Winter Captures

two captures during a time of lengthening days

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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.

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Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Red Near and Far

Yesterday, Pam and I headed to the peneplane behind our home to enjoy the Finger Lakes terrain graced by fall colors.  The day before I noticed the Japanese Maple leaves had turned from maroon to vermillion.  While waiting for Pam to get ready, I capture the following two shots.

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This tree was planted by my father and mother in-laws.  Developed over the centuries by the Japanese, specimens reached England in the 1820 and spread from there.  It is not strictly accurate to call the color vermillion, since cinnabar finely ground produces the pigment for which the color is named, when the sun strikes the leaves vermillion is a metaphor for the impression made.

The scientific name for these trees is Acer palmatum with common names Palmate Maple (for the shape of the leaves “like a palm tree”, as for the scientific name), Japanese Maple or Smooth Japanese-Maple (for the bark).

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RedNearAndFar-6

We drove under the clouds, enjoying the rare dramatic shafts of sunlight and I gave up, finally, tying to time my shots.  Here is the view from Connecticut Hill.

RedNearAndFar-1

The previous photos were taken with a hand held Sony Alpha 700 with variable lens.  The next two are with an Apple iPhone I had a hand when Pam and I returned home for a walk around the neighborhood to witness the transformations.

We were surprised by this orange maple, never recalling this shade before.  Like our Japanese Maple were assume it is a non-native ornamental.

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RedNearAndFar-2

Our Japanese Maple is a challenge to capture photographically as it grows beneath a larger “nut” (don’t recall the kind at the moment) tree.  We are working together to improve that, so I don’t have an overall photograph.

Here is our neighbor’s Japanese Maple.  They have a story of carrying this tree, as a sapling, on the bus from Long Island.   I love the impression of dark limbs among the clouds of red foliage. 

RedNearAndFar-3

This photograph (the “far” of the “near and far”) is from a remote corner of Chiricahua National Monument, during the trip mentioned in my post, “History and Ghosts of the Triangle T Ranch”.  To get there, I drove over a mountain pass to a location was featured in an “Arizona Highways” I read long ago.

I call this photograph “Red Dragon,” the formation is known as a “maple ”

dragon”, from the long sinuous form of the tree limb.  Known for this reddish orange autumn color, this is a Big Tooth Maple, AKA Canyon Maple.  Scientific Name Acer grandidentatum (as in “big tooth”).  It is a wild specimen, living along the north fork of Cave Creek.  It is a area well know to avid bird watchers and ornithologists.

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RedNearAndFar-8

The camera was my Kodak, DSC slr-c with a Canon 50 mm lens mounted on a tripod.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

The Haw in Hawthorn

I originally published these blossoms as “wild  rose”.  It was my Facebook friends who pointed  out these are hawthorn flowers.  The key to identification was the shape of the leaves.

Hawthorne Blossoms on the former McArdle Home
Blossoms of Hawthorne taken on the site of the former McCardle Home, Proleek Townland, County Louth, Ireland.

In correcting my mistake, I learned the young leaves of Hawthorn are excellent for salads.  Wonder how the fairy folk, associated with single hawthorns (as in the following photograph from the Hill of Tara), react to picking leaves from their trees?  I didn’t hear of the practice during our time in Ireland.

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Speaking Stone Hill of Tara
View northwest from Hill of Tara looking across County Meath with views of Counties Westmeath and Cavan. On the horizon, right, is Hag’s Mountain, (Irish: Sliabh na Caillí) , site of the Loughcrew Cairns. The standing stone is the “Stone of Destiny: (Irish: Lia Fáil), which served in coronation the coronation of the High Kings of Ireland. It stands on the Inauguration Mound (Irish: an Forrad) of Tara. This photograph was taken the morning of May 27, 2014 hours before the stone was vandalized, doused with green and red paint.

My mistake was understandable, in botany the hawthorn is in the same family as the rose.  The flowers are similar, having five petals.  The “haw” in hawthorn is from the Old English word for hedge, as is this linear standoff the tree lining the way up to the Loughcrew Cairns.

Path on Hag's Mountain, Loughcrew
Reaching highest point of County Meath, Ireland means a steep path, not too long, to glorious views on all points plus Lough Craobh (Lake of the Branches).

I read these votive offerings are made at Beltane, in which case these are fresh from placement May 1.

Hawthorn Tree with Offerings
A hawthorn tree in bloom on May 27, 2016. Growing on the slope of Hag’s Mountain

The following year Pam underwent double total knee replacements, never the less, she was great company for all our adventures on the island.  Even this steep climb.

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Pam and the Offering Hawthorn
The steep path to Loughcrew passes a hawthorn covered with flowers and May offerings.

These views were our reward for reaching the top.

Loughcrew View, North by Northwest
View from Loughcrew Cairns, “Hags Mountain”

The Emerald Isle, we fully understood this name.

Standing Stone, Loughcrew
Loughcrew Megalithic Site, County Meath, Ireland. A solitary standing stone below the trail to the Loughcrew site surrounded by whin bush (gorse) and hawthorn hedge rows. A fieldstone fence, farmhouses, a patchwork quilt of fields completes the view.

The Greek name for the Hawthorn species is formed from two words meaning “strength” and “sharp”, referring to the thorny branches.

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Charlemagne of County Cork
For County Cork we stayed with Marantha House B&B.   Our day of arrival, that evening, I visited Charlemagne and fed him an apple, saved from dinner. We learned from our hosts, Olwen and Douglas Venn, he is a retired show horse they rescued. The following morning I visited Charlemagne again with an apple and my camera. As I walked up, starting from the far end of his field, Charlemagne rewarded me with a series of astounding poses, trotting toward me in fine form. The morning mists, hawthorn in bloom, distant hills came together for this memory.

We marveled at the hawthorn hedges in field after field.  I first notice them from the World Heritage Site, Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne, “Palace of the Boyne”).  Here is one on the Dingle Peninsula, on the other side of the island.

Field of Yellow Iris Flowers, Dingle Peninsula
A roadside field of yellow Iris flowers with flowering Hawthorn and Whin Bush in the windbreaks. Looking northwest toward Killeenagh and Caherpierce on the R561 between Lack West and Inch. Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland.

Another Ireland post of interest, “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home.”

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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Bench Sitting Nature Watch

a monarch in steady progress south

On a sunny autumn morning we set out, my soon to be three grandson Sam and I, to the Lime Hollow Nature Center near Cortland for an adventure.  For the first time I brought a newly purchased iPhone 7 instead of the usual slr camera.  The phone can be carried in a pocket and is simpler to us, to allow me to give full attention to Sam.

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At the start is a large, today sunlit, field with an “art trail.”  There are various anthropomorphic transformations on the trees and a very large sculpture of a blue face.  Here is a tree from another place near here, to give you an idea.

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I do not point out the tree faces to Sam.  His Mom likes to say he enjoys being frightened and, when the blue face came into view, he turned back and said, “home.”  Sam was mildly anxious, so I carried him and tried to turn him up the trail away from the face.  He turned to keep an eye on it while I assured him it could not move.  This and a climb up a 230 foot hill were the only times he didn’t walk the half mile to a open grassy knoll with a bench.

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There we sat for 30 minutes, still and watching, Sam and I talked about our sightings:
1. The sunlit sky of clouds, from a milky blue towards the north to, overhead, a bright robins egg blue.
2. A circling hawk, shadow crossing over us.
3. One blue jay in a maple turning red, loudly calling over and over.
4. A little while after a second jay, landing in a tree turned yellow, drawn in and giving answer.
5. A monarch butterfly’s steady progress south. Such a strong gliding path.
6. A yellow butterfly who did not leave us, fluttering round and round.
7. Four honking Canadian geese flying north east, turned to check out a nearby pond, the returned to the original heading.
8. The sound of wind through the trees, listening to the sound made by each tree.
9. The late season golden rod, now dried gray.
10. A distant chittering red squirrel.
11. Distant peeper frogs in the swamps at the foot of the hill.

Sam did not want to leave the bench, eventually we headed on to the pond the geese checked out.

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I used the “panoramic” feature of the iPhone 7 for this shot. On the hill we were sheltered by trees and bushes from the steady northeast wind. Here, on a bench by the pond, that direction was open to the wind. The sun kept us warm. It was clear why the geese did not land, the water surface was deserted, filled only by rippling wind driven waves.

On our walk back we sat on a bench on the edge of the art trail field, the blue face out of sight. A woman, the only other person encountered, emerged from one of the trails cut from the brush, camera in hand. She was collecting images for a Cortland Historical Society publication and asked to take our photograph. “OK,”, I said and gave the story of living here for 25 years in the house on Fall Creek where my son’s family lives now. She replied, “My daughter is in San Francisco. We don’t know who will have our house when we are gone.”

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Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Wilderness Textures

Abstract Beauty of the Superstition Wilderness of Arizona

These abstracts are some of my photographic output from four days and nights spent alone in the remote eastern Superstition Wilderness.  For the first three days I met not a soul, all these images were captured on a single afternoon spent in the canyon below Reavis Falls, a jumble of landslides, flood debris and boulders.  There is no trail.  The few people who enter the canyon must negotiate around boulders, crossing Reavis Creek many times.

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Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

My backpack kit included a full sized Manfrotto studio tripod with hydrostatic ball head.  The benefits more than outweighed the effort (I was a lot younger in 2008) when the Canon EF 100mm (macro) lens is mounted on a  Kodak dSLR body, allowing me to take crisp shots.  The tripod legs can be adjusted to precise positions for stability.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

I can feel the bright afternoon desert spring sunshine in this photos.  It was after the spring floods, the flow of Reavis Creek and ample still but slow.  Gathering in pools over the rough stones of the creek bed, the water absolutely clear.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

I held the shot over many minutes, capturing ever changing diffraction patterns.

We see in all these photos, not a homogenous blend of stones from a shared geology.  Reavis Creek washes over diverse geologies: volcanic, ancient igneous extrusions, sedimentary and metamorphic are jumbled together.

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Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

This is a series of photographs of smooth, white igneous boulders with shadows of  still leafless sycamore and cottonwood trees.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Graceful shadows

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Strong, demonstrative shadows.

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Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

A leaning cairn, not a trail marker….

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

A 15 foot high jumble of stones piled at the bottom of Reavis Falls, carried over by the floods.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

A metamorphic conglomerate stone….

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Another metamorphic conglomerate.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

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Here’s another of my Arizona wilderness adventures, “Racing the Sun.”

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved