As a young Boy Scout and backpacker, my friends and I proclaimed we would one day hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) from Georgia to Maine. While that never happened, I knew back then Clingman’s Dome mountain was the highest point on the AT. At 6,643 feet (2,025 m) Clingman’s Dome straddles the Tennessee, North Carolina boarder in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The location features an iconic 45-foot (14 m) spiral concrete observation tower offering a 360 degree view of the Smokies.
Clingman’s Dome was on my recent fall foliage expedition itinerary for both astrophotography and a sunset. I first arrived on a Wednesday night around 9:00 PM ET. Anticipating cold weather plus wind chill, I was prepared for the 25° F lower temperature. From the parking lot, I slogged up the steep half mile paved trail to reach the observation tower. Luckily, there was no one else at the tower.
I shot with my 15mm – 30mm Tamron ultra-wide lens and tripod at ISO 3200, f2.8, with exposures around 5 seconds. Using a 20 second delay, I was able to use my Black Diamond head lamp to ‘light paint’ the tower during exposures. The Milky Way wasn’t quite as clear as I hoped, not sure if it was light pollution, regular pollution, weather related haze, or a combination of all.
Around 10:30 PM, moonrise began and I was able to capture a few shots before the moonlight washed out the night sky.
Thanks for stopping by today! For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version. Everyone please stay safe!
Last week I traveled to Uptown Charlotte for a couple days of business meetings . After work, I found my way to the street and was rewarded with many composition opportunities. Here’s the first in series street photos featuring architectural abstracts.
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In late April, I met my oldest son Austin in Charlotte to attend a University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Delta Sigma Phi fraternity event in Uptown (I’m also a Delta Sig, but from NC State). We rode the light rail from the University of the UNCC station to the Arena Station in Uptown. From there we walked through the Epicentre area to our destination on Trade and Tryon Streets. Of course, I was in the rear capturing these street photos along the way.
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Located on the Pamelco Sound side of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Canadian Hole is acknowledged as one of the best windsurfing and kiteboarding locations on the American east coast, if not the world Returning from a late afternoon visit to the Wright Brothers Memorial, we pulled off Highway 12 between Avon and Buxton to enjoy watching these windsurfers ride the wind.
Photographed the following day, his last composition features a kiteboarder in the Atlantic Ocean side of Hatteras Island near the city of Hatteras.
In our campground in Fresco, I met a gentlemen named Gerard from Montreal. A serious kiteboarder, he was evidence Canadian Hole was indeed discovered by Canadians in the early 1980s. Thanks for stopping by today. Click to see a high resolution version of each image.
I especially enjoy the “unveiling” experience when switch a composition from color to black and white. Shapes, textures, lines, patterns and their supporting monochrome tonalities are elevated to a higher-level, often embellishing, or presenting a totally new composition. That was mostly the experience with this series of compositions from a recent visit to my local farmer’s market.
In the image above, I started with a sepia tone look, but quickly found a bit of subtle color was needed to bring alive the red Portulaca flowers. For those who follow my blog, this is one of my common monochrome workflows, which usually ends with a vintage Kodachrome slide film emulation with Alien Skin’s Exposure X3.
The Coleus composition above was a noteworthy because of the intense experimentation with red, orange, yellow and green luminosity value combinations. With some patience you can usually enhance patterns and extend the tonal range. This image had the “fattest” histogram of them all.
For the best viewing experience, including really seeing the gorgeous textures in this series, click on an image to see a high resolution version. On this U.S. Memorial Day, I’d like to personally thank my fellow countrymen, and their families, who serve, or have served in our Armed Services.
When I first encountered these Yellow thistle plants near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, I was immediately reminded of the “Audrey II”, the alien man-eating plant from The Little Shop of Horrors movie. The plant is a contradiction of exotic beauty and menacing horror.
Interestingly, the Yellow Thistle’s genus- species name is Cirsium horridulum. In several states, Cirsium are considered noxious weeds, while others states have designated it as an endangered or threatened species.
In my state of North Carolina, the thistle is relatively common in the coastal plains and is know to initially flourish were the ground has recently been disturbed. Over time, the thistle gives way to other plants who establish themselves with permanence. I found evidence of this with numerous thistles thriving along the 2,900 foot strip of land where in 1999, the lighthouse was moved inland away from the encroaching sea.
Thanks for “sticking” around for this post! To best appreciate the prickly detail in these thistles, click on an image to view the high resolution version.
This magnificent osprey nest was near our Scout campsite in Frisco, North Carolina on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks. The wind and salt burned pine trees provide both habitat and an intriguing seascape. The female spent most of the day sitting, while the male hunted for food and nesting material.
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An hour before sunset, I had attempted to photograph windsurfers and kiteboarders just north of Buxton on the North Carolina Outer Banks. Unfortunately there was no wind, no windsurfers and no kiteboarders. Fortunately though, I arrived back at our campsite in Frisco just in time to capture these wonderful sunset compositions looking west across the Pamlico Sound.
The eastern side of the Outer Banks is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean, while the western side is separated from the North Carolina mainland by the vast Pamlico Sound. Extending 80 miles (129 km) long and 15 to 20 miles (32 km ) wide, the Pamlico Sound is the largest lagoon on the North American East Coast.
To see these sunsets in their fullest glory, click to see the high resolution version.