Zion Narrows III


The pronounced cross-bedding (diagonal layering) of this Navajo Sandstone wall exposed by Virgin river erosion is the effect of wind drifting sands of the largest known sand desert formed in the Jurassic era lasting for 56 million years (185 million years ago). This photograph contrasts the ever new Virgin River with this ancient rock, deepening shadows suggest the depth of time.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Charles Fort Walls

Dún Chathail

A “dun” is a larger fortification, few and far between on the island of Ireland. We saw one on the Arran Islands, from the Iron Age, Dun Angus, Charles Fort, or Dún Chathail in Irish, is from historical ages.

A cannot tell from my slide show, but the walls are star shaped with many salients, giving more positions to defend the walls.


“Charles Fort” – wikipedia

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Zion Narrows II

more Narrows information and perfecting the photograph

My research for Zion Narrows I included a useful map. Perusing the the National Park Service web site I could find nothing for the Narrows. This week, while perfecting the three file merge, I kicked around in “google” and found this map hidden away in a section devoted to dedicated canyoneers planning multiple day backpacks through the entire canyon. These trips are from the “top down” and, I suppose, they do not want to expose the information to day trippers.

Anyway, I downloaded the map and present it here. You can either click on the hyperlink or click “download” to view the map. The file is a 2.5 MB pdf, if you want to download it. The trail accessible from the park proper starts from the bottom. Pam and I made it to just beyond where Ordway canyon joins, about 2 hours from the start. Note there are NO places to escape a flash flood beyond this point and, below, we learned from observation there are few places and many of these were for hikers more, lets say, nimble than Pam and myself.

The following is the result of several hours work merging the three files of Zion Narrows I. Click on the image to open a larger version in a new tab.

This is a comparison of the before and after photographs. Enjoy!!

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Charles Fort People II

flower girls

Arriving at Charles Fort, the “new” fort compared to the “old” James Fort across the cove, late in the day after our walking tour of Kinsale and lunch, the gate to the interior was closed. Pam and I made do with exploring the outer battlements where the citizens of Kinsale were enjoying themselves.

The previous post featured a young fellow with a hurley and sliotar. You can see him behind a separate party of young flower girls. The fort is a popular wedding venue.

Click on any photo for a larger version.

A shortcoming of Charles Fort was the high ground you can see behind the figures. The defenses are strong on the seaward side and open to attack from the land.

Two friends conversing.

Old and New


The same photographs, as a slideshow. Including previous post photograph.


“Hurling and Charles Fort” – wikipedia

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills


Hosta Blooms on a cloudy, still summer dawn

On July 17, 2021 Ithaca was socked in with heavy clouds obscuring sunrise, a perfect moment to capture Pam’s hostas flowering with the upper stalks still budding. I setup the Manfrotto tripod, the Canon dslr mounted with an EF 50 mm 1:1.2 L at ISO 800 and these are the results.

Native to northeastern Asia, In 1812 the genera Hosta was named for the European botanist Nicholas Thomas Host. Also called plantain lily for the habit of the herbaceous stalks to grow radially from a center.

This series moves from the lens diaphragm starting at the smallest opening, greatest depth of field and longest exposure, to the widest, most shallow depth of field and shortest exposure. The air was very still this morning, allowing me to experiment.

Here is my favorite version from the above experiment. Do you have a favorite? Named it in comment and please explain your choice.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows I

Virgin River at work

Our first day was spent hiking up to the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, called “Wall Street,” where the gorge walls are 1,000 feet high. There, the river is 20 feet across in places and not much wider anywhere. There is NO high ground to escape flash floods, only the high, unforgiving canyon walls.

As we were planning to venture beyond the tame sidewalk of “The Riverside Walk”, our first stop was to an outdoor supply store in Springdale to rent canyoneering shoes, to wade the river comfortably and safely, a sturdy stick to improve stability and free advice on current conditions for the potential of flash floods. You can see the stick in this portrait, mid-narrows. This was July, with a danger of torrential downpours, and we were nervous about this; however, proceeded anyway.

Several miles in, I set up the Manfrotto 468Mg studio tripod with the Kodak DSC pro SLR-c (the “c” specifies compatibility with Canon lenses) and the Canon 50 mm f/1.4 USM lens. Here we look downstream, the way we came. I waited for a clear shot w/o fellow hikers coming up from behind. This was before investing in a wide-angle lens. My plan was to stitch the three shot together.

Click on each photograph for a larger view, in new tab.

The work remaining on the rough draft are to match the edges as close as possible, smooth out the differences until the joins are indiscernible.

Here are the same photographs as a slide show. I enjoy how the long exposure blurred water lead the viewer into the gorge walls.

Captured with a Kodak DCS Pro SLE/c dslr and a Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 lens stabilized with the Manfrotto Studio Tripod model 475 and the 468 Hydrostatic ball head.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Charles Fort People I

echoes across time

After exploring Kinsale town and lunch Pam and I drove two miles, along the east side of the cove, to the ruins of Charles Fort, one of a pair of fortifications protecting Kinsale from seaward attack. The “New Fort,” Charles, faces the “Old Fort”, James, across the cove.

Built in the 17th century on the site of an older fortification, Ringcurran Castle, it is named for Charles II, the English monarch of the time. The fort was burned during by retreating anti-treaty forces in 1922 during the Irish Civil war. It lay derelict until today’s 1971 until now restoration.

Upon our arrival this young man was handling a hurley and sliotar beneath the fort wall, an incarnation of  Cúchulainn playing hurling at Emain Macha. From Wikipedia, “Hurling is older than the recorded history of Ireland. It is thought to predate Christianity, having come to Ireland with the Celts. The earliest written references to the sport in Brehon law date from the fifth century. Seamus King’s book A History of Hurling references oral history going back as far as 1200 BCE of the game being played in Tara, County Meath. The tale of the Táin Bó Cuailgne (drawing on earlier legends) describes the hero Cúchulainn playing hurling at Emain Macha.”


“Hurling and Charles Foryt” – wikipedia

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Summer Walk

Experience a hike around Taughannock Gorge on a summer morning with thunderstorms threatening

Constant winds from thunderstorm updrafts, I brought along an umbrella just in case.

Click photograph for slide show. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Click the “Watch on YouTube” for a larger format view and more information about each video.

Taughannock Falls Gorge on a humid summer morning
Hemlock Forest on South Rim Trail
Taughannock Falls Gorge from South Rim Trail
Taughannock Falls from South Rim trail
View of Taughannock Falls Gorge from the North Rim trail on a humid summer (July) morning. Turkey Vultures circle overhead…they are there most summer days.
View of the first waterfall of Taughannock Gorge from the railroad bridge linking the North and South Rim trails on a humid summer (July) morning. This large waterfall empties to the gorge above the 210+ foot Taughannock Falls.
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Black Skimmers Feeding

An early morning revelation

I published six fine art prints from this photo session. Click this link for any photograph to visit my new Florida Gallery.

One early morning, just after dawn, Cocoa Beach, Florida, I had a revelation.  My wife and I walk the beach four or more miles each day we are lucky enough to be in Florida for the winter.  Yes, we are “snow birds” who flee the snows of New York for a few weeks, now and then.
Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

We love to catch the sunrise together, have breakfast, pull together a lunch for a long walk.  We catch the passing beach scenery, find a place to enjoy our meal, and return late afternoon.

The Black Skimmer (Scientific Name: Rynchops niger) literally stands out from the gulls.  The individuals gather together in a large group.  If there is a wind, most group members face into it.  They are aloof and dignified, unlike the gulls who grift for food, obnoxious and bothersome if you make the mistake of throwing a gull a morsel.

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

Black Skimmers are just as large a gulls.  Slender, tern-like, black and white bodies.  Recognize a Black Skimmer from the colorful red of the base of the bill.  If you view my Fine Art versions, notice the lower mandible is much longer.

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

My early morning revelation was how the Black Skimmer feeds, flying just above the surf, the lower mandible extended to fish by feel.  Unless you beach walk early mornings, you will be most familiar with the habit of grouping together, facing into the wind. I captured this individual, a member of a larger group, just after sunrise, on Cocoa Beach. It was just me and the Skimmers.

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

Their feeding is successful enough to allow them to longue on the beach most of the day.  I have only seen them feed early mornings.  Here is another part of their feeding behavior.  They feed as a group in long sweeping lengths.  At the end, they turn as a group and head the other way.  Here are three Black Skimmers in a turn.

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

One morning, after our sunrise view, I pulled together my photography kit for this successful photo shoot.  Enjoy!!

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Weedy Orchid IV

Presenting a macro of a Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) growing in our rose garden, in full bloom, a profusion of orchid flowers.

Helleborine, the scientific name species designation, means like a Hellebore. It must refer calyx, the outer leaves forming the flower bud, these open to reveal the flower. In this macro, the unopened buds are upper right. Bottom center the calyx, fully open, with the flower ready to accept pollination, fertilization. After opening, the calyx seems to be part of the flower, a characteristic of hellebore (see Helleborus argutifolius).

The flowers attract a variety of Hymenoptera. I observed wasps, yellow-jackets visiting. Today, each flower is a ripening fruit. I need to photograph is stage.

Click photograph for a larger view and use Ctrl-x to zoom in closer.

Photograph is from a 100mm “macro” lens, f6.3.

Thank You for visiting.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved