Frogs!!

A summertime visit to Sapsucker Woods

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Wednesday last, grandson Sam, who’s three, and I wandered the landscape, catching the sights of summer. Eventually, we visited Sapsucker Woods, a Cornell University nature preserve. There, a boardwalk over the swamp is a proven venue for frog spotting and, this day, we had some success.

We found this cooperative golden-eyed beauty calmly squatting and croaking.

In this 30 second clip, reflected light off the water surface captures proto-croaks that did not quite escape from the source. There is a successful and full croak finale.

Off the boardwalk, we took a short detour to view an elaborate cairn built of local rock by a famous artist. The dappled sunlight across the surface is especially enjoyable.

The Sapsucker Cairn, Andrew Goldsworthy

At the furthest extent of the preserve is this pond where the residents were notably raucous in this 30 second clip.

About this time the mosquitoes descended for a determined attack on Sam’s legs. “Itchy,” he said. Myself, protected by deet, they left alone. Sam’s Mom prepared him for the trip with natural mosquito repellent that was not up to the task. Next time we visit, Sam will wear long pants and sleeves fortified with deet.

Just before picking Sam up for a quick retreat, I caught this algae encrusted turtle sunning on a narrow branch. It is a turtle, head retracted for the moment, not a rock.

Click me for another Sapsucker Woods posting.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Winter Captures

two captures during a time of lengthening days

Here are two offerings from winters past.

Late In the Day
Small Break Against the North Wind

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Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Hoary Elm

This day, as our hill turns to snow globe, I remember this early morning, March 2007, on the edge of spring.  

Hoary as in covered in frost to appear bleached with age. 

As winter changed to spring I noticed the first greening of the limbs and, each November, the eerie form of the limbs revealed.  I call the tree an “elm” though I am not certain.  There are other lone survivor elms nearby, the leaves are right for an elm.  Some elm species/specimens have the same shape.

Click this link for another Finger Lakes posting.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Thin Crescent Bowl filled with Earthglow

pre-dawn sky event

A thin crescent bowl filled with earthglow floating above the dawn attended by Venus, Mars, Virgo.

 

Thin Crescent with Planets, Stars, Dawn

This was the view from Ithaca, New York at the start of dawn this morning of Tuesday, October 17, 2017.  Mars is next to the moon, the stars of the constellation Virgo scattered around, Venus is the bright object below.  We had a bright, clear sky not unusual for September and October.

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In the city, an arch of Schoellkopf Stadium on the Cornell University campus.  Cornell is on east hill.  We live on west hill, across the valley.  It is quiet on west hill, away from the students.

Earlier this week the crescent was in the constellation Leo where the bright limb occulted the bright star Regulus, to reappeared from behind the dark limb, a brilliant spectacle that happened after dawn for New York.  It was cloudy, as usual, on October 14.

When I woke, the moon was shining through the trees, still full of just turning leaves. The crescent turned, cup like, above the horizon, to cradle the dark orb glowing from the reflected light of our earth. I did not recognize Mars, the disk was less red than usual. Research revealed the moon had two planets in seeming attendance. I also learned that, when the horns point right the moon is waning, moving toward a new, or un-illuminated, moon. When the phase moved from new it is also a crescent with horns pointing left.

This morning was a fortunate gift, I had never contemplated the moon in quite this form before.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

War Memorial with Sunbeams

the approach of hurricane Sandy

Some background on the World War I Memorial

October 23, 2006 was the 75th anniversary of the War Memorial, dedicate in 1932 to the memory of Cornell’s 264 casualties during World War I. The War Memorial building group is formed by the Army and Navy towers and the cloister connecting them.

The Story “War Memorial with sunbeams”

This view of the War Memorial and the west campus housing complex is across Libe Slope.

Taken late on an October Friday afternoon as hurricane Sandy approached the east coast, the view looks across Ithaca to the distant ridge of Connecticut Hill.

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Indian Summer Afternoons

Each year I make a point of walking Cascadilla Gorge at least once in the fall.  This week on a 84 degree October 9th afternoon Pam was too busy with chores, I parked in “downtown” Ithaca and stopped by the grandchildren’s.  They were hanging out with Mom and were “just too tired” after school to do anything.  Well the middle child, 4 years old, was open to visiting the skate board park and ,for me, that was not going to happen.  I ambled from there, up Court Street, past the Buddhist monk residence at the entrance to Cascadilla Gorge.

The gorge is part of Cornell Botanic Gardens (until recently it was called the Plantations), the organization of the university bureaucracy responsible for elements of the campus.  Cascadilla Gorge, running from Ithaca and through the campus, is one of those elements.  Today, the traffic of people going into and out of the gorge was light and a sign provided the reason: the path was closed at Stewart Avenue, there the bridge crosses above the gorge.  Instead to passed by the Christian Scientist Church on the north side of the gorge and walk up the winding Cascadilla Park Road to the gorge rim trail that climbs East Hill to the Cornell Campus.

The trail is lined with homes, porches on the gorge side where the sounds of creek and falls can be enjoyed.  I was not feeling ambitious, so took a few snapshots with my phone.  Here is path approaches a porch build from the “bluestone”, a type of feldspathic sandstone, native to this area.

Click the photographs for my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

This pot is visible in the previous shot, here is a closer view of the bluestone.

The fall to the gorge floor is steep, several hundred feet in places.  The barrier fence here appears solid, in places it barely exists.  A few years ago a recent Cornell graduate, coming home late from a bar on this path, was found dead in the gorge the following day from a fall.  I continued along the trail until the path fork over to the Ithaca City Cemetery where it is possible to climb West Hill to Stewart Avenue.  Turn right to reach the bridge over Cascadilla Gorge, another right onto the Gorge Rim Trail and back down to Ithaca.  I noticed at the bridge part of the work that closed the gorge was a repainting of the bridge and the suicide prevention fence below the bridge.  On September 24, 15 days before, a senior year Cornell student jumped off the bridge into the fence and was rescued by the fire department.

It is possible to stand next to the concrete barrier of the above snapshot to see this view into the gorge.  I enjoy the beautiful view, the sound of the water and leave the dark stuff where it belongs, at least until I notice the bridge and net are freshly painted.

Last year Pam and I walked Cascadilla with our granddaughter, here she is on that walk next to Cascadilla Creek.  There are large and small waterfalls the length of the gorge trail.

I took this photograph in 2005, the September before my previous post, “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” with the Kodak DSC pro slr-c, an ND filter, 50 mm lens and a tripod. It was a planned session, I work waterproof boots and was able to stand in the creek after a series of rain-free days. At this time of the year the gorge opens to the setting sun. I waited, taking a series of photographs for the perfect amount of light on the footbridge. The feature photograph (the header to this posting) is a detail from a shot with the bridge more fully lit.

We have this photograph print framed, I had it mounted as a gift to Pam on our first Valentine’s day. It will make an excellent Christmas or Birthday gift.

Click the photograph for this offering in my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories”

“September Sunset in Cascadilla Gorge”

Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods

a meditaton

On Halloween morning 2004 I set out with a camera upgrade purchased spring of that year, a Sony “Cyber Shot, DSC-F828” with an inexpensive tripod. My photograph “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods”, the feature photograph and below, achieved prizes with the Photographic Society of American and a few sales of self-produced prints. It was an early success.

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It is available on my Finger Lakes Memories online gallery where I provide recommendations for sizing, the best print medium with ideas for frame and matt.

The fall of 2005 I invested in a Kodak DCS Pro dslr-c and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens.  October 30, 2005, one day short of the 2004 Halloween shoot, found me driving down Fall Creek Road on a mission of revisiting Sapsucker Woods to possibly improve upon my offerings.

Over the years, travelling Fall Creek Road on my daily commute, I admired this well formed maple next to a farm field.  At 6:45 am the sun was about this rise, the frost limned grass not yet burned off.  This tree turned a bright yellow, here a green-yellow and dull.  The form of the tree is perfect.  I was never able to catch this at the right moment, it is still there and maybe I can time it this year during a pick-up of my grandson.  If I do, my intention is to climb the fence and use the 24 mm lens to capture the tree and shed with less sky (unless there are some dramatic clouds).  That day, I needed to make time for Sapsucker woods.

On site, thirty minutes later, as the leaves of the Fall Creek Road maple predicted, Sapsucker Woods foliage is behind last year’s by a week or so.  In “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” the over story leaves have fallen and the understory is at peak.  Here, I believe the overstory is gone, the understory leaves are yellow-green.

I carefully choose the sites and this one is a risen walk of boards.  In the nine years since, the walk as deteriorated and this scene will be different, possibly.

This is a match for the 2004 photograph as far as the camera position.  What I enjoy from the 2004 version, aside from the foliage, are the details of the fallen leaves taking up the foreground, a carpet filling the field to lead the eye up through the trees, path fading from view to the right.

This effect is not possible on the boardwalk, above.  With the fixed focus 50 mm lens it might be possible with effort.  Today, the 24 mm is my first choice to capture this effect.

Here we can see the leaf carpet is possible, if the f-stop is higher to allow a crisp focus.  In this scene it is f2 because I happened upon a buck in a daze.  He was just standing there as I headed back to the car.  I did not risk changing out lenses to the telephoto, so I moved forward slowly.

The best I did was this rear view as he looked backward.  Lack of flexibility is a draw back of a fixed-focus lens.

In 2004 my day concluded with Robert Treman State Park.  In 2005 the 50 mm fixed focus with a ND filter and tripod was in its element.  The sun is higher and overcast, one background tree is a peak foliage.  The moderate water flow and stair complete the effect.  This was my best work of that day.  I need to get this up on the “Finger Lakes Memories” gallery.

Other postings of interest. Click the link to go there.

“Last Sunlight” — the Gorge Waterfall

“Autumn Evening Hike Part 1 of 3”

 

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved