experience a glacier of Patagonia

Two person ship launch against glacier base.
Summer was the season for our visit to the edge of eternal, for now, Patagonian ice fields.  Remnants from the last ice age, larger than some (small) countries.  The site is surprisingly noisy with sharp, explosive, ice crackles.
More amazing even than the sounds, the dark shading on the ice is volcanic dust from recent eruptions of many cones. 

Click this link for my series of posts about Chilean fjords and glaciers we visited February 2016.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Bells for Christmas

What do “threes” mean to you?

These icicles were formed along Fall Creek during the coldest months of February in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The transient nature of these forms is suggested by the thinness of the pedicle joining each bell to the ice lobe of the ledge. Note the golden crystals in the ice lobe.

This photograph is a visualization of the symbolic power of the numeral three, reflected on itself.  Question: what do “threes” mean to you?

Captured with the Sony DSLR-A700, DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 lens, hoya circular polarizing filter, mounted on the Manfrotto tripod with ball head.

Click this link for my “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” photography gallery.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Fall Creek Winter

The magic of ice, water, light

This January 2005 morning dawned cold, the risen sun low to the south of a forested esker ridge, as I suited up for this long planned for photograph.  A Sony DSC-F828, a UV filter and tripod were all I needed to capture this.  That camera model has a integrated flex lens.  I needed to stabilize the lens to achieve this image clarity, depth and sharpness.

The shimmering gloss was achieved by waiting until the sun was above the ridge, shining light shafts through the trees, lighting the water obliquely.

As late as January the stream carries enough heat to create a fog or mist as the air chills after sunset.  This causes twigs to frost up to create those white stick figures on the far bank.  Snowfall from the previous day clings to trees.

Fall Creek freezes from the bottom up.  First the water smoothed boulders accumulate a glaucous ice coat.  Slowly moving water freezes from the edges, in stages, the middle stage an ornate filagree.  The stream narrows downstream where the surface ice first joins.  As the year progresses through February the creek gradually recedes under the ice, replaced by an ice road.

What is an esker ridge?  As the last glaciers melted 10,000+ years ago, the channels carrying meltwater and sediment, under the glaciers, deposited these winding ridged hills.  One of the outcomes was the channel of Fall Creek was altered to flow through the field of eskers among which, in the 19th century, a dam and water mill were created.  It made barrels and furniture.  My former home, in this photograph, was converted from the workshop of that mill.

Click this link to learn MORE about my Award-Winning photograph and misadventures of that day. 

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Red Sun over Cornell University


On this spring equinox morning a huge sun, filtered by morning clouds, hangs over East Hill and Cornell University. Taken from our home on West Hill, looking across the valley and Ithaca, New York.

The temperature is a balmy 18 degrees F.

Also…Happy Anniversary to my dear wife, Pam.  XOXOXO

Click the pic to visit my online gallery

Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!

Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!

Can you pick out these Cornell landmarks?
— Jenny McGraw Tower
— Lib Slope still covered in snow from last week’s storm.
— the looming fortress shape of Bradford Hall.

Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!

A Far Country X: Hanging Valley

amazing resolution with the Canon 24 mm lens

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The resolution of the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM makes this lens a favorite of mine for landscape work.  Let me show you why.

In the previous post of this series you learned about a wonderfully shaped tree, a branch really, of Tempanos fjord.

The valley today’s posting lies behind the tree.  It is a broad valley shaped by ancient glaciers.

Here is the Google Earth view, from an elevation of 9,400 feet, with the ship position marked.  Northwest is a pushpin titled, “Hanging Valley and Waterfall.”

A Far Country X– CLICK ME!!!!

The waterfall marking the hanging valley is visible in the following photograph.   All photographs in this posting are from a Canon EOS-1Ds MarkIII, 24 mm lens (see above for complete name), on a Manfrotto travel tripod.  ISO 500, f5.6 or f6.3.

With a point of view about 50 feet above the water the valley bottom is hidden behind an 800 foot hill and the water fall is just above the hill.  See it?  …..I didn’t think so.

There is the island with the tree, to the left.  The following image is the same photograph, with the central section enlarged.

Fjord Island and Broad Valley– CLICK ME!!!!

The enlargement brings out the play of light, the low clouds, deep in the valley.  To provide scale, know those are full sized pines on the hillside, foreground.  The waterfall is just about visible.  I will enlarge the image one more time.

Fjord Island and Broad Valley– CLICK ME!!!!

