Phipps Barn Complex in Ashe County

Exploring backcountry roads in Ashe County last month, I got quite excited as this large, beautiful old barn complex appeared on Silas Creek Rd came into view.

Phipps Farm Composition 2
Phipps Farm Composition 2
Phipps Farm Composition 4
Phipps Farm Composition 4
Phipps Farm Composition 3
Phipps Farm Composition 3
Phipps Farm Composition 1
Phipps Farm Composition 1

Near the mountain town of Lansing, this sprawling barn complex sits just across the street from the Phipps Country Store, a Friday night gathering spot for local musicians.  I hope to visit this old barn again in the coming weeks to capture its beauty with fall color. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Hilton Head Island, pt 3

More beach and landscapes from Hilton Head Island. This series is the first deep dive into my new Nikon z7ii and Nikkor Z 28 – 70mm f2.8 lens. Thus far I have been impressed by the extended dynamic range, low noise and detail as compared to my D720. With the extra resolution, I’m retraining myself to not crop in as close. Not only does it provide more composition opportunities in post, but this also allows squeezing out a little more depth of field when desired.

Bass Beach Dune Fence Composition 1
Bass Beach Dune Fence Composition 1
Palmatto Composition 1
Palmatto Composition 1
Shipyard Dr Pond Composition 2
Shipyard Dr Pond Composition 2
Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 2
Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 2
Live Oak, Reconstruction Fern, and Spanish Moss Sculpture 1
Live Oak, Reconstruction Fern, and Spanish Moss Sculpture 1

If you’re viewing on a monitor, you can really appreciate the output of the Z7ii by clicking on an image to see a high resolution version. Thank you for taking time to visit, and please stay safe. The end of the pandemic is in sight!

Cheers,

C. S.

Monochrome Monday: Hilton Head Island

Last week my wife and I joined some friends for several days on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. This was my first visit to the island. I expected a commercially overdeveloped landscape, like many other popular beach destinations in North & South Carolina. To my surprise, local ordinances have subdued commercialization and preserved much of the island’s natural beauty.

Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 1
Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 1

When visiting a new location, I always take an interest in understanding the local history, culture and biodiversity. As my youngest son attends the University of South Carolina, I knew the SC was known as the Palmetto State. Before my trip, I would have identified the two trees below as two separate species. They are actually both Palmettos (Sabal Palm) trees. Palmettos loose their weaved “boot” barking once they mature.

Two Palmettos Composition
Two Palmettos Composition
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 2
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 2

The numerous stately live oaks, imbued with Spanish moss and reconstruction ferns, contribute to the island’s natural charm. The weather was overcast most of the week, but I’ve found such weather quite an opportunity for photography.

Live Oak and Spanish Moss Composition 1
Live Oak and Spanish Moss Composition 1
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 3
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 3
Live Oak and Reconstruction Fern Detail 1
Live Oak and Reconstruction Fern Detail 1

Thank you for visiting and please stay safe! For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Craggy Gardens Tree, Root, and Rock Compositions

From my Blue Ridge Parkway expedition this past October, this wonderful spot along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail offered many intriguing tree, root, and rock compositions. A quick point on inquiry, has anyone noticed WP adds about +5 red tint to color photos?

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 4
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 4

For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site.

Cheers,

C. S.

Cherokee Countryside

With the Thanksgiving Holiday, I hope to catch up on posts from my October trips to the North Carolina mountains.  I also look forward to catching up on posts from the bloggers I follow.  This post features several landscapes and vignettes from areas near the Oconaluftee River, just north of Cherokee.

Oconaluftee River Landscape 1
Oconaluftee River Landscape 1
Oconaluftee River Trout Fisherman 3
Oconaluftee River Trout Fisherman 3
Oconaluftee River Trout Fisherman 2
Oconaluftee River Trout Fisherman 2
Oconaluftee Elk Bull
Oconaluftee Elk Bull
Oconaluftee Elk Cow
Oconaluftee Elk Cow
Gourd Birdhouse Composition 1
Gourd Birdhouse Composition 1
Mingo Falls Composition 3
Mingo Falls Composition 3
Mingo Falls Composition 2
Mingo Falls Composition 2

I’m thankful for my followers and those who take time to visit my photo blog. And especially for this community of photo bloggers, I enjoy your work, insights and friendship.

Happy Thanksgiving!

C. S.

Monochrome Monday: Mingus Mill

Located near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Cherokee, North Carolina, Mingus Mill is an operational grist mill built in 1886. It uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the milling machinery.

Mingus Mill Composition 1
Mingus Mill Composition 1
Mingus Mill Composition 3
Mingus Mill Composition 3
Mingus Mill Aqueduct 1
Mingus Mill Aqueduct 1

Thank you for stopping by. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Monochrome Monday: Mingo Falls

At 120 ft (37 m), Mingo Falls is one of the tallest in the southern Appalachian Mountains.  As such, it was part of my October fall foliage expedition itinerary.  It located near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the town of Cherokee.  It is part of the Qualla Boundary, a land trust of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. My Tamron 15mm – 30mm wide-angle view doesn’t accurately represent the height of this spectacular water fall.

Mingo Falls Composition 1
Mingo Falls Composition 1

A long wooden stairway makes the falls fairly assessable, and a wooden bridge near it’s base offers an excellent view.  Shooting long exposures (15 – 20 sec) with a tripod and neutral density filter, it was quite challenging to a get sharp exposure with other spectators bouncing along the bridge.  While this composition was captured from the bridge, I also got some good shots setting up down in the creek.  For the best viewing experience, click on the image to view a high-resolution version.  Stay safe!

Cheers,

C. S.

Southern Blue Ridge Parkway – Fall Splendor

Last week I took several days off to explore the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina.  This first post features several locations on the southern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Cherokee and Asheville.  The highest section of the parkway, elevation averaged between 5,000 ft. (1,524 m) and 6,000 ft. (1,829 m).

Bunches Bald Overlook 1
Bunches Bald Overlook 1

For the most part, the fall foliage was at or just before it’s peek.  Though the weather was overcast, I was pleased with the results.  I had forgotten how hard it is to get a correct color balance with such diverse color.  The image above from Bunches Bald Overlook, was repeatedly tweaked over a day or two. I would walk away, come back, tweak some more.  Then, I realized I was wearing my yellow tinted computer glasses, and have to start over!  (o;

Yellow Face Overlook 1
Yellow Face Overlook 1

Post processing included some dehazing and a touch of HDR to recover some dynamic range.  The trick is to accurately represent the foliage color without oversaturating.

Cowee Mountain Overlook 1
Cowee Mountain Overlook 1

My favorite stop was Graveyard Fields, near Mt Pisgah, about 45 min southwest from Asheville.  Reportedly, the area suffered a major wind storm, toppling numerous trees, and was followed by years of logging.  The remaining tree stumps, covered with moss and lichen, resembled a vast graveyard.  Later a major forest fire destroyed the tombstone stumps and sterilized the soil, which severely stunted the forest’s ability to recover.   As a result, the flat valley area has a more open, bald like character.

Graveyard Fields 1
Graveyard Fields 1

Another popular feature of Graveyard Fields is the Yellowstone Prong (river) and its upper and lower falls.  The lower falls was one the most important spots on my photography itinerary.  It’s a short, but moderately steep descent through the rhododendron to the Yellowstone Prong, and then a long staircase further down to the falls. I brought my 120mm 1.8 neutral density filter and Tamron 15mm – 30mm lens.

Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 1
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 1

Precariously, I hopped and leaped around the rocks trying several vantage points.  I’ve determined I’m about too old to take that kind a risk again.  If I do, I will definitely take more time to navigate the rocks.  My long exposures averaged around 15 sec, f7.1, at ISO 100.

Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 2
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 2
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 3
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 3

I have much more to come from my expedition, including a series from the Great Smoky Mountain State Park, Cherokee and surround areas.  Thank you for taking time to visit my blog.  For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high-resolution version.  Be safe!

Cheers,

C. S.