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.”

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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.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Christmas Angels

Merry Christmas

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).

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

Wave Sequence

Wave Motion

Consider these photographs of waves interacting with the basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway at low time to be a sequel to “Kelp” “Tide”. “Movement,” and “Movement Redux.”

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Point of View

concave vs. convex

Canon’s 24 mm “L” lens saw first light on this tour, was indispensable towards the end of our round of the island. Here the camera is mounted on a Manfrotto studio tripod with a hydrostatic ball head. A 0.6 neutral density graduated filter brought out the sky details though I could not catch the foreground polygons without darkening the far basalt columns.

My position is close to the photographs of all the posts since “Basalt Columns.” Here are two photograph of the pavement effect, walking across column tops. Notice the concave facings, identified by dried seawater pools (white circles), the boss of convex surfaces.

I released the tripod “panning” control, searching for the best aspect.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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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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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Early Spring VIII

Dog Tooth

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) is named for the mottled brown leaves resembling markings on trout. The source of another name, “Dog Tooth Lily,” is hidden. My surmise was the pointed flower petals, instead it is for the pointed corms, modified stems developing underground and used to store energy to survive winter conditions.

An individual Trout Lily is seen here in an environmental shot, cradled by a tree root, and in a macro with the leaves that suggest the common name. Both shots are from the Canon 100 mm “macro” lens. All photographs in this series are from my May 5, 2020 afternoon visit during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills