Few things are really fun to do in the truly freezing cold like we have had the last couple of days. Simple things are made difficult by layers, and photography is no exception. Still it must be done, yes?
Interesting pattern of ice formation here showing pancake ice, the big scaly bits, meeting frozen waves of the open lake. Pancake ice forms on flowing water and jams up against each other like tectonic plates do. This makes ripples in the ice.
This kind of cool too. The wind whips the grass around and prevents the ice from forming,
When wind blows over the warmer water, like when the temperature is in single digits, you get sublimation, as ice forms rapidly.
And then you have the classic frozen waterfall look when you go up high and the temperatures plummet even more.
Canton, home of the last papermill in the area, is well-known for, well, its smell. And the fog. Locals shrug off the smell, saying "smells like money to me." And indeed it is for many who work there.
The fog, a by-product of the plant, the cooling water they use, and the warm water discharged into the colder Pigeon River makes money on the highway for tow trucks.
Although not as bad as it once was, (I-40 retains the 1/100 mile markers for distance warning through the valley) the fog was thick and frozen this January morning.
Canton, a town made for black and white. I will be back soon.
For those of you who don't know, Cades Cove is a very popular area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is basically an 11-mile loop road with 2 cross roads and a number of other places to pull off. Traffic moves (when it does) in an anti-clockwise fashion. I have seen some rather flagrant disregard for vehicle and traffic laws there, as well as some outright lack of common sense when it comes to wild animals.
But, enough of that. When you can get away from people there are some incredible wildlife to be seen in the area. Bear (lots of them), Wild Boar, Coyote, Fox, Bobcat, Cougar (some say), Deer. There is no cell service. It is peaceful.
Especially in the morning. What? I hear ya. That's in color!
Yes. This is one of those photos that did not work in black and white, it was all greys. The frost did not last long, the sun came up over the ridge and the traffic started.
What? Another one in color? Yep, the deer was too similar to the background to stand out without it.
Ah, back to monochrome. First light on one of the historical buildings in the area. One of the attractions is seeing how the people before the park lived and worked. This is the Presbyterian Church on the Loop Road.
Some wildlife pictures work in black and white, this guy was peacefully grazing along the road, oblivious to the dozens of people taking his photo.
And I managed to get a shot of him with my snazzy new West Asheville magnet from zen!
I missed the Polar Plunge this year. Can't even imagine where they did it, the water is the lowest I have ever seen. The lake is hardly a lake at all, but a collection of flooded tributaries.
So much for my plans to look at bird migrants there.
The old bridge, which the town begged the state not to raize when the new one was built is in full glory. The whole length is filled with raised-bed gardens with different themes, lots of the them wintery. I suppose they change them for the seasons. It is quite a nice walk, and the bridge is surprisingly narrow, considering we were all crossing it just a few years ago.
This short little walk gave me lots of pleasure and hopes for the future in Asheville if (IF) they ever replace the Jeff Bowen Bridge. Imagine the fun this would be on a bridge that size? Of course, that would be years after all the wrangling and arguing ended about what to do with it. Sometimes our circular firing squad style of public debate in this town can get messy.
I was going to end up this month of black and white and lots of camera phone shots mixed with old newspaper work with a grand, eloquent post about the feel and the why of photography, but I soaked my brain in a hot-tub and took a trip to Cades Cove in the Great Smokies National Park today instead.
Oh well. As Kurt Vonnegut said, "Hi ho."
This is one of several old churches in the Cove, just as the sun peaked up over the NC mountains through the frosty trees.
Oh, so, yeah, I have been having so much fun doing this, I decided not to quit right yet, so if you like this, you are most likely a masochist and very fortunate. If you hate the whole series, well Jonas Gerard in the River Arts District hates black and white, go chat with him.
This little guy with the big rack was completely oblivious of the dozens of people taking photos of him, just kept munching on acorns and grass.
One of my favorite things to do with little waterfalls is make them look big by removing any reference to size. Or color.
One thing this monotone month has reminded me is the importance of light to photography. Losing the crutch of color and tones, one is left to be free to return to the root of photography (light writing) and push ahead with shapes and such.
This Christmas Day gathering of friends to burn spare greenery would have been fine in color, but the mood is far different in black and white, the fire is not nearly as bright as the yellows and reds would have shown, the light from the fire, falling off to nothing on the edges without the red.
This branch down in Beaver Lake would be boring. The sky was grey, the water was grey and the reflection was well, grey. Might as well lose the color and keep the details.
The greens and browns would be overwhelming the bright, white light hitting the heads of the grass in this. You do lose the golden glow of the sun in this, but you have to imagine it. Can you?
I am almost hesitant to stop my exploration of black and white. What do you think?
Sometimes when you look at a scene, like the one below, it is hard to know what it is that you like when you see it. Why did I stop to look at this?
It is a view that I have photographed a lot in the last couple of years, a tomato field down the valley from our house on Fork Mountain. I don't think it was particularly special of a view, or different, but something caught my eye.
This? I don't know, but I like it. It is simple and pleasing to me. A longer lens makes it stand out.
Don't forget to think wide and narrow when you look at something.