There it is!!  I stepped up contrast, as well.

Fjord Island and Broad Valley– CLICK ME!!!!

Here is another version of the original view.  That patch of sky had opened up seconds after the first shot and, as a result, the 3,000 door mountain and waterfalls, on right, are better lit.  Notice the bare rock face on the mountain slope, marking a landslide.

Click this image for a high resolution version, in your browser.

Fjord Island and Broad Valley– CLICK ME!!!!

A different landslide Scar is featured in two previous blogs,

A Far Country V: Landslides!!

A Far Country VI: View of Tempanos Fjord

The Regatta’s course brought us closer for the two following shots.

The lovely sky is still visible…..

Mountain and Waterfalls

….one minute later the clouds gather and relative darkness returns.

Fjord and Valley

The contents of this blog are Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen WillsThe lovely sky is still visible…..The lovely sky is still visible…..

A Far Country IX: Bonsai Shape

Compelling Plant Shapes

Visit the previous entry of this series: A Far Country VII: View of Tempanos Fjord

(Click any photograph to visit my online gallery)

Here is a Google Earth view of Tempanos Fjord from 9,400 feet, looking north, northwest over a point on the fjord 6.5 miles from Iceberg Glacier, at 4 pm local time on February 17, 2016.  This view is interesting for the insignificant island, .75 mile long, and broad mountain valley to the north fringed with waterfalls.

Marked is the location of a tree, “bonsai”, a feature of the fjord cliffs, “Landslide Scar” and a neighboring Fjord, “Farquhar Fjord.”

This blog features the tree.

The Landslide Scar is featured in two previous blogs,

A Far Country V: Landslides!!

A Far Country VI: View of Tempanos Fjord

You may view a headland forming the southern wall of Farquhar Fjord in my blog

Navigating the Messier Channel

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

The Farquhar Fjord entrance opens onto the entrance of Tempanos Fjord and is the last photograph.

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

A photograph from our port side stateroom deck includes both the island and broad valley.  The misshapen tree, the “bonsai”, is on an islet to the right and in front of the island.  It is the small stump backlit by water reflection.  The stump is more interesting than can be seen in this image from a handheld camera, at 24 mm.  I used the variable lens for a closer look.

24 mm bonsai view– CLICK ME!!!!

From this 133 mm, f8.0, 1/250 sec and ISO 800, still handheld, interesting details come into view.  The islet is a rock on which clings a bed of moss.  Several ferns, a sapling (on the far side) and a stump, on the right, are surviving.  The stump presumably supported a small tree of which a “bonsai-like” twig remains.

Bonsai are fascinating, created through the art and skill of emulating pleasing natural forms.  Here the moss encrusted twists and miniature tree crown were formed from a difficult environment.  Bonsai of Japan originated from an ancient Chinese tradition of penjing (“tray plant”).  The inspiration for this are, at origin and now, must be, in part, from admiration of the tenacity and beauty of these plants.

133 mm bonsai view– CLICK ME!!!!

At the 200 mm maximum my Sony Alpha 770 (1/400, f9, ISO 800) image is a little fuzzy, still with great details.

From my interest in bonsai I am on the lookout for shapes such as this. Travelling the challenging environment of the Chilean Fjords I found examples here and there.

200 mm bonsai view – CLICK ME!!!!


The contents of this blog are Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills

A Far Country VII: View of Tempanos Fjord

A mountain and waterfall ringed bowl.

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4:00 pm local time the Oceania was approximately 5 miles from the Iceberg Glacier, moving forward at a slow rate of speed, 4.6 knots.  Here are more views of the mountain-ringed bowl behind a 1,000 foot cliff, the formation featured in my blog A Far Country IV: Tempanos Fjord.

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

Both photographs are handheld using my Sony Alpha700, ISO 800, variable lens set to 45mm, 1/250 f13.  At the same time I shot from a tripod mounted Cannon, 24 mm wide angle fixed focus lens.

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

The following capture from Google Earth is the view from 12,200 feet.  Regatta’s position is the “5 miles from Iceberg Glacier” pushpin.  The formation is almost due north.  We were surprised to see a ranger station in this uninhabited area, not yet in view.  The white line, lower right, is the border between the Aisen (north) and Magellanic (south) Chilean regions.

Tempanos Fjord View West, Northwest– CLICK ME!!!!

The contents of this blog are Copyright 2016 Michael Stephen Wills