Sunday, November 25, 2012


ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000 second, 50mm
  Been in a photographic rut lately. Uninspired and unmotivated and just in a lull.
  Rob Hanson, a photog friend suggested looking around my neighborhood and try catching some macro details that I normally overlook. What a great idea.
  The minute I walked out the door I remembered these drains along the streets in our sub-division and then immediately thought of the Steven King book/movie "IT". The opening scene in the movie and book are of a boy named Georgie Dembrough playing in the rain with a newspaper boat his brother Bill had made for him. His boat was floating quickly along the road side and fell into a drain just like this one.
  While looking for the boat in the drain, the evil Pennywise the Dancing Clown appears in the drain with a balloon and tries to persuade Georgie to come down into the sewer with him by offering him a balloon. Georgie asks Pennywise if the balloons float down there. Pennywise answers with probably the most quoted phrase from the movie/book. "We all float down here". Won't let you know what happens after that in case you haven't seen or read it.
  I don't much see one of these drains without thinking of that scene.
  I had to turn the center column of my tripod upside down to get this low angle (also suggested by Rob) and used a wide open aperture to blur the background.
  Really want to thank Rob for the suggestions. Made for a decent afternoon of shooting.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 8 seconds, 50mm
  Since Thanksgiving is a couple of days in our rear view mirror it is officially the Christmas Season. As is usual in the Denham household, and not many things are, the day after Thanksgiving is when the Christmas Tree gets put up.
  This season's colors are Turquoise, Silver, and White. To don the new colors is a new 7' Spruce Tree that we purchased from K-Mart. It is perfect for the living room and about as easy as you can get to assemble. 3 sections, pre-lit, and all of the branches are hinged to fold down when put together.
  My wife put a beautiful picture taken with her phone on Facebook of the tree standing in front of our living room window with the red drapes symmetrically centering the tree between them. I of course couldn't top that so this morning I mounted the good ol' 50mm on the camera and got up close to bring out some intimate details of the tree. This bell ornament was perfect for the new season and actually displayed the 2 main colors the tree was decorated in.
  I was torn as to how to approach the depth of field in this shot. I took this one at f/20 so I could get the sunburst off of the background LED lights. I also took the same shot at f/2.8 to blur the background and draw all attention to the ornament.  For me, the sunburst on the LED lights won out. Some burning of the background leaves and shadows helped make the ornament stand out more.
  Still waiting for the Christmas Spirit to hit me this year. I hope in the next couple of weeks things will change.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


ISO 400, f/16, 1/3 second, 35mm
  About a year ago Tim Owens and I stumbled upon an 8-10 foot waterfall that was tucked back along a smaller stream that feeds into the Tellico River. Yesterday, I decided to explore this area again and try to get a different vantage point from where we shot it last year.
  To my surprise the downstream water was lower than expected so I was able to walk across the stream on rocks and then climb and then slide down much larger rocks to get very close to falls.
  Unfortunately, there were a lot of fallen leaves on the rocks and it made it very slick and dangerous trying to maneuver across them. I did find this vantage point, which was probably the tallest, safest angle where the entire flow of water was visible.
  The ridge above the falls was very ominous looming large over the stream. Right at the end of the ridge stood this one lone tree that still held on to some bright yellow leaves. I shot the frame vertically to include this tree in the shot.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


ISO 200, f/14, 1/2 second, 19mm
  Something that I try to look for when I'm out shooting is an abstract image. I haven't really done a good job of hunting these abstracts down but today, when I was processing the larger part of this shot I zoomed up close onto the edge of this shelf waterfall and the jagged line where the water pours off created a symmetrical abstract with the golden reflection of the opposing mountainside reflecting on the rocks and the white water splitting diagonally from bottom right to top left.
  I actually did this oriented landscape at first but really liked it cropped portrait because of the way the texture of the water flows through the frame.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Here is another one of those images that you pass over several times and then all of the sudden, you look one more time and it stands out to you.
Took this back in June when the Rhododendron were blooming along the Roaring Fork Motor & Nature Trail. The Rhododendron are visible at the top of the frame in the background and they were everywhere.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 5 seconds, 19mm
Beings that it is #thirstythursdaypics and the theme is curated by +Giuseppe Basile and +Mark Esguerra, I worked on an image taken at Abalone Cove, in Palos Verdes, CA while shooting with Mark.
  Mark actually posted a very similar image a while back and it motivated me to look at working on mine.
  We were completely cloud covered that evening so the only true color to show was the blue of the blue hour. This large rock seemed to draw Mark, me and +Rob Lopes to it as a great subject. Especially with the green rocks and birds in the background. I tried to use the edges of the rock to the left to draw the eye to the large rock. The water drainage through the beach sand on the bottom right served the same purpose as it catches the rock's reflection.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/3 second, -0.3EV, 85mm
  If anyone tells you that the 4 mile hike to Ramsey Cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a "moderately" tough hike. They are a professional. And they are lying. At least as far as I'm concerned they are.
  My buddy Tim Owens and I made the 8 mile round trip hike to the notably the most beautiful waterfall in the Smokies this morning. All I can say is that it was worth the hike one time. I will never do it again. Whew! 95% of the hike was at a steep, uphill grade over rocks and roots. I have not been that winded and sore since 2-a-days in 8th grade football. I almost lost my breakfast 3 times.
  When we did arrive at Ramsey Cascades, it was everything it was cracked up to be. 100 feet tall breaking down over large rocks all the way. It was gorgeous!
  It was also very cold. There was still snow on the ground from 3 feet of it 2 weeks ago. It was probably 35-40 degrees at the falls and with me sweating through both my t-shirt and my hoody on the trek up, the cold turned that sweat to really cold. I had forgot to pack my gloves as well so my hands were extremely cold too.
  I guess the only true disappointing thing that happened to us today was that we spotted several nice spots to photograph on the way back but by the time we got to them, the sun was up and shining bright on the water so it would have washed out the highlights on the water.
  Today's image was a little bit different type of shot for me. After getting a few broad images of the falls with my wide angle lens, I decided to mount my 85mm Canon lens and get up close and personal with the waterfall. I very seldom step into this type of almost macro account of the waterfall but boy was I extremely happy with it. Shooting it as black and white really allowed for some detail of these 2 rocks that are actually 6-7 feet tall but look much small compressed in the 85mm frame.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 0.8 seconds, 25mm
  You ever take one of those pictures that when you first look at it, it just doesn't do anything for you? Then you go back, crop a little bit here, process a little different there, and all of the sudden you have exactly what you wanted?
  Sparks Lane in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an iconic place to go in the early spring and late fall for color and rolling fog. When I was there on October 21st, this was the very first picture I took. When I took the shot, initially I wasn't impressed with it. The tree closest to me was more barren of leaves than I wanted and it just didn't seem to look good to me.
  This morning, I processed a bracketed set of shots in Photomatix Essentials even though was rewarded with more color than I originally thought, still wasn't enamored with the image.
  I noticed something though. Most of the leafless part of that tree was at the top. Also at the top of the image was the top of the mountains behind the road and a colorless sky. I started to crop the image as a panorama and cutting off the colorless, needless top of the frame that made it dull. HOLY COW!
  Some minor adjustments in Lightroom to contrast and saturation and some burning in the background areas and voila! I have an iconic image of Sparks Lane that I was always searching for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


ISO 100, f/22, 13 Seconds, 35mm
  Finding time to shoot has been a challenge lately. Why today I took a day off and was planning on going to Tremont in the Smokies to do some shooting. Well, I wake up and it's raining. What do they say about the best laid plans?
  Well, last week I got an opportunity to take a few shots before going into work. There was a great morning fog crawling across the lake and there was  a test boat still tied up to the floating dock that made for a neat scene.  A long, 13 second exposure flattened out the water and created a bit more detail in the reflection of the dock and the boat.
  There was just a hint of blue and yellow light just before the sun was about to come up.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/6 second, 35mm
  Going back to my images from Cades Cove a couple of weeks ago. The fog hovering through the cove was absolutely amazing. In this shot it looked like the fog was determined to separate this line of trees from both the beautifully colored mountains behind them and from all the people driving by on Scenic Loop Rd.
  I had to crop out some distracting elements and isolate these trees in a panoramic-type shot. If I could have fit a wide angle like this with my 70-300 lens I would've done it in order to flatten the scene with the telephoto lens. Happy with what turned out with the wide angle though.
  Can't wait til spring time comes around and I can catch some of this type of fog with some spring color.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


ISO 100, f/8, 5 seconds, 19mm
  Fall color has just about disappeared in East Tennessee. There are still a few trees with bright yellow and orange leaves still hanging on, but the dense color that was here a couple of weeks ago has left us.
  Tim Owens and I drove up the Cherohala Skyway on Wednesday with the hope of catching some shots of the beautiful snow that had fallen a couple of days before. Unfortunately, there just wasn't any snow to be seen on the Skyway so we turned back and went to Indian Boundary to hopefully catch some neat reflections on the lake.
  Color had already left Indian Boundary and the light left us so fast that we didn't have much time to compose many shots.
  Right before we left, though, I saw this small stump sticking up out of the water with all of these old leaves scattered around it under the water. The sky was reflecting from just to the right of the stump and casting a white glow on the water. It was perfect for a black and white shot.
  With all the leaves laying around the stump and the sky's white cast it was a beautiful way of noticing what fall has left behind and that winter was coming upon us fast and hard. The cold temperatures didn't do much to distract it either.