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.

Christmas Tableau

Cozy Snowmen dance round the candle

My dear wife Pam is the heart of Christmas in our home. Over the years we have collected a treasure of ornaments and knick-knacks she crafts into displays around our one. Pam completed the project well in advance of our grandchild holiday visits, before card writing and gift wrapping.

My contribution is a photographic time capsule. Here is some of my artistic output from this work.

This grouping of five cozy snowmen (three males, two females) are warmly dressed in knit sweaters and stocking caps; the women with long skirts. The five hold hands in a ring, rising from a common platform. We place a cup and devotional candle in the center.

The tiny group evokes community, harmony, amity. I captured them with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III dslr, a fixed Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens mounted on a Manfrotto studio tripod and hydrostatic ball head. Fixed lenses provide the sharpest macros. The mounting allowed precise framing and use of the widest aperture and a low ISO. The light sources were sunlight from a large north facing bay window, a Canon Speedlite 600Ex-Rt and the candle. When used, the flash was angled in various ways toward the ceiling.

I start with a tight shot, maximum aperture. A single figure is in clear focus, the remaining gradually lost in the bokeh. The flash was used. I can almost see then circling around the candle in a winter wind.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

Here the candle is lighted, aperture narrow to f8 using only the candle and ambient light (no flash). The group is visible within surrounding figures. I backed away and the viewpoint is higher.

The candle light enhances the perception of community.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

Viewpoint is closer, still only the candle and ambient light. Aperture widened to 3.5. I must remove the hair in lightroom.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

I backed off, aperture at the max with only the candle and ambient light. The figures are placed in a tableau with other snowmen and a structure, a birdhouse.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

For this overview I swapped in a Canon 24mm f/1.4L II USM with a flash, aperture f2.2.

Christmas Snowman Display
Christmas 2017 snowman display laid out in our den on top of the entertainment cabinet.

Christmas Angels

Angels I Have Known

This is part of my project to document our Christmas memories through photography. Here we explore the themes angels of the Christmas Story and in our lives.

The angels of our Christmas tree and home remind us of the Jesus birth stories of scripture and the force of love in our own lives.

What comes to mind with the sudden appearance of Gabriel to Mary and that astounding message? Unlike the attempt of Jonah to avoid his calling, the subtext to Mary’s ready acceptance is the risks faced by an affianced woman who becomes pregnant. The book of Deuteronomy (Chapter 22 verses 13 – 21) calls for stoning a woman who presents herself for marriage as a virgin, when she is not.

When learning of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph’s reaction, as a follower of Mosaic Law, was to divorce her quietly to avoid exposing her to shame. It was a visit from an angel, in a dream, that convinced Joseph to accept Mary (Matthew Chapter 2, verses 18 – 24).

ChristmasAngel-3

An angel visited shepherds, announcing “today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is the Messiah and Lord.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God.” Luke Chapter 2, verses 8 – 13.

ChristmasAngel-1

Was it an angel who warned the Magi, in a dream, not to return to King Herod with news of Jesus (Matthew Chapter 2 Verse 12)? Scriptures clearly state (Matthew Chapter 2 verse 13) “the angle of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt.”

ChristmasAngel-4

People can be angelic in expressing love for others through action. I am thinking of a movie Pam and I viewed last evening, “The Theory of Everything.” Jane Wilde, in her love for Stephen Hawking, stays with him when, shortly after their romance began, he was diagnosed with ALS. The prognosis was death in two years. In all likelihood, Jane gave Stephen his life and work through loving him. He is alive and working today at 75.

Nested Angel

The love of our parents is more common, no less precious.

ChristmasAngel-7

A note on the photographs, I used a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III dslr with Canon lens EF 50 mm f/1.2L, Canon Speedlite 600Ex-Rt, Manfrotto studio tripod and hydrostatic ball head.  Some of the photographs were hand held.  When the flash was used, it supplemented ambient light from a large north facing bay window.

Indian Summer Afternoons

Each year I make a point of walking Cascadilla Gorge at least once in the fall.  This week on a 84 degree October 9th afternoon Pam was too busy with chores, I parked in “downtown” Ithaca and stopped by the grandchildren’s.  They were hanging out with Mom and were “just too tired” after school to do anything.  Well the middle child, 4 years old, was open to visiting the skate board park and ,for me, that was not going to happen.  I ambled from there, up Court Street, past the Buddhist monk residence at the entrance to Cascadilla Gorge.

The gorge is part of Cornell Botanic Gardens (until recently it was called the Plantations), the organization of the university bureaucracy responsible for elements of the campus.  Cascadilla Gorge, running from Ithaca and through the campus, is one of those elements.  Today, the traffic of people going into and out of the gorge was light and a sign provided the reason: the path was closed at Stewart Avenue, there the bridge crosses above the gorge.  Instead to passed by the Christian Scientist Church on the north side of the gorge and walk up the winding Cascadilla Park Road to the gorge rim trail that climbs East Hill to the Cornell Campus.

The trail is lined with homes, porches on the gorge side where the sounds of creek and falls can be enjoyed.  I was not feeling ambitious, so took a few snapshots with my phone.  Here is path approaches a porch build from the “bluestone”, a type of feldspathic sandstone, native to this area.

Click the photographs for my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

This pot is visible in the previous shot, here is a closer view of the bluestone.

The fall to the gorge floor is steep, several hundred feet in places.  The barrier fence here appears solid, in places it barely exists.  A few years ago a recent Cornell graduate, coming home late from a bar on this path, was found dead in the gorge the following day from a fall.  I continued along the trail until the path fork over to the Ithaca City Cemetery where it is possible to climb West Hill to Stewart Avenue.  Turn right to reach the bridge over Cascadilla Gorge, another right onto the Gorge Rim Trail and back down to Ithaca.  I noticed at the bridge part of the work that closed the gorge was a repainting of the bridge and the suicide prevention fence below the bridge.  On September 24, 15 days before, a senior year Cornell student jumped off the bridge into the fence and was rescued by the fire department.

It is possible to stand next to the concrete barrier of the above snapshot to see this view into the gorge.  I enjoy the beautiful view, the sound of the water and leave the dark stuff where it belongs, at least until I notice the bridge and net are freshly painted.

Last year Pam and I walked Cascadilla with our granddaughter, here she is on that walk next to Cascadilla Creek.  There are large and small waterfalls the length of the gorge trail.

I took this photograph in 2005, the September before my previous post, “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” with the Kodak DSC pro slr-c, an ND filter, 50 mm lens and a tripod. It was a planned session, I work waterproof boots and was able to stand in the creek after a series of rain-free days. At this time of the year the gorge opens to the setting sun. I waited, taking a series of photographs for the perfect amount of light on the footbridge. The feature photograph (the header to this posting) is a detail from a shot with the bridge more fully lit.

We have this photograph print framed, I had it mounted as a gift to Pam on our first Valentine’s day. It will make an excellent Christmas or Birthday gift.

Click the photograph for this offering in my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories”
“September Sunset in Cascadilla Gorge”
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Summer Garden

2021

Pam requested photographs of hosta flower stalks with blooms and developing buds. I setup the Manfrotto tripod, the Canon dslr mounted with an Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6L lens at ISO 1600 and these are the results.

Native to northeastern Asia, In 1812 the genera Hosta was named for the European botanist Nicholas Thomas Host. Also called plantain lily for the habit of the herbaceous stalks to grow radially from a center.

The name “Hydrangea is derived from Greek and means ‘water vessel’ (hydria), in reference to the shape of its seed capsules. The earlier name, Hortensia, is a Latinised version of the French given name Hortense, honoring French astronomer and mathematician Nicole-Reine Hortense Lepaute.” _wikipedia


The common name “Marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary.

Begonias come in so many shapes and colors.

Garden Gnomes, Bird Bath and Sculpture

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

New Neighbors

Manufactured Home Installed Next Door, September 2017

When Pam and I made Westwood Knoll our home in 2011, to the north, across the street, was an empty wooded lot that has since been subdivided into three of the last home sites in Ithaca. This summer, the corner lot was razed of all its trees, the lovely mature cherry, sycamore, ash, maple reduced to stumps to be cut up and carted away. There was a positive in that the lot was overgrown and unsightly, but every spring the upper reaches were masses of blooms and young green leaves.

In a heavy rain on September 5th, 2017 the two parts, call them “modules”, were delivered, and then sat until September 7th to be assembled in one day. The process itself was interesting to witness and, while being otherwise occupied, I came out now and then to document the progress.

Here are my photographs. What do you think? Please leave comments.

The Foundation
The foundation installation took a week to construct. It started with, literally, blocks of styrofoam held together with plastic and assembled by hand, like a child’s block set. There is an 8 inch gap in between filled with concrete. There was NO rebar used. bolts were inserted for attaching the modules.
How Module Two  was Hauled
Module Two was delivered on wheels and moved into position by this semi.
Module Two, the house next door
Module Two will eventually face the opposite direction. That will be the rear door. This is our swimming pool, I use garden hoses to siphon excess rainwater.
Construction Worker??
Most of the workers were dressed like this, casually, no protection for feet or head. We were concerned with this. No one was injured this day, as far as we know.
Another Construction Worker
The worker is standing on a board on which the crane wheels will rest.
Crane Boom End and Hooks
Crane Boom End with hooks in transport configuration. These are attached to the modules for positioning over and lowering onto the foundation.
A supervisor
This fellow arrived to take pictures from that smart phone.
Tracked Loader
A versatile tracked loader used throughout the foundation construction and module installation.
Worker and Hooks
A worker prepares the hooks for use. No head protection was a concern to us.
Support Blocks
Yellow blocks of metal used to support the crane.. A railing of Module One is above the truck, to left.
Hooks Prepared for Use
The red hook is ready.
Hooks ready to go.
The hooks hang free, ready to use.
Module One
This is where Module One was dumped on the side of the road on September 5th, two days before installation.
Module One and Construction Worker
We are looking here over the edge of our patio and landscaped yard to the site of module one, pre-installation, a worker approaching.
Module Two
The first step was to extricate module two from the mud and haul it up the street. A construction worker foreground, the boom of crane beyond.
Positioning Module Two
The semi backed Module Two into position, the crane boom and hooks loom.
The Company Responsible
The workers were considerate of our lawn. There was minimal damage. The modules installed this day looks nothing like this image.
Module Two Attached and Ready
From here Module Two will be lifted onto the foundation.
Workers Prepare Foundation.
Workers prepare foundation to receive Module Two while the unit is readied.
Module Two Lifted.
I see only the black hook is in use.
Another View of Module Two
Another View of Module Two with worker. That is the bottom of our driveway.
Module One with Construction Materials
Module One was delivered with construction materials inside.
Module One with Carrier and workers.
The porch and entry door of Module One with worker and rope. The worker needs to negotiate the carrier.
Pulling Module One Around
A 180 degree turn orients Module One to Module Two. The porch overhangs the foundation.

Positioning module one over foundation.

Worker Stands in Module Two
A worker observes from the interior of Module Two. Here is a closer view of the wire harness.

Final positioning of the module to form a whole structure.

Finished.
The roof panels are here lifted to a peak. The shingles and such in place for installation. These are the materials delivered inside Module One.

Update: since this post was first published September 2017 the original owners moved to the southern USA after selling the property at an inflated price to a young Cornell professor.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Hosta

Hosta Blooms on a cloudy, still summer dawn

On July 17, 2021 Ithaca was socked in with heavy clouds obscuring sunrise, a perfect moment to capture Pam’s hostas flowering with the upper stalks still budding. I setup the Manfrotto tripod, the Canon dslr mounted with an EF 50 mm 1:1.2 L at ISO 800 and these are the results.

Native to northeastern Asia, In 1812 the genera Hosta was named for the European botanist Nicholas Thomas Host. Also called plantain lily for the habit of the herbaceous stalks to grow radially from a center.

This series moves from the lens diaphragm starting at the smallest opening, greatest depth of field and longest exposure, to the widest, most shallow depth of field and shortest exposure. The air was very still this morning, allowing me to experiment.


Here is my favorite version from the above experiment. Do you have a favorite? Named it in comment and please explain your choice.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Framed Convex Mirror, Killarney Royal Hotel

The morning of our day on the Dingle Peninsula I left the room early, my Sony Alpha 700 in hand, while Pam finished her preparations.  The elevator deposited me in the lobby and I proceeded to capture images of the Killarney Royal Hotel, our base for three nights.

This marvelous “antique” mirror caught my eye. We are used to seeing convex mirrors in the upper corners of elevators, strategically located at hallway junctions, automated teller machines and parking garages all with the intention of providing a wide, fisheye, view to detect unsavory, lurking types and danger.

Click any photograph to open my Online Gallery in a new window/tab.
Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

This spotless, framed convex mirror is from a older, saner time.  Such objects came in use from the 1400’s (15th century). When all glass was blown, a convex surface was easier to produce than a flat and, since all glass was expensive to produce, a convex mirror was a popular luxury item, an expensively framed status symbol.

Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

As the mirrors were an element of elite surroundings, art came to include them as objects in the midground, the surface reflecting back to the viewer a different viewpoint. An opportunity for an artist to demonstrate virtuosity. Examples are Jan van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Portrait” and the left wing of the Werl Triptych by Robert Campin.

Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

Known as the “sorcerer’s eye” from the all encompassing view and, in keeping with our modern uses, even back then also called a”banker’s eye.”  Symbolically, the 15th century paintings used a pristine mirror to represent the Immaculate Conception.

Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

The five images here are the final result of trial and error, working out the details of using a flash in the relatively low light of the morning lobby, avoiding my reflection, maintaining a sharp focus throughout the field, capturing the unique details of the frame without distortion and the mirror’s wide angle view.  I gave up on the flash and, instead, did this series at f5.6 and the ISO incremented 800 to 3,200. As such, the exposure ranged from 1/5 to 1/25 of a second. All shots were handheld.

Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

I hope you enjoy the results. This was a promising start to our memorable day of exploration.

Here’s the next installment of our Dingle Exploration….

Here’s a previous Ireland posting…..

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Back To School, Uruguay

A late summer Friday evening

Since 1877 primary education in Uruguay is universal, compulsory and free. These days students receive free education through university, literacy is the highest in South America at 95%, equally for males and females.

These photographs are from a cruise around South American my wife, Pam, and I enjoyed February / March 2016 on the Oceania ship Regatta. This was the evening of February 26, 2016, a Friday, in the city Montevideo, Uruguay.

This image is the theme of this blog, “back to school”. On Avenue Gral Eugenio Garzon of the Colon neighborhood of Montevideo a mother and four daughters discuss a shop window featuring “back to school” clothing and necessaries. The children range in age from pre-school to teen. This is evidently a serious discussion about preparing for the school year which starts in March for Uruguay.

A government program launched in 2007 expands Information and Communication technologies in primary schools with these goals:
— To distribute technology,
— To promote knowledge,
— To generate social equity.

Called Ceibal, after a tree native to Uruguay, the program was a success. From 2009 – 2012 450,000 laptops, popularly named “”ceibalitas”, were delivered to children coordinate with teacher training and a monitoring and evaluation model for assessing the impact nationally. Ceibal is the acronym for “Conectividad Educativa de Informática Básica para el Aprendizaje en Línea” (Educational Connectivity/Basic Computing for Online Learning in English).

These photographs build on the theme of the positive influence education has on the lives of Uruguayans, many of whom live in poverty.

A family gathering in their yard on Avenue Gral Eugenio Garzon, enjoying a cool late summer evening.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

Traffic and a gas station. People were out and about, walking and conversing. There is a makeshift trailer attached to the motorcycle, behind is a large truck.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

Storefront with customer and man loitering on wall. A mini-Honda all terrain vehicle is on display.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

Mate is a beverage enjoyed throughout South America. Here companions enjoy a warm summer evening with a thermos of hot water and mate gourd behind a restaurant, their view across the train tracks and the Colon rail station is of a playground and playing fields.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

A family of very young soccer players coming from practice with teammates. The sponsors of lucky number 7 are the bank Banrisul and Tramontina, a kitchenware manufacturer.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

We waited to board an historic train and shared the station with Montevideans waiting for a passenger train. Here are two families: a mother and pre-teen daughter colorfully dressed, a grandmother and grandson. Behind them are the playing fields and playground.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

A passenger train heading north passed while we waited for our ride to begin. Curiosity shines from this child’s eyes.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

Happy families greeted us with waves and smiles during our trip to downtown Montevideo.

Some of the homes along the rail line. Pools such as that are popular in cities. We saw a great many on the streets in Lima, Peru.

Reaction to the historic train from a group of young men.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

Curious playmates gather at the end of the road.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

A well attended playground.

Back To School -- CLICK ME!!!!

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Blooms: Hosta and Echinacea

Hosta and Echinacea Blooms in a summer dawn

My wife, Pam, requested photographs of her hosta taken in the first sun of a summer day. Just after the sun broke the clouds this Summer 2017 morning I had the Manfrotto tripod set up, the Canon mounted with my new EF 50 mm 1:1.2 L, and this is the result.

Overview of the hosta and blooms. These are also called Plaintain Lilies. Over the years, Pam has propagated three plants by splitting them and replanting. In 2016r we invested in a fence around the front yard to prevent the deer from browsing them to the ground. In pandemic year 2020, Summer, another fence was installed for the backyard. Pam plans more hosta propagation in celebration.

Study of hosta flowers.

Purple cone flowers, aka Echinacea.
HostaEchinacea-0093

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved