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February 28, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

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What is Infrared Photography?

Susanna's Musings...

Capturing Forest Cycles

Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway


Lotus & Lilies with Guest

What is Infrared Photography?

Infrared (IR) light — light that humans can't see, with wavelengths longer than those of visible light — was first discovered by Sir Frederick William Herschel in 1800. 

Not to be confused with Far Infrared, or what we commonly see in X-Rays (thermal imaging), the lightwave lengths we use in photography are In the range from 700nm to 900nm, or Near Infrared. 

The first Infrared photographs were taken in 1910 by Robert Williams Wood using photographic plates. Beginning in the 1930s film became available. 

Today's digital camera internal filters, located in front of the sensor (digital "film"), are converted to block visible light to varying degrees (depending upon the range) and pass through infrared, basically capturing the heat of a subject. 

So, for instance, in nature the leaves of deciduous trees or grass, which are throwing off heat, appear white; while pine trees or tree trunks, both cool in temperature, appear as one would expect, more true to life. It's a fascinating photographic genre that we'll explore more in the future.

Susanna's Musings...


The goal of this blog is, from time-to-time, to put into words aspects of my experience, past and present. It's good for me to read my own words as a reminder to stay grounded and focused — and positive. I hope it will provide you with "food for thought," and a little inspiration while on your journey. 

I've been "at" photography for many years. It is my passion and is central in my life, especially now that I have a little more time to focus on it. But, the way to "here" proved a bit circuitous with detours, distractions and at times dejection. It took many years — and hindsight! — to realize that my process, as rambling as it seemed was, well, MY process. It was okay. And necessary.

Initially, I operated under the childish idea that artists spring fully formed into their chosen genre (photography, painting, sculpture...whatever). That particular myth couldn't be more divergent from the truth. It led, in fact, to an enormous setback in my growth as a photographer. I somehow clung to the undercurrent of the fantasy even though, on a conscious level, I knew it wasn't true. So, I was slow to learn — and accept — the items in the next paragraph.

My truth now, after all these years: I know that photography, like any art, requires a lot of study — both artistic and technical. It requires endless practice, ceaseless patience, unfaltering openness to feedback. It requires failure; yes, failure! We learn through failure. Most importantly, it demands belief in my journey and to know that it's ever-changing, at-times-confusing-nature was and is an important part of it.

I'm finally at peace with my bumpy ride. I've moved from representational images to creative, from head to heart. It feels good, like I've "arrived." And, yet, I know it's just another step on my journey, which I hope will be long and fruitful.

Spring has finally arrived in this part of the world! I can now move from my winter shooting in a large greenhouse to the great outdoors. I hope you are doing the same.

Happy Shooting!



Ethereal Landscape

Capturing Forest Cycles

Multi-hues of Spring green blanket the scene below.

From my birds-eye view, I spot splashes of white and pink jewels in its midst. 

Cloud mists dance, curl. 

Early morning light refracts into a magical glow. 

I sense nature’s spirit flowing through this ethereal landscape. 

In awe, I stop, take a deep breath, smile, compose, snap.


Brown ribbon weaves ahead and behind me, over hill, through dale.

The leaves, like green confetti, appear suspended in mid-air. 

Textured gray and brown vertical streamers descend from sky to earth. 

Baubles of white, pink, and blaze orange sprinkle the scene. 

A hawk swoops down, lifts rapidly aloft, prey secure in its claws as it disappears into the light.

I stop, take a deep breath, smile, compose, snap.


As the river of time flows on, the greens deepen to a darker, more uniform shade.

Other colors, closer to the ground, subtly emerge in this magical place. 

Yellows, pinks, whites, and lavenders of solitary flowers dot the forest floor. 

Wispy fronds of green find quiet comfort under the awning of the canopy. 

Gatherings of veiled color gently sway and dance in sunlit spots; a butterfly alights nearby. 

As I walk the brown ribbon I immerse myself in the scents of the forest. 

I stop, take a deep breath, smile, compose, snap.


As the continuum advances, I notice Nature’s ever changing features.

The crisp air of Autumn now works its magic on the landscape. 

Warm days, cool nights tease the flora of late Summer, letting it know it’s time is ending.

Red, orange, and gold confetti leaves flutter through the air. 

From above, the once green blanket appears as a multi-hued quilt of brilliant color. 

The brown ribbon shows slightly through the colorful covering, still guiding me on my way. 

I stop, take a deep breath, smile, compose, snap.


Nature completes its cycle to finally take a well-earned rest.

The confetti, now faded in color, covers the forest floor, rests, breaks down, goes back to earth. 

The vertical streamers of gray and brown reveal more complex structures, etched against the sky. 

I laughingly think that the mountains appear to have crew cuts. 

Soon, a blanket of white spans below and above me; brown ribbon invisible. 

Mists from lingering clouds dance, curl. 

Glittering crystals appear suspended in the air. Light refracts into a magical glow. 

I stop, take a deep breath, smile, compose, snap.


Blue Ridge Parkway Pink Azaleas

Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway — Part I

Imagine a check mark, one that hooks at the lower left then runs on a diagonal to the upper right. The Blue Ridge Parkway does just that as it crawls inland, up the mountain chain that parallels the southeast coast of the United States. (Click here for maps and information:

At 469 miles in length, this treasured "All American Road" reaches from its southern-most anchor in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, northeast along the spine of the Blue Ridge range of the Appalachian Mountains, where it joins Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive at Rockfish Gap, Virginia. From there, the route continues to meander 105 miles to Front Royal, Virginia, situated 75 miles west of Washington, DC. 

As you motor or bike along this homage to nature and history, the road seems to turn somersaults at times. One may be heading due south, then suddenly turn northeast, then west, then south again, covering every point on the compass. Although its multi-directional personality teases a GPS compass, in spite of appearances the Parkway persists in reliably delivering travelers north to south, or vice versa. 

The road follows the contours of the land; about 2,000 feet at its lowest point; 6,054 feet at its highest. It drills through inconveniently placed mountains; tunnels of varying lengths dot the way. Turnouts and overlooks provide access to views of mountain vistas, hiking trails, campgrounds, historic sites and more. The traveler never lacks from a variety of diverse experiences. 

Wildflowers bloom in abundance late March through early October. Autumns are colorful and winters frequently white. The Parkway's changing seasonal appearance renders the trip always fresh. One will never cease to be surprised by its beauty. 

Usually shielded from travelers' views by thick walls of trees, "gateway" towns such as Roanoke, Boone, Asheville, or Cherokee, offer abundant restaurants and hotels, or bed and breakfasts, as well as evening activities such as theater or music performances. 

There is much to see and experience on and off the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, our focus here is photography. So, fanning out from Asheville, NC (exits roughly located between Mile Markers 380 and 400), we'll explore a few of my favorite photo-ops north of the city:

  • Heading up the Parkway, we come to Craggy Gardens, a popular area with several pull-offs including the Picnic Area (Mile Marker 367.6, with tables, grills, and bathrooms), the Visitor Center (Mile Marker 364.5), and the Craggy Dome Parking Overlook turnout with trail-head to the top of the mountain (Mile Marker 364). Craggy is well known for its not-to-be-missed late spring, early summer rhododendron blooms, which are just emerging now.
  • Continuing on to Mile Marker 355, Mt. Mitchell State Park at 6,684 feet above sea level, is the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. There are a number of wonderful views from the top as well as a trail to a viewing tower. The road from the Parkway to the top is lined with rhododendron and other wildflowers. Sadly, dying hemlocks — casualties of the acid rain generated by pollution from Tennessee’s coal-burning plants to the west — dot the mountain. With systems weakened by the acid rain, the wooly adelgid infests and kills many.
  • From there, travel 16 miles north to Crabtree Falls at Mile Marker 339. Here you'll find a 2.5-mile loop trail to the waterfall (which is well worth the visit). The Park Service rates the trail as moderate/strenuous and recommends that you allow 2 1/2 hours for the hike. Be sure to figure in extra time for your photography!
  • After your hike, you may welcome a break for food and/drink. One of my favorite stops is the cafe in Little Switzerland, Rt. 226A, at about Mile Marker 335 just south of Spruce Pine. There are also a little general store and used bookshop, if you feel like browsing. 
  • Moving on, Linville Falls at roughly Mile Marker 316.5, provides two hiking trails to views of the falls. This is a popular stop for photography.

This is a mere sampling of what you'll find as you travel this extraordinary national treasure. We'll head south from Asheville next post to explore other areas awaiting you. 






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