Late May, South Rim Trail

Dangerous Practices

Today, I have a companion post to “A Summer Flower and Waterfalls” from a time of Coronavirus (COVID-19) from a walk cut short by inconsiderate people not following New York laws.

All photographs and videos are from an Apple IPhone 7.

Here is a long and close shot of Columbine Flowers thriving on the edge of a gorge cliff.

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With a video of the movement of this wildflower against a backdrop of flowing water over a 100 feet below.

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A scan of the upper gorge with some marvelous clouds.

Continuing onto the forest trail I spotted this Jack-In-The-Pulpit. Here is a photograph and short video.

My walk this day was cut short by joggers, unmasked, on the narrow trail. For each I stepped off to put 6 feet between us. So inconsiderate and unnecessary, selfish.

Copyright 2020 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.

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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.

Here is a slide show from today and two prior postings. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Big Bend

A tripod and Neutral Density filter

Wednesday, this week, I posted “Winter People Watching” featuring the Sony F828 and candid street photography. Today, is a continuation of a followup, started yesterday, with “End of the Gorge Trail.”

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.

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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 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

End of the Gorge Trail

A tripod and Neutral Density filter

Yesterday I posted “Winter People Watching” featuring the Sony F828 and candid street photography. With the Sony F828 in hand, I carried on my shoulder a new camera bag with a new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr camera, mounted with a Canon 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens with a graduated 0.6 Neutral Density filter. On my other shoulder was a Manfrotto BeFree GT carbon fiber tripod.

Saturday, February 22nd was a first outing with the new equipment. I was still learning the camera and, in my inexperience, did not shoot in “raw” format and the jpeg sizing was not the largest. The conditions are never very good within the gorge, either the sun is below the rim and light sparse, or the gradient between the lit and shaded gorge too great, or the sun is almost overhead.

The graduated neutral density filter solves some of this problem for Taughannock Falls, 215 feet high, the highest single drop east of the rockies. The view faces south, in the northern hemispheres, wintertime, this means shooting into the sun. For our late afternoon walk the sun disk was below the west cliff rim, still there is a large gradient between the sky and shaded falls / gorge.

The falls await hikers at the end of the Gorge Trail. I am standing on a bridge over the creek. To the right is a path to an observation platform. At f/22 fstop atop the tripod and low light, this is a longish exposure.

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Standing on the platform, visitors are washed over by the fine mist carried by a wind pushed by the falling water. The mist clings to the gorge walls and freezes. Today, on the bridge, we were dry. I pointed the lens at Taughannock Creek flowing beneath this bring for this second, longish, exposure. The graduated ND filter was not optimal for this shot. It is a circular filter (can be turned 360 degrees), using this I positioned the shading to the left. Of course, for the waterfall, the shading in over the upper, sky, portion.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Winter People Watching

Happy April Fools’ Day

On Saturday afternoon, February 22nd, Pam and I set out for Taughannock Falls State park, 15 minutes away. I had in hand a “prosumer” digital camera, the Sony F828 featuring an integrated zoom lens, from 28 to 200 mm and 8 mpg “raw,” tiff and jpeg images.

I’ve done some great work with this camera. For example the 2003 Homecoming Parade and the award winning Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls. The swivel is a feature of the Sony F828 that fascinates people, it is possible to change the angle of the body and lens, at one extension the view panel can be seen from above.

Using this feature, I obtained the following series of 28 photographs. Most are candid shots of the hundreds of people who passed us this day as Pam and I walked the 3/4 mile Gorge Trail to the fall’s vantage platform.

Taughannock Gorge is wide enough to be opened throughout the winter. The trails of other public park gorges (Treman, Buttermilk, Fillmore) are close to cliffs, shut down November to reopen late spring, the following year, after the trails are surveyed for dangerous rock overhangs.

With the developing situation with Covid-19 Pam was anxious over the number of people on the trail. There was a steady stream of people, some in large groups, coming and going. We were able to maintain some distance, until I stopped and a group of Ithaca college students walked into us. We are NOT going back to this trail anytime soon. I might walk the Rim trails where 5 or 6 people might pass you on a busy day.

The large groups of young people are for the most part students from Cornell University and Ithaca College. Both colleges are now closed through April, to enforce social distancing to suppress spread of COVID-10. For many of these students, they did not realize it at the time, this was their last outing before campus closure. The seniors will never return. We miss the students.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Balloon over Home

Waiting for the Whooooosh

Whoosh….whoosh. Taking out the garbage last Monday evening, July 15th, I heard the unmistakable sound of a liquid propane burner. As the propane is gasified and ignited, the flame and exhaust is directed into the balloon, all under control of the human operator. What a sound!!

This year, 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. 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 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Summer Flower and Waterfalls

A personal discovery of the namesake of an Ithaca restaurant

Travelling light, using IPhone captures during a 4.6 mile walk on the Gorge and North and South Rim Trails of Taughannock Falls New York State Park, Finger Lakes Region near Ithaca, New York. A few waterfalls and sights along the way. Distance is from the “Health” app on my phone.

A “Rim Trail” follows the edge of the gorge. The “Gorge Trail” is within the gorge, along side the creek and ends at the 200+ foot waterfall.

This was the day Tiger Lilies bloomed along the roads the entire 13 miles. This stand was at the beginning of the South Rim trail.

A few steps farther the trail opens up to the expanse of the gorge above the waterfall, a place to contemplate the age of these rock gazing into the open space. There is no access to the bottom of the gorge here.

On days like this, the experience carries me away, enjoying the moments and forgetting the phone in my pocket. When I come to, it is the bottom of the South Rim trail at the entrance to the Gorge Trail and the hordes walking to the falls on a Sunday afternoon. This waterfall welcomes everyone at the beginning.

The vantages I choose usually exclude the crowds, here is a video of the observation platform beneath the 215 foot Taughannock Falls. Any closer and the camera lens is covered with mist. Feels great on this hot day.

I capture this tree growing along the Gorge Trail for later identification. It has fruits similar to a maple tree. Called samaras and also known as helicopters, maple keys, whirlybirds, and polynoses these must distinguish this tree as a member of the genus Acer though the leaf shape gives me doubts. Here the gorge changes direction almost 90 degrees from, generally, north/south to east/west. There is plenty of sunlight here and the tree has taken root in the talus of the cliff face.

I researched it and discovered the scientific name is Acer pensylvanicum and more commonly known as Moosewood. There is a “famous” restaurant in Ithaca, named Moosewood, so now I know there is indeed a tree growing locally by that name. The restaurant is near the commons of Ithaca and is 100% vegetarian. The last time Pam and I at there we were packed like sardines, like some collective, and we’ve never been back. The food is good and the basis of their fame is a cookbook by the same name.

Backlit lilies found on the climb up the North Rim trail.

Click me for a Tiger Lily photograph from my Fine Art Gallery. Click the “View Larger” link for the image.

Along the trail are interesting and informative sheets about the park and surrounding towns. Trumansburg is the nearest village to the park.

Click me for another Waterfall post.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Fourth of July

Fireworks!!!

Here’s a fireworks display to help you celebrate the Fourth of July.  Click on any image for a larger view.

Our home on west hill has a great view of the Ithaca fireworks. I had to shoot through overhead electricity wires. Some of the photographs were enhanced to remove the lines.

Click photographs to view larger images as a slide show.

Click link to visit my online Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

New Neighbors

Manufactured Home Installed Next Door

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.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved