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Sunday, October 1, 2006

Isolating Fall Scenics

Discover the forest for the trees using these

Telephoto Zoom—An Isolated Scenic's Best Friend. Zooms provide quick cropping and are great in situations where movement is restricted. When using my film cameras, I rely primarily on an 80-200mm zoom for composing isolated scenics. Other zooms in focal lengths of 70-210mm, 35-300mm and 100-300mm are excellent choices to consider, as well. Zooms or tripods can, however, lull us into staying put at one spot. Move around and try different angles. Avoid letting the tripod dictate where you'll photograph. Better yet, take the camera off the tripod and explore the possibilities.

Zooms In The Digital Era—Another Best Friend. Digital cameras provide an extra bonus for creating isolated scenics. Shorter telephoto zooms, such as the 24-120mm, now become perfect choices for composing isolated scenics. Because of the sensor size, these telephotos become 35-180mm.

Welcome Inclement Weather. For photographing isolated scenics, inclement weather becomes an asset, not a liability. Light overcast skies act as a giant diffuser, reducing or eliminating contrast. Fog adds mystery to the composition, while a light drizzle boosts the color saturation of the vegetation, especially autumn leaves. When photographing with film during cloudy days, use a warming filter to "warm up" the scene. To achieve the same effect with digital, set the white balance to cloudy or shade. For saturating colors and reducing reflections with either film or digital cameras, use a polarizer.

Meter Carefully. After praising the advantages of inclement weather, one word of caution: When photographing a forest scene under these conditions, exclude the sky from the final composition. Shoot straight into the forest; otherwise, the overcast sky might fool your meter, causing the image to become underexposed.

Define And Simplify The Composition. The next step is to include only those elements needed to craft a compelling image. Remember the KISS doctrine: "Keep it simple, sweetie." Make order out of chaos by simplifying the composition. Focus on the dominant features and limit the visual elements to strong details, especially in dramatic or moody lighting. Use nature's designs—shapes, forms, lines and patterns—to guide the viewer through the scene.

The Appalachians.

The Appalachian Mountains are among the world’s primeval landforms, created more than 200 million years ago. Although they have eroded down to more moderate elevations, these resilient mountains once towered more than 12,000 feet. In spite of their wear and tear, this wondrous landscape harbors some of the greatest diversity of plants and animals.

Throughout the Appalachian’s complex topography lies a rich tapestry of plant communities formed by a diverse arrangement of soil types, hydrology and local climate. Within the Great Smoky Mountains are more than 130 species of trees and seven distinct hardwood forest communities. From lush hardwood forests to unique wetland bogs and tumbling waterfalls, the Appalachian region is a naturalist’s and photographer’s dream.

The extraordinary assortment of life here can be primarily attributed to the last ice age. Many northern species of plants and animals migrated south to avoid the advancing glaciers, and once the glaciers retreated, these species remained and continued to thrive.

Fraser fir, saw-whet owls and northern flying squirrels are found in the higher elevations. Species such as the black bear, turkey and pileated woodpecker also make this area their home. In the southern regions, there are more than 27 species of woodland salamanders.



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