While hiking on a trail not far from the red mountain laurel, I discovered another flower that I had never seen before. Luckily the subject in Black Rock Mountain Trillium was right next to the stairs and not too far from the trail head which made it easy to get to after returning to my car and gathering my gear. I like the arcs and curls as well as the random sprinkling of color between the yellow strips of pollen on the stamen. The high level of detail allows surface textures, individual hairs, and pieces of pollen to be seen.
The change of perspective in my Beckon piece makes the curls seem as if they are drawing you in or subtly calling out, asking you to come closer. Their curvature creates a sense of pulling towards the center of the flower. The high level of detail allows surface textures, individual hairs, and pieces of pollen to be seen here as well.
A large swath of color caught my eye while out exploring the area during a long weekend stay in a cabin at Black Rock Mountain State Park in Mountain City, GA. Upon closer inspection, I was pleasantly surprised to find blooming mountain laurel especially in an unfamiliar color. I have seen both white and pink here in South Carolina and in the mountains of North Carolina, but the color in my Red Mountain Laurel piece was a new variety of the much beloved little flowers. Because they bloom in clumps that are roughly spherical (i.e., there can be several inches of distance between a flower in front and one on the side) and their cups can be relatively deep when working with a very shallow depth of field, a frame filing composition with sharp focus throughout can be challenging to find. I was able to resolve that issue by concentrating on a smaller group within a bloom that had a fairly full complement of flowers and buds. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
I came upon the subject in Rat Snake while hiking on a trail in the Hickory Top WMA on the next to last full day of my SC AIR trip. I was thrilled to find such a large snake (at least four feet long) just hanging out almost waiting for a photographer to come along and feature it in a composition. While it appears to be staring intently, perhaps measuring every movement being made and assessing risk factors, the arc of its mouth seems to give it a smirk. The high level of detail allows tiny pieces of a decaying tree (similar to saw dust) to be seen on the snake’s head, face, and eye. After allowing several compositions to be created, the snake retreated back into the tree where it presumably came from and likely picked up the aforementioned particles.
During the second full day of my SC AIR trip, I was headed back toward the car after hiking through the trails of the Dingle Pond Unit. While I searched for another scene like the one in Dingle Pond Color Flow, I discovered an equally exciting but completely different type of opportunity. The abstract lines, colors, and patterns in my Water Colors piece come from what lies beneath the water running through the area. The grains of sand and colorful sediment show a pattern of flow and movement as the force of water drifting across this spot randomly redistributes the tiny particles. The work was composed in a manner that allowed the shades to follow that same current from the darker bottom to the lighter top as if the water had an ability to influence the direction the colors flowed.
I came across the fern in Sprung on one of the hiking trails in Dingle Pond Unit the second day of my SC AIR trip. The curvature of the leaves from left to right provide an impression of smiles stacked on top of each other, which gives the piece a joyful feeling. If I was a fern, I’d be happy to finally be unfurled and able to soak up some spring sunshine. The coating of white hairs, like a type of down, speaks to a new beginning with thoughts of a bright future. The high level of detail allows surface texture, veins, and individual hairs to be seen.
During a previous outing to Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve for a hike, I learned that the area supported some interesting plants and flowers after reading the information board at the trail head. Since my current body of work lacked some of them, I made a mental note to return when I would have an opportunity to capture something. I was especially excited about the prospect of finding a Shooting Star as I had never seen one in the wild. I don’t know if it was their peak time or not, but when I returned there was an abundance of subjects like the one in Incoming. I liked how this one gave me the impression of falling from the sky with white-hot flames spinning and trailing behind it. What a cool looking little flower growing right out in the middle of a fairly wooded area.
I discovered the subject in Trail Star just off the trail in an area along the bank of a small creek. Perhaps they prefer being close to a water source or up on its banks because there were even more flowers in that location. I like how the stem loops up underneath this one and the petals provide a sense of flying.
I got lucky with the bokeh in my Stevens Creek Shooting Star piece. Not only is it very blurred, but the color and shadow gradations create an impression of motion; like the flower was zipping past me when I captured it. I also love the color and detail in and around the ring area. This is my favorite from the group.
While vacationing in Boone, NC, I was walking around the grounds at the Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis, NC when I came upon a composition that I could not deny. I love cabins and when they are in or near the mountains, they’re even better. Their old cabin, known as the Loom House, feels like the epitome of mountain living. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent many vacations in the Blue Ridge Mountains staying in cabins, but to me just the sight of one brings back feelings of excitement and reminds me of adventure, recreation, hiking, and sightseeing. I love the hand-made qualities of this one and how inviting and relaxing the two rocking chairs on the front porch look. I felt that the big trees and barn in the background added authenticity and made it feel charming, warmer, homey and well-loved (as if it held more than a hundred years of good memories).
Hitchcock Woods is a wonderful asset to have in our little town. It is one of the largest urban forests in United States and is reportedly two or three times the size of New York City’s Central Park. Since Aiken is primarily known for its association with horses (even the street signs have horse heads on them), you will most likely come across a rider or two while hiking on the 70 miles of trails that run through it. Maps are available, and some of the trails will give you a good workout with their hills and loose sand. I’ve hiked every trail and even have a couple of favorite routes.
The pieces from the Chalk Cliffs area were composed during one of those ‘right place at the right time’ outings. This particular session resulted in an important learning opportunity where, as a photographer, you realize that your destiny with good light can be planned. I had arrived as the sun was setting, but before the golden hour started. I spent some time surveying potential locations and was elated when golden light began to fall on nearly everything in my viewfinder.
In the Hitchcock Sunset piece, I decided to showcase the magic light enveloping the horse trail and pumping up the oranges and yellows of the clay and sand. I used the crack running through the protruding surface feature (left, foreground) as a leading line pointing towards the trail. This also allowed me to pick up light beams coming across the scene from the foreground to the middleground as well as golden painted rocks with shadows from nearby trees. Sharpness from the foreground to the background was achieved by using a fairly small f-stop. Due only to illumination from the right light, the visual transformation was stunning, and I appreciated being able to witness it firsthand.
For Golden Light Site, there was no spectacular light show in the middleground. Since this was composed a few minutes later, the light was heading towards a more orange tone. Which was perfect for this spot because it really brought out the orange and yellow hues in the rocks and dirt. I used the tree in the foreground as an anchor and let the light and erosion channel create a path to the middleground. A fairly small f-stop was used here as well, to maintain sharpness from the little foreground stones to the pine needles in the background. I love the colors in this piece, and it is my favorite of the group.
Chalk Cliffs is a straight ahead, frame-filling take. It required a longer shutter speed to gather enough light to illuminate the darker areas of the cliffs. Capturing the details on the face of the wall and the subtle patterns within the fallen dirt was an important, character forming, aesthetic choice. The light painted highlights across the frame serve as visual icing on the cake.