Sunday, September 30, 2007
OK, it's not modern art. It is something called a "closed cut valley" in the process of being constructed from asphalt shingles on my roof. There are a couple of tricky bits to this roof - one is called "step flashing," and the the other is this valley. I sat there for twenty minutes contemplating how to do this before starting, and I think I have done it right. I will know when I bring in the shingles from the other side of the valley and see how it all looks. OK, but I actually did take the photo because it looked like an abstract painting, especially with the hammer and hook knife sticking up and casting those unusual shadows on the roof.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:34 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I have been up on the roof all day, working on my never ending project to tear off the old roof and put on a new one. I only hurt everywhere... Anyhow, I have a billion other nice photographs that I have taken over time, so I am showing you this one on a day of no photography for me. It is Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudi, in Barcelona, Spain. We were on a family trip in 2006 and my daughter Liz wanted to travel to Barcelona, Spain, from Nice just to see the work of Gaudi. This is a room on the top floor in family residence, that cannot be imagined! It was built for a middle class family in 1905-1907 and it seems more modern than that. The building is quite famous so you may want to do a Google search and read more about it. The front facade is phantasmagorical, so maybe I will show you that view some other day that I am on up the roof again... Like tomorrow...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:39 PM
Friday, September 28, 2007
Taking out the garbage. That's how I saw this scene. I had already posted last night's photograph, so when I saw this (and it was at something like 1:30 AM), I realized I would save it for tonight. I shot it in color, but the different colors of the streetlights on different parts of the scene were distracting, so I thought I would look at it in black & white, and it is a much more effective photograph seen this way. For me this is evocative of that special feeling of summer nights that I have known since I was a child, and it also has that slightly haunting feeling of mystery. I love the mysterious in photographs. The solitary mailbox has a lot to do with the power of this photo as well.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:16 PM
Thursday, September 27, 2007
This is a traditional Japanese Ikebana flower arrangement, using among other things, Hosta leaves. I photographed this beautiful creation for a story on different varieties of Hosta. I usually photograph flowers naturally in the garden, but the chance to photograph this gem on seamless paper set up on the designer's dining room table set it apart from any distracting background, and I think we see it more clearly as a result. Its beauty is in its design and balance, and for me, a joy to look at and study.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:12 PM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This is a portrait of Karen, a photographer, colleague at work, friend, AND a quilter. I volunteered to help her photograph a number of her quilts in the studio. When we were done, I said I wanted to do a portrait of the artist in front of one of her works. Wait until you hear about this quilt! Several years ago there was an exhibit of quilts at the Whitney museum by several generations of quilters in the tiny town of Gee's Bend, Alabama. The quilter's art was hailed as "some of the most miraculous work of art America has produced." The show subsequently traveled to numerous other museums and the women have found gallery representation for their art. I saw the exhibit at the Whitney, and one of the most impressive quilts was one made of old, worn, coveralls that were turned into a quilt when the men could no longer wear the clothing! It is a stunning quilt, blue on blue. Anyhow, when I asked Karen about this quilt, she said she made it from her son's old college shirts that he no longer wears! What a wonderful thing this is. A work of art, and something very special besides!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:11 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Whenever I hear the word "Moonrise" I immediately think of the Ansel Adams photograph "Moonrise, Hernandez" which I first saw at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY in 1960. I have seen many moonrises and always equate them with being in nature, and the beauty of the universe. So when I came out of a Starbucks this evening, and saw this moonrise under some shopping center parking lot lights, with electric wires in the background, it just seemed so completely incongruous, I had to photograph it. This is a photo that will not be hanging on my wall at home!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Monday, September 24, 2007
Just an ordinary morning, early in fall. The sun's path is lower each day as it arcs through the sky. Because of this, the light is always just a little bit different each day. For some reason, today I saw this. I see this every morning - it is the bathroom window, and I suddenly noticed the light on the shutters after getting out of the shower. So I grabbed the camera and made a number of exposures. Here's the tricky part... I did some images where there was a sense that the light was "exploding" through the window and blinds, and then I did this darker version. It took me a long time to decide on this darker version. I am not sure why - I don't think it felt dark like this when I first saw it, but I like the drama better in this version. This also has a slightly magical feeling to it as well, the "something else" going on in a photograph that gives it a richness that comes from more complexity in the image.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:49 PM
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I have been on the roof for the last two days, working away on my project. So I pretty much figured that there would be no photo taken today for the blog. However, as I came down the ladder and then walked across the front porch, I saw the glow of the setting sun through the trees. "Wow! This might work," I thought. OK, so this was taken in desperation, but I do have a blog to post to every day. I do like the way the sun has lit up portions of the hedges with a wonderful glow.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2007
The story is about college students and how they decorate their off campus apartments. This is a detail shot in one girl's bedroom. It was only after seeing the final photo that I noticed a faint sense of strangeness. I think it has to do with the dark reflection in the mirror. The light in the room was mainly from the table lamp with an incandescent bulb but there was daylight coming in the window. Something about the curtain only covering half the window and the blue color adds to the slight feeling of strangeness. I like the photo a lot because of the feeling it has, but I guess this won't make the paper. We'll see...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:56 PM
Friday, September 21, 2007
When I arrived home today, I parked in the street instead of the driveway. In doing so I glanced out the passenger window as I backed up to park, and this is what I saw. What caught my eye was the sunlight on the ferns and the grasses to the left in the photo. After parking the car, I got out with my toy camera and looked around to find the best angle. I can't tell you where it came from exactly, but there was something very special about the light particularly, and the ferns and the picket fence that seemed to say: "Welcome Home." I have no idea where that came from, but that's how it felt, and I love the photo. Sometimes it is harder to find good photographs of the commonplace things we see each day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:14 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I am never sure what it is that attracts me to certain scenes which I then decide to photograph. Here is a good example. The illuminated tree in the parking lot of the Garden City Hotel stopped me on the way back to my car. Not sure what it was. But it felt like something worth photographing. The hint of color in the sky was part of it, as was the streetlight itself. It is difficult to tell whether my brain is working subconsciously or not, but when it tells me to stop I always try to listen.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:42 PM
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
When we went to tour the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, we found several tables lined up in front of a mural, holding unimaginably beautiful old telescopes. This is a Gregorian telescope by George Adams, Sr, made in 1760! Isn't it stunning? This is what the Antique Telescope Society is all about. Many members own telescopes like this, and they are not cheap. A telescope made by Alvan Clark & Sons, in Cambridgeport, MA at the turn of the century, with a 3" diameter lens, can be worth nearly $20,000! The "Old is bad, new is good" quote is something said jokingly by members of the society after hearing stories of beautiful old classic telescopes in observatories being replaced by colleges in favor of some new "modern" instruments. In at least one case, the new telescope broke after several years, and the manufacturer said there were no new parts available because the instrument had been discontinued. The original telescope which was replaced had worked perfectly for 80 years!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:49 PM
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The assignment was to photograph a woman who was given a bad deal on converting her mortgage from variable rate to a fixed rate. The proposal by the company was some ridiculous rate, and a fee of $40,000 for the new mortgage! I photographed her as we talked about how unfair it was. Her face was very expressive, but I was thinking that my photographs were not flattering to her at all. Perhaps one of these would be really dramatic in the paper. But I couldn't in good conscience submit one of these. Instead I photographed her with a more "normal" expression, and submitted that photo instead.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Monday, September 17, 2007
Early this morning we were off to the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. A Stunning museum in a wonderful building - an old textile mill. We were there to view some antique telescopes which were on display. This image is part of a traveling NASA exhibit about the work of the Hubble Space Telescope, and it was next to where the telescopes were on display. It is a huge illuminated transparency that is awe inspiring to stand in front of and contemplate. It is known as the Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51). The large galaxy is interacting with a smaller galaxy - some say it is devouring it. It is located about 37 Million light years away from us. The galaxy's massive center, the bright ball of light in the center of the photograph, is about 80 light-years across and has a brightness of about 100 million suns. After I stood looking at this transparency for some time, I walked away, and then turned to see this gentleman as transfixed as I was, and quickly took this photograph before he moved away.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Sunday, September 16, 2007
This is a very famous telescope, the 23 inch Clark refractor that began its life at Princeton University in 1882. The lens was made in 1882 by Alvan Clark & Sons, and then the telescope and mount were completely rebuilt by the Fecker Company in 1932, keeping the same lens, and was in use at Princeton until 1964. It has been used by such famous astronomers as Henry Norris Russell, Harlow Shapley, and Dr. Lyman Spitzer. Later it was aquired by the US Navy and then arrived here at the Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, South Carolina. It was restored by volunteers in 1985, and then installed in a brand new observatory exactly 20 years ago, in 1987. The telescope tube is about 30 feet long, and its tube and mount weigh about 46,000 pounds. The Antique Telescope Society is meeting here this weekend, and I got to look through this beautiful instrument at the Moon and Jupiter, and at the Ring Nebula, and at the globular cluster M-15. This time-exposure shows the telescope and dome bathed in red light during the observing session. You may be able to see stars out through the open shutter of the dome.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM
Saturday, September 15, 2007
It was a beautiful South Carolina morning. There was a slight haze in the air which the sun was beginning to burn off, and the temperature was pleasantly warm. As I stepped outside the hotel, I saw this and stopped in my tracks! "Would it be OK to take your picture?" I asked. "Sure" he said. So I took about a dozen photos and then his daughter got tired walking and I stopped shooting. I went up and introduced myself, and asked his name, and where he was from, and he said "Brooklyn." Get outta' here! I came all the way to South Carolina and find this photograph, and they are from Brooklyn! Small world. A beautiful morning, indeed.
Friday, September 14, 2007
"Nocawana?" What? OK, maybe I am imaging this, but we have had friends who lived in North Carolina for years, and I *think* that when Liz and Amy were just tykes, that one of them would try and say the state's name, but it would come out "Nocawanna." I think this is true. Or maybe not... Anyhow, here is a photo of a US Airways Airbus 319 in cruise at FL 380, enroute from LaGuardia, to Charlotte, North Carolina. I am on my way to the Antique Telescope Convention, held this year at the Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, South Carolina. I drove the 80 miles from Charlotte, rather than fly directly here. I love the colors in this photo - the deep blue sky, and in this light, the wing is nearly the same color as the clouds, and those really sweet, clean dark lines in perspective that go off to the end of the wingtip. Just a bit mysterious at first glance. This photo would not work without the bright yellow winglet.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:23 PM
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In 1959 when this car was produced I was a Senior in High School, and could care less about cars. The Edsel was introduced in 1958 and discontinued, as a spectacular failure, in 1960. But everyone knows the term "Edsel" as an synonym for "failure." For a story about old cars that were failures or were laughable in their day, I got to photograph this beauty. It was so much fun to finally see an Edsel in person. It really is cool looking. And, under the hood, you can actually see the engine, and there is room enough to change the spark plugs. And you should see the dashboard and steering wheel!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
This stream and waterfall are not deep in the woods. They are in a garden designer's back yard! He had a hill behind his house, and two years ago designed a stream that is 100 feet long and meanders down the hill to a pond at the bottom. Two 1/3 horsepower pumps are all it takes to get the water up the hill. After building the stream, he carefully added rocks and moss and plants along the edges of the waterway, and this detail is the result of all his work. I was lucky to photograph it in the soft light on a rainy day, today. Hard to imagine that this hasn't been here forever.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:22 PM
Monday, September 10, 2007
I photograph a lot of restaurants as part of my job. Usually it involves finding a nice view of the dining room, and then setting up a the chef and maybe the owner in the picture. Usually I need to set up a studio flash unit to light the subjects as well. Sometimes the photographs have a similar look to them because of the compostition. But on this day, I walked into this restaurant and saw these wonderful paintings on the bright yellow wall, AND, there was really lovely natural light coming in through the windows on the right. All I had to do was to arrange the owner and the chef in a nice composition, and shoot the picture. About as easy as it can get, in this case.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:53 PM
Sunday, September 9, 2007
I saw these banisters in one of the gold coast mansions, built in the early 1900's as a summer home, and later given to the Jesuits for a Seminary. It is now a retreat house, called St. Ignacius. This is just one of the back staircases - most likely for servants. Imagine what the front staircases look like! The multiple chimney's along on the roof are enough to stop you in your tracks. I just liked playing with the composition of this photograph. I tried a wider view, then this closer version. The composition is much stronger in this version, I thought.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
On the return from Fire Island the other day, I sat by the rail and was watching the patterns in the white foaming water as the boat made its way through the Great South Bay at a pretty good clip. I don't remember how long it was before I suddenly saw the shadows of the passengers superimposed on the water. "Wow, there's some thing to play with," I thought. So I spent some time watching the shapes of the water within the frame of the viewfinder, and shot a whole bunch of photos. It was a fun exercise, to see what I could find. I thought that it would be a better shot if you couldn't tell immediately what you were looking at, so I have cropped the original photo to make it a bit more mysterious.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:39 PM
Friday, September 7, 2007
I love these doors on my garage. The house and detached garage were built in the early 1900's and the builder's care with design and construction is evident. I have photographed these doors numerous times over the years, and I never tire of looking for new compositions, using the same subject. They are the most interesting, of course, when the late afternoon sun rakes across them, as it does here. I love the details in the woodwork, and how solid they are in their construction. And, of course, the many coats of paint on top of cracked paint makes the surface texture even more worthy of studying. By the way, if you click on the photo, (or any of my blog photos) they enlarge to a bigger size in a separate window, and you can study the details more easily.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I love the subway! Not only does it get you around town lickety split (well, most of the time) but there is such a great display of life to be seen there. While waiting for a train tonight I heard this drummer, using plastic buckets, and went closer to watch and listen to him. A small boy approached, and the drummer immediately produced another set of drumsticks and handed them to the boy, and the two of them began drumming together. I have seen and heard a lot of musicians in the subway, but never anything like this. Life in the subway, indeed.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:24 PM
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I have worked with Sylvia Carter for more years than I can count - we both came to Newsday about the same time. She is a wonderful cook, and a gifted writer and some of my favorite things that she writes about are stories about growing up on the farm in Missouri. When we would do food shoots in the studio, she would show up with these wonderful old chipped enamel bowls or old kitchen items that would make for beautiful photographs even before the food was added to the shot. Today I had an assignment with her and when we were done, she offered me some of the apple pie she had made for the photograph, and half of the loaf of "butter bread" she had made as well. I was carrying it to the car, and passed through a shaft of sunlight and stopped in my tracks when I saw how beautiful the bread looked in that light. So I asked for a plate to put the bread on for a photo, then couldn't figure where to put the plate down, so Sylvia suggested holding it, which, of course, was perfect! Oh, how was it? Both the pie and the bread are GONE... In one meal... Thank you Sylvia!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I had to take the Fire Island Ferry today, to Fire Island Pines for a story on a famous architect and a home he designed back in the 1950's which has recently been restored. I love ferry rides because they seem like some kind of "Time machine" - while you are on the boat there is nothing else to do except to relax, enjoy the ride and watch the water speed by, and smell the salt air and look at the sky. I sat at the stern and watched the wake, and was mesmerized my the movement of the water shooting out from under the stern and then disappearing into the distance. So I got out my camera to capture this. I think that a movie of this would do it more justice.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:05 PM
Monday, September 3, 2007
I spent the whole day on the front roof, cutting out bad roof sheathing, and then replacing the boards with new lumber. Did not get as far as I had hoped... Anyhow, there was no chance to come down and photograph, so I will share with you this photo from Audrey Agnew's garden. I photographed it over a period of several months last year, and then a selection ran in the home magazine which they publish a couple of times a year. Audrey has been a gardener for years, and her husband owned a greenhouse. She has the touch with so many different plants, but this photograph is a favorite of mine - a water lilly in her pond in the garden.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:58 PM
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Do I look tired in this photo? I have been working on tearing off the two layers of roofing over the front porch, and then it will be on up to the peak of the house, over time. I started at 10 AM and worked until 5 PM, and I was seriously tired. I am holding on to a safety rope that I have tied to the chimney, and I am using roof jacks to keep me from sliding off the roof - it is pretty steep, and without roofing material on the wood, I would just slide down the roof and off into the bushes. Last year I put a new roof on the garage (With my daughter Liz' help) and this year, on my own, I will do the front half of the house. I hope to be done with the front roof of the house (and the dormer) by wintertime. Since I can only work on weekends, it will be a long project. Stay tuned...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:36 PM
Saturday, September 1, 2007
So you remember the oldest tree I told you about? And then the house with the stairway? Both at the same assignment. Well, in order to get from the tree to the house, I had to walk down the driveway, and pass this scene. I loved the colors and textures - it had a nice feeling for me. Of course this isn't a real wheelbarrow. It is way too small, and not well constructed, but I loved the faded paint and rusted metal against the green background of Pachysandra.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:44 PM