POTD: Phlox and Mayapple

Title and Location

Phlox and Mayapple

Location: Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee
Camera: Phase One P65+, Mamiya 645D, Mamiya 35mm
Settings: f/16, ISO 50, 1/250
When: April 2010

This scene was photographed in a previously secret area of Smoky Mountain National Park called White Oak Sink. The location was not publicised because the flora is very fragile. If you visit this area, please stay on the trails.

When the sky is clear blue and the light intense you can still make dramatic photographs if you pay attention to the angle of light. Notice how I moved the camera and composed the scene so the sunlight was directly backlighting the trees.  I exposed for the shadows and increased the shutter speed until the highlights were not clipped. Using my hand I shielded the lens from direct sunlight or there would have been serious flare in the image.

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POTD: Patriarch

Title and Location


Location: Mt. Magazine State Park
Camera: Phase One P65+, Cambo RS, Schnedier 24XL
Settings: f/16, ISO 50, 1/25 sec
When: November, 2010

A clearing storm at the end of the day added some nice color to an already dramatic scene.  This beautiful red cedar with a natural bansai look clings to the side of the clif overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley.  Looking at it’s precarious perch, it is hard to believe this tree is nearly 800 years old.

I am drawn to images of survival against all odds and trees are one of my favorite subjects – win/win. There is something about these old trees that speaks to the soul softly whispering “Hang in there, you might accomplish something amazing!”.

This image is made from two exposures stitched to make a vertical panorama. IT was a pretty easy composition, just keep the camera level and don’t let the foliage overlap with the surrounding trees. Vertical panos make a huge impression in a small space.  Imagine standing in front of an 8′ print of this image.

Another view of this tree was my first post on this blog.

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POTD: Underground Magic

Title and Location

Underground Magic

Location: Page, Arizona
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, Schneider 35XL
Settings: ISO 100, f/16, 5 seconds, two shot stitch
When: October 2010

A few days ago I mentioned how reflected light and shadows create colors in a slot canyon.

Todays image “Underground Magic” has the compliment of colors you’ll likely see in slot canyons during the fall.  With the sun lower in the sky it changes the angle of light entering the canyon.  That adds much more ambient light from the blue sky giving a different pallete from summer.

The canyon was about 3 feet wide where I placed the tripod.  I shifting the sensor 20mm to the right for one exposure then 20mm left for another.  Stitching these two exposures in software allowes me to capture this extremely wide angle view.

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POTD: Paradise Falls

Title and Location

Paradise Falls

Location: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, Schneider 35XL
Settings:f/11, ISO 50, 2 seconds
When: June 2010

Great scenic photography is 90% getting in front of interesting subjects.  (The other 90% is planning, equipment, technique, and tenacity but that’s for another day.)  Sometimes during my travels, I have stumbled into locations or circumstances that were so incredible it simply blew my mind.  Silver Falls State Park in central Oregon is one of those locations.

Imagine having a hole in the ground 175 feet deep with a diameter of a mile or so.  Into that hole in the ground fall a dozen waterfalls from around it’s edges.   Each waterfall has a total different character.  You may recall I mentioned when I was there they had record rainfall and these falls were raging and so beautiful.

There is a 9 mile trail at the bottom of the hole taking you to visit all of these waterfalls.  The trail goes behind the veil of several.  Simply stunning scenery and I understand it is even better in Autumn.  Often referred to as the “Crown Jewel” of the Oregon park system.  Silver Falls is truly a paradise which inspired this photograph of the North Falls.

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POTD: Long Pool Falls

Title and Location

Long Pool Falls

Location: Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, Schneider 35XL
Settings: f/11, ISO 50, 5 seconds
When: May 2009

New photographers often ask how do I know when to shoot a vertical or horizontal composition.  I know I fell into this trap talking to a pro who was conducting a workshop I attended.  In hindsight, the answer is obvious:

“Always shoot a vertical after a horizontal and vice-versa.”

Obvious – right?  It’s surprising how many compositions can easily be captured in both vertical and horizontal orientation.  With an L-bracket and arca swiss style clamp you can switch orientations in a few seconds.

Selling art, I’ve sold many more horizontal images but there are occasions where only a vertical will do.  The best ise of vertical composition is on the cover of a magazine.  A worthy goal for any photographer.

A few days back I wrote about this waterfall with a vertical composition called “Ozark Spring”.

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POTD: Swirled

Title and Location


Location: Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, Schneider 72L
Settings: f/11, ISO 50, 20 seconds
When: October 2010

Lower Antelope Canyon sits below a dry riverbed near Page, Arizona.

As you walk across the sandy riverbed, you won’t see anything except sand.  Suddenly you notice a small crack in the sand.  In a few feet it is about the width of your foot and you step in.  Each subsequent step gets wider and deeper until, waist deep in the sand, you climb down a ladder into the slot canyon.

Lowe Antelope Canyon is one of the most artistically stimulating locations I have experienced.  To photograph “Swirled” I had the camera pointing nearly straight up to use the circle on the ceiling as a compositional element.

Exposure and focus are both manual on a technical camera so it was a little tedious getting the shot accomplished.  With every try a 20 second exposure and a 20 second dark frame it took quite a while to get what I was after.

Light in the canyon is dim and a flat pink color to your eyes.   Fortunately, the camera captures the true colors with a long exposure.  You don’t know for sure what the color looks like until you see it on the camera LCD which makes the experience an awesome adventure.

My take on canyon colors:  Since the canyon is pink sandstone it is very light reflective.  (After all, sand heated turns to glass.) The light is reflected from wall to wall deeper into the depths of the canyon.  Sunlight hitting the canyon is worthless to photograph but each subsequent wall it is reflected on becomes cooler and cooler until the deepest shadows which reflect the ambient light.

Every visit to the canyon is totally different because the light and colors change with the angle of the sun and amount of cloud cover.  Summer has much deeper reds while autumn has peach, purple and blue colors.
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POTD: Daydreaming

Title and Location

Day Dreaming

Location: Beaver Lake, Arkansas
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, Schneider 72L
Settings: f/11, 1/250, ISO 50, 2 shot stitch
When: July 2010

Beaver Dam was built during the 1960s flooding the White River to create Beaver Lake.  The lake and dam provide flood control, fresh water, and hydro-electric power for the entire region.

At the time the dam was built there were not many people in this part of the state.  Since then, NW Arkansas has grown to nearly 1/2 million people and quietly become an economic powerhouse.  Well know companies like Walmart, Tyson Foods, JB Hunt Transport were founded and still headquartered here.

Scenes along its 500 miles of shoreline provide local flavor for those who happily live here and love its natural flavor.

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POTD: Ozark Spring

Title and Location

Ozark Spring

Location: Long Pool Falls, Ozark National Forest
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, Schneider 35XL
Settings: f/16, 5 sec, ISO 100
When: May 2010

I had been to Long Pool Falls on at least four occasions before “Ozark Spring” was photographed.  It’s watershed is relatively small and it takes a fair amount of rain to get it running well.

It is very typical of waterfalls in the Ozark Mountains near my home.  Most of them only run during wet weather.   When it is wet, the Ozarks are full of literally thousands of waterfalls.  Many just as beautiful as long pool falls.
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POTD: Spring Runoff

Title and Location

Spring Runoff

Location: Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, 72mm
Settings: f/16, 2 sec, ISO 100
When: June 2010

Ponytail Falls is about a mile hike straight up the Columbia River Gorge.  Normally an intimate waterfall, it was now roaring with run-off from the wettest June on record.  (That happens often on my trips!  The most rain in a week, the coldest snap in years, even the worst drought in a century but that’s for another post.)

I ventured behind the fall and composed the waterfall and stream together by stitching two side-by-side exposures into a panoramic.

The Columbia River Gorge is one if those locations we dream about as photographers.  Incredible waterfalls, lush greens and dramatic drop-offs.  One of my favorite hikes is the Eagle Creek trail which is as dramatic as it is beautiful.

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POTD: Tenacity

Title and Location


Location: Escalante National Monument, Utah
Camera: Mamiya 645d, Phase One P30+, 28mm
Settings: ISO 100, f/16, 1/8 sec
When: March 2008

This cottonwood tree picked a difficult place to survive.  Each year into the drought it struggled losing more and more green.  Even so, it still hangs on.

Photographing this scene inspired me to never give up.  Success doesn’t require luck or even skill in most cases.  With the “Tenacity” to just keep trying you can accomplish almost any goal.

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POTD: Smith Creek

Title and Location

Smith Creek

Location: Smith Creek Nature Preserve, Arkansas
Camera: Phase One P45, Cambo RS, Schneider 70L
Settings: f/11, ISO 50, 5 sec
When: May 2010

Smith Creek located just south of Boxley Valley was preserved by The Nature Conservancy to protect critical Indiana bat habitat.  The side-effect was they also gave us one of the most intimately beautiful areas in Arkansas.

On a rainy day in May, you can spend the whole day photographing this small area.  The further upstream you hike the more beautiful it becomes.

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POTD: Fishing on the Edge

Title and Location

Fishing on the Edge

Location: Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Camera: Phase One P30+, Mamiya 645D, 55-110mm
Settings: f/11, ISO 400, 1/125 sec
When: November 2011

Cape Hatteras is the most easterly portion of the eastern seaboard.   This location is unique in that storm currents from the north naturally flow in a southerly direction while storm currents from the south flow in a northerly direction.  These storm currents collide off the coast of Hatteras Island.  Fish get carried along by the currents as well which makes for great fishing.

The fishermen were congregated at the point where the waters collide.  I took several photographs and stitched them into a unique panoramic image of fisherman, choppy waters and stormy skies.

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