White House Ruin

iconic image

November 2003 my son, Sean, and I drove up route 191 from the Petrified Forest National Part to arrived at Chinle on a November afternoon. In 2003 my photography kit included a Sony Point and Shoot 5 MP camera with filters, an over the shoulder (purse type) bag and an inexpensive “Kmart” tripod.

We found the White House trailhead, hiked down essentially alone as the sun set at 5:20 pm.  At that time, a thick stand of Russian Olive trees choked the wash.  We stopped at this point in the gathering dark.  I took this distant shot of the White House Ruin against the Russian Olive autumn foliage.  A stand of Cottonwoods growing near the canyon wall had yet to turn their brilliant yellow.  At that time, the White House Ruin was painted white.

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When Pam and I visited July 2008, in the intervening 4 years, 9 months the Russian Olives were removed as an invasive species, the ruin was no longer white.

There is one highway headed south in the Four Corners region of Northern Arizona, the same route 191 Sean and I took.  In 2008 Pam and I came from Colorado south on 191, also arriving late afternoon.

That July day the sun set 8:33 pm as the Navajo Reservation observes daylight savings time. My goal was to photograph the White House Ruin I missed in 2003. We arrived at the trail head. My photography kit was expanded from 2003, now included a Kodak DSC Pro slr/C, the “C” meaning “Canon” lens mounting, a Sony 700 alpha slr (I only use a variable lens), Manfrotto tripod with hydrostatic ball head, and the backpack style Lowe camera case. With the tripod it is over 25 pounds.

With this on my back I was prepared to boogie down the trail. At the height of tourist season there were many more people at the trailhead. Pam, being a friendly person, started a conversation while I ploughed ahead along the flat canyon rim. It is solid red sandstone, beautiful, generally level with enough unevenness to require attention. When Pam saw how far ahead I was she tried to catch up, tripped, fell hard.

I backtracked to Pam and we pulled it together. She thought, maybe, the fall broke a rib. We descended, slowly, together. Here we are in front of the ruin. The sun, low in the sky, is moving below the south canyon wall. This is a perfect time and I used both cameras.

Mike and Pam at White House Ruin
Mike and Pam Wills with the White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly, July 2008

The sweep of cliff and desert varnish was my intent to capture. Here it is through the Canon 50 mm lens.

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Click link for this White House photograph in my Online gallery.

I captured this version with the Sony Alpha 700 slr, the variable lens set to widest angle.

White House Ruin
Click link for this White House photograph from my online gallery.

Here the camera setup waits out the sun…..

Whte House Ruin Setup
Camera, protected by hat, mounted on Manfrotto Tripod at the White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly. July 2008
Click for the first posting of this series, “Portrait of a Navajo Guide”.

Click for the next posting of this series, “Family Trek.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills Photography

Moon Fin

Gibbous Moon and Red Rock

Driving from the Petrified Forest National Park my son, Sean, and I arrived at Chinle, Arizona the evening of Monday, November 2, 2003.  No time to rest or eat after checking into the Best Western he and I reached the White House overlook and trail head with the sun low in the sky, the sun sets 6:45 pm these last few days of Daylight Savings.  The Navajo Reservation observes Daylight Savings, so the click jumps crossing the border from Arizona to Reservation.

I was 50 at the time and with Sean graduated from SUNY Maritime and fresh from a tour at sea we made good time to the canyon floor.  I wanted to catch the White House in the setting sun.

One morning, 14 years later, I published a fine art photograph from that trip.

Looking along the canyon, over thick stands of Russian Olives, I caught the risen moon, in gibbous phase, against a mid-canyon freestanding fin of red sandstone of the southern canyon wall. Today, those trees are gone, removed as an invasive species.

Click for my OnLine Gallery “Memories Dreams Reflections”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills Photography

Leprechaun Rock along the Tain Way

The Last Leprechauns

Rocks such as this are a favorite perch for leprechauns to rest and contemplate the works of man who have invaded their world. Inhabitants of Carlingford who wander Slieve Foye have come upon them often enough, their stories and certitude in the existence of the Little People are resistant to manifold doubters with their reasons and arguments.

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Click this link for my Ireland gallery of Fine Art Photography.

Kevin Woods, aka McCoillte, was a doubter until worked on a stone wall on property he owned on Ghan Road, Carlingford. His belief did not arise on the discovery of the leather purse, covered with ages of dust and lime, nor with the gold coins inside. McCoillte pocketed the coins for luck. As luck would have it, McCoillte loved to walk on Slieve Foye. It was on one such walk he and his dog encountered Little People who paralyzed them to escape. His unexplained absence led to troubles with the wife.

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Click for Leprechaun Rock in my Fine Art Gallery. Enjoy!!

This experience brought McCoillte around to enough of a belief that he, with lots of help, succeeded in petitioning the E.U. European Habitats directive to recognize leprechauns a protected species.  According to a page on the Celtic Times web site, “The E.U. sent Madame Isobel Jeanne from Fecamp in Brittany France to Carlingford with the official letter declaring Carlingford Mountain (Note: otherwise known as Slieve Foye) protected, on the grounds that they could not prove or disprove their existence.”  The page is titled “The Carlingford Leprechaun.”  Google “Last Leprechauns” learn more about McCoillte’s stories.

