Smoke Tree, late June

Three species of the genus Cotinus, commonly called “Smoke Tree,”in the family Anacardiaceae exist in North America, Europe and Asia. Ours is more like a shrub with numerous, long branches. Flowers with profuse filaments in clusters resembling whiffs of smoke. Here we see the flower filaments, interspersed with small drupes, each containing a single seed.

The post header, and these photographs were made from the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon Lens EF 50mm f/1.2L USM stabilized with a Manfrotto 468ZMZ tripod with hydrostatic head. Late afternoons, evenings the tree is shaded by a hemlock hedge (line of trees running north/south) this is the shade here. This Canonn dslr excels in color rendition. The flower masses are a burgundy wine color, the leaves have a purple tinge. I do not directly fertilize, as the plant is said to do best with unfertile soil though the surrounding cedars do get fertilizer stakes.

Eight AM a following morning I followed up with a handheld session using a Sony DSLR-Alpha700, Sony Lens DT 18-200 mm F3.5-6.5. Took these two shots with a lower ISO and tweaked the images in Lightroom, reducing the exposure. The flower smoky effect is well captured, the color in bright sunlight is not as wine-like as in shade.

By the time I proceeded to macros, a morning breeze kicked up, handled by upping the ISO to 3200 for a faster shutter speed to stop the movement. The bright sun helped with this.

Fertilized flowers develop into fruit stalks with radiating filaments, the yellow dots are the drupes (fleshy bodies surrounding a single seed). Fresh leaves are purple, turning to dark green with age. The leaves are as unusual as the flowers: aromatic, simple and round on long stalks. Autumn, the leaves turn a stunning bright red-orange, a scarlet shade. In winter some stalks die off, new growth appears from the roots in spring.

References

“The Botanical Garden Vol 1 Trees and Shrubs”, Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, Buffalo NY, 2000, p 361

Wikipedia, “Smoke Tree”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Woody Peony 100 mm

Macro series

See my May Woody Peony postings for background on this peony variety.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head.

The morning breezes of May caused me to “up” ISO to 1600 for a faster shutter speed at higher f-stop.

Taking full advantage of the macro lens, the higher ISO helped to maintain sharper focus on the highlighted feature, in this case the stamens.

A gallery of macros with various settings and aspects of the bloom.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Autumn Hillside

Fillmore Glen Autumn

The first week of November 2020 I posted a series of photographs from Fillmore Glen from the Canon 5D Mark IV. Today, I present a series of photographs from the same day using the Sony Alpha 700 dslr using a variable 18-200 mm lens.

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Click me for the early November postings using the Canon 5D Mark IV

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Ireland on the Mind at Christmas

Irish Christmas Spirit

Where would we be without Saint Patrick?  He was a force, to be sure.  A favorite story,  is the landing of his return to the island 432 AD.  The tides on the eastern coast of the Irish Sea can be strong.  His plan was to sail up to coast further north than what we call today Strangford Lough.  On passing this inlet the boat was swept into the lough tidal narrows.  Circumstances called for a landing, rather than wait for the tide.  Patrick came ashore where the Slaney River enter the lough and “quickly converted” the local chieftan, Dichu, who provided a barn for holding services.  The name of the town “Saul” in Irish is Sabhall Phádraig, translated as “Patrick’s Barn.”

IrelandChristmas-1

In this posting I’ll go lighter on descriptions of technique.  Leave it to say I held to the Canon fixed lens EF 50mm f1.2L USM throughout.  Some, like the photograph of Saint Patrick, used a tripod.  Others, like the latter two of the following Irish Themed Cross set were handheld.  Generally a flash was used to supplement ambient sunlight from a large north-facing bay window.

Here the “celtic” cross is converted to an Irish theme through a substitution of a shamrock with golden decoration inspired by pagan neolithic petroglyphs for the nimbus (circle) intersecting the central intersection of arms and stem.

For the first three I played with aperture, taking advantage of the stability of a tripod.  The final two of the set are handheld.

Note the fanciful leprechaun snowman with pot o’ gold, on the left.

Blown glass Irish dancers.

“Travel memories”

Lets’s finish up with a resin cast Santa Claus in hiking garb.  Hiking is a favorite activity of ours.  Featuring a stout staff and Aran Island sweater.

IrelandChristmas-17

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Woodland…

Fillmore Glen Autumn

…goldenrod…

Hint: click image for larger view. Ctrl/+ to enlarge / Ctrl/- to reduce

…macros.

Copyright 2020 All Right Reserved MichaelStephenWills.com

Mismatched Appetite

Bugged

Nectar at the base of each flower petal may be the quixotic quest of this mosquito. Quixotic because the physical characteristics of benefit to human predation, a light body, makes it unsuited to delve into the petals.
Flowers are like people in emitting carbon dioxide, another mosquito attractant. If it is looking for blood here this mosquito is also at a loss.

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Another lily with a tiny fly (mosquito?) perched at the base.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Fillmore Glen Gallery

A Successful Outing during COVID-19

Here is a gallery recapping my afternoon among the wonders of Fillmore Glen, a New York State park, Moravia, New York. I visited there during the New York COVID-19 “PAUSE.” ENJOY!!

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Early Spring X

Beginnings

Amazing natural sights were mine while living 25 years on the edge of the Malloryville Preserve near Freeville, Tompkins County, New York. None more so than early one Memorial Day, 2004, walking the bank of Fall Creek opposite home I came upon, totally unexpected, a first time sighting of a Trout Lily.

Today’s header image is one of my attempts at capturing the Malloryville Trout Lily’s from April 2006. This year’s visit to Fillmore Glen yielded my first “perfect” photographs of this flower.

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Several popular names for this flower originate from the distinctive leafs markings, “Adder’s Tongue Lily” and “Fawn Lily” among them. The second is from the American naturalist and author, John Burroughs, who observed them from his home among the Catskill Mountains of New York State.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Early Spring IX

Purple Striations Revealed

Three corolla (petal) characteristics of the Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) are seen in today’s photograph: the pointed ends referred to yesterday, a reflexing (bending back) seen when the season warms up. Purple striations grouping together basally and spreading toward the tip is the third.

A purple flush, tending toward red, is a coloring associated with the genus name. “Erythro-” is from the Greek for the color red.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills