Thursday, December 30, 2010

A White Christmas by John Dersham

Wow! Wasn’t this the picture perfect White Christmas in DeKalb County? The last time we had snow on Christmas day was in 1989 and the last measurable one was 1969 (I have been told). Snow actually occurring on Christmas day is not very common in the southeast. I was not able to find out how many white Christmas’s we have had in Fort Payne but I was able to find out about Nashville TN and Atlanta GA. Nashville has only had a white Christmas three times in 100 years and Atlanta had it’s first White Christmas in 186 years.
Our snow here was a pretty one and great for making snowmen. We had all of our family with us arriving on Christmas Eve and staying through our Christmas snow. We played outside, built a snowman and enjoyed the beautiful scene out our front window. Our two granddaughters, ages nine and two, enjoyed it a lot.

Speaking of winter in DeKalb County, here are a few outdoor things to do this winter. Take your camera and capture our beautiful winter scenery.

Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort

It has been a good season for skiing at Cloudmont this year. If you have not been please come up and visit. Cloudmont offers two 1000’ beginner-intermediate slopes. Enjoy two “pony lifts” to take you to the top of the slopes. The slopes have an elevation of 1,800’ and a vertical rise of 150 feet.
If you have never skied, don’t worry. Personalized instruction is given to skiers of all ages. Group or private lessons are available. Cloudmont has skis, boots and poles available for rent in the Ski Lodge.
Please call before you come to verify skiing conditions. Cloudmont is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6-10 p.m. Call to check conditions at 256-634-4344 or go to

Water Falls and Hiking

Now is a great time of the year to hike or tour our water falls. There is plenty of water to really enjoy the scenery of our rivers and water falls. If you don’t mind the cooler temperatures it is a great time to hike and enjoy our beautiful woodlands without the canopy of leaves. We have plenty of hiking available at Little River Canyon National Preserve, DeSoto State Park, Bucks Pocket State Park and High Falls Park. We have wonderful water falls at Little River Canyon, DeSoto Falls and High Falls Park.

For more information on places to go and things to do, contact us at the Tourist Association at 256-845-3957 or visit us at

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kodachrome film, digital Photography and Photo tips for Christmas by John Dersham

“Kodachrome, it gives you those nice bright colors”…from the hit song written and recorded by Paul Simon in 1975. It is the only hit song ever about a film.
Kodachrome was invented by Leopold Gadowsky and Leopold Mannes, two American musicians working for Kodak in 1935. Their invention brought color photography to the amateur picture taker for the first time. Kodachrome also became the film of professionals. All those famous old National Geographic pictures were taken on Kodachrome. Kodachrome is 75 years old this year. Kodak stopped making Kodachrome about a year ago and on December 30, 2010, Kodachrome will officially die. The only lab left in the world processing Kodachrome (Dwayne’s Photo-Parsons, Kansas) will discontinue this very unusual and difficult process called K-14. Kodachrome film is archivally stable and images from its early years still look as they did when they were made.
Just how good is Kodachrome? Kodachrome 35mm equals a digital camera that shoots 40 mp. There are only a few professional digital cameras that resolve that high. The real difference in Kodachrome is the color pallet. It has wonderful skin tones and a broader range of tone, color and contrast than is available on any digital media.

Tips for Christmas pictures: Most digital cameras have very good low light sensors. This means you can take pictures in your living room in low light. Unless your room has a lot of window light, I recommend you use your camera flash. It helps fill in shadows and people will look better. Try to shoot close to your subject so you do not have too much in your scene that is not part of your subject. To shoot nice portraits use window light. Place your subject near a window and look at their faces to make sure shadows do not fall in the wrong places. Hold your camera level and still. Use your camera viewfinder to compose, if it has one. If you are shooting at night and want a good Christmas tree picture and you want it to look like it is night, then turn off your flash and sit the camera on a tripod or other stable hard surface to keep it from shaking during exposure. You should not hand hold a camera with a shutter speed of less the 1/30 of a second. Set your ISO on your camera to at least 800 to 2000 for nighttime interior scenes. Remember to switch it back to 200-400 when outside. Take time to compose your pictures before you shoot them. This will help you have more interesting compositions. Remember, the purpose of photography is to record history. Once you snap the picture it becomes history. Careful consideration of composition will give you pictures that you will what to look at over and over. Download your pictures often and file them with a description as well as the date. Back up your pictures to a CD or another off line backup system. You do not want to loose your valuable memories the next time your computer crashes. I suggest you have the pictures you like best printed on photographic paper at a lab, like Walgreens or Wal-Mart. Photographic paper will last 100 years or more, as long as they are not hanging in direct daylight. For more detailed information on taking good holiday pictures you can Google “photo tips” and you will find a lot of quality picture taking information.