Oh Oregon! Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Chief Kiawanda Rock Composition 1
Chief Kiawanda Rock Composition 1

During our trip north along the Oregon’s scenic Highway 101, we detoured off the highway along the northern boundary of Nestucca Bay to Pacific City and the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area.  I specifically wanted to see (translation – photograph) the iconic Chief Kiawanda Rock – a sea stack geological formation.   Upon our arrival, I found the tall sandstone cliffs jetting out into the ocean and the enormous Great Dune equally impressive.

Cape Kiwanda Great Dune Composition 1
Cape Kiwanda Great Dune Composition 1

The sandy beach and adjacent sand hills were popular among the numerous visitors.  My younger son Parker and I climbed the sand hill to reach the top edge of the sandstone cliffs.  A fence warned visitors of the dangerous cliffs.  Seeing a few others exploring the cliffs and boulders, we cautiously and perhaps foolishly climbed under the fence to gain a better view from of Chief Kiawanda Rock.

Cape Kiwanda Landscape 1
Cape Kiwanda Landscape 1

Making our way to the top, we backtracked to find a safer route to the top of the cliff.  My rule for Parker and I was to stay 20 feet away from edge of cliffs.  I’m glad we did; while researching the area for this post, I learned 7 people have died – falling into sea from crumbling sandstone cliffs! Below is a photo of Parker with Pacific City in the background.

20ft from Cliff Edge at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
20ft from Cliff Edge at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
Cape Kiwanda Great Dune Composition 2
Cape Kiwanda Great Dune Composition 2

The area was originally inhabited by the Nestugga and Killamook Native Americans.  The names evolved into Nestucca (as in the Nestucca River) and Tillamook – the city to the north with the huge cheese factory.  The sea stack was named after Chief Kiawanda, whose name has also changed over time to Kiwanda.  In the past, some referred to the sea stack as Haystack Rock, but this is often confused with the also iconic Haystack Rock 65 miles to the north at Cannon Beach.   Today the locals in Pacific City, and most maps, refer to it as Chief Kiawanda Rock.

Cape Kiwanda Cove and Cave Composition 1
Cape Kiwanda Cove and Cave Composition 1

At 341 feet (104 m), Chief Kiawanda Rock is actually 100 ft taller than Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.  It looks smaller because it is actually almost 3800 ft (3/4 mile, 1189 m) offshore from the beach at Pacific City.  Sea stacks are formed when lava flows collapse under the upper crust and later erupt back to the surface.  Ocean waves and wind carve the rocks into their current shapes.  Most of these sea stacks are considered bird sanctuaries and as such are off-limits to human visitors.

Cape Kiwanda Landscape 2
Cape Kiwanda Landscape 2

I wished we could have stayed longer and had a beer at the original Pelican Brewery location in Pacific City. But, there was still much more to see along the Oregon Coast. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution. Thank you for stopping by!

Cheers,

C. S.

Oh Oregon! Yaquina Head Marine Garden & Lighthouse

Last week the family spent a week in Oregon, 4 days with my sister and brother-in-law in Bend, and then on to the Pacific Coast and finally Portland. I almost filled up two 64GB SD cards! Guess I’ll be curating, editing and posting these photos for the next several months.

Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 1
Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 1

This first post features Yaquina Head Marine Garden and Lighthouse, just north of Newport, Oregon. We were rewarded with beautiful scenery including multiple bird species, tide pool creatures and sea lions basking on the rocks.

Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 2
Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 2
Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 3
Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 3
Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 4
Yaquina Head Marine Garden Composition 4
Yaquina Head Sea Lion Composition
Yaquina Head Sea Lion Composition
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Thank you for taking time to visit my photo blog. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Indian Blanket Flower Compositions

Growing up, I recall avoiding the Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) as I walked to and from the Carolina’s various beaches.  The dried, spiked seed-heads were almost as painful as the dreaded sandspur when stepped on with bare feet!  But now, I more appreciate their beauty and genetic diversity.  I’m considering planting them near my water garden.

Indian Blanket Flower Composition 2
Indian Blanket Flower Composition 2

These specimens are from my recent vacation to Ocean Isle Beach.  I decided to try a monochrome version of the the first composition above.  I brought down the luminosity of oranges and reds to get an acceptable range of tonality mostly on the left flower, from the petal’s red base, out to the yellow tip.  I also lowered the luminosity of the greens to give the flowers a little more prominence.  I actually like this version as much as the color.

Indian Blanket Flower Composition 2 Monochrome
Indian Blanket Flower Composition 2 Monochrome

Indian Blanket Flower Composition 3
Indian Blanket Flower Composition 3

Indian Blanket Flower Composition 1
Indian Blanket Flower Composition 1

These images are best experienced by clicking on the image to view a high resolution version from my portfolio site.  Especially seeing the small spider on the left flower in the first two, and the bumble bee in the last.

Cheers!

C. S.

Mimosa Tree Part 2

More photos from my study of the exotic, but invasive Mimosa (Persian Silk) tree.

Mimosa Tree Composition 6 Monochrome
Mimosa Tree Composition 6 Monochrome

Mimosa Tree Composition 4 Monochrome
Mimosa Tree Composition 4 Monochrome

Mimosa Tree Composition 3
Mimosa Tree Composition 3

Mimosa Tree, Composition 5 Monochrome
Mimosa Tree, Composition 5 Monochrome

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

Cheers,

C. S.

Fall Japanese Maple Study, Part 2 – 6 pics

Part two of this series continues my visual study of this grand Garnet Japanese Maple specimen at Greensboro Arboritum.  The color variability in this cultivar (which stands for cultivated variety) is quite striking.  As shown in the composition below, I found sections of the tree where color varied widely in a small contained area.   This could happen even at a sub-branch level.

Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 4
Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 4

Conversely, other sections appear more uniform in display of color over a much larger area (see below).  As mentioned in my earlier post, the Garnet is of the Acer Palmatum form know as dissectum.  The beauty and drama in the dissectums comes from their deeply divided “toothed” leaf lobes and branching structures.

Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 6
Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 6

The interior view below features the beautiful branching structure of this stately old specimen.   As such, mature dissectums are also prized for their dramatic winter branching silhouette.  Back in the spring of 2016, I was inspired by a dissectum at the Biltmore Estate to research, write and post about the amazing branching structures found in nature – An Elegant, Intelligent Design.

Garnet Interior Detail Composition
Garnet Interior Detail Composition

As part of this study, I experimented with some extreme processing techniques and filtering to achieve an abstract feel.  The composition below was processed in Filter Forge 7.0.

Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 5 Abstract
Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 5 Abstract

Despite the dramatic color available in my compositions, I wanted to try to display the tree’s features using black and white tonality.  I experimented with several luminescence settings in the reds, yellows and greens.  A slight bump in red luminosity and a moderate bump in the greens seemed to promote a broader range to foliage tonality.  I found it particularly challenging to maintain the a range of tonality in the lighter tones.  I’m tempted to look at it again tomorrow.

Garnet Interior Black and White Composition
Garnet Interior Black and White Composition

The final image is another dramatic styling approach applied to a “busy” image.  This “styled” process includes some pen strokes along edges, which helps a little in defining the foliage.  But, its still quite busy!

Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 3 Abstract
Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 3 Abstract

I appreciate you taking time to visit my blog.  These compositions are best viewed by clicking on the image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site.  Hope folks had a lovely Thanksgiving.

Cheers,

C.S.

 

Fall Japanese Maple Study, Part 1

Back in 2001, I built a Japanese water garden in my backyard.  During the planning phase, I quickly became a fan of Japan Maples, Acer palmatum.  This fall, I was determined to capture the spectacular colors on display at Arboretum Park in Greensboro, as well as my own backyard.  This first post features a gorgeous Garnet cultivar at the park.  I stalked this tree, which I estimate to be close to 100 years old, for several weeks; waiting for the leaves to reach their peak color.

Garnet Interior Composition
Garnet Interior Composition

The Garnet cultivar featured in this post is of the dissectum or “lace leaf” form, which are commonly featured as accent planting or specimen plantings.  Named after its gemstone like deep reddish orange spring color, the Garnet originated in a Dutch nursery and is known for its larger dissectum leaves.  Of course, its also well known for the breathtaking display of fall color.

Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 1
Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 1

Like us, Japanese maples are especially appreciated for their uniqueness.  Popular cultivars like the Garnet, have been carefully propagated through decades, and even centuries, of various grafting techniques.

Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 2
Garnet Japanese Maple Detail 2

Thanks for stopping by today!  I have more lovely Acer palmatum photos to share in upcoming posts.  For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Sunflower Study Part 1, 5 pics

Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 1
Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 1

For the past several weeks, I’ve enjoyed the sunflower plantings on my route to work each day.  Last week I decided to stop and capture these wonderful flowers in their morning glory.  This post, and the next, feature several different visual approaches along with some very interesting tidbits about the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 2
Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 2

Each plant will typically bears one or more large, wide flower heads (capitula).  The flower head is actually a compound flower.  The outside consist of bright yellow ray florets, while the inside disc contains yellow orange disc florets. In the photo above and below, you can see at the center, the zone of unopened disc floret buds.  Just outside the unopened zone, you can see the next zone of new disc florets in their male pollen phase.  Here is where the bumble bees are most active.  After a few days, the disc florets enter their female phase. They extend in the third zone out to the edges of the flower disk.

Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 5
Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 5

When the flower blooms, all the disc florets are unopened, tiny buds.  The disc florets first open in their male phase on the outside of the disc.  Over several days, the male phase disc florets seem to move as a wave towards the disc center. During the growing period, sunflowers will tilt during the day to track the sun.  As the flower begins to bloom, this tracking will stop.  Once the flower matures, they will generally face the east.  I was amazed when I read about this.  My route to work runs from east to west; so I really noticed these east facing flowers in the morning as I traveled west.

Pop Art Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 4
Pop Art Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 4

One of the most fascinating features of the sunflower is the method in which the disc head uses to disperse disc florets.  From the center of the disc, a mathematically brilliant spiral technique packs the maximum number of disc floret buds across the surface area of the disc head.  This spiral is known as the Fibonacci Spiral, which in turn is based on the Fibonacci Sequence.  I wrote about this in my An Elegant, Intelligent Design post.  Perhaps I’ll discuss it in more detail in the second part of this post.

Stylized Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 8
Stylized Sunflower and Bumble Bee Composition 8

This series was shot with my Nikon 28mm – 300mm lens, using manual focus.  Several times, I had to slightly lean back when I reached the minimum close up focus point.  Perhaps I’ll try renting a macro lens in the future.  I appreciate you stopping by today.  For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Expedition Mt LeConte: Scenes From The Trail, 3 pics

Last month’s visit to Mt LeConte was my first hike on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains. It had also been a long time since previously experiencing Southern Appalachia at 5,000 ft. above sea level. This post includes notable scenery from the Alum Cave Trail.

Ash Tree Composition 1
Ash Tree Composition 1

In the last mile or so of our hike to Mt LeConte Lodge, we reached an elevation of 6,000 ft. This is about the time we started noticing the Mountain Ash trees, which were full of large clusters of reddish orange berries.  Veterans I was hiking with mentioned it was rare to see the Ash berries so profusely displayed.  We also began side-stepping ash berry laden bear scat on the trail.  The ash berries appeared to be quite the bear treat.  I heard later local mountaineers will gather ash berries, sweetened just after the first frost, to make pie filling.

Cliff Top Sunset
Cliff Top Sunset

After dinner Friday evening, I hiked up to the Cliff Top area to stakeout a spot to capture the pending sunset. In addition to the polarizer I used for the Alum Cave shots, this was the next opportunity for me to try my new 150mm hard graduated ND filter.  I was hoping for a little more cloud drama, but was pleased with how the filter brought the sky portion down 3 stops to closer match the landscape.

Alum Cave Trail Root Composition 1
Styx Branch Root Composition 1

Saturday morning I hiked up to Myrtle Point to catch the sun rise. I hit a soft spot on the outward edge of the trail and immediately dropped about 4.5 ft., landing on the ball of my right foot, facing the trail.  Luckily, I didn’t break my foot or damage my camera.  After breakfast though, it was a long and painful hike back down the mountain; 2,500 ft. over 5.5 miles!  The last two miles were relatively flat, but also the most difficult; my foot and knees were about worn-out.  Along this stretch, I did stop to rest, and capture a very interesting root structure just above the Styx Branch creek bed.

Thanks for stopping by today!  Click on an image to see a higher resolution version from my portfolio site.