Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I went to Manhattan today to see the exhibits at the International Center of Photography. I took photographs in the train station, outside on the platform with the snow coming down, and in the city, and on the train on the way home. But it was half a mile from my house that I spotted this - the last light of the last sunset of 2008. So Happy New Year everyone and best wishes for good things for 2009! Oh, and the colors are much better if you click on this to get the larger image.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:20 PM
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
It is pathetic how little I know about flowers and plants! I have photographed gardens for something like 20 years and I probably know the names of only 6 types of flowers. I photographed two beautiful plants the other day. This one, and a purple one (dimly seen in the lower right corner of this photo.) I found out the purple one is a flowering kale, but I have no idea of the name of this beautiful, delicate white plant. It looks a bit like a kissing cousin, but I have no idea of its name. Any plant people out there who can help me with this?
Monday, December 29, 2008
This is an old photograph, taken over 40 years ago, which I found when I was cleaning up. It is the living room in my Grandparent's farmhouse in Guilford, Connecticut, which I may have taken when I was still in college - it is an old color transparency. I love this photo for two reasons - the quality of the light in the room with the late afternoon sunshine on the fireplace. And the other thing is the room itself. If you look carefully, there are no right angles anywhere in the photo! The doors and doorways are crooked, the fireplace is crooked, and even though it doesn't show, the floors are uneven. The original farmhouse was built in 1700 and there have been additions in later years. In the 1960's they added a furnace, instead of heating the farmhouse from the fireplaces in each room. The heat of the furnace dried the air in the house, and all the wood in the floors, leaving huge gaps in the planks! Sadly, the farmhouse is no longer in the family.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:48 PM
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This is Bobbie the Mailman's last run. He is retiring after 44 years! I can't remember a time when he was not our mailman. He always came with a smile and a sunny outlook on life. He wouldn't complain if I hadn't dug out the mailbox after a snowstorm, and he would take the time to bring larger envelopes up to the porch, instead of jamming them in the mailbox. We talked of our children, how they were doing in school, their marriages, and what they are up to these days. We will all miss his presence in our lives.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:19 PM
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I pulled into the driveway and happened to look to my left at our neighbor's house because the attic light was on. I was about to look away when I suddenly saw the cat! I grabbed my camera, and managed to get off three frames. The cat was looking in a slightly different direction in each of images. This last one was the best, because you can see that the cat is looking at me, and you can see both ears, if you click on the image to enlarge it.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Snow on the ground, overcast clouds and flat light. It seems a bit harder to find interesting things to photograph under these conditions. I went out to the side yard, where the remains of last year's garden are silhouetted against the snow. I spent about half an hour looking for interesting compositions. It was a different way to look for things - as silhouettes instead of as three dimensional objects. Maybe in some ways it is simpler, because it is all about design and composition, instead of texture. I think.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:00 PM
Thursday, December 25, 2008
We went to Connecticut for Christmas, and then on the way home, stopped to spend some time (and have dessert!) with our long-time friends and their guests just across town. While there I grabbed my laptop so we could keep our schedule to talk to our daughters in California, using iChat. So this is Larry and Emily and Sara and Nancy, and they are saying hello to Liz & Amy in California via iChat. The perfect ending to a perfect day!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Merry Christmas! ...and never forget Rule No. 1 - "Never leave the house without a camera!" I went over to the gas station to fill the tank for tomorrow's trip, and was not wearing my little Canon on my belt, and it has been really cold here, so my SONY alpha 200 was not in its accustomed place in the trunk. Duh! So when I saw this scene, I had to drive home, grab a camera, and drive back here to make the shot. It was almost too dark, because I wanted some detail in the background, but there was just enough light for this exposure. Hope you all have a wonderful day!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:23 PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In my December 16th post, I promised to go look for an original print from my first encounter with wind farms. I had driven through Altamont Pass, east of San Francisco several years before but couldn't stop for pictures. On a return assignment to San Francisco in 1988 I took a day off, chartered an airplane and flew around the wind farms shortly after sunrise taking photographs. Then I landed and after a quick breakfast of coffee and three donuts at Winchell's spent the rest of the day, until dark, photographing the surrealistic landscape. I will post a landscape from the ground in a later post. The color as usual, is awful, so please click on this to see a larger image with better color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:18 PM
Monday, December 22, 2008
It was cold here today! Temperatures around 22 degrees F. I find my desire to spend time outdoors being creative drops with the temperature! So I didn't spend much time looking for a photograph today, I am embarrassed to say. But I did find this picture about 40 feet from my driveway. I was taken by the dramatic shadows on the snow, and I loved the texture of the snow, and of course, the footprints of the cat who walked through this area the other day. I am not sure whether or not this FEELS cold, but my hope is that it does.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
This is another picture from the snowstorm two days ago. I mentioned when showing the hedge leaves with a frosting of snow, that I had another photo which I thought was more ordinary. This is it. It is quite pretty though, and I love the atmospheric affects where the trees in the distance are much lighter because of being seen through the snow, and the Japanese Maple in the forground has black branches and trunk. I didn't remember this being as good as I think it is now.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:09 PM
Saturday, December 20, 2008
We drove to Connecticut late this afternoon for a surprise 40th birthday party. This is Maureen, my neice, and she is Irish... can you tell, with those sparkling eyes? Wife, mother of four children, and assistant high school principal. She sure was surprised! (And I am sure she will be surprised to find herself here on the blog... :-) She was required to wear the tiara and the necklace in honor of her birthday! I think there were about 40 of us there, with kids of all ages running around, rapping, playing, popping balloons and having a wonderful time! It was a wonderful time to be with family!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:42 PM
Friday, December 19, 2008
We had a snowstorm today. There was no wind and gently falling snowflakes starting at mid-morning. With no wind, the flakes built up on the tops of leaves, putting a wonderful frosting on everything. I looked at snow covered tree branches, as well as these leaves, but the branches felt more ordinary than these leaves. This looks like a photograph that I have never taken before. So I took it!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:32 PM
Thursday, December 18, 2008
When I did other posts from Joshua Tree, I was interested in images that were the most dramatic. I like this view because it is more subtle and shows all the amazing things that make up the wonders of the park. Fallen Joshua Tree trunks in the foreground, a dramatic silhouette of a tree in the middle ground, a forest of Joshua Trees as far as the eye can see in the background, and then in the distance, two mountain ranges. There is so much to see here, and I haven't included the amazing rock formations.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:41 PM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
OK, This time I have reviewed my recent posts, and I have not posted this before... :-) These are three bronze sculptures on the plaza at the Getty Center, in late afternoon sunlight. Each of these sculptures is really interesting to look at, in their own right, but the three of them - dark figures against a lighter background, and their shadows on the background - make a wonderful composition. Don't you agree?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I have decided that I no longer like "L.A. Leftovers" as a title. You know I am back home, and will be posting photographs from California, but I will title them in my normal fashion. Anyhow, these are wind turbines in the San Gorgiono Pass, about a hundred miles east of Los Angeles. There 9000 foot mountains on both sides of the pass, and it is at an altitude of 2600 feet. It is one of the windiest places in Southern California. There are more than 3000 wind turbines here, developing about 615 Megawatts, which is a LOT of power! This windfarm is an unbelieveably spectacular site, as are the other three wind farm sites in California. I saw my first wind farm at Altamont Pass, about 15 years ago, and nearly wrecked my car craning my neck to look at it! I was so taken with how other-worldly it was, that on a later trip I arranged to get an airplane and did aerial photographs of the hills and the turbines at dawn one day. I will have to go find one of those photographs, because you will be astounded at how cool it looks.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008
It is always SO much easier to find photographs in new places. Photographing the familiar is much harder. So to go to California for a week, and shoot every day, but only be able to post seven photographs leaves me a lot of leftovers. So I will be posting leftovers for the coming week - they are so much more interesting than anything I will find around here... At least I think so. This, by the way, is the beach and curving sidewalks for pedestrians, runners, and cyclists at Venice, California.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:51 PM
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We took off from Burbank with a low overcast ceiling, but soon climbed above the clouds to blue sky and sunshine. The overcast was beneath us as we climbed to altitude. But suddenly, there were the tops of the San Bernadino mountains poking up through the clouds, and east of that, the clouds had dissipated over the Mojave Desert. That's what mountains do - they force the clouds up, cooling them, and draining them of their moisture, leaving deserts on their leeward side. It was such a beautiful sight, I grabbed my toy camera, zoomed it out, and started shooting away. This is the result. It is gorgeous, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:07 PM
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Heading home! It was an amazing week in Los Angeles, but it is time to head back home after a great visit. So I sit at the window of the aircraft, always looking, never being sure of what I may see out the window. If I had my druthers, I would rather not have to shoot through several layers of plastic airplane window, sometimes badly scratched. However, it is the nature of digital images, that using Photoshop, I can take a very low contrast image - low contrast because of all the haze from 34,000 feet - and increase the contrast until it looks like a normal image. Anyhow, I think I hit the jackpot with this one - it's the Grand Canyon, and I shot it with my Canon SD 800 point-and-shoot! Not bad for a toy camera!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:38 PM
Friday, December 12, 2008
Amy found this really cool, really funky used furniture store in Venice, and today we went over there to look for an antique chair that she could refinish. This place is a gold mine for photographis, at least for me. I found at least three photos worthy of the blog, but this is my favorite - a mannequin sitting in a drawer of a bureau, out on the street. I am at a loss for words to describe all that was there, so this photo will have to do. I must have found six other blog posts as well today in other parts of Venice, so I may post all the "leftovers" for the next couple of weeks. I have THAT many!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:44 PM
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I went to the Getty Center today. One of my favorite places in Los Angeles. Not only are the exhibits wonderful, but the architecture is amazing! On some of my early trips here I couldn't decide whether to stay inside in the galleries, or come out to the plaza to look at the building itself! And if that is already not enough, I find people-watching here just as interesting. So I took a whole bunch of photographs here, but this one is my favorite, so you get to see it by itself. It feels like a painting to me - I am not sure what it is about the image that makes it feel that way, but it just does. It is just one of the many plazas and gardens at the museum.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:30 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Joshua Tree is such an amazing landscape, it is difficult to do it justice in just a few photographs. Additionally, if you see one kind of landscape, and drive several miles, the nature of the landscape can change so dramatically, both in terms of geological formations and types of rock, to the scarcity or abundance of the Joshua Trees themselves. So I am finding it so difficult to choose just one photograph, I am posting three for our second day in the park. I would urge you to click on each of the photographs so that you can see them in more detail. I wish I could send you all 16 x 20 inch prints so you could enjoy all the detail in each photograph!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:38 PM
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
We had a most amazing day today! A family trip to Joshua Tree National Park, one of my favorite places on earth. I have been here twice before, so Amy and Liz decided we should all come here for two days. So today you get three photographs for the price of one. The first one is on the way there, taken as we drove through San Gorgonio Pass, showing the incredible collection of wind turbines that have been here for years. The second photo is Liz photographing Amy on the rocks at Joshua Tree, and the third photo I will simply call "Moonrise, Joshua Tree." Wow! Is it fun to be photographing in a place as beautiful as this all day long, and for all of us to be together, and to have two daughters who not only love to photograph as well, but who are also really good at it!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:46 PM
Monday, December 8, 2008
This plant is growing by the back door in a garden behind Liz' house. I noticed it was there, but then was stunned to REALLY look at it. It is just beautiful. I forget that one difference between New York and Los Angeles, is that LA is tropical and NY is not. So here is a quiz for you all. In the upper right hand corner of the photograph, there is a splotch of red in the background seen between some of the leaves. I have photos with the red in, and the red out. First I thought it was a distraction, then I thought it added interest, and decided to leave it in. How do all of you feel?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:44 PM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
While visiting my daughter Liz in Los Angeles, I found a copy of a book by Joel Sternfeld called "Stranger Passing." It contains stunning portraits of people all over the United States, and some of them are in slightly strange settings. I was blown away by the portraits, and spent perhaps an hour studying them. A while later I was sitting on the patio in the back yard, while Liz played with the two dogs, and suddenly felt that there was a picture there. Not a "my" kind of portrait, but a portrait more in the style of the book I had been reading. So I told Liz to stop there for a minute, and did several photographs. This in no way matches the amazing work in the book, but rather it has echoes of how some of the portraits in the book felt. What was so interesting to me was that an hour earlier I would not have done her portrait in this way. It was amazing to feel my perceptions change because of studying the photographs of someone else. It was such a cool experience!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:02 PM
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Up at 5AM, Limo pickup at 6AM and at Kennedy Airport by 7AM for an 8:15 departure, westbound to Los Angeles! Los Angeles, where our daughters live now, and where we are headed for our late Thanksgiving holiday, and our early Christmas celebration! I hate having to get up that early, but the light is interesting, certainly. And I am looking for photographs for my blog posts the whole time. I thought that this was a perfect "beginning" photo. More to follow.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:12 PM
Friday, December 5, 2008
"pee-tee..." what? Those are two water towers, the old one to the right, built in the late 1800's and the new one on the left, under construction now. This is where Sea Cliff stores its water for their system - where I get my water from. They decided to build a new, larger tank, so it has been under construction for several weeks. I went to photograph it, but realized that my lens at its widest was NOT wide enough. So this is what I did: I took four photographs, of the four quadrants in this photo, with overlapping edges. And then the application called "ptGUI" which I usually use for making multiple image wide-angle views, or 360 degree panoramas, stitched them together to get this one shot! Very cool. So cool I thought you should know about it!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:05 PM
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I didn't go out shooting today, so here is another photo from Rochester. This was next to the old house, and this will also be torn down. No loss here, in my estimation. What a strange building architecturally. It looks as if it was made to be a "modern" building, but it just came out as a weird collection of things. Corrugated metal facing under the roof, a green awning, and large angled plate glass windows. Somehow the parking meter adds to the scene, in a strange way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:26 PM
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I was at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport for my astronomy meeting tonight, and wondering what I was going to use for the blog post when I got home. Then I saw this. I thought it was a bit unusual, with these marble columns as a background for the Christmas tree. So unusual, that I wanted to share this with all of you. Or, It could have been that I was really desperate for something to post tonight! Take your pick...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
OK, so the title is just a play on words, and this is not the greatest photo I ever took. I went to Roosevelt Field Shopping Center today and on the way back to my car, passed this car and another one with seagulls standing on the roofs! I couldn't believe it! I have never seen this before. They are usually walking around on the macadam, but to stand on the slippery, shiny surface of a car just seems unbelieveable to me. For the sake of the car owners, I hope they don't start dropping clams on the cars to break the shells open!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:46 PM
Monday, December 1, 2008
There was an amazing astronomical event this evening that became visible right around sunset. This is a photograph of the three heavenly bodies that for one day appeared very close to each other. In my photograph, you can see the moon at the upper left of the triangle, the planet Jupiter on the upper right, and the planet Venus at the lower center. Tomorrow night at this time the moon will be a long way away from where it is tonight, thus making tonight really special. I hope some of you managed to see this, even if by accident. I began by using a longer focal length lens, to get just the three orbiting objects. It was interesting, but no where near as good a photograph as this one, because of the trees, which give both a sense of place, and a sense of scale to the scene.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Well, I have been following the changes in colors of the leaves for a while now, but they are all gone at this point. I walked down the front porch steps this morning to see the Japanese maple tree with raindrops on all its branches. It looked like a constellation of stars! I spent quite a while looking for photographs (from under an umbrella) and I think this is my favorite, although there is another contender. Maybe I will show you that one on a day that I can't find a photograph. This photograph will look much more interesting if you click on it to see it in a larger version.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:11 PM
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I love the landscape of upstate New York. One of my favorite places to shoot. But I have to confess, I forgot how bleak it can be after 5 days of overcast skies and not a hint of sun. That has to do with the atmosphere containing a lot of moisture coming in off Lake Ontario, and then cooling over land, creating the clouds. Clouds are an improvement over the other possibility - "lake effect" snow showers. While looking for nice landscapes while driving home, I realized how much I depend on more dramatic lighting for interesting landscapes. So no dramatic light here, and instead a rather bleak view of the land, however there is a beauty to the bleakness.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Friday, November 28, 2008
After having coffee with a friend this morning I stepped out on the street and saw these old buildings on East Avenue. The light was perfect, shining on their fronts. There are wonderful architectural details on the second floor of the building at the right. It made me stop and think of how beautiful that building must have been when it was new, probably at the end of the 19th century and before a commercial front was added on the first floor. These buildings are not long for this world, however. They have already been bought by a nearby supermarket chain which wants to expand its present building.The buildings are old, and appear to be in disrepair, but it feels as if something important will be lost when they are torn down.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:08 PM
Thursday, November 27, 2008
We have so much to be thankful for this year at Thanksgiving. We gather as family for dinner, and yet there are other family members that are far away. My mom and sisters are in Connecticut, and our daughters are in Los Angeles. Fortunately we have the magic of our computers and their iSight webcams. Not only can we talk to each other in groups, but we can see each other as well. It is wonderful to see Amy and her husband Gus, and our daughter Liz all together for Thanksgiving on the west coast. The feeling of connection is so much stronger by being able to see them, as well as being able to talk to them. It makes for a wonderful day!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 3:59 PM
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So I have posted two photographs so far of one of my favorite farmhouses, but they were all medium or closeup photographs of just the front. When I stopped the other day to see if I could find another photo, I began by taking a few images of the house from a distance. During the growing season, the house is almost completely obscured by overgrown trees, vines and grasses. So I thought it would be fun to show the house in its suroundings. It's kind of fun to see where the house "lives" don't you think?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:04 PM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I went out to visit my alma mater, Rochester Institute of Technology today. I graduated from there way back in 1964. But I was at the old downtown campus, and this is the "new" campus which they started building in 1966. It is an amazing place, and has grown dramatically over the years. Anyhow, I went there for a visit today and saw this new sculpture on display. It is called "The Sentinel" and is by local artist Albert Paley. It is the largest sculpture at any American university. I have only shown a detail of this monumental structure. I love this, because without any explanation, this image would be a mystery, I think. Believe it or not, this is a color photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:07 PM
Monday, November 24, 2008
This day was typical of Upstate weather at this time of year. Overcast all day long, and then late in the afternoon it started spitting rain, and then a light wet snow. It made for nice reflections of tail lights on the wet street. Traffic was starting to build for rush hour, so you can see a line of traffic in the distance. Seeing all this brought me back to the few years I lived here, such a long time ago.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:15 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Driving up route 96 approaching Ovid, New York I was looking forward to seeing my favorite abandoned farmhouse. I have photographed this house many times before, and posted a photograph of it on the blog about a year ago. On that day, it was raining and the wood of the farmhouse was all brown. Yesterday, the house was surrounded by snow, and appeared completely different, so I had a lot of fun photographing it in a different way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:45 PM
Saturday, November 22, 2008
We headed upstate this morning, for Thanksgiving week with family in Rochester. I was looking for photographs the whole way. I used my toy camera to photograph through the windshield for some photos and stopped a number of times along the way for others. This is my first choice for most dramatic photo along the way. It is in Covert, NY, up above Ithaca. I have passed these trees a hundred times, but seen against the background of cumulus clouds, today they made a great picture, I thought.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:25 PM
Friday, November 21, 2008
We are heading to Rochester, NY for Thanksgiving, so I didn't get to shoot today. So here is a photograph I did in Ireland back in 1993, It is a photograph of a dolmen, which is a type of megalith, that consists of a chamber of upright stones with a large capstone forming a roof. It is located in the Burren, in the northwest part of Ireland. The Burren is a karst limestone region of approximately 300 sq km which lies in the north west corner of Co Clare, in Ireland. It is composed of limestone pavements, and grass and no trees. It contains dozens of megalithic tombs and celtic crosses and a ruined Cistercian Abbey from the 12th century. They believe these dolmens were constructed around 3000 BC. It is a bleak and beautiful land, and I found photographs everywhere.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:23 PM
Thursday, November 20, 2008
If a society is known by its architecture, India has the Taj Mahal to represent its culture, and Greece has the Parthenon, and we have this? A parking garage at Roosevelt Field shopping center? I came out of the shopping mall the other day, and was struck by the light on this building. The tree was there in front of me. I moved in front of the tree to eliminate it, but moved back behind it because I liked having the tree in the photograph. It made the photograph more complex, and the contrast of the black trunk and branches added more interest. Then the thought occurred to me about what archaeologists would think about us as a people when they unearthed this structure in the future. What a disappointing thought...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This is the tree I photographed about a week ago, turning from green to the colors of fall. Today, with the tree in sunlight, I realized that most of the leaves are gone. This is the last color we will see as fall comes to an end, and winter approaches. It makes for a more powerful picture I think, to have the bright green lawn as a background. Since the green is a color complimentary to the orange, the differences are accented.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:08 PM
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I had been running in and out of the house all day long to get tools I needed on the roof. Suddenly I stopped to look at the back door, and saw this - the patchy sunlight and shadows of tree branches on the door. There was something about the feeling of the light and shadows that grabbed me, so I got the camera and spent some time trying different views of this. My question is, does this sunlight look "warm" or "cold?" I know, of course, that it is fall, and it was cold, but am I just imagining that the light looks cold, or not?
Monday, November 17, 2008
These trees against the sky bring to mind a Robert Frost poem, which never fails to move me at this time of year. It is called "My November Guest."
My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:06 PM