Island Romance

the original Moby Dick

Advertisements

Thinking about the Aran Islands for my last posts, “Killeany Bouy” and “Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football champions” brought me back to Isla Mocha.

Herman Melville’s thoughts were in and around this island off the central Chilean coast when he penned “Moby Dick” in the mid-nineteenth century while sitting in the city of Boston.  He was brought Moby Dick not only by his own experiences on a whaling ship, almost certainly Melville owned a copy of Jeremiah N. Reynolds’ “Mocha Dick: Or The White Whale of the Pacific: A Leaf from a Manuscript Journal,” an true-life account of adventures around Isla Mocha.  Sometime around 1810 Reynolds personally experienced encounters with Mocha Dick after the crew of an Antarctic expedition mutinied, stranding him at Valparaíso, Chile where he remained for two years.

Located  38°21’45.62″S,  73°55’6.91″W, around 8 miles in size north to south, 3.5 miles east to west Isla Mocha is surprisingly simple to find.  A ridge of mountains run the north south axis, just 20 miles off the coast, a ship following the coast will find it easily, as I did from the balcony of the Oceania Regatta during a “sea day” of travel between Valparaiso and Puerto Montt.

MochaIslandGoogleMpasNarrow

Since waking that day I was on the lookout for Isla Mocha.  In preparation for our month-long cruise around South America every mile of our itinerary was scoured for interesting sights, experiences and information.  When I first learned of Isla Mocha (Mocha Island in English) and the connection with Melville reading about it in Boston, just as I was in Ithaca, one of my goals for that day was to catch sight of Isla Mocha as it rose from the horizon.

My goal was made easier for the cloud formation from the island mountains.  Here is my first photograph, taken from our balcony on the port side.  I chose the port side just for the landward view as the ship progressed southward on the western coast of South America.  The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III was tripod mounted with an EF 70-300 f4-5.6L variable lens set to 70 mm.  We are northwest of the island with the coast just visible.

Isla Mocha First Sighting

Another view with 188 mm focal length.  The ship must have turned eastward, as the view progressed the island came closer.  It was a fantastic thought to cruise above the subduction zone where the Nazca plate dives beneath the South American Plate.  In the distance, on a clear day, the volcanic cones Villarrea and Quertrupillan are visible.

Click Link for my Getty Stock Photography “South America”

RomanceOfIslandsMochaIsland2016-2

With the island due east, only a few miles away, the lens at 221 mm focal length.  A fisherman is having an easier day in a calm sea.  The indigenous people told stories of the souls of the dead travelling west to Isla Mocha.  Pirates used the island as a resupply base.  The fishing boat was the only sign of life.

RomanceOfIslandsMochaIsland2016-3

That was February 14th Valentine’s Day.  With Isla Mocha passing into the distance I changed for an evening with Pam.  Here we are headed to dinner, somewhere off the coast of Chile’s Lakes (and volcano) region.

Click Link for my Getty Stock Photography “South America”

Valentines Day 2016

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Autumn Mushroom

Moments from a September backpack

A budding mushroom

Autumn Mushroom

 

among autumn leaf litter

along mountain shores

Peaked Mountain

Peaked Mountain and Pond, Siamese Ponds Wilderness, The Adirondacks

Click this link for my Online Gallery, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

History and Ghosts of the Triangle T Ranch

a ghost story

In my last post, Homecoming Parade 2003, I described my initial reconnection with the University of Arizona (U of A) as a 1975 graduate and alumnus.  This personal project of involvement with U of A and Arizona continued through 2011 with annual autumn trips to coincide with Homecoming.  The travel was as a CALS (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) Alumni Board of Directors member, a primary responsibility was raising funds for scholarships.

Texas CanyonGranite2007-5

The Amerind Foundation and weathered boulders of Texas Canyon granite.  Beyond are the Dragoon Mountains

I met, Linda Kelly, the owner of the Triangle T Guest Ranch, while camping in the Chiricahua Mountains.  I arrived a week before homecoming to photographing the landscape, nature and rock formations of the Chiricahua National Monument.  Click this link for my Arizona Online gallery, including some work from that time.  Linda and a friend were visiting that day and we struck up a conversation about the area and her Triangle T Guest ranch.  The next day I was scheduled to guest lecture a class at the U of A, as an alumnus of CALS.  The ranch was on the way and I needed a place to stay, so Linda gave me directions and I checked in.

She gave me a tour of the incredible weather granite rock formations of Texas Canyon and, meanwhile, shared stories of the history of Texas Canyon.  It is appropriate for the Amerind Foundation to be here (see first photograph), the winter camp of an Apache tribe for generations.

Texas CanyonGranite2007-1

Weathered granite boulders greet visitors to the Triangle T Ranch.

That night, my request was for a room storied to be haunted by a spirit they call “Grandma,” as in when her foot steps wake you from a sound sleep you say, “It’s all right, Grandmother.”  She woke me that night, footsteps in the dark, hollow on the wood floor, the room filled with a hard cold.  I talked to her, without a response, while swinging my legs out of bed to reach the gas heater in the wall.  I turned on the heat and the sound of expanding metal heat fins lulled me to sleep.

Texas CanyonGranite2007-2

I call this pair, “Father and Son.”  The restaurant is built around a round boulder. 

It made a good story for the students.  They were surprised I could fall back asleep, but after all I had to be there the following morning.

Texas CanyonGranite2007-3

Your imagination roams among the natural forms.

I gave Linda a few of my photographs from that day and we made arrangements for the Triangle T to supply a two night package for the CALS “Dean’s Almost World Famous Burrito Breakfast” silent auction during 2008 homecoming.

Texas CanyonGranite2007-4

A tableau of figures keep silent watch with the ghosts of Texas Canyon.

 

Above Muirthemne Plain

Romance of Ruins

This series of posts started with “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm.  A kilometer from there, at Proleek Dolmen, the ancient portal stones line up to face the plain rising to Slieve Gullion, a name for the mountain taken from the Irish,  Sliabh gCuillinn, meaning “mountain of the steep slope” or Sliabh Cuilinn, “Culann’s mountain.”

Click photograph to view my Ireland photography gallery

There is an connection between Proleek and Slieve Gullion.  Cycles of Irish Myth place a boy named Sétanta living on Muirthemne Plain, of which what we call Proleek Townland was a part.  One day, the king Conchobar was passing his kingdom, Muirthemne, on the way to a feast on the slopes of Slieve Gullion hosted by the blacksmith Culann when he stopped to watch boys playing hurling, Sétanta among them (it is ironic the Proleek Dolmen is surrounded by a golf course in modern times).

Impressed by the Sétanta’s skill, the king invites him to the feast.  Having a game to finish Sétanta promises to follow.  As evening falls the boy approaches the smith’s house to find himself attacked by a huge, aggressive dog.  Acting in the moment, Sétanta dispatches the dog with the hurley and ball he had at hand, driving the ball down the hound’s throat.  (In another version he smashes the hound against a standing stone.)

Feeling Culann mourn the loss of his beloved animal, Sétanta promises to raise and train a guard dog equal to the one he slew.  Until that time he also pledged to guard Culann’s home.  From that time Sétanta was known as “the hound of Cullann”, Cú Chulainn in Irish.

References
Wikipedia articles “Slieve Gullion” “Cú Chulainn” and “Conaille Muirtheimne.”

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Ocotillo Sunset from Saguaro National Park, a diary Part 2

The creation of a photograph

A retrospective diary of the day I captured “Octillo Sunset, continued from PART 1

Moving to a Better Location

On the ground in Sabino Canyon, I rethought my plans for the afternoon, given the potential of an incredible desert sunset, and decided to seek the high ground east of Tucson up against the Rincon Mountains in the Saguaro National Monument. There was still plenty of time to travel there and set up.

On arrival at the monument I took the scenic “loop” road that meandered around the desert. The Lime Kiln Falls trail makes some elevation, so I hiked that to the end. In the 1800’s the rocks in the area were exploited for their mineral content by heating them, on site, to high temperatures that released a highly caustic (chemically reactive) “quick lime” that was in high demand. All that’s left of this work is some ground discoloration.

The Dry Water Fall and former Mining Site

The “Falls” in question were a totally dry rock ledge that I climbed for these views. In the first photo, on the right in the distance, you can see the same mountain peaks I shared in Part One. I used the same 200 mm telephoto lens because that interesting stand of saguaros were over 100 feet away across a steep slope.

Young Saguaros

The saguaros are interesting, to me, because they are all so young and grouped together. As though s clutch of seeds from the same specimen landed together on the same spot. The saguaros are notable for their lack of arms which will form with the passing years.

A View of the Catalinas

Late afternoon is the perfect time to photograph the Catalinas in the distance and the high, thin gathering cloud cover made for dramatic shading of the peaks. I needed to wait for a perfect moment because the light and view changed, literally, second by second. If you look closely, the city of Tucson can be seen among the foothills, to the left.

Why the Distance Stands Out (high contrast)

The lens was fitted with a deep hood. Besides being black, the interior of the hood is surfaced with black felt, the same as used for large telescopes, to capture any stray light. Light falling across the lens surface causes reflections, which is what this hood prevents. The result is the amount of contrast I captured, using the appropriate exposure and other settings. For this photograph I used F14, 1/125 and ISO160.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Young Saguaros and the Catalinas – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

Another Catalina View

A bit further down the same trail, the desert view features an army of saguaros marching into Tucson.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Saguaros and the Catalinas – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

The Catalina Highway runs along the escarpment, in the distance, and to the top of Mount Lemmon, a 9157 foot peak. In season, you can ski in the morning, on the peak, and in an hour or so travel to the desert to sunbathe comfortably. From the trail to the top of the Rincon Mountains this view just keeps opening up farther and farther and farther. My wife, Pam, and I backpacked up there April 2011.

Click link for Ocotillo Sunset Part 3

Ocotillo Sunset, a diary

The creation of a photograph

This is a retrospective diary of the day I created my print “Ocotillo Sunset.” You can see “Ocotillo Sunset” by clicking on any of the following photographs.

On a Tucson November 2005 afternoon, after my volunteer work for the University of Arizona, CALS college, alumni board of directors, in the mid-afternoon I headed for Sabino Canyon with my photography kit.

With a 25-pound pack on my back, walking from the parking lot I looked up at the incredible rock formations of the Santa Catalina mountains. It took some time to set up the tripod (at that time I was using a cheap swivel head on adjustable aluminum legs) with a 200mm telephoto lens (Canon L-series EF 200mm USM) I grabbed this shot of the hoodoo fringed peaks beyond the foothills (f16, 1/30, ISO160). The lower sun angle made the formations pop out.

Hoodoos in the Hills

That is Window Peak, at the head of Ventana Canyon. Among the hoodoos is a spectacular rock arch, or window, not visible from this direction. “Ventana” is window in the Spanish language.

You call those strange formations of upright rocks “hoodoos. Some people believe the fantastic shapes were created by spirits, today the explanation is wind, water and time create hoodoos from rock of the right stuff. It is a wonderful experience to wander among hoodoos, though unsettling because some of these large rocks are seemingly in danger of falling over at any moment.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Santa Catalina Hoodoos – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

Moving On

I have a mental list of photographic “to do’s” and the gathering clouds, typical for a Tucson November day, reminded me an awesome desert sunset was on this list, so I packed up to head for the east side of Tucson for a shot looking toward the Tucson Mountains (on the west side).

Clouds gather at sunset above a ridge serrated by saguaros.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Gathering Clouds – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

Sabino Canyon House

Before we move on, this is a fascinating image of a typical southern Arizona house perched on a ridge at the mouth of Sabino Canyon. In this image the viewer sympathizes because the telephoto lens gathers the majestic rocks around the tiny structure.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Desert Foothill Home – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

The house is perched on a Santa Catalina foothill ridge running east west, a wall of picture windows facing south with a view across the Tucson valley toward Mount Wrightson of the Santa Rita mountains, 42 miles distant. Summer thunderstorms gather on this peak, wreathing it with lightening. These times, evenings and night, the view pays for the inconvenience of this distant, hot ridge. Another time to be there is for sunsets.

Click here for Part 2 of Ocotillo Sunset Diary

Adirondack Respite

Seven new photographs from the Adirondack Wilderness

One weekend my nephew Chris and I backpacked to Peaked Mountain Pond, the Adirondacks wilderness, in the rain. My son, Sean, was to meet us later. The constant rain made the easy trek into a slog. Our attitude improved after the tents setup and the fire. The skies clear to a brilliant display of the Milky Way away from light pollution.

Peaked Mountain in the light of an August dawn taken from the west pond shore. Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Adirondack Park, New York State. At 2,919 feet, Peaked Mountain is a modest height though it rises an impressive 675 feet in 0.4 mile.

Peaked Mountain Dawn Light – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Looking north across Peaked Mountain Pond from the west shore shortly after dawn.

Peaked Mountain Pond – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Click the photograph to visit my Fine Art Gallery

We used the canoe as a punt, using a solid branch to push around the shallow pond for short distances, after bailing.

Abandoned Canoe – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Click the photograph to visit my Fine Art Gallery

Mid-morning, we headed up the trail to the peak. I caught this orb-weaver spider web on the way.

Orb Web with Dew – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Click the photograph to visit my Fine Art Gallery

…and a detail. Technically, this is a macro. Did not wait around for the owner.

Orb Web with Dew, detail – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Click the photograph to visit my Fine Art Gallery

Later, in the afternoon, Chris caught some Zzzzz’s in a time out from water gathering. We pumped water through a filter, this is necessary throughout New York State to avoid giardia infection.

Adirondack Respite – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Click the photograph to visit my Fine Art Gallery

The ultimate in peace and tranquility, though disturbing a hornet pollinator can lead to excitement. This water lily bloom was caught with a tripod mounted long lens. Look closely for the hornet at work inside the flower. HHealthy water lily leaves are the epitome of tranquility because they are always clean, giving the illusion of tranquility. Scientists study water lily leaves to learn how the leaf surface sheds dirt. Imagine self-cleaning cloths.

Correction: it is the Lotus leaf, not lily pad, that is self cleaning.

Water Lily Flower with hornet – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Looking for the perfect photo for your web site and blog?

Browse my reasonably priced stock photography. This blog features seven (7) photographs I published today to Getty Istock and my Fine Art gallery.

License the photo, download and use it. Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Or click this link or any photograph or this link to select a print with custom framing from my “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” Fine Art Gallery.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved