Friday, November 30, 2007
I am sorry for boring you with yet another photograph of this tree. I have photographed it twice in the past two days, even though I posted a photo of it only several days ago! I was backing out of the driveway, and not only were the colors better today, but the angle resulted in a more cohesive design, I though. So I parked the car in the street, and got the camera, and photographed it again. This is the best view of all, and the best photo. Please click on it for a larger image and better color. If you do that I promise I will stop posting more photos of it. Well, maybe...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Thursday, November 29, 2007
As frequent readers will note, I have covered a couple of press conferences lately, for people suing for wrongful death and medical malpractice. These events are held in conference rooms with fluorescent lighting, which is pretty boring as far as lighting is concerned. This room had blinds, and two of the slats were missing. At first I wondered if it would make a mess of trying to light the three people who were talking. I got the photos I needed, and then saw this and figured I would play around with the light to get something different. Not necessarily anything useful for the paper, but an interesting exercise is how to see beyond the normal way of seeing.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:31 PM
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
This stove is in the backyard of the house next door. We have new neighbors, and boy, are we lucky! They are a young couple with a 2 year old. He grew up in the next town over, and she is from the Netherlands. They lived in Holland for three years, before moving to the US. He said when they were packing the container with their belongings for the move, they were going to toss out this cast iron outdoor stove, but then realized that it would fit so why not bring it. It is used for burning wood to warm up when sitting around on the patio on a cool day. I love how it looks, sitting out here amongst the leaves. I also love the grape aqrbor to the right of the photo.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:57 PM
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
And now for something completely different... Here is the story about this photograph. A landlord was renting a home to two families. The home was actually condemned, had no heat, and the power had been turned off. The landlord allegedly bought a portable generator, and to insure that it would not be stolen, set it up in the BASEMENT of the home where it was left running! Two people died from asphyxiation. One man was a young father, who worked two jobs, and loved his wife and young child. Fortunately the mother and child were staying in another home that had heat. He stayed in the condemned home so no one would steal their belongings. He died in his sleep. This is his mom and her lawyer at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the town and the landlord. A terribly sad story.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Monday, November 26, 2007
I hope you will excuse my fascination with the Autumn colors in my yard - it is such a joy to see. Fall is clearly my favorite time of year. And not just for the brilliant colors - I also love to watch the fading of life all around, when bright colors turn to more subtle hues. There is joy in watching flowers and plants change from the vigor of life to the beauty of decay. This Japanese Maple tree was here when we moved in in 1971 and I have photographed it innumerable times, in all seasons. I am in love with the shape of the branches and can always find a photograph here. It is the last tree to loose its leaves, and when they fall to the ground, they are the most delicate leaves I have seen. When the ground is covered with them, it makes a lovely close-up photograph. I will just have to take that picture this year for you.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:20 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2007
When we arrived back on Long Island late yesterday, I was thrilled to see that the trees had finally turned to their autumn colors. Quite a change in a week away - I thought they would never change this year. Upstate, all the trees have dropped their leaves by now. I was not prepared, however for how beautiful everything was. Not until I went out to the car this morning to go get bagels. I was stunned at the sight of all the trees backlit by the morning sun! It was a perfect day, so before I even ate breakfast, I spent about an hour photographing the trees in my yard. Having lived here for 36 years, there are certain shots that I know will always work. I tried those, and then looked for new ways of seeing things. I ended up with a whole bunch of "keepers," but chose this one for the blog because I don't remember shooting this view ever before.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:19 PM
Saturday, November 24, 2007
We headed back home from Rochester this morning. Driving through Geneva, NY we drove by Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. There is a park alongside the road, called Seneca Lake State Park. I saw some nice colors and shapes, so I stopped for about 15 minutes to see what I could make of it. This is the result. Kind of reminds me of the crooked grape vines I photographed a couple of weeks ago.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:27 PM
Friday, November 23, 2007
This is the George Eastman House on East Avenue in Rochester, NY. It is the world's oldest photography museum and one of the world's oldest film archives. It was the home of George Eastman, of Eastman Kodak fame, before it opened as a museum of photography in 1949. It is world-renowned for its photograph and motion picture archives. I first came here in 1960 as a Freshman at Rochester Institute of Technology, and have come back here at least once a year, every year since then. When we come to Rochester to visit family, this is first place I come to see the latest photography exhibitions, and displays of photographic equipment. I always take time to photograph the gardens and grounds as well. This time, it was long after sunset when I left, and raining as well, and I thought I should see what the building would look like at night in the rain, just for something different. I tried several different views, and this is my favorite. It was worth getting soaked in order to make this photograph. (Be sure to click on the image to see a larger photo, with *much* better color!)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:07 PM
Thursday, November 22, 2007
It is snowing on Thanksgiving in Rochester! I took the first photograph, on the left, when I got up this morning. I loved the bright green grass and the yellow maple leaves. Snow flurries started in the morning, and by afternoon, there was a coating of snow on everything. So I took the second photo later in the day. I love seeing the contrast. What a difference a day makes.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:37 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I am driving upstate under overcast skies, in light rain with fog and mist. I pass a red tail hawk on a telephone wire, waiting to drop on the slightest hint of movement in the field below. Most of the trees are bare by now and their black branches are in silhouette against the sky. Fall comes earlier to upstate than it does to Long Island. The weather makes this landscape melancholy, and it is beautiful. I am reminded of Robert Frost's poem "My November Guest" which includes these lines: "Not yesterday I learned to know, The love of bare November days..." I pass this unpaved road which which leads to a farm, it is wet with rain reflecting the sky where the water has gathered in tire tracks. It takes a few moments for the image to register, and I stop some distance down the highway, and back up, so that I can take this photo.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I have been photographing abandoned farmhouses since I first came to upstate New York as a college freshman in the fall of 1960. There is something about these buildings that absolutely fascinates me. Perhaps it has to do with the sense that these buildings have stories to tell, about the lives that have been lived here. As I photographed this farmhouse today, I wondered what it looked like when it was brand new, and I wondered who built it, and what their life was like. There is a richness to the architectural detail in most of these buildings. But more importantly, there is a power in ruins that draws me in every time. This building is by the side of the road about a mile south of Ovid, New York, in the heart of the Finger Lakes.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:24 PM
Monday, November 19, 2007
We are on the road, headed upstate for Thanksgiving with relatives, driving at night, so there was no photography today. While looking for an image to use yesterday to illustrate the point about some photographs being easy, I came across this. It is a 4x5 Polaroid Type 55 negative that I did about five years ago on the Camino del Diablo in Arizona. I was on a photographic field trip with Mark Klett, and we spent a week in the Cabeza Prieta which is in the southwest of the state. It surounds the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range, so that made for interesting moments with F-16's doing low level navigation, flying supersonically, both day and night! Anyhow, this is a famous grave, located on the trail that led from Mexico across the desert, where temperatures reached 120 degrees in the summer. The trail led to Yuma, Arizona, and a place to cross the Colorado River, in order to get to California and the gold rush. Conditions were so brutal, many people and animals died makking the journey. There is an amazing story about this grave - maybe I will tell you some day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:28 PM
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The "Easy Button." I thought that this photo would be an interesting contrast to the series of photos I did at the pond. Sometimes you walk up to a place and the scene is so dramatic that you almost just point and shoot, and end up with a dramatic photo like this! Here it is: foreground, middle ground, background, and the very graphic shapes of the foreground trees. OK, so it's not really that easy - I did spend about half an hour experimenting with various compositions, but there was no doubt that there was a great photo here, and I was going to find it. Such a different experience from hoping for a photo at the pond. End of lessons!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:42 PM
Saturday, November 17, 2007
So I continued walking along the edge of the pond, looking both near and far for a photo that would have something special about it. I was attracted to this scene all the way across the pond. I had pretty much given up on the foreground, middle ground, background approach for this pond. I like the compostion of this image, and the textures and colors. although it has I think it has a bit less impact because it is so two-dimensional. It is a more subtle photo, in both color and design, but after trying a number of diffrent ways of looking for a photo here I found something I am pleased with. I will have one more landscape photo to post tomorrow, but it will not be from the pond.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:48 PM
Friday, November 16, 2007
It is hard to remember, when you are looking for a grand landscape, that sometimes, a dramatic close up can be a powerful image. What immediately comes to mind is a magnificent black and white photograph that Harry Callahan did called "Grass, Aix en Provence" which looks like a human form. (email me and I will send it to you...) Anyhow, I decided to look for a close up and see if that change in what I was looking for would make a difference. I think it did, and here is the result. The interesting thing about a close up is that if I were doing a photo essay on the landscape of a particular area, the change in scale between far and near adds visual variety to a layout of multiple images seen next to one another. But this is not the end of the lesson... Please come back tomorrow.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:00 PM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
So I started walking along the edge of the pond, determined to find a photo. When these branches came into view, I liked that they added a foreground-background element to the landscape. I spent quite a bit of time trying different "crops" of this view of the pond, and this is my favorite. More interesting that the first photo, but I was hoping for something more. Stay tuned for my further adventures. And as usual, if you click on this image, you will get a larger one, with better color. Please do that. Thanks.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:47 PM
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Just to the left of where I stood to take yesterday's photo of the pond, there is a cement spillway where the water leaves the pond. I decided to walk out on it to see if the change of viewpoint would result in a better photo. I had to look down to check my footing, and when I did, I spotted the reflection of these tree branches, backlit by the reflection of the sun and clouds. OK, so it's not the greatest photo I ever took, but it is more interesting than the overall view from yesterday I think. So I shot this, and continued on with my searching for a better photograph. I will show you a nice one tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I have been to this place before. And I didn't get a good picture then either! This picture is not posted because I think it is a real photograph, but rather to show you what the place looks like. I was here last spring and everything was green and when I drove by, caught sight of it and decided to look for a photo. I didn't get one. This morning I passed it again, and with the muted colors of fall, mirror-smooth water with some mist on it, I thought for sure I would find a real photo. Well, I started looking and I was not finding anything. So I thought it would make a good blog to tell you that sometimes you CAN'T find a photo, just because you want one. Then I thought: "That's ridiculous, you can ALWAYS find a photo!" So I went looking, just to prove a point. So tomorrow, and for a few days after I will show you what I found, and you can tell me what you think.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Monday, November 12, 2007
I was having breakfast at the dining table, which faces these windows in the living room. It was the curl of the cat's tail that grabbed my attention. I think if it was hanging straight down, I would not have gotten up to make the shot. As it was, this was dicey - I got up to go into the living room and get my Canon point-and-shoot, and of course the cat turned around and watched me, even though I was moving very slowly and quietly. "Please don't move." I said to myself, and the kitty didn't. I stood there with the camera, and she got bored with me and went back to looking out the window, and I managed to get this shot.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:57 PM
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Some of you will be thrilled to know that I am down off the roof for the rest of the winter. The front half of the roof is done! In spring, or fall, I will start on the back half, which will be a bit easier because there is less area of roof to tear off and re-roof. So the good news is that I didn't fall off the roof, or break any parts of myself in the process. There was one casualty, however. I had this really nice pair of silver Air Nike running shoes with a bright red swoosh, in mint condition. I found when I started roofing that I needed softer soled shoes than I had on my work boots. The roofing material is relatively fragile when it is warm out, and the harder soled shoes damage the granules and the asphalt underneath. So these shoes were perfect. I spend a lot of time sitting on the roof working and so the granules wore away the fabric on my nice new shoes. And they are black from the dirt when I was tearing off the roof. When I saw how beat up they had become in a short time, I decided to make a studio setup on my dining room table and drag in the big strobe unit and try several different kinds of lighting to see which lighting showed off the shoes the best. I like this one.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:12 PM
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Obviously this is not a photo of cleaning up the yard, which is what I did today. I Loaded wheelbarrows full of the shingles I had torn off the old roof before putting on the new one, into the dumpster on the street. How interesting a photo would that make? Right, not very. So instead, here is a photo I made in Rhode Island a month or two ago while we visiting friends. My friend Dick is a landscape photographer and knows all the good spots all around Rhode Island, so he drove us here one night, knowing I would enjoy having a chance to shoot this. It is the Mount Hope Bridge, designed in 1927 and is a prize-winning suspension bridge over Mount Hope Bay between Portsmouth and Bristol, RI. With a main span of 1200 feet, the Mount Hope Bridge was for many years the longest suspension bridge in New England. So I thought you might like to see this shot at night, instead of me working in my yard.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:23 PM
Friday, November 9, 2007
I had stopped to visit my friend Steve in Northport, and when leaving his building, happened to look up as I was getting into my car. I saw this, and it stopped me. Not sure why, once again. I had not found my picture for the day though, so figured I would shoot this. After I got closer to home I found something I liked better, so this has been sitting in the "possibles" folder for the blog, and since I didn't find anything today, here it is for you. This kills me, though - in the original the yellow is very bright and the blue much more saturated. You should know that I am now looking at a couple of website building apps, and if I am smart enough to actually LEARN them, I will begin a new site which I host, and which will have pictures that are both larger, and more brilliant in their color. Stay tuned...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Now that daylight savings time is gone, it is dark when I get home from work. I pulled over just short of the driveway and parked the car on this particular evening, and the scene outside the window grabbed my attention in some way. I grabbed the camera and did a few exposures, then put the headlights on high beam to see if I liked that version of lighting better. There was something about the scene that seemed a bit strange or unusual or mysterious. So I shot it! After all, that's what I do...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:46 PM
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
It was back to the vinyards today. The story is that 2007 is looking like one of the best years ever for wine on Long Island. Of course we will have to wait to 2010 for the wines to be released. I did some portraits of winery owners, then decided to do some kind of generic wine photograph This is a glass of wine that was drawn from the fermentation tanks, which is the first step in the long process of wine making. I played with this glass of not-wine-yet for probably half an hour in different situations and using different compositions. I think this composition is the most interesting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:54 PM
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I drove over to Nikon to pick up a repaired camera, and when I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed these bright red trees reflected in some puddles left over from an all-night rain. I parked my car, and got out my Canon SD800 point and shoot, and spent about 10 minutes shooting the reflections. I was sure that I now had my blog photo for the day! Then I went in, got my big camera, and came back out. I approached the puddles from a slightly different angle, and saw a different view. So I spent another ten minutes, and found this composition. This one is much stronger as a photo - it's more abstract than the first one. NOW I have my blog post! Imagine, I had to come to a parking lot to see the most colorful trees so far this fall. You probably need to click on this image to see the more colorful original in a larger size.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:56 PM
Monday, November 5, 2007
This is the restored library at Oheka Castle, the former home of Otto Kahn, here on Long Island. One of the great Gold Coast mansions, it still is the second largest private residence ever built in America. Before the present owner bought it, in 1984, and set about restoring it, it was in ruin. I was here today to photograph some Christmas candles and got to see how it is coming. It is about 80% restored. Oheka has been turned into an upscale residence and hotel, and it is beautiful beyond belief. I have seen it in former years, as it was slowly transformed from ruin. It was a joy to see how far the restoration has come.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:00 PM
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Wow! I nearly didn't get this shot. I had just photographed the county executives of Nassau & Suffolk counties at a conference, and was leaving the campus, with a studio flash unit in a backpack on one shoulder, and a lightstand bag and camera bag on the other, when I idly watched this guy walking toward me. Then I turned and looked behind me to watch him walk away, and saw this! Oh man! I quickly shot two frames and then thought, "Wait! What setting is the camera on?" Oh man, I forgot to set the exposure! What a greenhorn! I quickly set the exposure properly, and walked quickly after him, with all the junk hanging off me, shooting, until I got this shot. Whew! Well, that got my heart started!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:37 PM
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I was on the way to an assignment when I drove by this scene, and couldn't stop. It was the flash of yellow leaves in the afternoon light against the blue of the sky. So I came back when I was done and spent some time photographing this scene. I did about three different versions, and choose this one because of the dramatic dark curve of the vines to the lower right. It was a beautiful day, and this photograph feels like the day did.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:44 PM
Friday, November 2, 2007
I had a lovely start to my day today. I drove out to Southold and photographed this wonderful pastor, in her beautiful church. The church was founded in 1835 and I am not sure how old the building is. It has windows that run almost from floor to ceiling, and old wooden pews that remind me of the churches in New England where I grew up. In the process of doing the portrait, I had a wonderful conversation about life with her. One of those special moments that I am lucky to have from time to time. Such a wonderful way to start the day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:34 PM
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I am actually doing two posts tonight - two photographs to choose from, for one blog. So the story she told me is that she has lived in this house for 28 years with her husband, and has raised 4 children here. Her friends are in the neighborhood, and she can walk to stores and transporation, and so she can go anywhere she wants. She has spent these 28 years working on the gardens all around her house. The size of the plot is not large, but she has used every available area to plant a lawn and gardens. There are little hidden areas, one with a bench surrounded by taller trees and plantings where she can quietly contemplate the beauties of her garden. Behind the house, she has a storage shed where she keeps gardening equipment. And to brighten this shed, she has painted two scenes of nature on it. I think it was her attempt to make this dull building prettier that touched me. But here is the killer... She said her husband is tired of the cold and of shoveling snow, so he insists on moving to Florida. This woman is really uneasy, having to leave the neighborhood she knows so well, her friends, and the gardens she has worked on all her life. I hope it goes well for her, but it makes me really uneasy to hear of her having to leave this home where she has spent so much of her life.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:56 PM
So here is the story... I had an assignment to photograph a woman in Queens who planted a memorial garden in memory of her father and son. This is a photograph of her, and of her garden. In the course of conversation she told me a story, and I was really taken by it, so I wanted to take a photograph for the blog and tell her story. But I couldn't decide which photograph was more interesting, or which told the story better.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:41 PM