ladder leading into the barnloft door I set my camera at floor level just inside the entrance on the hand-riven chestnut boards. A focal length of 18mm gave me the angle of view I wanted with the ballot box revealing its lofty surroundings. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and at ISO 200 a shutter speed of 10.0 seconds gave me a very slightly darker than medium exposure.

Perhaps my own childhood experiences with barns never allows me to tire of visiting them. They all have amazing stories to share of times that have, sadly, disappeared.

Saturday, 14 September 2019 17:26

A Reflection for the Sake of Time

The remains of the Ramsey-Chandler Barn in the Madison County township of Revere, known far and wide as Sodom Laurel, once belonged a Roman Catholic Mission that served the isolated mountain community for many years. Today it belongs to Terry Vanderman, who retired to the seclusion of Revere from the bustle of Cincinnati and hopes to restore and preserve this beautiful example of a log stock barn adapted to the curing of burley tobacco. The lattice-work ventilation of this structure is an excellent sampling of one of several types of construction that provided for the aerification of burley as an intermediate step on the way to market.

A focal length of 28mm, in the upper middle of wide-angleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, leading along the edge of a small pond to the structure just beyond. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 0.4 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall very slightly-darker-than-medium exposure.

There is so much wonderful history wrapped up within the walls of the barns of Revere. The Appalachian Barn Alliance is working, almost desperately, to preserve this heritage. This work deserves all the support that we can give; nothing less than the memories of our collective past are at stake.


Saturday, 07 September 2019 21:30

I Went to the Mountains to a Place With No Name

For most visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park the first overlook consciously encountered on the Tennessee side of Newfound Gap is Morton Overlook, the Smokies quintessential sunset location. However there is actually another viewpoint between Morton and Newfound that does offer a limited, but quite beautiful view into the valley of Walker Camp Prong far below. There is no signage to indicate a name, and I have never seen a map that was labelled with a title for this small stopover on the way up and down Mount Ambler. This spring, before the greenbrier could become too overpowering, I decided to stop and play with the light that was dancing through the clouds to bathe the ridges in highlight and shadow.

Eschewing the idea of composing through the opening in the trees with a long telephoto lens, I opted to use a focal length of 28mm, definitely in wide-angleland, to include the old firs and foreground briers as a frame. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

This non-descript and unnamed bit of Smokies geography is just a small example of the world of non-iconic locations that offer endless opportunities for the creation of everyday beauty in a place that is anything but non-iconic.

Friday, 30 August 2019 13:05

Still Life with Barnloft

Over the past seven years Bonnie and I have had the great privilege of visiting well over a hundred of the beautiful Appalachian barns of Madison County, North Carolina. Most of them, we have come to know intimately for their charm, beauty, and history, on the outside, as well as the inside. Of all of them, the loft of the Henry Peek barn is perhaps the most intriguing. It is a tobacco tradition history center and a still life photographer's dream. It would be easy, literally, to spend hours here going through the flotsam and debris of a hundred years of a particular type of farming that was the heart of the Madison County economy for a very long time.

A focal length of 32mm, technically wide-angleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted to reveal just part of the tools and implements on hand. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field, and an ISO of 400 allowed for a shutter speed of 25.0 seconds and an overall medium exposure. The absolute stillness allowed for the shutter to remain open for that long without motion blur; and, standing by my tripod, I was without movement or breath.

The barns of Madison County are sources of beauty and repositories of a vanished tradition that has much to share with us about who we are as people and as a community.

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