Tuesday, September 30, 2008
A month or so, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at night, and posted a photo. By the time I got to the Brooklyn side, I was really thirsty, so went looking for a deli. There was one down under the bridge, and so I headed toward it. At one street corner, when I could look up under the bridge I saw these "light rays" radiating. They are attached to the underside of the bridge and on the granite wall of one of the bridge anchors. I have no idea why they are there. They appear to be some kind of flexible lighting tubing arranged like this. The effect is really cool, and so unexpected! Probably the work of an artist. I just thought you would love the mystery of all this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:34 PM
Monday, September 29, 2008
This is a reflection in the shiny aluminum surface of an Airstream Bambi Travel Trailer on display at the museum. What an amazing thing to turn the corner and see an entire trailer on display! I was taken by the reflections in the mirror-like surface, so I took some time to look at how the reflections changed as people moved by, and then stopped to look at it. I am the fat guy in the center - the curved surface added the weight which is not really there... :-) And don't you love the profile view of the person taking a photograph to the right?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I visited most of the exhibitions I wanted to see at the museum in my relatively short time there. I had about half an hour left, so wandered into a gallery and was surprised to see a collection of sculptures by Picasso, each one so different, in both materials, and in concept. What an amazing collection! And such variety. This one, called "Head of a Warrior" held my attention for some time. I would see one of the sculptures from a distance, and think: "Well, I will go look at that," thinking that it might be interesting, and then when I began closer inspection, I was amazed how I would be captivated by each of the pieces, in turn. I was stunned by his creativity! . I have seen photographs of some of them in books, of course, but you have to see them in person to appreciate them. What a wonderful and pleasant surprise this small exhibition was!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:41 PM
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Since it was raining here today, I went to the city to spend some time at The Museum of Modern Art. I am always surprised, and richly fulfilled when I spend time there. I never know what I will find. I do know about this aircraft however. When the museum re-opened, it was an iconic image and I couldn't wait to see it when I first went back. It is a stunning piece of design and in these surroundings, begs to be examined closely. It think this photograph is more about the various levels of distance within the picture, as evidenced by where the people are on the stairs and floor. I watched for a while and made a number of exposures to try and get people in various spots that would make the most interesting composition.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:39 PM
On the morning we left Montreal, I looked out the hotel window and saw this! I think it is just beautiful - clearly something from out of the past. I did a little searching after I got home, and discovered that it was built in 1930 and sits on top of the Guaranteed Pure Milk Building on Lucien L'Allier Street, with the modern Cité du commerce électronique skyscraper behind it - a wonderful contrast. The building is vacant, and no one is quite sure what to do with this. A professor at a university in Montreal has said: "Some signs, like the milk bottle, have a cultural resonance that goes beyond their commercial function." To me it is a wonderful work of art. There is talk of painting it, and to my mind, that would remove something important that resonates within me. I uploaded a large file on this, so please click on it to see much more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:41 AM
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Another photograph from Canada - in this case, Montreal. I spoke of seeing the Basilica of Notre Dame, and how there was a light show about the history and construction of the church. This is a photo I took just before the light show started. The blue background images are projections on the screens used for the light show. I noticed this woman in front of me, looking over her shoulder, and how a small circle of light illuminated her face when she turned. So I got my camera ready, and had to wait perhaps 10 minutes before she turned around again. I was ready, and this is the result.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:14 PM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Happiness is a late lunch on a sun-drenched porch - a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, steaming hot cup of coffee, a good book and a rocking chair. I am enjoying the luxury of having more time to read, and more time to feel the warmth of the sun on a fall afternoon. Sounds like the kind of a schedule some retired guy would be have. EXCEPT... When lunch was done, I jumped on my new bike, and hammered out ten miles grinding up and down the hills of Sea Cliff maxing out my pulse rate at 150! Certainly not the typical sedentary life.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:15 PM
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This is a detail of part of the roof of the Summer Pavilion, seen against the clear blue sky. This victorian gingerbread marvel, is located behind the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. It was originally built in 1877, and in 1956 after being in disrepair, it was demolished. Then in 1993 it was rebuilt as a national police memorial. It is a gorgeous building, and I would love to show you all of it, but this photograph is actually more about the colors of the sky, than it is about the pavilion. Please click on this image to see a larger one, with TWICE the color saturation!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:57 PM
Monday, September 22, 2008
OK, so you can file this post under "wreched excess" but I am REALLY excited! I got a new bike. From Colorado. It is a long and tortuous tale, but the short version is that I finally found a brand new 2007 Specialized Roubaix Expert Rival, the last one in the country, online, in a store in Colorado, so I bought it. It is two years old, but I like the color better than the new models. It is unbelievably light - can you tell? It is an all carbon bike, and this particular model is designed for a softer ride - it was designed for the famous Paris-Roubaix race - the majority of the route is on cobblestones! I am a seriously happy camper with my new ride!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Sunday, September 21, 2008
So yesterday's photo was taken in the afternoon. After it got dark, I passed the fountain while leaving the old city, on the way to the Metro, The fountain was still surrounded by people, enjoying it in various ways. As I approached I saw this fellow walking around the circumference, and in a second he was going to be in the right spot. No time to set the camera! Lift it up, look through the viewfinder, one click and he was gone from the center! Oh man, did I shake the camera in my haste? One frame. Yikes. Is it sharp? I called up the image, magnified it on the LCD on the back, and it was both sharp, AND had the correct exposure. Lucky me. Here's the interesting thing - I thought this was a young kid. After he walked half way around the fountain, he turned and came back, walking in the plaza. I was surprised to see that he appeared to be a homeless man.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:20 PM
Saturday, September 20, 2008
This is the gorgeous fountain in Place Vauquelin, next to Montreal City Hall and the Palace of Justice. It is a huge fountain, reminiscent of fountains in european cities. There are always people photographing it, or having their photograph taken next to it. I stood and watched all the goings-on for some time, and then this young woman came here, stood on the edge, told her companion to get ready, and then assumed this pose! Oh man! Click, click! And she was done. But I did get the photo. I just love her exuberance - it brings such life to the scene!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So we arrived in Montreal for the day, and immediately went downtown, to the old city. First thing we see is this huge cathedral. It is called the Basilica of Notre-Dame of Montreal. We thought we would take a look inside, but the sign said the fee was five dollars a person, so we passed. The sign did say that it was free to go in and pray, however, which is good. Later on we talked to a local who said you HAVE to go see the church - it is as good as the one in Paris, even though it is smaller. So we bought tickets for ten dollars, because now the church was closed for viewing, but we could see the "Light Show," and then see the church afterwards. It was worth the ten bucks each, because the light show included a history of the church and the people who created it! It would have been worth twenty! I have posted an extra large image so you can see some of the spectacular detail - please click on this one!
There are signs of industrial decline in some areas around Ottawa. I believe that this building is part of the Domtar paper mill which was recently shut down, with the loss of 250 jobs. What is interesting to me is the location of this old building, which is alongside a sluice at the side of the Ottawa River. The reflection of the building in the water, and the monochromatic blue colors make this such an unusual photograph. There are canals and dams and mills and buildings as part of this complex, located at the Chaudiere Falls on Victoria Island. This area has always been about logging and papermaking, and much of that has disappeared over the years. This is just the most recent example.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I went back to the museum again today. I can't mention the name, because you are NOT allowed to take photographs here! But there was this one portrait that for some reason really grabbed me. I must have come back to it four times, for some reason. It was a self portrait of the artist, done in 1929. I went down to the book store to see if they had a postcard of it, but they didn't. So I realized the only way I could have a copy of it was to sneak one, when no one was looking, and there were guards all over the place. So I hid my toy camera under a museum map, and when no one was looking, I lifted my arm with camera and map and aimed in the general direction of the painting, and this is what I got! Guess I will never make a good spy! For some reason I kind of like this quirky accidental image and decided to post it for your amusement.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:27 PM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I was really excited today, because this is the day I had decided to go the the Canada Aviation Museum. It has about a hundred aircraft on display, from the first aircraft to fly in Canada in 1909, the "Silver Dart", to a Spitfire, and an F104 Starfighter. Imagine my shock when I drove up and plastered across the museum's sign in front of this giant hangar, was a banner saying "Ferme Temporairment" (the english translation of which is "Temporarily Closed") "Re-opening in November." Everything in Ottawa is posted in both French and English. Oh No! What a disappointment! So I got out and walked around this amazing hangar, and took some photographs, and looked in the windows and drooled on the glass. Then I headed off to the National Museum of Science and Technology a few miles away. Oh well... At least I had fun with finding an interesting photo of the hangar.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:22 PM
Monday, September 15, 2008
So I am in Ottawa this week, and free to explore the city and the museums. Needless to say, I am going nuts with all the wonderful things to photograph! One of the first things I came across is this National War Memorial. I don't usually go around looking at war memorials, but the sculpture that is the centerpiece of this is just magnificent. The artist was Vernon March of England. The memorial was dedicated in 1939 by His Majesty King George VI. How is that for a sense of timeless history? But it is the detail in this huge sculpture that grabs your attention. Beautiful proportions, evocative expressions on the faces of the soldiers, and the details in the clothing and the accuracy of what they are wearing and the sense of movement make this a masterpiece in my eyes. It is quite moving as well, I might add.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
This magnificent piece of engineering is the Thousand Islands International Bridge, running from the US mainland north of Watertown, NY across to Canada. It marked its 70th birthday this year, with a big celebration in August. It was built in 1938 and the ribbon cutting was performed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minster Mackenzie King! How's that for some history! The bridge was built in only 16 months, at a cost of about three million dollars. It is beautiful as so many of these old bridges are. This particular part is the longest suspension section, eight hundred feet long, and it climbs to a height of 150 feet above the St. Lawrence River. Crossing this bridge is no ordinary ride, with views as far as the eye can see, up and down the river!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:53 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
There is this terrible vine that grows all over everything, and up fences and tree trunks, and envelopes the leaves of entire trees. It grows like crazy! Rip it up and off trees and other plants, turn your back, and it is all over everything in what seems to be an instant! What a pain in the neck. So today I am mowing the lawn, and catch a glimpse of light blue and purple in this bush. What? I come over closer, and this is what I see. It looks like tiny grapes, some of which are the wrong color. Then I remember, the vine is called "Grape ivy!" For crying out loud - THAT'S why they call it Grape ivy! I never knew!
Friday, September 12, 2008
This is a theater in the U.S. Custom House, which I have showed you before. One of the organizations who resides there is the American Museum of the American Indian, and this is the theater where they have two presentations for visitors. I was stunned when I walked through the door and saw the screen used for the films, lit by colored spotlights. Something about the cool colors on the screen and the warm colors all around it from the incandescent lighting. You will have to click on this to see the larger version, which should have better color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Thursday, September 11, 2008
When the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001, debris from the towers knocked over a giant sycamore tree that had stood for nearly a hundred years in the churchyard at St Paul's Chapel, on Broadway. The uprooted tree was found lying on a path in the churchyard and had not done amy damage to either the tombstones or the church. A sculptor named Steve Tobin decided to use the roots of the tree for a bronze sculpture. He saw the roots as a metaphor for our connectedness and our strength after the tragic events of September 11. Just to confuse things, this finished sculpture is on display in a courtyard of Trinity Church, which is further south on Broadway, at the intersection of Wall Street. It is a favorite tourist attraction, and families have their pictures taken as they stand in amongst the painted bronze roots.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:20 PM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
It's the faces that tell the story here. This is the World Trade Center viewing site on Liberty Street, where there is a walkway and a metal fence that viewers can look through to see the 9/11 site. The view through the fence now looks like any other construction site in New York, except that it is not, of course. It is sobering to watch the faces of so many of the people viewing the site. Some take a picture or two through the fence. Many simply fall silent, and stand there looking, rooted to the spot. Here and there along the fence there are flowers that visitors have placed into the fence in memoriam. It is a sobering place to visit, even all these years later.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:06 PM
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I decided to give you all a break from my New York City photos. There was a pretty good rainstorm this morning when a cold front moved through. A neighbor's gutter and downspout were overflowing. I decided to take a photo to show them, and while looking through the viewfinder saw this really nice view, of my dogwood tree, and the rain and mist behind it. The branches of this tired old dogwood have a wonderful graphic quality about them - sort of like the Wizard of Oz, perhaps. I love the feeling of them, even though many of them are already dead.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Every photographer can use a good editor. I have been fortunate over the years to have worked with some of the best editors and art directors whose judgement I could trust. It doesn't get any better than that! My colleague and friend Karen, who is a photographer, and a fabric artist (which is like a quilter, but I think it implies that her artwork is more "modern" and abstract than traditional quilts) emailed me today to tell me about this photo. She has just returned from a quilting workshop, and one of the important topics they worked on was that of "figure and ground." So she saw yesterday's post and took my picture, and cropped it and sent it back to me. I was stunned! I think it is a much stronger image cropped this way! I was glad I took such a graphic photo, but a bit crestfallen that I didn't see it this way when I originally shot it. Sometimes, when you get the whole scene, you don't get the strongest image. Lesson learned!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:38 PM
Sunday, September 7, 2008
As part of my lower Manhattan tour, I went over to the area of the World Trade Center site, and wandered around for a bit. This is inside one of the World Financial Center buildings, where people can get a view of the construction at the World Trade Center site. People were watching the construction and taking pictures. The first thing that caught my eye was the reflection of the silhouettes in the marble floor.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:23 PM
Saturday, September 6, 2008
This is a view of the graveyard at Trinity Church on Broadway in lower Manhattan. I must have taken at least 4 or 5 interesting photos while in the cemetery, but when I left and started walking uptown, I saw this view with the black fence, and the wonderful red flowers, and decided to post this photograph first. I will show you some of the others later. PLEASE click on the image so you can see the image with better color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:25 PM
Friday, September 5, 2008
This was my first stop in lower Manhattan after getting off the subway in the Financial district. This statue of George Washington is in front of Federal Hall, where he took the oath for office as first president of the United States on April 30, 1789. I stood here for about 15 minutes, and there was a steady stream of visitors who went up and stood by the statue and had their photographs taken. I was amazed by the number of people who I would guess were foreign tourists who wanted to be photographed with George. I am trying to figure out why this is. It was amazing to see. It would be as if I went to Japan and wanted to be photographed with a statue of Oda Nobunaga. (He was voted Number 1 of the top 100 Historical figures in a recent poll, but I have no idea who he was...)
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge towards Brooklyn after the sun had set. I was looking all around for photographs, and saw this image when I looked back to the west. I love the crossed wires which are part of the suspension system of the bridge, and seem mysterious seen in the sky in front of the view of Manhattan, and the spectacular clouds to the west. This almost looks like the end of the world.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:55 PM
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
This is one of the stairways in the U.S. Custom House, located next to Battery Park, in Manhattan. The Custom House is one of the city's most splendid Beaux Arts buildings. It was designed by the prominent architect Cass Gilbert and constructed between 1902 and 1907. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was one of the earliest designations of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission for both exterior and public interior spaces. Lavish sculptures, paintings, and decorations by well-known artists of the time, such as Daniel Chester French, embellish the facade, the two-story entry portico, the main hall parallel to the facade, and the Rotunda. This stairway is not the most interesting atristic thing in the building, by a long shot, but it made the most interesting photo, I thought.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:28 PM
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I went to the city today, but instead of going to a museum to look at photographs, I decided to go downtown, and take my own photographs instead. Well, be careful what you wish for! I must have walked ten miles, if I walked a block. Everywhere I went, I saw photographs waiting to be taken! So unless something amazing happens in my back yard, you can look forward to my city photographs for the next month, I kid you not! So I am starting a new series, called "Tourist Series." This first one is Isamu Noguchi's vermillion sculpture "Cube" at 140 Broadway. I spent half an hour looking for different angles, and then this young woman came up to me and asked if I would take a picture of her with her camera. I did that, and then shot one for me with my camera. I have no idea who she is, but I love her Joie de vivre - when I took the photo she didn't just stand there, but did this wonderful dance.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Monday, September 1, 2008
I stopped to visit my boyhood friend Skipper in Connecticut a couple of weeks ago. He is now building small boats at his home, and he builds other stuff as well, like this beautiful fence for his wife Mona's garden. I love the color blue that it is painted, and it is a wonderful background for these plants, whatever they are. It was the color combination that caught my eye, and compelled me to photograph this scene. I, of course, have no idea what plants these are. Hey, just grow them, and I will shoot them!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:15 PM
Sorry for not posting last night. I drove out to Southhold to go observing, and didn't get home until 3:00AM. Anyhow, here is another in my Porch Series. Found this in Sag Harbor, while stopped at a light. Ask me how quickly I could get my toy camera out of its pouch on my belt! 4 quick shots! Whew! At first I found it annoying that the fire hydrant was there, then I realized that I think it adds to the photo. The colorful light in the window, by the way, is a reflection of a sunlit building across the street.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:28 PM