Friday, October 31, 2008
This is Isabel. She came with her dad, trick or treating in a gown, carrying this black spider purse to collect her goodies! The eyes of the spider light up. She is so cute, and announced that she was "The Spider Queen." She was our ONLY trick or treater! So now there are 4 pounds of all kinds of candies that need to be dealt with! Oh boy, just what we need!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Boo! Happy Halloween! There is something magical about Halloween for me. Every year I have to cut the pumpkin and carve a face and add the candle and put it on the front porch. Then Halloween is complete! I could have been more creative with the face, of course. I always do a triangle nose, and round eyes, and a grin with three teeth. I guess that's just part of my tradition, though. But it makes me smile when I arrive home and see that face up on the porch railing and grinning back at me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Still feeling under the weather, so this is an older photo, once again. It's Chrysanthemums again. I showed you a group of pink ones a week or so ago. I think this may be stronger because of the color contrasts between the red and orange flowers, and the complementary color of green in the background. If you are getting bored, I just might have a a really cool photo for you on Friday. Maybe. Maybe not. Stay tuned...
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
So now I have a cold, and it has been windy and rainy all day, so I didn't go out at all. This is an older photograph that I took a couple of years ago. I was driving down a road and saw this. It is one of the many abandoned buildings on the site of the former Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company in Bethpage. Grumman was one of the most famous names in the world of aviation, and is famous for both their world war II fighters, and for more modern jet aircraft. For much of the Cold War period Grumman was the largest single corporate employer on Long Island. Grumman's products were considered so reliable and ruggedly built that the company was often referred to as the "Grumman Iron Works." They were bought by Northrop Aviation, and the new owners closed almost all of the plants here on Long Island.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:34 PM
Monday, October 27, 2008
I was running around today getting stuff for rebuilding the chimney, so no new photo today. I was looking through some older images - this was actually shot with film some years ago. It is a detail shot of one window in the Olsen House, in Cushing, Maine, where Andrew Wyeth painted a number of his famous paintings. The really cool thing is that the house is owned by the Farnsworth Museum, and you can go walk through the house and see just where Wyeth painted a particular painting. They have 8x10 framed reproductions of paintings done there, located at the exact site in the building. It is SO amazing to be standing where Wyeth stood and see what he saw. It is a very powerful experience. This is just a shot I did outside - I don't think it has any of the feeling for the house as Andrew Wyeth painted it.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
It is interesting to me how something catches my eye, and then how I decide that it might make a photograph. I work intuitively, and later on try to figure out my thought process. I was early for church today and was surprised how few people were sitting in the pews when I sat down. There was this woman in front of me, and I normally would not have taken any special notice of her, except that she was wearing a jacket that was the color of her hair, and her hair was the color of the pews, and there was no one next to her or in the two pews in front of her. There was something about the monochromatic color that caught my attention. Then I noticed the gentle curves of her hair, and decided it was worth a photo.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
At the Kodak booth at Photo Expo, I was really surprised to see this sign, and this line of people, waiting to get free film! Wow, Film! I remember that I used to shoot film. Well, for most of my life, actually. I got my first digital camera at work in 2000, and it has been all digital since then. Eight years without film. Who'd a thunk. I didn't bother to get in line to see what they were giving away. Even if I got a free roll, I probably couldn't afford the processing! I still have all my film cameras, though. 35mm, 70mm Hasselblads, Pentax 6x7 and even two 4x5 view cameras. I guess I was not smart enough to sell them right after I got my first digital Nikon. I should have seen the writing on the wall.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:32 PM
Friday, October 24, 2008
So here is some good news - I have a new photo that I actually took today! I was at Photo Plus Expo at the Javits Center in Manhattan. It is a huge convention with all kinds of photo equipment on display. At this booth of an electronic flash manufacturer they have this model made up in an exotic fashion posing in this picture frame, and lit by their flash units. If you have a real camera, they give you an electronic trigger to attach to your camera so you can take photographs of the model using their lighting setup. I only had my toy camera with me and couldn't use their flash units. That was OK, though because I didn't like their white background, so by shooting available light from the side, the model is seen against a black background, which I think makes for a more dramatic portrait. Pretty lady, don't you think?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I was up on the roof again today, all day long. Made some significant progress. All this to explain that I really was not in a jungle today. This is actually a photograph out the bathroom window after I took a shower, steaming up the glass, in the home I stayed in while visiting Austin, Texas. The house belongs to an amazing landscape designer, and it is kind of cool that he has trees planted so close to the windows. This way you don't have to pull a shade down when showering. Cool. And really interesting to look at.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I think this was supposed to be part of my dinner tonight. It was living under the sink, and apparently was forgotten about... :-) When I first saw it, I was blown away! Is this an amazing object or what? I think I have seen a potato with a couple of sprouts before, but nothing prepared me for the complexity of this. It is really quite beautiful, so I set up a small piece of seamless background paper on the dining room table after dinner, and did some photographs of it playing around with the lighting. Do you like it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I am still working on the roof, and will be for two more days, so my posts will be photographs that I have done recently. This sculpture is called "Group of Four Trees" by Jean Dubuffet and it is located in The Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza in the Financial District in Downtown Manhattan. I photographed it a number of ways, and this view is the most abstract. You really can't tell from this photo what the sculpture looks like. I did a photo that showed all of the sculpture, but liked this because it was more mysterious. The only identifiable thing is the skyscraper seen through openings in the sculpture.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:10 PM
Monday, October 20, 2008
I have been on the roof all day, so this is an older photograph that I thought you might enjoy. It was my last day at Mt. Carmel, and I awoke in the dark and went out to photograph. When I returned shortly after sunrise, I looked at the sheets on my bed before taking them off, and saw this. I must confess to having burned into my optic nerve a beautiful photo taken years ago by Imogen Cunningham of an unmade bed. Hers was SO much better, mine is OK. You can see her photo if you Google "Imogen Cunningham, The Unmade Bed."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:54 PM
Sunday, October 19, 2008
We bought a couple of pots of Crysanthemums the other day, and while I was standing in line to pay for them, since the blossoms were just under my nose, I was studying the patterns they made. So I took the toy camera off my belt, and while holding the pot in one hand, snapped a couple of closeups with the camera. I like the pattern in this shot the best.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are colder, and so many things are beginning to fade. This is a photograph of the bank of ferns in front of the house. It is green from Spring through Summer, but many of the ferns are beginning to wilt, and some have already turned brown. So today I was so surprised to see these beautiful purple-blue asters in among the ferns. I don't remember seeing them there in other years. The colors will be better if you click on this to see a larger image.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:11 PM
Friday, October 17, 2008
Well it is obvious that this post is not about photography. I decided to use the self-timer on my camera (which was balanced on the chimney) to do a photo of me tearing off a section of roof before putting a new asphalt roof down. I did the front half of the house roof last fall, and I need to finish the back of the house this fall. Man, it is hard work, but it is pretty rewarding to see the finished roof, not to mention saving thousands of dollars doing it myself. I am using a safety rope, you will notice. I love to fly, but only in airplanes!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Rain showers were forecast for today, but there was no sign of them until late this afternoon. I was out running errands when I noticed the sky was dark gray to the north, so I decided to drive by the beach to see if there was a photograph there. I had just parked the car, and was about to get out to look around when the raindrops began hitting the windshield. Gee, this is hard work, this photography stuff - sit there in the car out of the weather and try and find a photo!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:03 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This photo was fun! The last afternoon I was there, there were a number of photographs that the brothers suggested I might want to take. When we were done with all the "official" ones, they confessed to me there was one photo they had always wanted to do. Two of the brothers are good photographers, so they understand visualizing a photo. They explained that there is a windmill on the property, and they always wanted a silhouette photo of all of them and the windmill at sunset. They were hoping for a wonderful sunset with clouds, which was not to be. But no matter, we had fun nonetheless. They would assume a pose, I would snap a photo and show them the image in the camera, and then they would make suggestions to improve it. This image is my favorite. But the best part of it all was to see their enthusiasm and the absolute delight they had in the process itself. It was a joy for me to see them at play!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:26 PM
This will be my last regular image from the Hermitage. The brothers take a vow of silence, living and eating alone in their cells. On sundays they do get to talk with one another. And what is the purpose of shutting themselves off from the world? To increase their intimacy with God. That is what they strive for in their lives. One brother has said: "The things you give up become insignificant compared to the things you receive." So what does this do to those who commit themselves to this life? Here is Brother John who has been here nearly 18 years. Look at his countenance - the hint of smile on his face, and the sense of peace. What more testament is needed that this life becomes him.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:08 PM
I am winding down my multiple posts from the Hermitage, at last. Hope you have enjoyed them. This is brother Martin, coming through the door in the fence that surrounds his cell. There is something about this photograph that I love - his thoughtful appearance, the late afternoon light, and the cross above the door. I can't explain anything beyond that, but this image did jump out at me when I was editing the whole shoot.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This is one of the brothers preparing to dress in his white tunic for services in the church. The brothers do take a vow of silence, as the sign reminds them. They are allowed to talk about the work at hand if necessary, otherwise there is no conversation. They take their meals alone in their cells. On Sundays, however, they do share a common meal and they are allowed to talk to each other. I love that everything in this photograph is "high key" with the exception of the brother dressed in the dark tunic.
This is one of the brothers walking back to his cell after feeding the goats. He is wearing his work tunic, in gray. Normally their tunics are brown, and over that they will wear a white tunic for religious services. I love this because of the brilliance of the rising sun. By this time he has been up for three hours already, and eaten breakfast alone in his cell. Work will occupy the next three hours before having lunch
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Actually, this is not the start of a Hermit's day. They arise at 3:40 AM, and begin with personal devotions and meditations. But at 6:00 AM they all meet in the chapel for Angelus and Lauds. Here is one of the brothers lighting one of the candles which is the only thing that illuminates the chapel while it is still dark out.
Monday, October 13, 2008
There is a large green in the center of the compound, with the houses for the Hermits around the outer edge of it. In the center there are some trees, and this birdhouse - it is a Purple Martin house. On this particular day there were these magnificent Cirrus clouds in the sky and the birdhouse scene had an entirely new feeling.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:16 PM
I first saw one of the Brothers taking the goats out to pasture on the first morning I was at the Hermitage. I could not believe my eyes! Because of the landscape, the trees, the goats, the way the brother was dressed and his staff, it appeared that I was viewing a scene from biblical times! I didn't quite get the photograph that I wanted, so I came back in the evening, and then again on the second morning. This is my favorite photo. The only giveaway is that Brother Martin is carrying a white plastic bucket. Oh well. Everything else works, I think.
Because the land in some areas of West Texas does not grow crops or trees easily, the Prior of the Hermitage left every tree on the property untouched, and in fact, designed the placement of the buildings and sidewalks in such a way that no trees would be moved or cut down. This is a group of Live Oaks not far from the church door, seen in the background, that I was fascinated with. I took photographs of these trees on several different occasions, in different lighting. This is my final try, and I think the most successful version. I love the sense of light exploding through the trees.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Saturday, October 11, 2008
When you first enter the public area on the grounds of the Hermitage, you pass statues of the Stations of the Cross on pedestals in a wonderful glade of Live Oak trees. It is a lovely area, suited to contemplation. There is something about the angled trunks of the trees that give the scene an almost unearthly look. I thought this photograph was more effective if seen in black and white instead of color. Please click on this to see more detail in a larger image. As a note, I may be "off the grid" for a day or two, and then will continue to post new photographs from my visit when I return.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:02 PM
Toward the end of the day, devotions for the Hermits begin with time to say the Rosary in the church together. They sit in various places in the church and take turns speaking. This is one of the brothers during this time, kneeling and holding his Rosary beads. The late afternoon sun illuminates him as day comes to an end. Meditation in silence will follow, and then the Office of Vespers with the Hermits chanting in the chapel which is adjacent to the church.
The day begins for the hermits at 3:30 AM. My day began at 5:30AM when I awoke to photograph Vespers at 6:00AM, and then Mass at 6:30AM. After Mass was over, it was still dark and I headed back to my cell, when I saw this view at first light. The Hermitage is building a tomb on their property, based on a structure in the Holy Land. It is still under construction, but as a silhouette, you can't tell that it is not finished. The fact that a cedar tree is already planted next to the building adds to the feeling. I have never been to the Holy Land, but it seems as if it would look just like this. Naturally I was stopped in my tracks, and spent half an hour before breakfast trying for different views of the scene.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Monday, October 6, 2008
One of the joys of hanging out with Ginger and Ron is that they know all these neat places for coffee in the morning. Today we went to Hot Mama's and there was this warm and friendly guy behind the counter who served us. The first thing I saw was his great old Campagnolo bike hat. Then I spotted a bike in the front window - clearly an old Italian racing bike that has been converted to a single-speed commuter bike. Turns out that the bike is a 1950's era Benotto and that Hannie, who owns the bike, had put it together from rescued parts and given it this great paint job! I just had to photograph him, and he was happy to be my subject. He was wonderful, and the coffee and scone were as well! I have posted a much larger image, so please click on it to see the name of the bike cast in the front chainring, and the great paint job.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:36 PM
Sunday, October 5, 2008
This is Ginger and Ron's new house! Isn't it nice? It makes for wonderful photographs - I just love abandoned houses and old places in ruin! There is something about the sense of history in old buildings that have fallen into decay, that speaks to me more clearly than historical buildings which have been perfectly restored. This was the best room for a photograph because of the line of light on the floor, and the spooky sense of light coming in through the boarded up window. I know, I know, you want to know why on earth they would buy THIS house. It is in a neighborhood on the way up, and they will be using the walls of this old house - it is built of stone - as the courtyard entrance to a new modernist home that will be built on the property.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:48 PM
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I have been looking forward to this day for several years. These are people, and the setting moon, on the Congress Avenue Bridge, crossing the Colorado River in the heart of Austin. When the bridge was rebuilt in 1980, crevices were created between the cement beams - a perfect bat roost. Bats soon moved in by the thousands, and the current population is estimated to be over a million bats. And each night, swarms of bats depart for their night feedings on insects. The colony is estimated to eat from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects a night! People gather by the hundreds, both on the bridge and below the bridge to watch the swarms depart. Austin now has one of the most unusual and fascinating tourist attractions anywhere. Unfortunately, tonight we never saw the swarm depart! Perhaps it was weather conditions, but we did see perhaps a hundred or so over a 10 minute period, but not the huge clouds of bats we expected. We may go back tomorrow night to watch again.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:06 PM
Friday, October 3, 2008
There is an old Air Force saying that when you have to do something REALLY early, that the time will be at "Oh Dark Thirty," a play on the way military time is expressed. I am visiting my friends Ginger and Ron in San Angelo, Texas, and on this particular morning I had to get up in the dark for our trip to Austin. We were well on the way with Starbucks coffee in hand when the first light of dawn was visible ahead. I realized that I have not witnessed a sunrise, in perhaps ten years! I kid you not! So this was a big deal, and a beautiful thing to watch, and to recall other sunrises from earlier times in life.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:51 PM
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I was winging my way down to Texas today, and looking for photographs everywhere. On board the 737, I was looking out the window at the wing, and at the clouds trying to find interesting things. Then I looked down at the little ledge on the window next to my seat, and noticed a strange pattern. It was the shadow of ice crystals that had formed in the window, from the extreme cold at high altitude. I photographed the sunlight and the shadows, and then looked some more. I decided to photograph the ice crystals themselves, against the blue-black sky outside. This is the result! It almost looks as if something has swooped by and it climbing into the sky.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:44 PM
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This photograph is not really about photography, but rather about something that is exciting to me. Back in September 2007 I ordered this 18" f/4.3 telescope mirror from one of the best mirror makers in the country. It is made by Carl Zambuto in Washington State. It finally arrived a year later and I am really excited! It weights about 35 pounds. A telescope mirror is an amazing thing, in that its surface is accurate to millionths of an inch! Now my project is to build the telescope that it goes in. I will get to that as soon as I finish putting a new roof on the house, before winter arrives. I will show you more photos as the telescope construction progresses.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:38 PM