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.


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