Humm, catchy little slogan but what does it really mean? As we go about our daily lives, even for those of us that spend a good part of it trekking about in the wilds, we forget about those little creatures, plants, and trees that are just as common as that dandelion that grows in our lawns. We are in awe of those scarce and hard to find species but the “ordinary” are often overlooked. This is where Meet Your Neighbours shines!
Meet Your Neighbours celebrates the common species, determined and highlighted by the location of the MYN photographer. All of these common species are vital to people and our everyday lives. For some people, these common species are the first and often the only contact with wild nature they may have. That being said, these ordinary species are most often overlooked and undervalued.
Meet Your Neighbours is a global-scale photographic project. The concept is to encourage people of all ages to engage and appreciate the common species and natural environments within their own communities. Through stunning imagery and a very unique presentation, the viewer will gain a new understanding of just how special their own ordinary “backyard” species are and be encouraged to take the necessary steps to ensure their continued survival. The goal of all MYN photographers is to nurture a compassion for even the most humble members of the natural world. Meet Your Neighbours is a proactive conservation effort aiming to remind the public that, with care and consideration, today’s common species won’t become the rarities of tomorrow.
Meet Your Neighbours dignifies these common species by giving them “celebrity” treatment. Each subject is shot in the wild against a pure white background and back-lit to highlight its translucent qualities. The result of the field-studio approach is an exceptionally detailed, stunningly gorgeous series of portraits of common species like never seen them before! The images show maximum detailitself often a source of fascination. Because all images are created on-location, the need to harvest plants or transfer animals out of their natural environments is effectively eliminated.
The Campaign will use the images in a variety of ways to support the Meet Your Neighbours project. These include: next generation e-Books with streaming video and sound, a children’s book series with enhanced digital companion guides, a high quality coffee table style book and an amazing “onwhite” image catalog from partnering photographers from around the globe. Photos from the project will also be displayed in several traditional and non-traditional exhibits, including projected showings in public areas.
As a Meet Your Neighbours photographer, I will be working together with my sponsors to help educate my community, through a positive environmental education and awareness program, as to the importance of our common “backyard” species, and why it is so important to rewild our “human neighbors”, young and old.
I invite you to follow along and witness the beauty of the “ordinary” though the progression of my MYN portraits. I will soon have an online gallery displaying my collection of species so please stay tuned!
For more information about Meet Your Neighbours visit their website at www.meetyourneighbours.org
The program will be in Room 219 in the Toy F. Reed Employee Center (Building 310) in Kingsport at 7:00 PM. No charge for ERC pass holders. Guest’s tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for students.
Hey everyone, I’m in the last few months before my new book project goes to press. Today I just finalized the design for the cover, though I have plenty of time to make small changes if needed. It took me all day to decide on a design that I was truly happy with. Normally I would keep this under my hat until it was off to the printer but this is a huge project and there’s no stopping now! My friend and environmental writer, Charles Maynard, is working on the essays that will accompany my photographs. Our new book will be a 10″ x 12.25″ “portrait format” hardcover and will be $39.95 retail. The page count will be in the vicinity of about 190, with about 160 images. I’ll be posting updates as the design process moves along. For now, I thought that I would post the preliminary cover design for all to review. Let me know what you think!
Well, the visit was a very educational one, to say the least! Police everywhere with no access permitted. I had to make my images from accross the lake with a 400mm lens. I’ll be posting them as I get them digitally processed. Here’s a 180-degree panoramic, made by stitching multiple images together in Photoshop. I shot the images with my Canon Powershot G9, love this little camera! Also, here’s the latest information on the disaster.
By SHAILA DEWAN
A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee that experts were already calling the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States is more than three times as large as initially estimated, according to an updated survey by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Officials at the authority initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville, gave way on Monday. But on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep.
The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the authority initially said was in the pond, 2.6 million cubic yards.
A test of river water near the spill showed elevated levels of lead and thallium, which can cause birth defects and nervous and reproductive system disorders, said John Moulton, a spokesman for the T.V.A., which owns the electrical generating plant, one of the authority’s largest.
Mr. Moulton said Friday that the levels exceeded safety limits for drinking water, but that both metals were filtered out by water treatment processes.
Mercury and arsenic, he said, were “barely detectable” in the samples.
The ash pond was adjacent to the Emory River and near a residential area, where three houses were destroyed by the tide of muddy ash. Water sampled several miles downstream from the spill was safe to drink, but its iron and manganese content exceeded the secondary drinking water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which govern taste and odor but not potential health effects, Mr. Moulton said.
Neither the authority nor the E.P.A. has released the results of tests of soil or the ash itself. Authority officials have said that the ash is not harmful, and the authority has not warned residents of potential dangers, though federal studies show that coal ash can contain dangerous levels of heavy metals and carcinogens.
“You’re not going to be endangered by touching the ash material,” said Barbara Martocci, a spokeswoman for the T.V.A. “You’d have to eat it. You have to get it in your body.”
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation also released a statement saying there was no indication of risk unless the ash was ingested.
But residents like Deanna Copeland were thinking further into the future.
“Our concern is, what happens if this liquid dries out?” Ms. Copeland said. “There are huge health concerns. It’s going to get in our house. We’re going to breathe it in. It would be like walking through a dust bowl, and we don’t know what’s in the dust.”
A round-the-clock cleanup effort continued on Friday, much of it clearing roads and railway tracks that were blocked by the sludge. Several booms, or skimmers, were installed on nearby rivers to catch floating cenospheres, a valuable component of the ash used to make bowling balls and other manufactured goods. A weir, or underwater dam, that would keep settled ash from moving downstream was about one-fifth completed,
T.V.A. officials said.
Some nearby residents said that the authority had done little to address their concerns.
“We’re terribly frustrated,” said Donald Smith, 58, a laboratory facilities manager who lives in the affected area. “It seems like T.V.A. is just throwing darts at the problem, and they don’t have a clue how to really fix it.
“It was nice that they came by to talk to us. They’re making an effort. But what upsets me is they didn’t have a plan in place. Why hadn’t anybody thought, `What happens if this thing bursts?’ “
Residents said they were stunned by the new figure for the size of the spill.
“That’s scary to know that they can be off by that much,” said Angela Spurgeon, whose dock and yard are swamped with ash. “I don’t think it was intentional, but it upsets me to know that a number was given of what the pond could hold, and the number now is more than double.”
Authority officials offered little explanation for the discrepancy, saying the initial number was an estimate based on their information at the time.
Ms. Spurgeon said the scope of the disaster was difficult to fathom, even from photos.
“This is not a thin coating of ash,” she said. “These are boulders. There’s one in our cove that’s probably the size of our home.”
The spill has reignited a debate over whether coal ash should be federally regulated as a hazardous material.
Environmentalists have long argued that coal ash, which can contaminate groundwater and poison aquatic environments, should be stored in lined landfills. The ash ponds at Kingston were separated from the river only by earthen dikes. Coal plants around the country, most near rivers that supply the water they need to operate, store coal ash in unlined embankments and ponds, and in some areas coal ash is recycled as fill material.
The T.V.A. is still investigating the cause of the breach, but officials have suggested that unusually heavy rain and freezing temperatures may have been factors.
Hey all! Yes, I’ve been busting my a#* again with two book projects and now they’re at the printers so I’ve got a little time to post an image or two. Back weeks ago I posted a few images of my north Georgia trip back in June and here’s another. I shot this with my little Canon Powershot G9. I really love this camera for shooting images such as these. Tack sharp and handheld!
I’ll write a little later but I wanted to post a few photos from my trip.
I took a few minutes away from book design to process a couple of photos from my recent trip to the Shenandoah NP. What a wonderful couple of days photographing the fawns and deer at play. I’ll post more after I get through this upcoming deadline.
Canon EOS 5D, Sigma 80-400 EX OS @ 400mm, no filters, RAW file processed with Capture One 4.1
Well, I went to photograph the fawns but I couldn’t resist the temptations to shoot a few landscapes! This was a beautiful scene with the prolific bloom of turkey beard accented by ferns and mountain grasses.
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm, f/18 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 320 (due to wind!)
I’ve just returned from a quick trip to Shenandoah National Park to photograph the fawns. I’ll post more tomorrow when I get the images processed. Here’s one of my favorites!
Canon EOS 5D, Sigma 80-400 EX OS lens at 400mm (this is the first time that I’ve really shot my 80-400 since getting it back from Sigma. There was a problem with the focus and it’s now fixed! Very Sharp!!!)
Here’s another Woodall Shoals reflection image from my GA/SC trip last week. I decided to crop in a little more on this scene, concentrating on the perfect reflection.
Also, just a note, I processed this photo using the new CaptureOne 4.1 and also my new “docked” Dell Precision M4300 mobile workstation. Man, this thing is FAST! I’ll post the build info later in this post.
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm w/ fall and tilt, polarizer
What a wonderful find! As I left for northern Georgia I knew where I was heading but I wasn’t sure how the overnight accommodations would work out. I usually like to find a quite place near my morning destination to park and sleep in my truck. As I pulled up to Tallulah George State Park I noticed a sign leading to Stone Place. It also stated 4-wheel drive required, so I headed toward Stone Place! When I came to the end of the road I found a nice level spot, set my clock and I was fast off to sleep. At 5:30am my alarm went off and I slowly rolled out of the truck and decided to find out what this Stone Place was all about. As I walked around the grove of trees I noticed that, before me, was a beautiful mountain lake! I went back to the truck, grabbed my camera gear and headed to the lakes edge. I spent the next two hours photographing the many changes that the landscape went through as we transcended early morning. This is the first image taken on the trip!
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 45mm, no filters, ISO 200, f/11 @ 25sec
RAW processed with CaptureOne Pro & Adobe PhotoShop CS3 Extended
I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to the mountains of North Georgia and South Carolina. I’ll update this post later tonight or tomorrow morning but I wanted to post one of many images that I took on this trip. This one was from this morning along the Chattooga River. Let me know what you guys and gals think! I have to say, this was a beautiful morning along the River!
Updated Post: Just a note, for all that do not really know my work. I’m an environmental and nature photographer. I’m not trying to or make it my life’s work to find the perfect photo. I’m trying to accurately portray the environment that I photograph in as close to reality as “I” see it. Yes, I do work the image with an artful eye but, for the most part, the photo is about the moment and the subject that I’m connected to at that time. This scene was captured at 8:39am. I waited for the morning sun to illuminate the background trees, knowing that this would give me that wonderful green that I desire for my photos. I also felt that this would help balance the perfect reflection in the rain pool. This is the result of a strong morning sun from a cloudless blue sky. This is the exact scene that I wanted to capture. When I look at this photo I feel as though I’m still standing there on the Shoal. I can remember having to squint when I looked up from the camera toward those sun-drenched trees. Man, I want to go back!
Thanks all for commenting!
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm (fall w/ slight tilt), polarizer, ISO 100, f/11 @ 1/6sec
RAW processed with CaptureOne Pro & Adobe PhotoShop CS3 Extended
Wow, it’s really hard to believe that in two weeks the highcountry will be adorned with the beautiful Catawba rhododendron bloom. It feels like it was just last week that the forest was just starting to come alive from the long winter season. This is a great time to be in the mountains, especially the Roan Highlands, along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. I have my Roan Highlands Experience workshop the 13th through 15th of June and we have spots open! If you’ve never been to the Roan during the bloom, it’s incredible! This place is in my backyard and I’d love to show all how wonderful this place is. It’s hard to believe that not too many years ago the plans were to develop the bald. Just think, condos, ski slopes, million dollar home sites and paved roads running over this beautiful landscape. Thanks to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for protecting this wonder for generations to come! By the way, they are the group that has brokered the deal between the Conservation Fund and the owners of Rocky Fork. I’ll be indebted to them forever! Stop by and tell them thanks at www.appalachian.org.
Please visit www.mtphotoworkshops.com for more info on our upcoming workshop schedule.
Catawba Rhododendron and breaking storm along Jane Bald, Roan Highlands, Tennessee and North Carolina
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm, no filters
RAW file processed with CaptureOne Pro and Photoshop CS3 Extended
While searching for images to be printed in the June issue of WNC Magazine I came across a photograph that I had taken in 2005. I had all but forgotten about this image! Not sure why, for I really love this one. After getting the images together for two, two-page full-bleed Vista images and two more photos for a special feature about the North Carolina Mountains, I decided that I had better get my images caught up in my cataloging software. Man, I’m so far behind! Anyway, I thought that I’d post this image, being that it’s so perfect for the upcoming season in the highcountry.
Spring in the highcountry, Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 45mm (rise and very slight off-axis tilt), Polarizer, f/16 @ .6 sec, ISO 200
As the title implies, “Solitude” is the first thing that comes to my mind with this tree, which I know very well. It stands alone in an open meadow along the Appalachian Trail. I’ve been shooting in this area for over 10-years and I just keep coming back. It’s like an old friend that keeps revealing a new side every season.
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm (rise only), no filters, f/14 @ 1/125sec, ISO 250
Processed with Capture One Pro and Photoshop CS3 extended
This is another photograph that I took in the Unaka Mountain Wilderness Area. I am so drawn to the forest floor in the spring. The may-apple and trillium leaves are just beautiful. The fog created the mysterious feeling I wanted to convey. The combination of the large tree and smaller, younger, trees topped off the scene for me.
Canon EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm (fall with tilt), no filters, f/14 @ 1/100 sec, ISO 250
Processed with Capture One Pro and Photoshop CS3 Extended
Feel free to comment on any of my posts, I encourage it! Thank you for visiting!
What a great morning! I really love to spend my days shooting in the mountains when it is fogged in. I love how the forest changes its demeanor when shrouded in fog.
EOS 5D, TS-E 24mm (fall w/ tilt), f/11, 1/30sec
Photo processed with Capture One Pro and Photoshop CS3 Extended
Buffalo Mountain fire! It does look as though the fire was started along the trail. They are saying that it was set by a human, no word whether intentional or accident. The main trail is an ATV trail and I have my suspicions on how this was started if it did, indeed, start on or near the ATV trail. More than likely, a cigarette or exhaust from an ATV or motorcycle. I’ve always been torn between my feelings for ATV areas in our mountains. I grew up riding and racing motorcycles, on and off-road. But, I HAVE NEVER SEEN the type of destruction that the ATV’s are causing in our mountains! The problem is the very apparent disconnect between the operators and the environment they are riding in. They DO NOT lift a finger when it comes to maintaining the trail systems. This is the #1 thing that they could do to repair their image with the general public. Also, by showing a bit of responsibility they could, very well, be rewarded more places to ride. I just don’t understand the mentality of these riders. They need to wake up! Maybe a required class needs to be taken before they could ride in these areas. Someone needs to teach them how to ride and respect the privilege of riding these trails. They need to understand that riding on these trails is a privilege not a right!
Please note: I’m not blaming anyone or any group for the fire. I’ll leave that up to the officials that are investigating the fire. I’m making a comment about the destruction of the forest around the ATV trail. When I moved here, just over 12-years ago, only mountain bikes and motorcycles rode the multi-use trail on Buffalo and the trail was a single-track trail with very few problems. Now it is a highway! Huge mud-filled holes with multiple, illegal, trails running all over the place. Riders should police themselves! If they see someone riding illegally then they should handle it accordingly. If not, they should loose the rights to ride the trail, period!
WOW! What a wonderful hike! My friend Dave Ramsey and I made the hike up into the gorge where Rocky Fork drops over 250′ in less than a 1/2-mile. It’s very impressive as Rocky Fork drops over, through, and around the massive, house-sized, boulders as it works its way to the convergence with Flint Creek. The hike up is a bit challenging due to no really defined trail access. There’s an old faint road with a fisherman’s trail but it crosses Rocky Fork many times. I found it more fun to wear my Chaco’s and work my way along the edge, wading into the crystal clear water, just enjoying the trip. I can say, we were probably the first to be in there for a while, maybe in years! This is the great part with Rocky Fork; it has the feel of Great Smoky Mountains National Park but no people! Most of the time that I’ve been in Rocky Fork, I can feel comfortable in saying that I was the only human being in the entire 10,000-acre tract! It’s a great feeling!
EOS 5D, TS-E 45mm w/ polarizer, f/14 @1/4sec
Foamflower, wild blue phlox & star chickweed, Shelton Laurel Backcountry Area, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
The Shelton Laurel Backcountry Area is really a wonderful place! Abbey and I took our little girl, Serén, on her first hike in the mountains there yesterday. The flowers are still beautiful! There’s an abundance of purple phaceila, wild blue phlox, wild geranium, trillium, and the list goes on! walking up the old road is like walking through a wildflower garden! Here’s another closeup from a few days back.
EOS 5D, TS-E 90mm w/ EF1.4x extender, extension tubes, f/7.0 @ 1/12 sec, ISO 250
Again, I don’t do very much close-up work with the camera but this was just awesome! Well, kind of freakish to me actually, for I’m not a fan of spiders! As I was photographing the beautiful flowers I noticed these swallowtails that were not moving like the others. With closer inspection I notice why, they were lunch for a wonderful little crab spider!
BTW, the TS-E 90mm makes a wonderful macro lens! It will focus to 1′ without extensions tubes and it stops down to f/32. I set this up with my 1.4x extender and extension tubes.
EOS 5D, TS-E 90mm w/ EF1.4x + extension tubes, f/9 @ 1/5 sec
It’s been a long time since I’ve photographed close-ups. I’ve never really been one to even think about it but over the past few days I’ve had a great time looking at the natural world in miniature. This was one of my favorites of today’s shoot! Shay, my Border Collie, and I went out for a few hours this morning and it was perfect! I’ll post more over the next few days.
EOS 5D, TS-E 90mm w/ EF1.4x extender, extension tubes, f/10, 1/4 sec
On Monday, April 21, 2008, I attended a special presentation by the State of Franklin Chapter of the Sierra Club in Johnson City. The Center for Appalachian Studies of East Tennessee State University is in the final stages of a DVD production of photographs from photographer Edward Schell and music from Johnson City native composer, Kenton Coe.
This is a well-deserved production for my friend Ed Schell, as I feel that he is truly an understated visionary in nature photography. It was refreshing to see his early works; he is now 85-years young and still, as health allows, gets out to photograph in the forest. Ed’s photography is the quintessence of the late Eliot Porter. I feel that in his era of photography, things were pure- cleaner feeling. No implications of dishonesty, as a few have caused in our present day photographic digital age. But I wouldn’t want to go back to film, that’s for sure! The music was refreshing and, for the most part, felt in harmony with the photographs. Other than a few “off cord” refrains, it was beautiful. Ed has only one book- “Tennessee”- to offer his photographs to the public. You can get it at Barnes & Noble (www.bn.com). It’s a wonderful hardcover with text by the late Wilma Dykeman. Ed is the 1990 recipient of the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography.
I will announce the release of Ed’s DVD as soon as it is available.
I posted this photo in the spirit of Ed’s show. His presentation of new spring growth in film was wonderful. As I walked in the spring forest I felt his presence and I too decided to capture spring at its earliest stages.
EOS 5D, TS-E 90mm w/ EF1.4xL extender and extension tubes.
As I travel to photograph the final photos in my new book “Blue Ridge”, I look for special images. This is the fun part! Although I’ve already chosen most of the photos for the project, I’m still looking for those special “have to be in there” photos. This is one of them! As I was driving along, I noticed the beautiful blossoms of the apple trees on an old Appalachian farm. This scene really moved me. These farms are disappearing at an alarming rate. The farmers are getting old and passing from this earth, and their families don’t seem to see the beauty in the land they’d owned for the past 100+ years. They sell the properties to developers and next thing you know, million-dollar vacation homes are built along the mountainside. This is a problem in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Northeast Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia. I’m not sure that we can do anything about it and I’m worried about our beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains!
EOS 5D, EF70-200f/4L @ 84mm, f/11 @ 1/6sec