I came upon this rock on June 9, 2014 on a day my cousin Sean Mills invited us to walk the Tain Way over Slieve Foye. It was such a finely shaped piece of what I suppose to be granite, the view of Carlingford, the lough and farmland so compelling, I spent time composing this landscape.

You can make out “King John’s Castle” just over the ridge and its yellow flowering gorse, on the margin of the blue lough. It is the boxy, grey structure; crenellations are visible on high resolution versions of the image. Carlingford is known for the castle, the popular name is for the English monarch who spent time there, although it was built by another.

Visit the opening chapter of our time on the Tain Way

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Coolcreen View Six

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day 2021 “No Snakes”

Number six of six from the Kerry County side on the descent Healy Pass, R574. Here we move away from, say goodbye (hopefully, for now) to these marvelous views, our first sight of County Kerry.

Two more strange, conical hills come into view, repeating those in the distance. These have a long story.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Coolcreen View Three prime

Coolcreen Townland

Number three of six from the Kerry County side on the descent Healy Pass, R574. I enhanced view three to level the horizon. A side by side comparison is provided, below.

It is possible to just make out several lake houses. Click me for more information about who live here during the early twentieth century.

Click me to learn more about the name of the lake.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Visible from this point on R574, Healy Pass, is Glenmore Lake, the Rivers Drunminboy, Glanstrasna flowing into a sheltered inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1911, the Irish National Census lists nineteen (19) persons of five (5) families listed with the names O’Sullivan, Sullivan and Shea. From this view this is a puzzle until the map is examined. The land transitions from this rock to a steep, then leveling slope down to Glanmere Lake and a stream running from the heights with plenty of reasonably level, fertile acreage. There is a glimpse of a lake. Like many of the Irish place names, Glenmore Lake has a connection to the Irish Language name, Loch an Ghleanna Mhóir. Roughly translated the name means Large Lake of the Glen. The names in use today, in English, are derived from the sounds of the Irish. It happens the Irish Ghleanna sounds link Glen (or in another version, Glan, roughly the same). Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Coolcreen View Five

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Number five of six from the Kerry County side on the descent Healy Pass, R574. Less sky and more land in this horizontal aspect.

Lavender hedgerows drawn the eye to that conical distant hill. In the lower left the new rhododendron leaves are flower-like.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Coolcreen View Four

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Number four of six from the Kerry County side on the descent Healy Pass, R574. Here I turn the camera on the Manfrotto studio tripod with hydrostatic ball head to the original view, a little less lit with a better leveling of the horizon.

A first glance, the rhododendrons in bloom are beautiful along the hedgerows and the foreground. Click me for our first encounter with this flowering plant. Later, during out stay at Ashford Castle, County Mayo, during kayaking on Lough Corrib, I remembered this scene and described it to my guide. He filled me in the rhododendron is a notorious invasive species. Click me for an interesting article with all the details.

Here is story of visitors LOST in a rhododendron forest.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Coolcreen View Three

Coolcreen Townland

Number three of six from the Kerry County side on the descent Healy Pass, R574. I turned the camera a few more degrees into the gathering darkness, under the cloud, for an almost complete view of Glanmore Lake.

It is possible to just make out several lake houses. Click me for more information about who live here during the early twentieth century.

Click me to learn more about the name of the lake.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Coolcreen View Two

Coolcreen Townland

Number two of six from the Kerry County side on the descent Healy Pass, R574. The dynamic range is a photographic challenge: the scene darkens as a cloud covers the westering sun, I turn the camera toward Glanmore Lake. The large, distant water is a bay on the North Atlantic named for the city at the foot, Kenmare.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Coolcreen View One

Coolcreen Townland

Number one of six from the Kerry County side on the Healy Pass, R574, descent. You can see the turnout we are using on the road below in this photograph Kerry View Seven. We have not travelled far, still in Coolcreen townland.

Here is a story collected by Shelia Sheahan from Mrs. M. Sheahan of Beal Middle, County Kerry.The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0621, Page 413” by Dúchas © National Folklore Collection, UCD is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

There is a fort in Beale and it is supposed to be the principal resort of the fairies. One day as two men were drawing hay from Slios near Caill na calman, one went through the fields as it was shorter than to go by the road, and his brother drove the horse by the road to Slios. As he was passing this fort, a little boy came out of it and ran after the car and sat into it. When they were gone a short distance he offered the man some sweets but he refuse to take any. None of them spoke anymore until they arrived in Slios. Again the little boy offer the sheets to the second man who went through the fields. But his brother went behind the little boy’s back and grinned at the other man not to take the sweets, because he was about to take them. At this the little boy went into the fort and they saw him no more. Background: a fort, or rath, is a grassy, round mound. By emerging from the rath, the boy is identified as one of the Others (“fairies”). Accepting and consuming a foodstuff or beverage from the Others puts a human under their control. The second man did not know where the boy came from and was warned away by his companion, otherwise the story would be much longer.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved