In my previous post, I spoke about the strikingly beautiful landscape at Grayson Highlands. Ironically, part of the character comes from dead or dying frazer firs & hemlocks, which have been decimated by the Asian wooly aphid. Variants of this pest have taken a similar toll throughout Southern Appalachia. Fortunately, most trees were able to produce extensive seedlings before dying. Scientists are not sure how the next generation will fare; research continues. The Tombstone in the Bald image seems to capture the plight of these trees, as well as their ironic contribution to visual landscape.
In the Fraser Fir Composition image, the sun bleached, weathered old wood of a dead fraser makes for a strong visual against the dark, dense foliage of the living firs. I tried a new filter in Exposure 7 which emulates Agfa APX 100 black & white negative film. With some minor adjustments to the filter settings, I get a pleasing boost in contrast, broad tonal range and subtle grain structure. Nice! This filter may replace my go-to Kodak Panatomic-X filter mentioned in previous posts.
Another attraction you’ll find among the balds is herd of wild ponies, they help maintain the open grass areas. Occasionally, you may find cattle also grazing among the balds. Signs in the Grayson Highlands State Park request you not pet or feed the ponies. However, it’s hard to resist as they seem quite comfortable around both humans and Boy Scouts. Wild Ponies at Massey Gap was taken towards the end of our last backpacking trip in an around the Grayson Highlands State Park.
The last image, Lichen Armour, features a young tree coated with a heavy layer of lichen. Since high school biology, I’ve also been quite fascinated by lichen, which is actually a composite organism formed by a framework of fungus fibers containing algae and/or cyanobacteria all living together in a symbiotic relationship. Pretty cool, eh?