Woody Peony and Honeybees, 50 mm

The bees happily rolled around among the stamens, notice their full pollen sacs.

Like the previous year, spring 2022, though cold, is early. As I write this the peony blooms presented here, photographed May, 2021 are seeding. Every year, Pam and I marvel at the color. 2019 this peony was in full bloom only by the end of May, around Memorial Day.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head. Color results from the Canon dslr are impressive. In prior years I favored shooting late evening in the shade with a slight underexposure. This year I experimented with full sunlight. I found a slight under exposure captured the plum – fine burgundy wine nature of this Japanese cultivar, “Shimadaijin,” planted in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

This set brings out the petal’s fiery nature. In the wild, woody (also called tree) peonies favored cliffs and scrub of western and central China, eastern Himalayas (southeastern Tibet).

By a happy accident our neighbor’s honeybees foraged the nectar and pollen of these newly opened blooms. The woody stems hold the profusion of large flowers each one erect. “Tree” is a misnomer as this plant is a shrub growing mid-thigh high. One of the classic ornamental genera of China, known there as moutan or hua wang “King of Flowers.”

Cultivation in China began in Chekiang in the early 4th century AD. By the early Tang period (circa 700 AD) hundreds of varieties were grown.

The bees happily rolled around among the stamens, notice their full pollen sacs.

ISO 1600 f16 1/250 sec

Roger Philips and Martyn Rix, “The Botanical Garden, Vol 1, Trees and Shrubs” p 133
Wikipedia “Magenta” color

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Early Spring V

Purple vs. White Trillium

Purple Trillium, a different species from the white, present different challenges. The purple blooms tend to dip down toward the ground. White flowers face upward toward the sky. My successful photographs of purple (Click me for another Purple Trillium posting) have the camera lower than the plant, say where there is a bank above the trail.

Shot from beneath, White Trillium project a hopeful air. Here is a comparison of the two species in the environmental and individual treatments.

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

Click for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Parts of the Scorpion

Twenty million years ago a then nonexistent earth-bound human civilization could recognize none of the prominent stars of the constellation Scorpius (The Scorpion) as these, compared to our 4.6 billion year old star, lit up less than 12 million years ago. The brightest star, Alpha Scorpii AKA Antares, is a red giant destined to burst into a supernova bright as the full moon within two million years. Will the human race be around to witness it?

Such as it is, The Scorpion was traced out by the Babylonian astronomers around 8 BCE following even more ancient Sumerian traditions naming Alpha Scorpii “The Heart of the Scorpion.”

I first became aware of Antares March 2009 during a stay on Cocoa Beach. Setting the room clock to a 5 am alarm to view the sunrise. As I sat listening to the surf, Antares glowed dark red in the south. It is the reddish tint star in the following illustration.

Till Credner, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here is a photograph of Antares, the reddish dot in center, along with the 6 of the 18 Scorpius bright stars. For this shot a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dlsr had mounted a Canon lens EF 70-300 f4-5.6L IS USM set to 70 mm focal length, 1600 ISO. Exposure was “bulb,” meaning when the shutter button is pressed and held the shutter remains open: for this exposure this was for approximately 10 seconds. The equipment was held steady on a Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod. As the Earth continued to turn, the resulting star images are smeared a bit.

Bracketing Antares, the Scorpion Heart are “The Arteries” Theta and Tau. About those Greek letters, these designate relative brightness of each star respective of the others in the constellation. “Alpha” the first letter of the Greek alphabet is the brightest. Here are the other letters listed, with the alphabetic order in brackets Beta(2), Delta(4), Pi(16), Sigma(18), Tau(19). Ancient Greek built on the traditions of the Mesopotamians (Babylonian and Sumerian) and were in turn used for modern stellar nomenclature, including the tracings of sky images, the constellations.

The position of a relatively minor star, Tau, near Antares elevates it to the important function of an artery. The stars themselves run against their brightness hierarchy placement: The star Delta Scorpii, after having been a stable 2.3 magnitude star, flared in July 2000 to 1.9 in a matter of weeks. It has since become a variable star fluctuating between 2.0 and 1.6. This means that at its brightest it is the second brightest star in Scorpius.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Big Bend

A tripod and Neutral Density filter

Winter 2020 I posted “Winter People Watching” featuring the Sony F828 and candid street photography.

What I love about this place, a unique feature, is the size and different vantage points making it possible to view the same place from different angles. November 2019, readers were shown “The Bend,” a place with Taughannock gorge makes a 90 degree turn, changing from a southeastern to an eastern flow. Here are photographs from spot overlooked by that post.

Here the camera faces away from the sun, the graduated neutral density filter allowing me to capture the cloudless blue sky, a little milky the way it is here February with a hint of spring.

This little one is studying the information placard with rapt attention, learning how the African continent, pushing against North America, across the eaons, formed the right angle fractures mirrored by this dramatic change in Taughannock Gorge. For the Big Bend photographs I was standing behind them, along the stream bed.

Here is a broader slice of that sky.

Can you see the tiny figures of hikers, dwarfed by the frozen cliff?

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

A Little Water Fall…

…and Gorge Cliffs

Purling of the water beneath this foot high waterfall was enhanced by reducing ISO to 100, tamping down the aperture to f/22 resulting in an shutter speed of 1/10th second. I set the graduated Neutral Density filter to shade the left side.

On the cliffs ahead is where the observation platform is cut into the rock. It has a great view of the waterfall, in some ways the experience of the falls is enhanced, compared to hiking the 3/4 mile path and standing below.

A marvelous forest grows on talus from the high gorge walls.

A sign on a disused pier warns waders to leave the creek bed. Ahead the gorge walls tower above the creek. Rocks dislodge and crash down unexpectedly, crushing foolish waders. It is appalling to see, in warmer months, people walking below those cliffs gathering the fallen rocks to make delicately balanced cairns.

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Colorful Hall

Northernmost, glaciated section of the Allegheny Plateau

For my last autumn posting this last day of November 2022 this colorful hall of trees is on the long descent of Lacey Road from Cortland to Tioga Counties where it passes close the meeting point of three counties near the Robinson Hollow State Forest, the third being Tompkins County.

We are travelling south on a northernmost, glaciated section of the Allegheny Plateau. In the 19th Century a lawyer named Calvin J. Robinson was a prominent citizen of nearby Richford.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Road Transformation

sunlight, dappled shade

South/Southwest view from the long hill into Harford, stopping to admire the effect of sunlight, dappled shade and bright yellow, orange, red against the distant ridge sheltering Robinson Hollow. Near Harford, Cortland County, New York.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Diorama Country

Happy Thanksgiving (USA) 2022

A diorama of the Museum of Natural History, New York City, features this north view, first viewed as a young teen on a school field trip — the duplicated sight was imprinted on my memory. Over the years I passed this spot repeatedly for trips to Long Island for family Thanksgiving celebrations. October 22nd, 2022, the field was planted with soybeans ready to harvest. The rounded hill, a drumlin, finishing the left side of the ridge, is the “star” of this photograph and the diorama.

A drumlin, from the Irish word droimnín (“littlest ridge”), first recorded in 1833, is an elongated hill in the shape of an inverted spoon or half-buried egg formed by glacial ice acting on underlying unconsolidated till or ground moraine.

Same exposure cropped to remove road and poles to perfect the image.

I am not sure the north/northwest view is an improvement, as seen in the following photograph.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Three Autumn Views

Driven Wells in Cortland County

For this series I travelled a short distance south from where Palmer Road intersects with Virgil Road, crossing the border from Tompkins to Cortland County, closer to Carpenter Hill.

In the 19th Century driven wells (also called tube wells) were an innovation developed in Cortland County under the command of a Civil War era Colonel Nelson W. Green who sought for twenty-two years to impose royalties on use of driven wells. I.H. Palmer assisted John W. Sugget, both of Cortland County, in a seminal patent law case they won in U.S. Supreme Court seeking the release from royalty payments from thousands of driven well installations throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Their successful argument was for two years before any patent application, in Cortland County, driven wells were in use. I cannot say Palmer Road has a connection to I.H. Palmer, though it is an interesting historical aside.

View east from Palmer Road across corn stubble. A feeder stream to Virgil Creek is marked by the nearest line of trees, beyond the land rises over the shoulder of Owego Hill.

View east/southeast from Palmer Road across corn stubble. A feeder stream to Virgil Creek flows through the first tree line on left with the creek itself in the far trees, center at the foot of Carpenter Hill. The green field at edge of corn stubble is the fallow field of the next photograph.

View east/southeast from the east edge of a fallow field along Palmer Road. Looking across Virgil Creek to the slope of Carpenter Hill. Cortland County, New York.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Dryden Drumlin

Drumlin, from the Irish word droimnín (“littlest ridge”)

Carpenter Hill from Virgil Road, Route 392, looking across cornstalk stubble and McClintock Road, a faded yellow barn with “Vinda Acres” written on the doors.

The hill is clearly a drumlin. A drumlin, from the Irish word droimnín (“littlest ridge”), first recorded in 1833, is an elongated hill in the shape of an inverted spoon or half-buried egg formed by glacial ice acting on underlying unconsolidated till or ground moraine.

Distant ridges on the right include Hammond Hill. The road to Virgil above the town of Dryden, Tompkins County, New York.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved