Like a Dandelion

and a shifting of crops to (human) wheat from (cow) corn

Wednesday, June 15th, we were on a turn to heat and humidity with this day of light breeze, temperature in the 70s making hiking around Tremen Park a joy.

These snapshots, taken on the fly with an IPhone 7, are the high points.

The first is a dandelion look alike with yellow flowers, petals shaped like teeth, though on a long hard stem and multiple flowers on a stalk. Known as meadow hawkweed, yellow hawkweed, field hawkweed, king devil, yellow paintbrush, devil’s paintbrush, yellow devil, yellow fox-and-cubs, and yellow king-devil with two scientific names: Pilosella caespitosa and Hieracium caespitosum.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Click for slideshow.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Survival

live on a Sky Island

Sky islands are isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments. The term originally referred to those found near the southern borders of the U.S. states of Arizona and New Mexico with the northern borders of the Mexican States of Chihuahua and Sonora such as the Dragoon Mountains featured in this post. The isolation has significant implications for these natural habitats. The American Southwest region began warming up between ∼20,000–10,000 years before the present-day and atmospheric temperatures increased substantially, resulting in the formation of vast deserts that isolated the sky islands.

This sycamore tree survives life in this ephemeral stream of an Arizona “Sky Island” by allowing entire trunks to die off during extended dry spells. The tree is an Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii).

Informative sign at campsite

Reference: wikipedia article “Sky Islands.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Cochise Spring

ancestral Apache land

Interstate 10 between Benson and Wilcox ascends through a field of enormous, eroded granite boulders. Off to the west are the Dragoon Mountains, otherwise known as “Cochise Stronghold.”

Informative sign at campsite

Starting from the campsite is the “Sky Islands Traverse” hiking trail, leading up into the mountains. I wandered from the trail to follow a dry streambed to this residual pool of water, the time being early spring, and this is what remained from the winter rains.

A single butterfly of the genus Anthocharis generally called “Orangetip” for the colorful upper wing tips. These exist throughout the world, here in Arizona they migrate across the desert, obtaining refuge and nourishment from “Sky Islands” such as the Dragoon Mountains

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Blasket Islands with Clouds

a road like no other

On the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland photograph taken from Slea Head Drive (R559), looking west down the cliff toward the North Atlantic Ocean breaking on the rocks. In the distance, Slea Head and the Blasket Islands. In the forground, the wildflower of Red Clover (Scientific Name: Trifolium pretense) (Irish Name: Seamair dhearg).

Click the links for my offerings on Getty Istock.

Blasket Islands with Clouds I

Blasket Islands with Clouds II

BlasketsFromSleaHead2014-1

Newlyweds and the Cruise Ship

Images of Newlyweds on the beach

With grandchildren in the Miami Area and a sister in Daytona Beach, Florida was on my mind this morning and memories of this beautiful experience on Cocoa Beach came to mind. After an eventful day touring the NASA launch control center, Pam and I took an evening walk during the golden hour, me with camera in hand.
Full in expectation of catching the passing scene with lots of shot I set to full size jpeg mode using a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens. The light was exceptional, so I did not expect much post production work.

My first impression was of the line of cruise ships heading south from Port Canaveral, the starboard side lit perfectly behind human denizens of the Cocoa Beach shore, in full enjoyment mode. A synergy of the images struck me. I took a few experimental shots then, as we progressed down the beach front this unusual tableau came into view.

Wedding Immersion
Newlyweds on Cocoa Beach give rapt attention to a distant cruise ship, it looks like an elegant child’s toy.

Pulling back the focal length a bit the reason for the bride and groom on the beach is clear.

Newlyweds and Photographer
Photographer approaches from left.

The session proceeded smoothly and professionally, it was a pleasure to watch. I felt no compunction for capturing these private moments on a public beach, the transcendence of the images reflect well on all participants.

Newlywed Photoshoot
Bride and groom pose while photographer composes the shot, her assistant behind.

Pull back to capture the entire environment.
Enjoy!!!

First Water Trailhead

A desert garden with plans

First Water Trail Head

Notable Sonoran Desert Plants, all in the same frame. From the left, back row: staghorn cholla, ocotillo, saguaro. Front row: teddy bear cholla, yucca. I am not certain the greenery to the left of the yucca is brittle bush.

First Water trail head is the most used access point to the Superstition Wilderness, being the closest to Phoenix and its satellite cities and suburbs. For day hikers there are ample and interesting route choices as all foot trails of the west side terminate at First Water making for a variety of loops and incredible views. For horse people there are facilities to park huge trailers.

The ready access from Mesa, where my sister and husband had their home, was the primary reason I planned to finish my cross wilderness hike on the Dutchman Trail. Named for Jacob Waltz of the fabulous legend of the Lost Dutchman mine, the inspiration for The Searcher’s Superstition Wilderness expeditions and, ultimately, why he and I met and my change of plans.

On our ride over from Roosevelt he told of his difficulties building a home in Apache Junction, sleepless nights spent guarding building supplies from thieves. He looked forward to moving day.

This photographic record of five days in the wilderness would be much different without that meeting yet, there I was that afternoon with plenty of time for photography during the golden hours of late afternoon as I wandered the desert gardens until my sister arrived.

Wild Barley

The long distant ridge beyond the rugged near hills is the backbone of the famed “Superstition Mountain.” On the far right are hoodoos, appearing as so many teeth on a jaw. Gorgeous saguaros in the foreground.

Weavers Needle is the distant peak, 5.5 dry miles away in this view to the west / southwest.

I’ve always been partial to how the dense spines of cactus catch the evening light. These staghorn chollas are in front of the same ridge of the Superstition Mountain. A famous formation, “The Flatiron” is visible on the far right.

The road to the trail head, Service Road 78, winds through 2.6 miles of hills. Here is another overview of Sonoran desert life.

You might remember hedgehog cactus blossoms from my posting “A Dry Piece of Paradise”. The following are from the large hedgehog cactus in the foreground of the preceding photograph.

Future Plans

During the drive back with my sister, Diane, we talked of plans for returning to the Reavis Ranch together, as a backpack expedition. In coming days I met with The Searcher to explore possibilities for a horse expedition and, three years later, these plans came together for a trip kicked off from this same First Water trail head.

Hedgehog Cactus Blooms

Here is a gallery of the same photos. It is fun to flip back and forth with me disappearing from the scene.

Click me for the first post of this series.

Oak Creek Mandala

early one still morning

This quiet nook is hidden along the Oak Creek Canyon trail, though easy enough to find.

I visited there just at dawn when the air was still and the usually busy site deserted.

Oak Creek Canyon is named for the native, evergreen oak species unique to desert environments.  The leaves conserve moisture: small, thick.  I remember camping at the Chiricahua National Monument on November.  All night the acorns fell onto the metal picnic tables, a loud metallic thunk.  

The post header is a primrose flower growing on the bank of Oak Creek.

Recognize the rock from “Oak Creek Mandala”?  This is farther up the Oak Creek Canyon trail, “photograph by Pam Wills.”  I am in my warm weather photography kit of the time having passed the camera to Pam for the shot.

Click this link for my Fine Art Photography gallery. You can find Oak Creek Mandala in the Arizona gallery.  The gallery description gives more information about the site.

Click this link for another Arizona post, “Cochise Dawn.”

Sandfall

explore a slot canyon

Here the red rock of the northwestern corner of the Navajo Nation was pulverized into sand by the action of wind, water, sun and cold.  The red sand flows here over a water-shaped bench, having blown into the darkness of a narrow canyon, called a slot.

I waited in the dry darkness of upper Antelope Canyon for the perfect moment to capture the spirit of the place.

Click this link for my Fine Art Photography gallery.

Click this link for another Arizona post, “A Dry Piece of Paradise.”

A Visit with Tom and Hen Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving

The Catskill Mountains are not mountains. The Catskills started as a high plateau. Over eons, before the first humans, water, the sun, and wind carved high steep peaks: rounded, forested and teeming with life.
 
October 2008, on a return trip from family on Long Island, we traveled the winding road called “Route 17”, through the high autumn hillsides.

Route 17_FishsEddy_throughTheWindshield– CLICK ME!!!!

 

Click me for more Autumn Magic from my Online Gallery

Fishs Eddy

As the sun passed over the western hills we stopped to explore a place called “Fishs Eddy”, a town on the banks of the Delaware River.
 

Delaware River at Fishes Eddy– CLICK ME!!!!

 
 
On the east side, facing sunset is a formation that would be a cliff if it was not for the hardwood trees growing from every available nook, crevice.  Everywhere a root could be sunk, roots fed trees that, one late October afternoon, made a hill bright with autumn.
 

Turkey Habitat

Turkeys live in this type of habitat. We took a trail, barely a road that climbed past failed farms and hunting shacks.

Catskill Hillside– CLICK ME!!!!

 

Click me for more Autumn Magic from my Online Gallery

 

The Hens Flee

On a level place, in front of a ruined home, we came upon a Tom (male) turkey and his four hens. The hens fled at the sight of us.
 
With barely time to raise the camera I caught Tom and the last hen as she fled into the bushes.

Tom and Hen Turkey Flee the Scene– CLICK ME!!!!

 

Tom Turkey Defiant

I say she, because Tom stayed behind. He stood erect, all three feet of him, defiant and strutting in a direction opposite from the hens.

This is the bird Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national emblem of the new United State of America (the bald eagle won that competition).
Hunted into almost oblivion, across the United States the wild turkey is making a dramatic come back in many places, including the forests and farmland of rural New York State.

A Defiant Tom Turkey– CLICK ME!!!!

This fellow made no noise. His strutting posture and head bobbing said it all.
We left Tom Turkey in peace to his domain and hens.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, my friends.

Tom Turkey Stalks the Ruin– CLICK ME!!!!

Katrina Sunrise, August 28, 2005

The effects of the category 5 hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast and New Orleans as the sun rose on the West End of Jones Beach on Long Island, August 28, 2005. This amazing sunrise was an element of the unusual atmospheric effects that are evidence of the power of this storm.

The featured image (heading this blog) is my print, “Katrina Sunrise”.  This work is enjoyed by hundreds of my clients.  Use the link, below, to acquire your own.  Custom framing is available.

Click this link for Katrina Sunrise from my Memory Dreams Reflections Online gallery
The following images are the rough drafts taken in the early morning hours. The beach was literally deserted as I mounted the camera and framed the view for this series. Many image captions include the file time stamp, for example 6:07:13 is 6 am and 7 minutes 13 seconds.

West End Sunrise 6:07:13
6:07:13 First image of the set. Below the horizon the sun lights the upper atmosphere.
West End Sunrise 6:07:34
6:07:34 As the sun approaches the horizon the lower clouds catch light. My Camera was a Sony DSC-F828 tripod mounted with a polarizing filter.
West End Sunrise 6:07:56
6:07:56 I panned slightly to the east. ISO was set to 64 throughout.
West End Sunrise 6:08:16
6:08:16 Gradual brightening. The lens is 7.1 – 51.0 mm f/2.0-2.8.
West End Sunrise 6:08:38
6:08:38 All levels are brighter. It seems those low clouds will block the horizon. That was not the case. The variable focal length is 15.6 mm.
West End Sunrise 6:09:05
6:09:05 It is happening!!!! Exposure was set to automatic on a f stop of 8.0. It was 1/3 second for this image.
West End Sunrise 6:14:34
6:14:34 The view is panned west. That is the Robert Moses water tower of Jones Beach State Park looking like a rocket ready to blast off.
West End Sunrise 6:15:15
6:15:15 Will those low clouds block the sun? Looks promising.
West End Sunrise 6:16:11
6:16:11 Clouds on the upper margin catching the sun. Horizon brightening….. Exposure 1/20 second.
West End Sunrise 6:14:39
6:14:39 This will be a disappointment if that sun does not show. Exposure 1/25 second.
West End Sunrise 6:18:27
6:18:27 Almost there….1/15 second exposure….
West End Sunrise 6:19:07
6:19:07 Quick framing adjustment to bring the lighting of shore margin into the composition. The final version was created from two images captured seconds after this.
Hurricane Rainbow Panorama
As the sun rose a rainbow formed in the western sky.

Click this link for my blog “Sunrise Photo Album March 2 2017.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved