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.

Autumn Clouds

catching late light

This evening cirrus clouds filled the sky at sunset. View the following photographs to understand how these forms are named from the Latin word for a ringlet, or curl, of hair. Formed above 16,500 feet, on this day the cirrus glow with the light of a sun low in the sky.

Here is a wide view from our driveway that includes a deteriorating con trail and possibly a mixture of other cloud types, I am no expert. I used a Canon “zoom” lens for flexibility in framing. To minimize exposure time for a crisp capture of the moving object, ISO was set to to 1,000 and the f-stop minimized.

Click any image for a larger views. Then, click again to return to post.

Post production I needed to spend time removing dust spots (neglected to clean the image sensor), some of the images still have those annoying spots.

We enjoy looking west across the valley when the hills are glowing.

Click this link for another Autumn posting, “Thin Crescent Bowl Filled with Earthglow.”

References: search for Cirrus Cloud on Wikipedia.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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”
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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.

Click any photograph to visit my Online Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

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

Libe Slope Autumn

A Magnificent Display

Libe Slope

Libe Slope is between the West Campus and Quadrangle / Libraries.

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Cornell University is on a west-facing hill above Cayuga lake.

Besides the exercise of walking the 18 degree incline several times each day, Cornell students and alumni remember The Slope for autumn color.

 

Wonderful Flow of Limbs among Gold

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Hickory

Seen from the north on a cloudy October day, this Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra) is the largest tree on the Cornell Campus, at 79 inches in diameter.

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Cornell University is on a west-facing hill above Cayuga lake.

Take another look at the previous image. Can you find the grey squirrel? This hickory grows south of the Johnson Museum and among the autumn glories, it is the largest and brightest yellow canopy on Libe Slope.

Contrast

An overcast day is the best to capture this spectacle. October 20, 2012 provided both bright sun and dark, rolling autumn clouds. I waited on the north side, sheltered from the glare of the sky, for these perfect moments.

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I remember this hickory for the contrast between the canopy and trunk, the way the clumps of yellow hang from dark boughs.

The pignut hickory is native to these Eastern United States. It is known to favor moist slopes and this specimen has thrived on The Slope. The ground beneath it is thick with nuts.

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One week later

Just one week later, late afternoon on a sunny Friday as hurricane Sandy approached the east coast the hickory has fewer, tawny golden leaves.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Perfect Afternoon On Beebee Lake

Anticipating Our Tenth Wedding Anniversary

After work on a 2008 Friday afternoon in October we sped over to Beebee Lake on the Cornell University Campus to catch the late afternoon glow.

Beebe Lake is formed by a dam on Fall Creek.  It seems to be the flooded meadow it is, surrounded by hills formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago.  Cornell maintains footpaths around the lake.

People say that if a couple walk the a mile around the lake and over a bridge at either end, they are destined to be married.  This day we passed only joggers and families.  Pam and I will celebrated our tenth anniversary March 2019, so the legend worked for us.

Here are four snapshots from that time, presented in chronological order. Each is a handheld shot taken on the fly using my Sony Alpha 700 I use for exploratory photography.

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A terraced stair descends to the east side meadow to south lake shore path

I walked down a path trod by Canadian geese to reach a clear view of the water.

View of Helen Newman Hall

Lily pads and iris fronds grow along the bank. 

Evening sunlight reflected from smooth water crests driven by a steady light wind

Being on the west side of the lake, the dam is bathed in golden autumn light.  

The Dam That Forms Beebee Lake

On top the hill, not visible behind the trees, above the opposite bank is Fuertes Observatory.  We visited it this night, opened to the public as it is on all clear Friday nights while classes are running.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Frogs!!

A summertime visit to Sapsucker Woods

Wednesday last, grandson Sam, three years old at the time, 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 turtle encrusted in duckweed sunning on a narrow branch. The head is retracted for the moment, can you imagine someone wading through that muck to place a rock? It is possible, but I witnessed the head, so am absolutely sure.

Special thanks to blogger shoreacres for the identification of duckweed. In my original posting I called it algae.

Click me for another Sapsucker Woods posting.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Father’s Day Visit to Fall Creek Gorge

McGraw Tower Bell Concert

Walking up University Avenue toward Lib Slope, listening to the noon concert from the McGraw Tower carillion (a tuned set of bells), below the Johnson Museum turn left onto a footpath, follow to the steep trail down to the Gorge Overlook along Fall Creek. Look up at the suspension bridge and water powered electric plant. Climb back, turn right and down to Stewart Avenue for the view of Fall Creek Gorge, Cayuga Lake, the former studio of Carl Sagan, built into the gorge wall. In researching this topic I learned Google Maps shows the trail and you can “walk” the trail, Google brought the camera down into the gorge.

An IPhone 7 and video editing software were used for this post.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Red Sun over Cornell University

On this spring equinox morning a huge sun, filtered by morning clouds, hangs over East Hill and Cornell University. Taken from our home on West Hill, looking across the valley and Ithaca, New York.

The temperature is a balmy 18 degrees F.

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Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!


Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!


Can you pick out these Cornell landmarks?
— Jenny McGraw Tower
— Lib Slope still covered in snow from last week’s storm.
— the looming fortress shape of Bradford Hall.

Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!


Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Late Autumn Ithaca 8

A Dangerous Game

Hard on the Ithaca City Cemetery is our version of the crookedest street. Cascadilla Park road ascends East Hill as a series of switchbacks, charming homes cut into the hillside. A foot path overlooks the gorge, seen here.

Today, two young teens used the hill bottom for skateboarding. Taking turns on watch, each sped onto intersecting University Avenue. A dangerous game.

A brass plaque commemorates Daniel D Tompkins on eponymous Tompkins County courthouse. When the county was formed, 1817, Daniel Tompkins was a former governor of New York and Vice President to James Monroe. Tompkins never visited “his” county, there is no other connection between him. His family and life was rooted in eastern part of New York, around “The City.”

“Maternidad”, Seneca Street Garage, a mural by Nick Gilbert was the 2014 winner of 2014 @culturaithaca Latinx Mural Design Contest.

Mosaic Mural “Feels Like Ithaca” by Annamarie Zwack, Seneca Street Garage Also known as “Spirit of Ithaca”

I am not finding the attribution for this undersea idyll, also on the Seneca Street garage adjoining “Feels Like Ithaca.”

This completes my Sunday afternoon walk around Ithaca.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved