Galway Bay View from Dún Aonghasa

a season of wildflowers across a karsk landscape

Another aspect of the gradual 1/2 mile inclined path to the central ring of the prehistoric Dun Aonghasa ruins of County Galway, Ireland.

The view north, northwest from this way to Dun Aonghasa (Dun Aengus).  In early June, looking across wildflowers, karst landscape, walled fields, farms, the North Atlantic Ocean, coast of Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. 

Note the doorway (with long lintel) in the surrounding wall, to left of center in middle distance.

Click the photograph for a larger view.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands
Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

References: search wikipedia “Dún Aonghasa.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

June Nature Walk

A perfect afternoon, June 16, 2021

Here is a repost for those who missed the video. Please click on video, below and share your responses via comments. Thank You

The Finger Lakes Trail joins Robert H. Treman New York State Park, running along the south rim along the park border.

Today, I started from the stairs next to the Mill of the upper park, walking along Fish Kill Creek, a brief visit to the CCC plaque, over the new footbridge and a steep climb up to the ridge to a marvelous view over the way we just walked. That is a millipede resting on a wooden trail stake.

A word on the creek name. The Dutch word for creek is “Kill”, the anglicisation of the original name retained the Dutch making it, in effect, “Fish Creek Creek,” not a memorization of fish massacre.

There’s one shot of the damage done to tree leaves by hoards of caterpillars…I found chewed-up leaves at my feet throughout the hike.

Then, I re-join the State Park South Rim trail, down the Cliff Staircase to wander the gorge floor below Lucifer Falls.

Up the Gorge Trail with many shots of these wonders including Lucifer Falls, Devil’s Kitchen Waterfall, and the Gallery.

Close with a shot of early Tiger Lily blooms on the south facing bank of Enfield Creek.

I used a new format with this post, with all media in one You Tube video. Enjoy!!

Finger Lakes Trail and Treman Park June 16 2021 – YouTube

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

Woody Peony Reader Query

“It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Asphodel that Greeny Flower WC Williams

Here is a Sunny Sunday reader assignment. Which handling of this woody peony blossom do you prefer? Please leave your preferences in the comments section with details of your reasoning. Thank you!!

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, new for me as of 2020, and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head. This setup allowed me to fiddle with camera settings, here you see a variation in the width of the shutter diaphragm opening, or F-stop. The smaller the opening (higher F-stop) less light is let through to the image sensor, longer exposure time (allowing the subject to move, as in the morning breeze) offset by greater depth of field, more of which provides sharp focus as the subject elements are further from the lens.

In this first photograph, the F-stop is moderately high. The entire blossom and plant are in focus, the background moderately blurred though still recognizable.

For the second photograph F-stop is low, opening up the shutter diaphragm, allowing more light in for a faster shutter release, less time for the morning breeze to rise up and ruin the shot. The beautiful background blurring, bokeh, is a feature of this 50 mm lens. At the same time, at F/4.0 the shutter diaphragm is not wide open. The blossom is entirely in focus, many plant leaves and the other blossom, to left, are out of focus. This places emphasis on the primary subject of the photograph while providing a feel for the surroundings.

Here are the same photographs, click on one to open a gallery for you to flip back and forth to compare.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Woody Peony, Yellow Still Life 50 mm

Yellow for this last day of May 2021

This yellow woody (also called tree) peony blooms later than our red varieties. The first set of three were photographed May 26, 2021 have unopened buds. Yet, these are early compared to those photographed June 6, 2019 used in the last still life.

These first photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, new for me as of 2020, fitted with a 600EX-RT Speedlite (flash) and the Canon EF 70-300 mm (variable) f/4-5.6L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head.

Our Itoh yellow tree peony has flowers on stalks too slender to hold the heavy blooms upright. The flowers open hidden among thick leaves. Here they are a still life of cut blossoms and leaves. The cultivars of Paeonia, the mouton, or hua wang, king of flowers, are ofe of the classic ornamental genera of China. By the 11th and 12th centuries the center off cultivation was in Sichuan, and there yellow-flowered varieties appeared.

Crossbreeding of yellow-flowered P. delavayi with traditional double-flowered P. suffruticosa cultivars by Victor Lemoine in Nancy, France has led to the introduction of the color yellow into the cultivated double-flowered tree-peonies. These hybrids are known as the Paeonia × lemoinei group. In 1948 horticultulturist Toichi Itoh from Tokyo used pollen from ‘Alice Harding’ to fertilize the herbaceous P. lactiflora ‘Katoden’, which resulted in a new category of peonies, the Itoh or intersectional cultivars. These are herbaceous, have leaves like tree peonies, with many large flowers from late spring to early autumn, and good peony wilt resistance. I am guessing our Yellow Wooden Peony is a type of this hybrid because the long stems are more herbaceous than woody, the heavy flowers droop so the best form to capture them is the still life.

Compare the above two exposures to appreciate the effect of the f-stop and excellent bokeh of the Canon “L” lens.

This still life from the 2019 bloom was taken with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III dslr and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens used above. Stabilization provided by a Manfrotto 3036 (studio) tripod with the 468MG hydrostatic ball head. That room is bright from large, east-facing windows. Late afternoon light is soaked up by the black velvet backdrop leaving the lemon yellow leaves to shine.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Wikipedia “Paeonia × suffruticosa
Roger Philips and Martyn Rix, “The Botanical Garden, Vol 1, Trees and Shrubs” p 133

Woody Peony 50 mm

An Early Spring for 2021

Spring 2021, though cold, is early. As I write this the peony blooms presented here, photographed May 20, 2021 are seeding, the gorgeous purple magenta petals strewn beneath the woody stems. In my last posting, from Memorial Day 2019, the plant is in full bloom the end of May.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, new for me as of 2020, and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head. Color results from the Canon dslr are impressive, the first time the unique purple magenta is accurately represented here. I found a slight under exposure captured the plum – fine burgundy wine nature of this Japanese cultivar, “Shimadaijin,” planted in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

Here is the last unopened bud of this season, enclosed by a calyx of 5 green sepals with reddish highlights . In the wild, woody (also called tree) peonies favored cliffs and scrub of western and central China, eastern Himalayas (southeastern Tibet).

The bud is toward the back, slightly out of focus, of this overview. The woody stems hold the profusion of large flowers each one erect. “Tree” is a misnomer as this plant is a shrub growing mid-thigh high. One of the classic ornamental genera of China, known there as moutan or hua wang “King of Flowers.”

Cultivation in China began in Chekiang in the early 4th century AD. By the early Tang period (circa 700 AD) hundreds of varieties were grown.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Wikipedia “Magenta” color
Roger Philips and Martyn Rix, “The Botanical Garden, Vol 1, Trees and Shrubs” p 133

May Nature Walk

Our first post COVID outing

Pam and I headed out to Treman Park for a walk to the Lucifer Falls overlook. The Gorge Trail is not yet open due to the danger of rock falling from the gorge walls — the park maintenance staff needs to survey winter damage and knock down material in danger of falling.

Our first stop was the mill waterfall. This was was directed to the mill stream to power the mill where grain was ground to order.

Here is an overview of the Mill, now a museum not yet opened post-Covid. The millstone stands at the start of the foot trails. All media on this post is from my IPhone 7, lightweight equipment for this hike. The automatic upload to ICloud is convenient.

Round trip is four-plus miles, with several hundred feet elevation change. Pam and I discussed a car caravan for our next visit, to support a one-way downhill hike (still plenty of uphill hiking). We need to work up to the round trip after our winter inactivity.

Trillium are in bloom!!

Multiple overlooks into the gorge grace this trail.

More trillium before we reached the overlook. Lucifer falls and the incredible path etched into the cliff by the Civilian Conservation Corps (Roosevelt’s Tree Army during the Depression).

After the Lucifer Falls overlook is this stupendous view from the top of the Cliff Stairs, 224 steps continue to link to the Gorge and South Rim trails.

As we lingered on the top steps the flowering plants slowly revealed themselves.

I captured this tragic image on the return trip….a trillium discarded on the trail. Stiff fines await anyone caught doing this.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Attack on the Lusitania

Rescue operations and memorials

Our day of touring Kinsale and environs, the last day of May 2014, continues with our morning visit to the “Old Head of Kinsale.” Head is short for headland, a narrow strip of land projecting into the sea.

On May 7th, 1915 the Cunard liner Lusitania was torpedoed 16 km (10 miles) off the Old Head of Kinsale, 40 km (25 miles) west of Queenstown. Of the 1,959 people on board, 1,198 died. Those who survived were brought to Queenstown and Kinsale by rescue vessels and cared for in local hotels and hospitals. Many of those who died were buried at Old Church cemetery, 3 km (2 miles) north of Queenstown. The first class Queen’s Hotel cared for some of the survivors. The elegant Edwardian atmosphere of the hotel was shattered by the horrific news of the loss of the ship. This is the setting for the story of Queenstown’s role in the Lusitania disaster. –text from Cobh Heritage Center poster, see image below.

The Old Head is notable, in the contest of the Lusitania attack, for being the land closest to the incident. Cobh, then named “Queenstown”, was the focus of rescue operations. See text below, from a display of the Cobh Heritage Museum.

The Kinsale tower is just over nine meters high, with walls up to 80 cm thick. Records show a signal crew was in place in 1804 and the tower finished the following year, though severely affected by dampness. When Napoleon was defeated by Wellingtons forces at Waterloo, 1815. With the diminished threat these expensive installations were neglected. The 1899 Ordnance Survey map lists the site as being in ruins. During our 2014 visit the local community was renovating the tower and the work appears complete sometime before 2021.

I did not see and/or recall much emphasis in the museum for pillorying Germany, after all a German U-boat was responsible. Curious, I did a Wikipedia search and found this text. The topic of Ireland, Germany and World War I is complicated.

On the afternoon of 7 May, a German U-boat torpedoed Lusitania 11 miles (18 km) off the southern coast of Ireland inside the declared war zone. A second internal explosion sank her in 18 minutes, killing 1,198 passengers and crew. The German government justified treating Lusitania as a naval vessel because she was carrying 173 tons of war munitions and ammunition, making her a legitimate military target, and they argued that British merchant ships had violated the cruiser rules from the very beginning of the war. The internationally recognized cruiser rules were obsolete by 1915; it had become more dangerous for submarines to surface and give warning with the introduction of Q-ships in 1915 by the Royal Navy, which were armed with concealed deck guns. The Germans argued that Lusitania was regularly transporting “war munitions”; she operated under the control of the Admiralty; she could be converted into an armed auxiliary cruiser to join the war; her identity had been disguised; and she flew no flags. They claimed that she was a non-neutral vessel in a declared war zone, with orders to evade capture and ram challenging submarines.
However, the ship was not armed for battle and was carrying thousands of civilian passengers, and the British government accused the Germans of breaching the cruiser rules. The sinking caused a storm of protest in the United States because 128 American citizens were among the dead. The sinking shifted public opinion in the United States against Germany and was one of the factors in the declaration of war nearly two years later. After the First World War, successive British governments maintained that there were no munitions on board Lusitania, and the Germans were not justified in treating the ship as a naval vessel. In 1982, the head of the Foreign Office’s American department finally admitted that, although no weapons were shipped, there is a large amount of ammunition in the wreck, some of which is highly dangerous and poses a safety risk to salvage teams.

The original memorial to the Lusitania was unveiled on the 80th anniversary of the May 7th, 1915 sinking (May 7, 1995), Old Head of Kinsale, County Cork Ireland. The imemorial nscription reads “In memory of the 1198 civilian lives lost on the Lusitania 7th May 1915 off the Old Head of Kinsale.”

The inscription of the commemoration plaque accompanying the memorial reads, “This memorial was unveiled by Hugh Coveney D Minister of Defense and The Marine on 7 May 1995.” Around the edge of the medallion reads, “Brian Little Sculptor” “This (cannot read) donated by Lan and Mary Buckley”

Wikipedia, “RMS Lusitania.”
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Dawson’s Magnolia?

A 2021 Blessing

The Magnolia genus has been around for eons, come characteristics are protective from beetles as they existed before bees and relied upon beetles for fertilization. Our’s may be the species Magnolia dawsoniana (Dawson’s Magnolia), it shares many of the published characteristics: among them tolerance to our hardiness zone 5, flower color and shape, tree growth pattern.

This was an exceptional year for blooms. starting late April, lasting into May. The fence around trunks is for protection against bucks (male deer), from rubbing their horns in autumn.

For most of these 2021 photographs I used the lens Canon 24 mm f/1.4L II USM, the one captioned 50 mm I used Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with the Manfrotto Studio tripod with hydrostatic ball head for all.

The last great year was 2018……

For these 2018 photographs the Canon 24 mm and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L “Macro” lenses with Canon’s EOS-1Ds Mark III dslr.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Coolcreen View Six

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day 2021 “No Snakes”

Number six of six from the Kerry County side on the descent Healy Pass, R574. Here we move away from, say goodbye (hopefully, for now) to these marvelous views, our first sight of County Kerry.

Two more strange, conical hills come into view, repeating those in the distance. These have a long story.

Beara Peninsula, Coolcreen townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

You can easily view a higher resolution versions by clicking on the photograph to open a browser tab.

Click photograph for a larger version.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved