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

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

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

A Visit with Tom and Hen Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving

The Catskill Mountains are not mountains. The Catskills started as a high plateau. Over eons, before the first humans, water, the sun, and wind carved high steep peaks: rounded, forested and teeming with life.
 
October 2008, on a return trip from family on Long Island, we traveled the winding road called “Route 17”, through the high autumn hillsides.

Route 17_FishsEddy_throughTheWindshield– CLICK ME!!!!

 

Click me for more Autumn Magic from my Online Gallery

Fishs Eddy

As the sun passed over the western hills we stopped to explore a place called “Fishs Eddy”, a town on the banks of the Delaware River.
 

Delaware River at Fishes Eddy– CLICK ME!!!!

 
 
On the east side, facing sunset is a formation that would be a cliff if it was not for the hardwood trees growing from every available nook, crevice.  Everywhere a root could be sunk, roots fed trees that, one late October afternoon, made a hill bright with autumn.
 

Turkey Habitat

Turkeys live in this type of habitat. We took a trail, barely a road that climbed past failed farms and hunting shacks.

Catskill Hillside– CLICK ME!!!!

 

Click me for more Autumn Magic from my Online Gallery

 

The Hens Flee

On a level place, in front of a ruined home, we came upon a Tom (male) turkey and his four hens. The hens fled at the sight of us.
 
With barely time to raise the camera I caught Tom and the last hen as she fled into the bushes.

Tom and Hen Turkey Flee the Scene– CLICK ME!!!!

 

Tom Turkey Defiant

I say she, because Tom stayed behind. He stood erect, all three feet of him, defiant and strutting in a direction opposite from the hens.

This is the bird Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national emblem of the new United State of America (the bald eagle won that competition).
Hunted into almost oblivion, across the United States the wild turkey is making a dramatic come back in many places, including the forests and farmland of rural New York State.

A Defiant Tom Turkey– CLICK ME!!!!

This fellow made no noise. His strutting posture and head bobbing said it all.
We left Tom Turkey in peace to his domain and hens.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, my friends.

Tom Turkey Stalks the Ruin– CLICK ME!!!!

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

Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods

a meditaton

On Halloween morning 2004 I set out with a camera upgrade purchased spring of that year, a Sony “Cyber Shot, DSC-F828” with an inexpensive tripod. My photograph “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods”, the feature photograph and below, achieved prizes with the Photographic Society of American and a few sales of self-produced prints. It was an early success.

Click any photograph to visit my Online Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

It is available on my Finger Lakes Memories online gallery where I provide recommendations for sizing, the best print medium with ideas for frame and matt.

The fall of 2005 I invested in a Kodak DCS Pro dslr-c and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens.  October 30, 2005, one day short of the 2004 Halloween shoot, found me driving down Fall Creek Road on a mission of revisiting Sapsucker Woods to possibly improve upon my offerings.

Over the years, travelling Fall Creek Road on my daily commute, I admired this well formed maple next to a farm field.  At 6:45 am the sun was about this rise, the frost limned grass not yet burned off.  This tree turned a bright yellow, here a green-yellow and dull.  The form of the tree is perfect.  I was never able to catch this at the right moment, it is still there and maybe I can time it this year during a pick-up of my grandson.  If I do, my intention is to climb the fence and use the 24 mm lens to capture the tree and shed with less sky (unless there are some dramatic clouds).  That day, I needed to make time for Sapsucker woods.

On site, thirty minutes later, as the leaves of the Fall Creek Road maple predicted, Sapsucker Woods foliage is behind last year’s by a week or so.  In “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” the over story leaves have fallen and the understory is at peak.  Here, I believe the overstory is gone, the understory leaves are yellow-green.

I carefully choose the sites and this one is a risen walk of boards.  In the nine years since, the walk as deteriorated and this scene will be different, possibly.

This is a match for the 2004 photograph as far as the camera position.  What I enjoy from the 2004 version, aside from the foliage, are the details of the fallen leaves taking up the foreground, a carpet filling the field to lead the eye up through the trees, path fading from view to the right.

This effect is not possible on the boardwalk, above.  With the fixed focus 50 mm lens it might be possible with effort.  Today, the 24 mm is my first choice to capture this effect.

Here we can see the leaf carpet is possible, if the f-stop is higher to allow a crisp focus.  In this scene it is f2 because I happened upon a buck in a daze.  He was just standing there as I headed back to the car.  I did not risk changing out lenses to the telephoto, so I moved forward slowly.

The best I did was this rear view as he looked backward.  Lack of flexibility is a draw back of a fixed-focus lens.

In 2004 my day concluded with Robert Treman State Park.  In 2005 the 50 mm fixed focus with a ND filter and tripod was in its element.  The sun is higher and overcast, one background tree is a peak foliage.  The moderate water flow and stair complete the effect.  This was my best work of that day.  I need to get this up on the “Finger Lakes Memories” gallery.

Other postings of interest. Click the link to go there.
“Last Sunlight” — the Gorge Waterfall
“Autumn Evening Hike Part 1 of 3”
Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Libe Slope Autumn

A Magnificent Display

Libe Slope

Libe Slope is between the West Campus and Quadrangle / Libraries.

Click to view my Finger Lakes Memory gallery
Cornell University is on a west-facing hill above Cayuga lake.

Besides the exercise of walking the 18 degree incline several times each day, Cornell students and alumni remember The Slope for autumn color.

 

Wonderful Flow of Limbs among Gold

Click to view my Finger Lakes Memory gallery

Hickory

Seen from the north on a cloudy October day, this Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra) is the largest tree on the Cornell Campus, at 79 inches in diameter.

Click to view my Finger Lakes Memory gallery
Cornell University is on a west-facing hill above Cayuga lake.

Take another look at the previous image. Can you find the grey squirrel? This hickory grows south of the Johnson Museum and among the autumn glories, it is the largest and brightest yellow canopy on Libe Slope.

Contrast

An overcast day is the best to capture this spectacle. October 20, 2012 provided both bright sun and dark, rolling autumn clouds. I waited on the north side, sheltered from the glare of the sky, for these perfect moments.

Click to view my Finger Lakes Memory gallery
I remember this hickory for the contrast between the canopy and trunk, the way the clumps of yellow hang from dark boughs.

The pignut hickory is native to these Eastern United States. It is known to favor moist slopes and this specimen has thrived on The Slope. The ground beneath it is thick with nuts.

Click to view my Finger Lakes Memory gallery

One week later

Just one week later, late afternoon on a sunny Friday as hurricane Sandy approached the east coast the hickory has fewer, tawny golden leaves.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Perfect Afternoon On Beebee Lake

Anticipating Our Tenth Wedding Anniversary

After work on a 2008 Friday afternoon in October we sped over to Beebee Lake on the Cornell University Campus to catch the late afternoon glow.

Beebe Lake is formed by a dam on Fall Creek.  It seems to be the flooded meadow it is, surrounded by hills formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago.  Cornell maintains footpaths around the lake.

People say that if a couple walk the a mile around the lake and over a bridge at either end, they are destined to be married.  This day we passed only joggers and families.  Pam and I will celebrated our tenth anniversary March 2019, so the legend worked for us.

Here are four snapshots from that time, presented in chronological order. Each is a handheld shot taken on the fly using my Sony Alpha 700 I use for exploratory photography.

Click any photograph to view my Finger Lakes Memory gallery
A terraced stair descends to the east side meadow to south lake shore path

I walked down a path trod by Canadian geese to reach a clear view of the water.

View of Helen Newman Hall

Lily pads and iris fronds grow along the bank. 

Evening sunlight reflected from smooth water crests driven by a steady light wind

Being on the west side of the lake, the dam is bathed in golden autumn light.  

The Dam That Forms Beebee Lake

On top the hill, not visible behind the trees, above the opposite bank is Fuertes Observatory.  We visited it this night, opened to the public as it is on all clear Friday nights while classes are running.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Father’s Day Visit to Fall Creek Gorge

McGraw Tower Bell Concert

Walking up University Avenue toward Lib Slope, listening to the noon concert from the McGraw Tower carillion (a tuned set of bells), below the Johnson Museum turn left onto a footpath, follow to the steep trail down to the Gorge Overlook along Fall Creek. Look up at the suspension bridge and water powered electric plant. Climb back, turn right and down to Stewart Avenue for the view of Fall Creek Gorge, Cayuga Lake, the former studio of Carl Sagan, built into the gorge wall. In researching this topic I learned Google Maps shows the trail and you can “walk” the trail, Google brought the camera down into the gorge.

An IPhone 7 and video editing software were used for this post.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Hayrolls

Making Hay

Dry grass gathered for winter feed on Durfee Hill.

Click image for a larger version.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Baker Lab with Autumn Trees

Double Irony

Baker Lab

Baker Laboratory dates back to World War I.  With 200,000 square feet of space, the lab is home to Cornell’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, the Chemistry Research Computing Facility, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility, and the Advanced ESR Technology Research Center (whew!!).

Trees on a Knoll

On the right, on a knoll, is a European beech tree (Fagus sylvatica).  The Latin name holds a double irony. Standing, alone, high above East Avenue on the Cornell campus  (sylvatica means “of forests”) as a memory of the forests growing above Cayuga Lake is a being once worshiped as a god.   In Celtic mythology, Fagus is the god of beeches.

A maple is on the left, genus Acer of unknown species.  I recognize it from the shape.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Little Red Maple

First to flower, first to turn

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

The Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) is tolerant of diverse conditions, making it a perfect choice for this  spot on the short of Beebe Lake.

Maple Syrup

Even though it is not a “Sugar Maple, early spring, the sap can be boiled down to syrup.

Turning Tree

The first to flower in spring and the first to turn in autumn.

From the Top Down

This maple turns from the top down and is already bare for most top branches.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved