2010/10/14

Twin Arches, Big South Fork

North Arch of Twin Arches, Twin Arches Loop Trail, BSF, Scott Co, TN

For sometime now I've lamented never having gotten a good shot of either of the Twin Arches at the Big South Fork. Determined to remedy that, I got together with my friend Quentin Jones, and we hit the trail.South Arch of Twin Arches, Twin Arches Loop Trail, BSF, Scott Co, TN

The Twin Arches Loop trail is a very short and easy trail. It leads to probably the most spectacular landform in the Big South Fork, two huge sandstone arches. The dimensions are listed on Tennessee Landforms as 92x70 feet, but I'm not sure which arch that is in reference to.

There are numerous obstacles to getting a good photo of the arches. The first being that they are so huge it's hard to frame them without obscuring them with trees. The next problem is trying to not blow out or underexpose any part of the image.

I really wish that I could get to shoot at dawn or dusk and it would help eliminate that problem. But for some reason my schedule always gets me to my location at about the worst time of day, when the sun is directly overhead. Furthermore, it seems that I'm always shooting directly into the sun. One day I'll learn that sleeping in never facilitates the best photographs.South Arch of Twin Arches, Twin Arches Loop Trail, BSF, Scott Co, TN

Back to the problems with shooting the arches. I intended to overcome the necessity of a wide-angle lens by shooting a photo matrix. If you're not familiar with a matrix, it's like a panorama, but along 2 axis as opposed to one. In other words, x number of images wide and y number of images high. In this case, 2 images high by about 4 - 5 images wide managed to capture (reasonably well) the arches.

As for not over or under-exposing the shots, I was only marginally successful in that. By taking 5 bracketed photos (+4/-4 ev) I was able to get a much wider spectrum of light in each photo.

The full set of photos can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chucksutherland/sets/72157625137407632/with/5082358489/

2010/10/04

Cummins Falls - After The Flood

Cummins Falls valley, Jackson Co, TN

I crossed Blackburn Fork Creek carefully, in boots, so as to not get them wet. From close to the rim of the waterfall, I looked into the canyon and was shocked by how different it was.

What was once a valley covered in vegetation, was now stripped bare; bedrock exposed on all sides, huge boulders displaced, slabs of concrete from a destroyed bridge (about a quarter-mile upstream) now well below the falls, trees far up the sides of the valley were stripped of bark on their upstream side, NO HUMAN TRASH.

Standing in the valley it was obvious how violent the event was that had just created this scar across the land. But it's a natural event, having occurred millions, perhaps billions of times throughout Earth's history. We just don't live long enough to appreciate geologic time scales.

I seek these moments in which time or events reduce me to something small. It is, I feel, our proper place in the universe. Not that we're unimportant, but we're certainly small, physically and temporally. To catch just a glimpse of the large picture is a truly inspiring place to be.

Maybe that's why I like to put together huge pictures. There's so much to see, and I want to catch all of it. I encourage you to view this photo large and explore. Currently you're zoomed out of the photo by about 15 times. That means there's 15 times the detail if you were so inclined to look.

This is a matrix consisting of eleven HDRs which each consist of 5 exposures (+4/-4). The top panorama was 6 HDRs bracketed from a base exposure of 1/20s and the bottom 5 HDRs form another panorama whose base exposure is 0.5s. All were shot at f-22. Uncompressed this photo is over 200megs and is currently the largest image I've put together at 105 megapixels.

Blackburn Fork Creek, looking upstream to Cummins Falls, Jackson Co, TN

Cummins Falls, Jackson Co, TN