Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I have always made Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween. Every year. Since forever. Didn't get a punkin' until late yesterday afternoon though! Whew! Cutting it too close. Then forgot that it was in my car, and only remembered at 1 AM, so that's when I cleaned the punkin' out and carved the face. It is not all that creative, but that's fine with me. I am after all, a traditional kind of guy. I can't tell you how much it warms my heart to go out on the front lawn and look back and see this wonderful glowing face looking out at me! Do yourself a favor and click on the image, which will open the original larger photo - the color is SO much better!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Today's assignment was to photograph several rooms and a home, designed by a woman who came to the US from Poland about 25 years ago. She has a lovely sense of design, and the rooms have what I would call an old world richness to them. The home was her home, and she was a gracious host. I spent several hours at her house, and saw things that I would not usually see on an architectural shoot - in this case, bright sunlight streaming into some of the rooms from skylights. So I was shooting for the paper, and looking for something special for me. That's why I took this photo - it is unlike most home shoots, in that it is a detail, and the lighting is dramatic, and the overall photo is fairly dark. Too dark for newspaper reproduction, but it looks pretty good here on the blog.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:02 PM
Monday, October 29, 2007
I photographed this while doing one of the real estate stories about what kind of house you can buy in a community. This is a "Starter" house. I loved that the house was empty, and decided to do a really wide-angle shot, and include as many windows and doors as I could in one shot. I think this looks more like some kind of strange stage set than a home.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:26 PM
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I seem to be making a lot of photographs lately on the way home from work. This is a photo of 2 eight man shells out for a practice with the coach following in a motorboat They are almost completely in synch and appear to be only one boat. I was trying to make a nice weather photo for the paper, and I followed the boats with my 200mm lens, looking for something in the background or foreground that would make the photograph something special. At this point, there was the reflection of the sky from the waves in the forground. It was something, but I would have liked something more dramatic - more graphic. Maybe if I had a longer lens with me...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:17 PM
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I hope you won't consider this excessive, but this is a portrait of me. When logging in to post on the blog last night it told me that last night's post was the 200th in my blog. I am kind of proud of that, that I have kept at this, each day, for 200 days. I am kind of driven to do this project, which is not a bad thing, and it is rewarding, keeps me on my toes, and keeps my "radar" running all the time, always looking for new ways of seeing things. So I thought that there might be a couple of new readers who don't know what I look like. Well, now you know. Wish you didn't? :-) The portrait, by the way (credit where credit is due) is by Karen Stabile - the "Quilt Lady" who I photographed a couple of weeks ago in the studio with one of her quilts. I asked her do to a shot of me while were there, and this is what she came up with, and I like it a lot! OK, no more wreched excess... tomorrow I am back to posting real photographs...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:20 PM
Friday, October 26, 2007
My assignment was to cover a group of Grumman Corporation retirees visiting the American Airpower Museum based at Republic Airport on Long Island. It was the 40th anniversary of their retiree group. So I photographed individuals who worked on the F-14 "Tomcat" after the writer interviewed them. But I needed something special, so I would park myself in this spot from time to time, and hope that a group of people would be walking by at once, to add some contrast to the individual portraits. Suddenly I noticed these two white-haired ladies coming around the nose of the aircraft, and I ran over to my spot to wait. "Oh please, oh please, oh please walk down here to the center of my photo" I kept saying to myself! And they did! Then they stopped for a minute and talked to each other about the aircraft. It turns out they were sisters, and one worked in the Grumman office, and the other had a husband who worked on the airplanes. I think it is the contrast in both age (This Tomcat was manufactured in 1992 - and is the second-to-last one made) and the difference in size that makes the photo so interesting to me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I was within a mile of my house, as I drove along Hempstead Harbor and I was admiring the dark gray cumulus clouds overhead when I rounded a slight bend in the road and first caught a glimpse of the slice of pink in the sky just above the water. So I quickly pulled over and spent a few minutes composing this. I try to stay away from sunsets. (Well, yes, there are a few posted on the blog in the past 9 months or so...) But this seemed more about the sky and the clouds. But it was that slice of pink that made all the difference for me. The frustrating thing is that the colors of this image as posted on the web don't begin to do justice to the colors in the original file. I did upload a larger file than normal, so if you click on the image, a larger photo will open in a separate window, and the color of that image will be much better.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I did this shot today "from the hip" without looking through the camera. Then I began an interesting exercise - to find the best crop from the original image to make the most interesting, or most dramatic photo. The original image, by the way, is four times larger than this final crop. I don't think I have ever spent so much time trying to figure out what works best. And that may be because I like to experiment on the blog, and I don't really experiment with my work photos. I mean, I experiment a little bit, and I *should* experiment a lot more with new ways of seeing and new ways of composing images. But sometimes it is really difficult to completely break out of the box. I guess you could say it is a difficult exercise.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:39 PM
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
OK, so now I am really panic-stricken! Terrified! Why? Because I found out today that some friends in the office are telling their friends about my blog (and their friends seem to like it.) So now the pressure is really on to do a good job from now on. No more lame excuses, no more weak photos! All along I have assumed that I have about 5 readers. Now it is clear that I have a lot more. Like maybe 8! Whew! (Sorry, I couldn't resist...)
