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Ice Bells on Fall Creek

from multiple thaw-freeze cycles

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Captured outside our former Malloryville home on Fall Creek of the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

I used a Canon 100mm “macro” lens.

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Cheers on this January morning.

Click this link to check out my online fine art photography gallery.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills Photography All Rights Reserved

Happy New Year 2018

Here is my post to welcome in 2018 to my 383 subscribers across all seven continents.

Thank You for your support with my compliments and best wishes.

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Here’s a fireworks display to help you celebrate.  Click on any image for a larger view.

Click link to visit my online Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Me and the War on Christmas

Flourishing after 2017 Years

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
― Charles Bukowski

It is necessary to find insights in unpleasant places. Take this quote from Bukowski, a reprehensible individual in that following in the totality of his actions will lead to bad results.  What can you say about a guy who believed his downtown Los Angeles neighborhood was ruined after the the pimps and whores were forced out?  Still, Bukowski wrote well about the personal truth of his self-made environment, one he drank, whored and wrote his way to become a present-day saint of atheists.

With Trump and his “War on Christmas” is analogous.  Trump does the magician’s, the practiced thief’s, slight of hand, distracting us while pocketing the coin, picking the pocket.  His use of this slight of hand is effective in so far the premise is true.  Sure, there is a War on Christmas.  It started 2017 years ago when Herod ordered the innocents slaughtered to destroy the rumored Messiah.  Then, as now, Herod was defeated by dreams and determined action.  This is a link to my take on the story, ““Christmas Angels”.

A return to Christmas Past brings us to the “Me” of the title and how Amol K. shared in our 2002 celebration.  Amol had arrived from India as a new hire for our team.  That fall I searched for a roommate to share in household expenses.  Human resources brought Amol and I together.  He required temporary lodging until his marriage planned for 2003.

A single parent who raised a son alone, my Christmas preparations started immediately after Thankgiving with boxes of materials and decorations organized over fourteen years into beginning, middle and end boxes.  In this way, day by day, I gradually transformed our home for Christmas.  Workday evenings, unpacking a box at a time and laying out the contents.

The changes caught the attention of Amol.  Raise in a middle class family of Bombay, India, Amol, a practicing Hindu, asked questions about the objects and images slowing building with the month, the sun drawing down lower and lower on the horizon, darkness now falling soon after 4 pm.  Amol was curious to understand these new experiences.

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Amol saw correlations with his own belief systems and stories and enjoyed helping decorate the tree on Christmas Eve.

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We attended Christmas night mass together, shared presents Christmas morning.  It was not a question of Amol becoming a Roman Catholic proselyte, he enjoyed experiencing the stories, practices and celebrations of Christmas.
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Beliefs and religious practices are like a sky scraper.  A push against natural law, constantly under pressure from gravity, wind, frost/thaw cycles and human fanatics who must see them come down by whatever means necessary.  “You must break eggs to make an omelet.”  This is a photograph taken on the returning training ship Empire State July 2001, less than two months before a fanatical suicide attack brought the Twin Towers down.
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Happy New Year, remember to love your neighbor as yourself in 2018.

Click for the first post in this series, “Christmas Tableau”.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Christmas Angels

Angels I Have Known

This is part of my project to document our Christmas memories through photography. Here we explore the themes angels of the Christmas Story and in our lives.

Previous Posts, “Christmas Tableau” and “Ireland on the Mind at Christmas” provide context. The photographs from “Christmas Tableau” were accepted to Getty’s stock image collection. Click the link to take a look: “Cozy Snowmen” on Getty Stock.

The angels of our Christmas tree and home remind us of the Jesus birth stories of scripture and the force of love in our own lives.

What comes to mind with the sudden appearance of Gabriel to Mary and that astounding message? Unlike the attempt of Jonah to avoid his calling, the subtext to Mary’s ready acceptance is the risks faced by an affianced woman who becomes pregnant. The book of Deuteronomy (Chapter 22 verses 13 – 21) calls for stoning a woman who presents herself for marriage as a virgin, when she is not.

When learning of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph’s reaction, as a follower of Mosaic Law, was to divorce her quietly to avoid exposing her to shame. It was a visit from an angel, in a dream, that convinced Joseph to accept Mary (Matthew Chapter 2, verses 18 – 24).

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An angel visited shepherds, announcing “today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is the Messiah and Lord.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God.” Luke Chapter 2, verses 8 – 13.

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Was it an angel who warned the Magi, in a dream, not to return to King Herod with news of Jesus (Matthew Chapter 2 Verse 12)? Scriptures clearly state (Matthew Chapter 2 verse 13) “the angle of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt.”

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People can be angelic in expressing love for others through action. I am thinking of a movie Pam and I viewed last evening, “The Theory of Everything.” Jane Wilde, in her love for Stephen Hawking, stays with him when, shortly after their romance began, he was diagnosed with ALS. The prognosis was death in two years. In all likelihood, Jane gave Stephen his life and work through loving him. He is alive and working today at 75.

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The love of our parents is more common, no less precious.

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A note on the photographs, I used a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III dslr with Canon lens EF 50 mm f/1.2L, Canon Speedlite 600Ex-Rt, Manfrotto studio tripod and hydrostatic ball head.  Some of the photographs were hand held.  When the flash was used, it supplemented ambient light from a large north facing bay window.

Click the link for my next Christmas Season post “Me and the War on Christmas”.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Ireland on the Mind at Christmas

Irish Christmas Spirit

A previous post, “Christmas Tableau”, provides some context.  The photographs from that set were accepted by Getty for stock images.  Click the link to take a look:  “Cozy Snowmen” on Getty Stock.

This is part of my project to document our Christmas memories through photography.  Here we explore the Irish and Ireland themes of our decorated Christmas Tree.

Where would we be without Saint Patrick?  He was a force, to be sure.  A favorite story,  is the landing of his return to the island 432 AD.  The tides on the eastern coast of the Irish Sea can be strong.  His plan was to sail up to coast further north than what we call today Strangford Lough.  On passing this inlet the boat was swept into the lough tidal narrows.  Circumstances called for a landing, rather than wait for the tide.  Patrick came ashore where the Slaney River enter the lough and “quickly converted” the local chieftan, Dichu, who provided a barn for holding services.  The name of the town “Saul” in Irish is Sabhall Phádraig, translated as “Patrick’s Barn.”

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In this posting I’ll go lighter on descriptions of technique.  Leave it to say I held to the Canon fixed lens EF 50mm f1.2L USM throughout.  Some, like the photograph of Saint Patrick, used a tripod.  Others, like the latter two of the following Irish Themed Cross set were handheld.  Generally a flash was used to supplement ambient sunlight from a large north-facing bay window.

Here the “celtic” cross is converted to an Irish theme through a substitution of a shamrock with golden decoration inspired by pagan neolithic petroglyphs for the nimbus (circle) intersecting the central intersection of arms and stem.

For the first three I played with aperture, taking advantage of the stability of a tripod.  The final two of the set are handheld.

Note the fanciful leprechaun snowman with pot o’ gold, on the left.

Blown glass Irish dancers.

“Travel memories”

Lets’s finish up with a resin cast Santa Claus in hiking garb.  Hiking is a favorite activity of ours.  Featuring a stout staff and Aran Island sweater.

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Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Christmas Tableau

Cozy Snowmen dance round the candle

My dear wife Pam is the heart of Christmas in our home. Over the years we have collected a treasure of ornaments and knick-knacks she crafts into displays around our one. Pam completed the project well in advance of our grandchild holiday visits, before card writing and gift wrapping.

My contribution is a photographic time capsule. Here is some of my artistic output from this work.

This grouping of five cozy snowmen (three males, two females) are warmly dressed in knit sweaters and stocking caps; the women with long skirts. The five hold hands in a ring, rising from a common platform. We place a cup and devotional candle in the center.

The tiny group evokes community, harmony, amity. I captured them with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III dslr, a fixed Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens mounted on a Manfrotto studio tripod and hydrostatic ball head. Fixed lenses provide the sharpest macros. The mounting allowed precise framing and use of the widest aperture and a low ISO. The light sources were sunlight from a large north facing bay window, a Canon Speedlite 600Ex-Rt and the candle. When used, the flash was angled in various ways toward the ceiling.

I start with a tight shot, maximum aperture. A single figure is in clear focus, the remaining gradually lost in the bokeh. The flash was used. I can almost see then circling around the candle in a winter wind.

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Here the candle is lighted, aperture narrow to f8 using only the candle and ambient light (no flash). The group is visible within surrounding figures. I backed away and the viewpoint is higher.

The candle light enhances the perception of community.

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Viewpoint is closer, still only the candle and ambient light. Aperture widened to 3.5. I must remove the hair in lightroom.

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I backed off, aperture at the max with only the candle and ambient light. The figures are placed in a tableau with other snowmen and a structure, a birdhouse.

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For this overview I swapped in a Canon 24mm f/1.4L II USM with a flash, aperture f2.2.

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Christmas 2017 snowman display laid out in our den on top of the entertainment cabinet.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved