Ocotillo Sunset from Saguaro National Park, a diary Part 3

View from the bajada

 

SaguaroEast20051104-4

This is a retrospective diary of the day I created my print “Octillo Sunset.” You can visit “Octillo Sunset” on my online gallery by clicking on any of my blog photographs.

Here’s the first blog in this series.

Choices of the Evening

Angled to the Sun

The following photograph of saguaros and distant Santa Catalina mountains is a similar view from Part 2 of this diary.  Notice the saguaro on the right is also on the left in the Part 2 photo. What is happening is I turned the lens more toward the west and the sun. At this angle the lens hood offers less protection, especially as the sun is lower in the west and the time of day is passing to the best light from the lowering sun that rakes across the landscape.  All this means I can bring the lens further to the west even though the lens hood is less effective.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Catalinas, Finger Rock, and Saguaros – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

Finger Rock!!

One reason why I am offering it, is high on the Catalina mountains, in the distance, you can just see a formation called “Finger Rock”.
This time of day, the lower angle of the sun brings out the canyon-shadows.  Finger Rock canyon has a high western wall, you can see it as a high long shadow starting toward the very center of the picture and building up and to the right.

The following photograph is the view of Finger Rock from the floor of that canyon taken during a Spring 2011 Tucson visit. I started hiking in pre-dawn hours to catch the dawn rays on the finger.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Catalinas, Finger Rock, and Saguaros – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

The Importance of Knowing Topography

Another aspect of this photograph is the landscape. There is a sloping bajada (alluvial fan) formed by water breaking up the mountain (in this case the Rincons) and washing it into the valley. It is the reason the saguaros appear to march into the distance. The same effect is used in movie theaters to allow the people in the rear to see over the head of people in the front.

This bajada and the higher elevation is the reason I moved from Sabino Canyon to here for a better position to view the sunset. Here is a nearly identical view, same 200 mm lens, in landscape format. The sloping land of the bajada is more visible.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Catalinas, Finger Rock, and Saguaros – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

Changing the Lens/Sun Angle

Looking in the opposite direction, back over Lime Kiln Falls to the Rincon (mountain) foothills, the lens hood offers maximum protection. The sun is at my back and, even though it is low in the sky at the beginning of the Golden Hour, this aspect gives great color depth at the expense of loss of shadows losing some depth of field.  Still, this is an interesting photograph.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset NortheastFromLimeKilnsCopyrightSmall – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Firebush

slow burn

After we came home from the Underground Railroad excursion, with a camera and time on my hands, this Euonymus bush fringed with scarlet leaves caught my eye. Starting with a leaf here and there in September the flame-like color spreads until it takes on the character it is named for “Firebush.”

Springtime it is covered with tiny green flowers, each turns to a small, fleshy fruit encapsulating tiny seeds said to be loved by birds. As ours neglect the fruits, I’ve taken to collecting them to spread along the borders of our back property. Here and there some have sprouted around the bush, this year I marked a few to move this winter when the plant is dormant. I have high hopes for success of this project as the species is known as “invasive” in 21 states.

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We feel the planting is in an excellent place, though it is difficult to photograph for the clutter I was reluctant to resolve at that moment. In one of the following photographs is the gangly Cereus plant atop its water barrel.

All parts of the plant are toxic, causing severe discomfort when eaten. The name “Spindle plant” was given it in England for the corky wings that grow long the length of stems, not so pronounced with our Euonymus species.

Here are macros of the flaming leaves and fleshy berry.

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

References: search Wikipedia for Euonymus alatus

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Underground Railroad

Autumn Wonder

We have often travelled Lower Creek Road as an alternate route to visit my son and his family who live in Freeville, a village named for the activity of the Underground Railroad. After noticing this sign in passing for years, this week we stopped on a glorious autumn morning to capture it. I had packed the Sony Alpha 700 dslr for just such an opportunity.

Just off the road, under a maple tree in full autumn color (yellow), ground covered with fallen leaves (brown) on a fine early October morning, the sign reads, “New York, UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, HOME OF WILLIAM HANFORD AND WIFE ALTHA C. TODD, WHO SHELTERED FUGITIVE SLAVES ON THE WAY TO CANADA AND FREEDOM, STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT 1932”. These dark blue background, bright yellow letter signed are found throughout this region and much appreciated.

An added plus for me is the acceptance of both photographs by Getty Istock. Click this link to view a selection of my Getty photography in and around Ithaca, New York.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Thin Crescent with McGraw Tower, Venus and Star

pre-dawn sky event

Here are two photographs taken about the same time, 6:30 am, October 18, 2017, companions to the photograph shared earlier this week.

The moon rises later each day, so these shots include a larger disk closer to Cornell University.  Both components, the crescent and earth-glow, were dimmer this morning.    In each photograph Jenny McGraw Tower is visible.

Crescent, McjGraw Tower, Regulus, Venus
The star is Regulus, the brightest in the constellation Leo, close below the moon.  I don’t know the star close to Venus.

Here the tower is slightly to the right of the crescent, the arch of Schoellkopf stadium further right.  Among the trees on left, is the baleful red glow of Bradford Hall.

Cresent, McGraw Tower, Regulus
Click for another view of McGraw Tower from my Online gallery.

The tower is outlined by the lights of Uris library, presumably filled with early rising students.

The light of Regulus (“small king”),  below and to the right, is a composite of four stars moving together through space.  The position of Regulus on the path in the sky of the moon, planets and asteroids (called the ecliptic) leads to the occultation of the star by the disks of the moon and, less regularly, the planets and asteroids.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Night Blooming Cereus IX

Mass Bloom

It is possible to puzzled over my choice of an ungainly potted plant acquired over three years ago from the Eddydale farm stand. We popped in for tomatoes, sweet corn and watermelons after a hike along nearby Treman Park, I spotted the plant on display in the front. The cashier suggested we visit the greenhouse to view the parent, currently in bloom. Memory of the those blossoms were short lived as we lived with this collection of malformed green lobes sprouting long stalks.

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The plant occupied a pool-side water barrel summers, a bedroom corner winters. This year, 2021, flower buds formed late July, each on a lengthening stalk, and have continued into October. “Dutchman’s pipe cactus” is a popular name, from the appearance of the flower on the end of a stalk turned up with a terminal curve.

On a September morning we were expecting guests I walked out to find four blooms fulling open. Grabbing an available camera (Sony Alpha 700 with a DT 18 – 200 mm F3.5 – 6.3 lens) I captured these images of the event.

Enjoy!!

Click me for another flower post, “Another Woody Peony.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Thin Crescent Bowl filled with Earthglow

pre-dawn sky event

A thin crescent bowl filled with earthglow floating above the dawn attended by Venus, Mars, Virgo.

Thin Crescent with Planets, Stars, Dawn

This was the view from Ithaca, New York at the start of dawn this morning of Tuesday, October 17, 2017.  Mars is next to the moon, the stars of the constellation Virgo scattered around, Venus is the bright object below.  We had a bright, clear sky not unusual for September and October.

Want more? Click the link for my Online Gallery

In the city, an arch of Schoellkopf Stadium on the Cornell University campus.  Cornell is on east hill.  We live on west hill, across the valley.  It is quiet on west hill, away from the students.

Earlier this week the crescent was in the constellation Leo where the bright limb occulted the bright star Regulus, to reappeared from behind the dark limb, a brilliant spectacle that happened after dawn for New York.  It was cloudy, as usual, on October 14.

When I woke, the moon was shining through the trees, still full of just turning leaves. The crescent turned, cup like, above the horizon, to cradle the dark orb glowing from the reflected light of our earth. I did not recognize Mars, the disk was less red than usual. Research revealed the moon had two planets in seeming attendance. I also learned that, when the horns point right the moon is waning, moving toward a new, or un-illuminated, moon. When the phase moved from new it is also a crescent with horns pointing left.

This morning was a fortunate gift, I had never contemplated the moon in quite this form before.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Keuka Lake Fall Winter

October 5, 2014 found Pam and I at Keuka Lake after my son completed the Wine Glass Marathon.  Here we are at the finish line in Corning, home of the Corning Glass Factory.  You may know it from your set of Correlle dinnerware.

Marathoner and his proud father

Afterwards, Pam and I made it up to the Dr. Frank Winery for a tasting followed by dinner at a local restaurant.  Here is a photograph from the same viewpoint, using the “zoom” setting of my Sony DSLR A700.  The view is more interesting than the winter shot of “Keuka Lake Winter I”  from the autumn clouds and the burst of late day sun on the eastern lake shore.

This is the juncture of the “Y” shaped lake where the two arms joint the long foot.  The pointed high headland is the point where the two arms meet.  We are looking north here.  The western arm, on the right, is unique in that the water is flowing down into the juncture.  In Keuka Lake the water flows in two directions.  The flow of lake foot and eastern arm is in the opposite direction, Keuka Lake empties at the top of the eastern arm, eventually reaching Lake Ontario.  

North View from Overlook using “Zoom” lens

Here is the eastern view, from the overlook, looking over a vineyard ready for harvest, covered with fruit and leaves.  Every once in awhile there is a loud “bang” from a noisemaker used to discourage birds from feasting on grapes.  The buildings along the shore are summer cottages, Keuka is lined with them.

East View on an autumn afternoon

The same view, from our December 2018 visit.  The vines are bare, the fallen leaves cleared, the vine roots covered under banked earth to protect them from the cold.

Pam and I, enjoying wine after the 2014 Wine Glass Marathon.  Cheers!!

Click this link for my Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Superstition Galleries

A peaceful wilderness evening

….continued from the chapter “Reavis Ranch Autumn Sweep”

These are three galleries of photographs from my Superstition Wilderness postings. You can click on any gallery and page through the photographs.

The following year my sister Diane and I did two expeditions into the Superstitions, March and November 2006.

“A This video is from the November backpack, taken from the hill above the Ranch Ruin (Click me for “A Ride to Reavis Ranch”) you will experience the peace of this wilderness valley.

Click me to visit Michael Stephen Wills Online Arizona Gallery.
Click me for the first post of this series.
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills