Great moments from our Grandson Kayvon’s first game of the 2023 season. First time at bat he hit a solid grounder along the first base line, out at first. The second a pop fly to infield, safe at first. Safe at second base on the next hit, turnover shortly after. Great feelings were had throughout, families cheering both teams, the players were so happy to be there. After making a play on first base, a girl did a dance.
The cover photo is from a 2021 game when Kayvon was six, during COVID precautions.
Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Whoosh….whoosh. Taking out the garbage Monday evening, July 15th, 2019 I heard the unmistakable sound of a liquid propane burner. As the propane is gasified and ignited, the flame and exhaust are directed into the balloon, all under control of the human operator. What a sound!!
These past years, hot air balloons started launching from West Hill and, when the breeze (balloons never launch in winds, as far as I know) is right the balloon and gondola full of passengers drift in the direction of our home. More than one time, directly overhead, I estimate 200 feet away. We could clearly see and converse with the passengers. What fun.
Each previous viewing I regretted not filming the balloon as the vision floated away. Last Monday, I dropped everything (not literally, I did leave the garbage in the bin), mounted the Canon lens EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM on a EOS 1Ds Mark III body, returning to the north side of our property as the balloon emerged from the trees, only the envelope visible.
We have enjoyed this balloon before, the envelope pattern evokes a classic Navajo Rug, the colors really pop against the blue sky.
Why the Whooooosh?
Tourists and local residents pay $230 per person for the experience of floating silently over Finger Lakes landscape with a launch from Trumansburg, ending up over Ithaca, in its valley surrounded by hills. Cayuga Lake is visible the entire flight, to the east, then northeast as the path reaches Ithaca. As they approached the balloon elevation was not so high relative to our home. You can see this clearly in the first photograph. With the zoom on 300 mm I was almost able to look into the basket, each of the four riders (the operation, looking at a cell phone, and three passengers) was recognizable.
There are three propane burners, two in front and the edge of a third just visible between the front pair.
Ethereal silence and reveres are broken when the burner lights up. Here it appears only one burner is running, sending the craft high above us.
Seven of the forty images are shared here. The duration was three minutes. With a goal of capturing the action, I had the camera on burst mode, with the shutter pressed the exposures run serially, in close succession.
I perfected these seven photographs to represent the perfection of this colorful event as it passed from the northwest, disappearing in the tree line to the southeast.
I am listening for the next event, camera and lens ready.
Post script….it was my usual early morning blogging time when I heard the familiar Whooooosshh, whoooosssshhh, grabbed my IPhone for a video and captured the following. You will hear the gondola occupants chatting. The burner was turned on at 1:03 when the balloon was fairly distant. The Whoooosssshhhh is low, but audible.
Today, they were headed North/Northwest in the opposite direction from Monday and are backlit. Enjoy!!
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
One day before the 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse a full moon rose 4:25 pm above the Atlantic Ocean off Cocoa Beach, the “Space Coast” of Florida. We saw a power kite to the south, with the southerly winds there was time before he was on us. I took the following photographs with what was at hand, an iPhone 8.
At 50 minutes post moonrise, I included the orb in this frame as the rider tacked, rising a water crest.
A flick of the fingers to zoom in, the moon and rider are together as he rides toward shore.
This time of, Saturdays, the cruise ships depart Cape Canaveral Port. The kite is above the distant ship. It is amazing the kite allows sailing into the wind, his heading is southwest. The shore limits his progress, forcing a tack towards a southeast heading.
Or not, it seems he plans to tack to the northeast, continuing progress north up the coast. I have to wonder how he will return to the starting point?
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills
For a change of scene we visited Cape Canaveral, the beach at Cherie Down Park were an informal gathering of Kite Surfers was underway. Here is a series of action shots, one second elapsed from first to last.
Conditions were excellent: good northerly wind, the sun overcast and, it being afternoon, in the west. Surfers stayed relatively close to shore, near their starting point. I had packed the “heavy gun” camera with a tripod.
Panning the scene (swiveling on the tripod), the camera in rapid exposure mode, I pressed the shutter release and held it down.
The surfer was captured mid-jump to landing.
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills
In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 10, 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida Keys, I cannot sleep, worried about family members north of Miami and in Daytona Beach. To pass the time, I returned to the golden hours of March 4, 2017 evening. On vacation, Pam and I walked Cocoa Beach starting from Lori Wilson Park, headed north.
The light was perfect when I decided to switch to Raw-Jpeg mode, feeling the extra space was worth it. I don’t know why I don’t shoot Raw 100% of the time, as always, in retrospect, I regret using jpeg only. The camera was the Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens purchased 2008 after an expedition to the Superstition Wilderness.
After capturing a wedding photo shoot and surfers there was this set of two Kite Skaters going at least 20 miles an hour. The Sony Alpha was quick enough to capture some of the action in raw mode, I am not satisfied with the sharpness of the images as the lens was not fast enough.
We had never watched kite skaters before and were prepared to understand the vision from watching distant kite surfers out beyond the breakers. North winds are the best for any type of kiting on Cocoa Beach and, that day, the wind was northeast. These riders zipped by in less than a minute. The sport is low key, it does not exist on Wikipedia. Image that. These two are having a fantastic time and stayed upright, going on and on and on down the miles long beach.
1990 KiteSkate pioneers on the USA east coast experimented with four-line controllable parafoil kites powering in-line skates for exciting rides on asphalt surfaces.
The name “Wheels of Doom” suggest the danger of going this fast over a hard, rough surface.
These Cocoa Beach riders are outfitted for speed and safety: pads, helmets.
Barefeet?? Unprotected skin? They must know how to dress, though maybe not. He has never fallen?
The beach within the tide line is solid, the pebbles, broken shells and such unforgiving as asphalt.
A few days prior the Gaeltacht held the annual Irish football championship the weekend of May 21 through June 1 in Moycullen, County Galway. It was the Three Aran Islands (Oileaín Árann) team who won the 2014 championship. Sunday, June 1, the weekend of their victory, the cup was presented to Inis Mór, the largest Aran island and the one furthest into Galway Bay.
The team on Monday, June 2, the day of our trip, was on Inis Meáin, in celebration mode. Some of them were waiting for the ferry when we pulled into the Inis Meáin, the second largest Aran island between the other two, dock.
The first of the previous three photographs is of the waiting team members who boarded and we left for Inisheer Island, the smallest of the three and the closest to Galway City. The Queen of Aran was well out of the harbor when I imagine the radio in the pilot house said, “Come back, there are more team members on the dock.” So we turned around, docked and several more came on board.
In way once again, well away from the harbor, the ferry turned around for a second time for a third landing at the Inis Meáin dock. With the full compliment of champions on board the ferry turned out of the harbor a third and final time for the last leg of with Silver Cup’s tour of the islands.
The population of Inisheer is about 250 souls. It seemed all were waiting to greet the team.
Standing and smiling. Here is a flock of fans, from Galway apparently, very pleased at the sight.
The team was on the upper ferry deck. I turned around and was lucky enough to capture the team captain (Not sure, but who else would it be?) holding the silver cup for all to admire. Theirs for a year.
In 2003 I was 50 years old, my son Sean graduated college and started his first job and we made time for a tour of Arizona together in November. The timing was perfect for me to take in the University of Arizona (U of A) Homecoming, my first since graduating 1975.
One absolutely positive memory from my time at the U of A was trying out for freshman cheer squad when I first arrived in Tucson, somehow being chosen and then serving for the fall and spring terms. So, when I received an invitation of the cheer alumni events I accepted and planned to be there in Tucson for November 7 and 8.
November 7 there was a reception for cheer alumni and current squad members. Everyone was welcoming and friendly, as you would expect, and I learned a bit about the younger members, how many were on academic scholarships.
The squad advisor, Phoebe Chalk, and I chatted briefly. She responded, “We have photographers,” and I floated the idea of my taking photographs during the parade so I let that drop with the intention of doing it, anyway.
I came prepared the next day with a Sony Cybershot F828. It was “Sony’s flagship prosumer digital camera” at the time. It worked well that day, the variable lens was especially helpful.
At the staging site I encountered a problem. The cheer squad headed the parade, behind the University President with the cheer alumni well behind. My solution was to approach Peter Linkins, the outgoing University President, with a request to photograph the cheer squad.
He said, “OK”, made a phone call and I walked up to the squad. They remembered me from the reception and I was on my way, “embedded” for the parade.
I walked alongside and on the alert. As we crossed passed the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium and into the intersection with Cherry Avenue the squad broke formation for a stunt. Three men formed the “base”, they were J. Justin VandenBerg, Ricardo Abud (captain) and Robert Scoby, around a “flyer”, Taylor Hendrickson, and launched her into the air, above the pavement.
My sense of amazement, awe and concern is reflected in the reactions of the team members. Taylor was thrown more than 15 feet high for a complete flip to land in the arms of the three base members. I call this image, “Mind.”
They did it again and I was more prepared to capture the instant of launch. “Aerialists,” is the title of this image. The next flyer to launch was Kristen Ortega, here standing on the shoulders of her partner.
Kristen was launched in front of the review stand. “Grace,” is the image title. The three base members are the same.
Awhile after encountering the hydrofoil the same north wind powered a large, eight foot wingspan kite high overhead. Cheri Down Park, my meeting point for lunch with Pam, was in sight as I took a detour to talk with the kite flier.
Seated in a comfortable beach chair, he turned a one foot diameter reel pulling the kite in. Kite flying was a relaxation for this permanent resident. As the kite descended overhead I caught this short video. In retrospect the beauty is ominous, a metaphor for the approaching novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
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