Where was I? Oh, "stabilator." A stabilator (stabilizer-elevator) is an aircraft control surface that combines the functions of an elevator and a horizontal stabilizer. Anyhow, it is the big triangle-shaped slab thing in the foreground of this photo of an F-14 fighter aircraft. It is the second-to-last Grumman "Tomcat" ever built here on Long Island, and it is on display at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale. I love airplanes, and wanted to try and do something a bit abstract with this photo. It certainly is not a beautiful photo of an amazing flying machine. Oh, the VF-31 on the exhaust cover is the Navy Squadron number to which this aircraft was assigned.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Monday, October 22, 2007
This post is for Liz and Amy! They both love it when I post photographs from home, because they are both now living in California. This is Laurel Avenue, in Sea Cliff, the street I live on. Lengthening Shadows indeed. We are a month past the Autumnal Equinox, and the days are getting shorter week by week. Two months to go to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, around the 21st of December. The beaury of the long shadows today is that there are still leaves on the trees and the lawns are green. But Winter can not be that far away.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:40 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
So I was on the roof both days this weekend. "Oh, right," you are thinking. "When he does that, it means he hasn't had time to do a photograph, and we will get some photograph he took a long time ago, along with a lame excuse about not having any time to look for a photo today." Well, you might think that, but you would be wrong! There is a material that is now used in roofing, generally referred to as "Water & Ice" and it is a rubberized asphalt membrane that you use instead of tar paper as a first layer on the roof. It has adhesive on the back of it, and that is covered with thin sheets of white plastic to keep it from sticking to anything before you want it to. You peel the thin plastic off, and stick the Water and & Ice to the roof. Then you begin nailing asphalt shingles on top of it. The plastic covering? Why you just wad it up into a ball and throw it off the roof. And then you come down the ladder and find three pieces of it hanging in an old dogwood tree, and so you run and get your camera because you have just found a wonderful blog photo!
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I drove by this diner the other day, and was relieved to see that it is still there. Seeing it make me want to go in some morning and order bacon and eggs! It is a wonderful building, and has been here ever since I came to Long Island in 1966. I love diners like this, and it also made me wonder why I hadn't photographed it before. So I did this shot, but I should come back and explore in in different light, to see what else I could get. Stay tuned...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Friday, October 19, 2007
I photographed this man today. He seemed very gentle and I tried to make a portrait that was dignified. I tried to not be too dramatic in the way I photographed him. No low angles, dramatic lighting, or wide-angle shots. Just direct. So what is this all about and why did I photograph him in the first place? He is a construction supervisor, and this morning he found a hangman's noose made from yellow electrical wire, hanging from the front door of the building he was working in! It began at Columbia University about two weeks ago when a professor found a rope noose on her door. A week later a noose was found in the locker room at the Hempstead police station, and wednesday, two nooses were found, one of them containing a tarred toy animal, in a Hempstead town garage in Roosevelt. And now this... "This just shows me that hatred is still around, right on the surface," he said. What a sad testament.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:57 PM
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Six Feet. That's how far I walked after taking yesterday's photograph of the conservatory reflected in a pool. Then I saw this wonderful thing - it's the seed pod for a lotus plant, which lives in the water. One of the gardeners at NY Botanical Garden explained that I may have seen these dried in garden stores, and also that I may have seen them for sale in stores, cast in bronze, both of which seem familiar. What an amszing structure. So much of interest in a small area at the garden.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:03 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The thing about going to the New York Botanical Garden, is that when you get there, there are photographs everywhere. It encompasses 250 acres and has 50 gardens and plant collections! A truly stunning place to visit. I mentioned yesterday why I was there. While waiting for the gardener that I needed to photograph, I was looking at and photographing anything in sight! This is the reflection of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, in one of the pools containing various water plants. Long time readers of my blog will recognize the African lilly pads as similar to those in one of my very first posts, taken in San Angelo, Texas. The conservatory is a Victorian style glass house, opened in 1902 and it is a New York City landmark, completely restored several years ago. One of the things I love about this photograph is that it takes a second to figure out what you are looking at exactly - it is a bit confusing at first, but then becomes obvious that it is a reflection.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I was at the New York Botanical Garden today, in the Bronx, doing photographs for a new exhibit about somethng called Kiku, which is a Japanese style of growing and training Chrysanthamums, which is a story for another day. When I was leaving, I was walking through some of the gardens on an absolutely gorgeous fall morning. I passed by this scene, in a rush to get to my car, and to get to Starbucks because the paper was in a huge rush for the photographs I had just taken. I may have been in a rush, but never too rushed for a quick photograph, which is what I did. I guess because I was rushing, this particular scene had more meaning for me, as I thought what a wonderful place this would be to just sit and relax for a while.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:53 PM
Monday, October 15, 2007
I was buying gas on the way home, when I looked up to see this sight. These are contrails, backlit by the setting sun. In the middle of the day, they would be white against the blue sky. Contrails are exhaust from turbojet engines at high altitudes, where the air is so cold it freezes the moisture in the exhaust into ice crystals. Contrails usually occur at above 26,000 feet where the temperature is below -40°F. What I feel when I see these, is a sense of wanderlust - the airplanes today were headed east. East to Europe and beyond? I look up from the ground, and then imagine the view out of the window at the earth below, and at the sky above, usually blue-black to the zenith. And the sense of being headed somewhere. Somewhere new, to see new things. And in those moments I forget what a hassle it is go actually go to the airport and to go through security to get on the aircraft in the first place.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:27 PM
Sunday, October 14, 2007
This is the house next door. I see it every day, in all kinds of light, coming and going. On this afternoon I was taken by the light on it, and the clouds in the sky behind it. The frustrating thing is that in the original photograph, the house is pink from the reflected sunset, and the sky is even more pink. In this version, everything seems flat. Oh well...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:57 PM
Saturday, October 13, 2007
One of the regular assignments we do is called "Habitats" where we go to senior citizen housing and photograph their activities. So this is a bingo game on a sunny afternoon, which I photographed before I went outside and photographed the bocci players. I crouched down at one end of a long table of bingo players, and looked through my lens at a line of faces. This woman stood out immediately. It was something about her impish look, the sparkle in her eyes, and the smile on her face as one of her numbers was called. So I continued to just watch her and take photographs until I got this one, which is my favorite.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:28 PM
Friday, October 12, 2007
This is a photograph of the Baptistery of The Cathédrale St-Sauveur (Holy Savior Cathedral) in Aix-en-Provence. The Baptistery is the structure surrounding the baptismal font. In the early Christian Church, the catechumens were instructed and the sacrament of baptism was administered in the baptistery. This Cathedral was built in fits and starts from the 5th century to the 15th century. It was the light, of course, that drew me to this spot. The room is surrounded by an iron grating, but there was just enough room to put the lens through the bars to get this photograph. I wish I had my 4x5 with me, which would allow me to control the extreme brightness range more effectively. And now I am done with my photographs from France.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:48 PM
Thursday, October 11, 2007
One more photo from France. This is a summer's morning at the chateau where we were staying. I walked out of this beautiful old building after breakfast, and turned to look back, and saw this. The orange light of the sun reflecting within the interior of the chateau, contrasted with the lovely colors of green seen through the open doors. The thing that is really frustrating for me is how poorly the original image appears after being run through the blog software. Perhaps the photographs are made lower quality to save space. Suffice it to say, the original virtually glows with colors of orange and green. But not here... eMail me and I will send you a copy of the original.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:36 PM
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I think I remember this story right. Our daughter Amy is on the left, and Liz is on the right in the photo. This photo was taken in Nice, France, when Liz was on tour, and it is at the villa she was staying in during the summer. Liz said something about wanting a Panama Hat, and so Amy made it her mission when we got to Nice to go find her one. When she did, she bought one for herself too. This photo was taken just after Amy gave Liz her hat as a surprise. Does Liz look pleased, or what! They are such good friends, and so cute together, don't you think! I love this photo, proud father that I am!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
No new photographs today. So I decided to go find some photographs I had made while on a family vacation in France and Spain 2 years ago. Something about looking at these photos makes me feel bright and sunny. I think I will post several photos from this time over the next month or so. This is the couryard in a chateau where we were staying, and having dinner one evening. I looked over, and saw the interesting light on the building, while she sky still had light in it. I think it has a bit of the mysterious about it. Like a stage set waiting for actors, perhaps.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:44 PM
Monday, October 8, 2007
I was leaving another "Why You Should By My House" shoot when I spotted this. It just caught my eye. Something about the different sized circles, with the light coming through. Once I stopped to shoot, the question was how much to include. Just the logs? It seemed better as I drew back and allowed the sunlit tree branches to the left to be included within the frame. And I was thinking I wasn't going to find a photo today.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
The text on this medal says: "Teach us... that we may feel the importance of every day." This is another photo from the story I told you about a couple of days ago - about people who have read Alan Alda's new book about finding meaning in life. This woman has a locket with a Jane Austen quote on it. Something about her age, which shows in the lines of her hand, combined with the quote itself made an image which I thought was memorable. Do you all know, by the way, that if you click on this rather small image, it will enlarge in another window, so you can see more detail in each photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
Saturday, October 6, 2007
I did do a photograph of this golf netting once before. On April 18. But that was after the big wind came and blew much of it down! Then they brought in cranes, and replaced the tops of many of the telephone poles that were snapped off by the squall line. Then they put up new netting. So now it looks different. Softer. Flatter. This golf driving range is adjacent to the Starbucks that I frequent, so when I saw this scene again, it had a different feel to it and I shot it again. I can do that, because it's my blog... :-)
Friday, October 5, 2007
I had an assignment to photograph people who have read Alan Alda's new book, and how they have changed the way they look at and live their lives differently as a result. This man has started to take yoga classes. He was to be photographed walking along the water at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, and then in the yoga class. I was to meet him at 9:15, and have 15 minutes to shoot before the class started at 9:30. The morning at the arboretum was just beautiful with a slight fog over the water to add to the atmosphere. So he shows up at 9:35! Now the pressure is on for me to grab some photographs outdoors, and then arrive at the yoga class late to photograph him there. Man, what a pain! Anyhow I thought I was getting a cool shot of him looking out at the water and I shot a lot of pictures. Looking at the photographs, however, it feels as if I missed it. I would love to go back and try this again, and try some different compositions. For starters, I think I would move in close with a wide-angle lens and see if the images would more dramatic. I did several other photographs in different places on the grounds, so the shoot is not a total loss, but it feels a bit as if I failed. That's not a good feeling.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I really do know how to spell "Astronomy," but sometimes I spell it this way to friends who bug me about belonging to an "astrology" club! Anyhow, I saw this when leaving my astronomy club last night and liked the nature of the light and the shadows in the photo. The beauty is I always carry my little Canon SD800 on my belt, and I am always ready for moments like this.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Why is this woman standing in the woods with her point-and-shoot camera? Well, because I asked her to! We are doing a story on a book signing of Alan Alda's new book, and the writer interviewed some of the people in the audience to see what effect reading his book had on them. Most of the people said things about how they would spend more time enjoying things in life that mattered to them. This woman said she would spend more time doing photography. This is not really a woods, by the way - just a completely overgrown back yard! I was really excited when I first saw this scene, realizing what an interesting photo I could make with this background.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
This is a portrait of Dr. James. D. Watson, one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA for which he and two others won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Watson went on to become a towering figure in the new science of molecular biology, first at Harvard University and then as director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he is now chancellor. He has just published an autobiographical book: "Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science", which is why I had an assignment to photograph him. It is wonderful to be in his presence and hear what he has to say - I have been privileged to photograph him about four times during my career. Oh, the title of the blog? Dr. Watson is 79 years old, and he mentioned that he works 80 hours a week! What a wonderful testament to staying active as one grows older!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:48 PM
Monday, October 1, 2007
One of the things I do is photograph houses that are for sale, for the Real Estate section. We photograph an exterior, and then several rooms inside. Mostly boring stuff. But today I saw this hallway lined with what appeared to be family photos, and I loved the light coming from the open door at the end of the hallway. It was the woman's portrait to the left in the photo, however, that really grabbed me, and compelled me to take this photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:03 PM