Bumblebees and Begonia Flowers

early morning light

Once a year when Pam’s gardens are at a summer peak, I venture out to capture her work in early morning light. For this second image of the begonia, I used the same handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR but with the Canon lens EF 70-300 f 4-5.6L ISM variable lens.

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Bumblebees numbers will tell you if local mouse populations are under control. Mice will invade bumblebee burrows to eat the eggs and young. If the bees are plentiful, it means more are escaping mouse predation and only because mouse numbers are low.

This morning, bees of all kinds filled the begonia flowers. Bumblebees were amusing to watch enthusiastically roll around the many stamen of the male flowers, gathering as much pollen as possible.

The lens focal length is set to 84 mm to capture the entire plant, on reviewing the proofs I decided to crop the image down to emphasize the bee.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Balloon over Home

Waiting for the Whooooosh

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

Kite Surfing Action Series

three shots in one second

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.

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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.

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Panning the scene (swiveling on the tripod), the camera in rapid exposure mode, I pressed the shutter release and held it down.

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The surfer was captured mid-jump to landing.


Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Mercury 7 Pre-Launch Facilities

Hosting Astronaut ZZZZZZZ’s and much more

Here is the sixth in a series of photographs centered on the early history of space flight on Cape Canaveral mostly taken during a tour organized by the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. “Google” the foundation for details of future tours. Here we explore pre-launch support for the Mercury program, including the first USA Orbital Launch of John Glenn from Launch Complexe 14 (LC 14).

Overview

Leaving LC 1 – 4 (see Post WWII Launch Complexes”), our bus turned onto Central Control Road passing construction on Launch Complex 36 (LC36). In 2015 Blue Origin (Amazon money) leased LC36 where it planned to launch the “New Glenn” vehicle after 2020. I snapped the churned-up sand and construction equipment, not interesting at all IMHO.

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Corner of Central Control and ICBM Roads. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The “New Glenn” was named in homage to John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. We turned right onto to ICBM Road, headed generally north, following a string of launch complexes along the Altantic shore toward Launch Complex 14 (LC14). A dissapointment was not stopping to walk the Mercury 7 Memorial at the corner of ICBM Road and LC14. Our bus stopped briefly enough for the following snap. It is a memorial because John Glenn, the surviving member of Mercury 7, passed away December 8, 2016 at the age of 95.

Mercury 7 Memorial, just off ICBM Road

I will cover at length the Mercury-Atlas vehicle that powered John Glenn into orbit February 20, 1962. The tie-in between ICBM road and this series of launch complexes is the early space missions were on re-purposed Intercontinental Ballistic Missles (thus, ICBM). “Atlas” is the name of the ICBM used for Colonel Glenn’s 1962 flight. Click on the following image to find labled pushpins for the corner of Central Control and ICBM Roads (upper right), the road to LC14 and Mercury 7 Memorial.

You will also find a pushpin for the Skid Strip, bottom just to right of center. The earliest cruise missle tests (see “Cruise Missles” and Post WWII Launch Complexes” ) included navigation to a landing on non-wheeled “skids.” The strip was maintained in support of the manned and later missions when cargo planes delivered the early space capsules, landing, not skidding hopefully, for transfer to a Pre-Launch facility, Hangar S.

Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 14 and Pre-Launch Support: Hangar S and the Skid Strip

Hangar S is seen below as we passed later in the tour. Built 1957 by the military the 61,300 square feet were acquired by NASA in 1959. The early space capsules were tested here in an vacume chamber to ensure the vehicle supported an breathable atmosphere for the occupants.

The first American space voyager was Ham, a chimpanzee. Ham lived in a residential area on the second floor of Hangar S. For a period of time the Mercury 7 shared the spartan second floor quarters. “The Right Stuff” (a 1984 film from a Tom Wolfe book) included scenes from this episode of the program.

Constructed in 1957, Hangar S served for pre-flight processing from Mercury through the final flight of the Space Shuttle. This is where the Mercury 7 astronauts were first quartered on the second floor and later, is where they stayed prior to flight. The Lunar Orbiter was prepared here.

Comfortable Quarters

In short order arrangements were made for more comfortable quarters, just off the ocean in Cocoa Beach. It was a new hotel given over entirely to the Mercury 7. Pam and I stayed there in 2018 while taking this tour, it is the La Quinta across from the International Palms. We recommend it a clean, comfortable, reasonably price and a great story to share afterwards. The Atlantic Ocean is a five minute walk.

La Quinta Inn was the home of the Mercury 7 Astronauts, 1275 N Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931

I learned from the tour how the hotel was donated to the Mercury 7 by a private individual. They owned the hotel. Here is a very informative sign just off the La Quinta lobby with their names. Each first mission, as named by the astronaut, is listed.

La Quinta Inn was the home of the Mercury 7 Astronauts, 1275 N Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931
View of the hotel built for and first owned by the Marcury 7 astronauts. They lived here in the early days of the USA space program.

Blastoff!!

Next post will feature images of LC14 from 2018.

Launch of Friendship 7, the first American manned orbital space flight. Astronaut John Glenn aboard, the Mercury-Atlas rocket is launched from Pad 14. Public Domain Photograph by NASA.

ClickMe for the next post in this series, “Launch Complex 14 Today.”

ClickMe for the first post in this series, “Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.”

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words John Glenn, Launch Complex 14, Mercury-Atlas, Launch Complex 36. Plus a “google” on “Hangar S History” that found an excellent page hosted on the NASA site. Cover photo of Friendship 7 Launch my be found on Flickr in “NASA on the Commons” photostream.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Dive!!

Less than 3 seconds elapse from the Osprey initiating dive to emergence from the surf and flight, fish in talons.

A sequence of high speed shots of what the Osprey does best. For this, the sixth and final post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), we follow the bird in a dramatic plummet into the surf until it rises, catch in claws.

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“All Elements In Place”

Late morning of January 20, 2019 I headed out with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III mounted with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L USM lens for handheld shots. Many elements aligned for these shots: weather, equipment, placement among them. The angle of the sun at 11:21 am was not optimal, but the cloud cover made up for it.

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The Day’s Setting

Commitment

The dive impact happens in less than 2 seconds.

My observation is the reason the wings are extended is to maintain control of the dive…..
…..I have seen these dives terminate inches from the water with a u-shaped swoop.
Talons are extended in the final seconds.

The Strike

Less than one second from point of impact until emgergence and flight.

Instant of impace with wings still extended.
Gone

Arise

What strength, to lift off from the water.
Catch in talons
Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Osprey Pictorial

Humans are hard coded to relish scenes of water and land.

Now and then a photograph comes along that stands by itself. For this, the fifth post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), we explore images that speak for themselves.

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“Another Day in Paradise”

Humans are hard coded to relish scenes of water and land. This day I headed out with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III mounted with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L USM lens for handheld shots.

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The Day’s Setting

Hook, Line and Sinker

Poise

Barely visible on the horizon are Cape Canaveral Launch Towers
Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Where Are The Alerces?

Chipped into Shingles?

A user commented on a Chile Lake District post of mine asking for more photos of Germany. This is striking, because German traveler who visited have made note of parallels between this area and Europe. In this series I will share photography taken from the tour bus window as we traveled to the Lake District and returned to Puerto Montt. I used a handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR with the Canon lens EF 70-300 f 4-5.6LIS. This is the second post of this series.

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Chipped into Shingles?

Wood is a building material the German pioneers had in abundance. They went to work clearing the forests, tilling the land and building structures such as this, a house in the town of Puento Varas on Lake Llanquihue. In face, those windows face the lake. I have our guide to thank for these photographs of the houses, early on as we drove through Puerto Montt she shared the significance of the shingles with us.

The shape is identical to that used in Germany and Switzerland wooden frame homes. It was the wood of a tree native to Chile and western Argentina that made these possible and in the course of surviving in a new land, a good portion of their natural patrimony was spent. Since the late 1960’s Chile has backed away from this and conservation of the slow growing Alerce is now paramount.

We can intuit how difficult the winters are from the view into this house provided by the window. There is a room outside the living area, sealed by a second door to prevent the escape of warmth. The use of metal embedded into the low concrete wall is common in the South American countries we visited.

Close by, also facing the lake in Puerto Varas, is this police station, the “Civil Police,” whatever than means. It is a small, apparently historic, building. Rising around it are modern hotels.

This large rural shed, on the outskirts of the town, appears to be a structure from the original 19th century settlers, a testimony to the durability of Alerce shingles covering the siding and the large, steeply sloped roof.

Open Country

Suddenly we were graced with these cleared farm fields, here and there large modern homes high on the hill for a sweeping view of the lake.

In the distance is Calbuco, the volcano whose eruption broke the peace ten months before our trip. The wind spared these lands the destructive effect of falling ash.

“We’re not in Kansas Anymore, Toto”

Fertile land

A user commented on a Chile Lake District post of mine asking for more photos of Germany. This is striking, because German traveler who visited have made note of parallels between this area and Europe. In this series I will share photography taken from the tour bus window as we traveled to the Lake District and returned to Puerto Montt. I used a handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR with the Canon lens EF 70-300 f 4-5.6LIS. This is the third post of this series.

Click photograph for a larger view.
Orsorno Volcano, Lakes
District, Chile

George Washington Bridge to Schuylerville 2021

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Road Warriors

Throughout my life, beginning with trips between Long Island and Tucson, Arizona for college…throughout young and mature adulthood to return to the family home for celebrations…in my 40’s, 50’s and 60’s caring for aging parents and now, in retirement, researching genealogy I have travelled this route over the George Washington Bridge, over Manhattan, through the Bronx, then over the Throgs Neck Bridge to Queens County, Long Island and always as the driver. This is the first time being able to document the route with a quality camera. Driving here requires the total attention of the driver, the traffic, reading unfamiliar signs…..what a treat to sit and snap. Here goes.

On Interstate 80 then 95 moving through Bergen County and Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Over the George Washington Bridge, upper level.

Into the Bronx via the imfamous Cross Bronx Expressway…..trucks from across the continent funnel through here.

Glorious fall foliage on a perfect autumn morning.

Last Hike

A sllideshow

Thank You for exploring the South Rim trail of Taughannock Falls State Park on the last perfectly sunny autumn day of 2019.

A sunny November Walk

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Click me for the first post of this series, “Cuteness Break.”