Twin Arches, Big South Fork

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

South 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. 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/


Cummins Falls - After The Flood

Cummins Falls, Blackburn Fork, Jackson County, Tennessee 16

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, Blackburn Fork, Jackson County, Tennessee 17


Flooding in Middle Tennessee, Spring Creek area

August 18th, 2010, Tennessee got a second round of flooding (the May floods that inundated Nashville being the first). I happened to be free that day and took full advantage of the opportunity to shoot some dramatic flood photos. Let me first say that floods are horrible, and many people's homes and property were destroyed. It's hard for me to balance my sadness for the disaster and loss while being equally awed at natures raw destructive forces. Please don't mistake my enthusiasm for a lack of sympathy for those whose property was lost or damaged. These photos were taken under the Waterloo road bridge over Spring Creek. Spring Creek at flood stage detail, under the Waterloo Rd Bridge, Overton Co, TN
Spring Creek under the Waterloo Rd Bridge, Overton Co, TN

These photos are of Waterloo Falls, normally a 35 foot waterfall.
Waterloo Falls, Spring Creek, Overton County, Tennessee 7
Waterloo Falls, Spring Creek, Overton County, Tennessee 8

These photos were taken from Waterloo road bridge, looking downstream towards Upper Waterloo Falls. Look for people in the after photo for scale.
Spring Creek at flood stage from Waterloo Rd bridge, Overton Co, TN Spring Creek from Waterloo Rd Bridge, Overton Co, TN


Sump in Trash Compactor Cave, Cookeville, TN

This was the end of the main trunk of Trash Compactor Cave and the room for which it is named (Trash Compactor scene: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).

All the debris you see here is floating on water. Notice as we move, how the whole mass ripples. It is through this sump that we suspect a connection to Capshaw. Lee Pearson and Jason Collard later went to the closest spot in Capshaw to see if there was any match to debris types and he found plenty of styrofoam. It's a primitive, but possible effective dye-trace.

This cave was accessed after the May 2010 floods when a swallet finally enlarged enough to allow for human visitation.


Trash Compactor Cave entrance, Cookeville, TN

During our sinkhole tour the night of 5/01/10 Jason Collard and I stopped at Warehouse sink. I expected to see the sinkhole filled with pooled up water the same as the last two sinkholes shown. However, this is what I saw instead.
The water is rushing directly into the swallet of the sinkhole, and (based on my prior knowledge of the this streams morphology) I could see that the stream had downcut considerably.

Three days later, after the flood waters had subsided, Jason Collard, Lee Pearson and I accessed Trash Compactor cave via this entrance.

This entrance is likely only accessible intermittently. Stream cross-sections of the creek, collected by Dr. Evan Hart of TTU, shows the sink collecting silt and backing up, alternating with times of deep down-cutting within the silt.

A few hypothesis could explain the cycle. It could be that a cave collapse unplugs the cave to accept more water and downcuts the silt making it the cave accessible. An alternative explanation could be that the stage of water in the sinkhole provides the necessary pressure to force water through a choke or to break the choke and then continues to downcut the silt.

In 2004 a dye trace by Dr. Peter Li and Dr. Hugh Mills of TTU connected Warehouse sink to Capshaw Cave. See TDEC karst study of the Cookeville area, Putnam Co., TN.


Determined Moonshiners Hole

Determined Moonshiners Hole entrance, Roy Price, Gerald Moni, Putnam County, Tennessee "It's not a saucer." - Gerald Moni

I had been contacted by a landowner in Putnam County to check some caves on his property. I met with Gerald Moni, and the landowner's father, Roy P. Roy is an intelligent and likable guy, 72 years old, and in pretty great shape.

We parked on a cul-de-sack and proceeded on foot. It was bitterly cold at 15 degrees, snowing, and windy, perhaps not the best day for a stroll in the woods. But since I work all the time, I take what I can get.

Not far below where we parked was the Hartselle-Monteagle contact, and the features Roy wanted to show us were there. I slipped in the first, a 15 foot dud, but blowing lots of air through a hole about big enough for my cat. The other two were less impressive than that, but all blowing lots of steam.

Gerald and I wanted to field check Determined Moonshiner, a nearby cave. We found it, and after taking pictures of the beautiful ice flow over the entrance, I kicked the ice out and went in to confirm the narrative. I think my only addition was that there was now a waterfall in the back of the cave (perhaps it was dry in 1975?). Climbing through water and ice to get back out into sub-freezing conditions we went to our next destination.

Roy said he knew of another cave whose entrance was even larger than the duds he took us to. We set out on foot from Determined Moonshiner and within 15 minutes had found the new cave.

The entrance is a small vertical climb, whose width and depth closely match the climbdown of Breakdown Palace. It spilled out onto a flow of mud and into a breakdown room about 60 feet across, 200+ feet in length, and an average ceiling height of about 20 feet. To the right the whole trunk dropped abruptly into was I'm guessing is about a 40 foot pit. The ground here was encased in thick black mineral deposits, so seeing the depth of the pit was difficult.

To the left from the entrance the trunk continued about 200 feet with several leads being observed in the breakdown.

I'm re-using the name Saucerful of Secrets (much to Gerald's disappointment) because the other cave I named that was discovered to have a previous name.


Curriculum Vitae

Greetings and welcome! This page showcases a collection of my publications, activities, and accolades. As my interests are diverse, you may find web pages and self-published posts that are not readily categorized. Thank you for your curiosity in my work! Chuck Sutherland


Geographer, photographer, caver

I am a professional geographer specializing in GIS software and data. I am currently employed at the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office as a Fire Prevention Geospatial Analyst. My responsibilities include managing and enhancing data collection systems, and performing analysis. Additionally, I oversee grant processes that aid volunteer fire departments and rescue squads.

I also work part time as an adjunct professor at Tennessee Tech University, where I teach Theory of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) I and II.

I enjoy photography and I am particularly interested in photographing natural phenomena from weather, to flora and fauna, to geology and landforms such as caves, waterfalls, and natural arches, as well as historic and prehistoric cultural resources. My work has appeared in a variety of mediums, including academic journals, music videos, news outlets, books, magazines, and websites with such well known names as The New York Times, BBC and the Discovery Channel having utilized my photography. I have a large archive of photographs of the southeast, which are easily searchable. If you are interested in using a specific photo, please don't hesitate to ask.

I also enjoy caving. I think of it as the most accessible form of "frontier exploration." It is a way to see the Earth from the inside out. Rocks and water have stories to tell. Like a detective, the curious can tease out their stories by carefully reading clues.

While I enjoy photography and caving, my true passion lies in inspiring others to take an interest in science. As a hobbyist citizen scientist, I have had the privilege of utilizing my skills in geography, photography, and caving to collaborate with scientists on remarkable projects.

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Thanks for your interest in my work. For licensing any of my photos, videos, or email at cjsuther21@gmail.com, or write me on Facebook. If you're unsure if you need to talk to me about my photos, consult the below guide:

· You may use my media for personal use, excluding printing, at no charge.
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· You may contact me at cjsuther21@gmail.com if you have any questions.

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