Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Constellation of Raindrops

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.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Rather Bleak Landscape

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.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Imagine These Buildings...

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.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let Us Give Thanks

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!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Abandoned Farmhouse, III

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?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Sentinel

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.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Upstate Weather

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.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Farmhouse, Revisited

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.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Upstate Trip

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.

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.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Society is Known...

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

The Last Color of Fall

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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Warm or Cold?

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

My November Guest

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Yellow Carpet

This is not a great photograph. What it is, is a record of a beautiful scene. There is a difference. The back yard is gorgeous with its carpet of yellow leaves, and this image is just a record of that, not the "something else" that I expect from a great photograph. A simple record, a snapshot. But worth looking at, to be sure. Please click on it to see it larger, and with better color.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Day of Leaves

It was a balmy day, with fog, some wind and a light rain that came and went. It was the day when the last of the leaves fall from the trees. We have a Hickory tree and a Japanese maple on the front lawn and they are the last to loose their brilliant yellow leaves. When I first went out this morning the driveway was covered with a thick carpet of leaves. So I grabbed my camera and spent half an hour looking for photographs. I think this is the strongest image, because it shows the delicate details in this Japanese Maple leaf.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Galleria dell'Accademia

The most famous occupant of the Galleria dell'Academia is Michaelangelo's statue of David. He is an absolutely stunning sight! But there are other treasures here. This is in another room of the museum. I think it was the sight of so many beautiful busts just lined up on shelves like cans of soup in a market. I saw an astounding statistic once - of all the artwork worth saving in all of Europe, Eighty percent of it is in Italy! I have been thinking about this photo, which I did back in 1993, and went searching for the negative today and finally made a scan of it tonight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Amazing Light

OK, the chimney is done, and I can go back to real photography! I had to go to the parish center tonight, and when I entered the dark upstairs meeting room, there was really interesting light because of a streetlight outside. I took one photograph that I kind of liked, and then thought: "OK, but what else is there here?" It's relatively easy to find the FIRST shot - it's when you go looking for the "something else" that puts the pressure on. This second photo turns out to be the better image.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No "Art" Today...

Forgive my obsession with my chimney reconstruction, but I am just about done. Today I made a wood form on top of the new chimney, and then mixed some cement and poured it into the form to make a "cap" on the chimney. What it does over the long term is to protect the top of the bricks from weathering. I would have liked to show you the completed chimney cap with the form removed, but I won't be taking the wood form off until tomorrow. We'll see how it looks then. The little yellow strings, by the way, are attached to the parts of the form inside the chimney opening, to prevent any parts from accidentally falling down inside the chimney.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I was photographing the fall leaves the other day, trying different compositions. The light was low because it was late in the day, so I put the camera on a tripod. I was just making "straight" photographs when it occurred to me that I don't experiment very much. So I started fooling around with longer exposures, then started moving the branch in the middle of the exposure to see what I could do. I made a lot of exposures, and this is a favorite - some movement, but yet you still know what the subject is. I should be more "loose" in my shooting and experiment more.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The View From My Perch

I worked on the chimney all day, and was finishing just before the sun set. Suddenly, the orange light of the setting sun broke through the clouds, and lit up the landscape. I raced down the roof, scrambled down the ladder, ran in the house, grabbed my toy camera and hurried back up to the rooftop. This is the scene I beheld! The light had already gone off the trees in the foreground, which was actually an improvement - the single cloud now becomes the most important thing in the frame. You may need to click on the image to see one with better color.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Glorious Fall Day

I was on the way home about an hour before sunset this afternoon, and as I drove along the water, this familiar scene stopped me in my tracks. It had to do with the late afternoon sun making the trunks of the trees orange, seen against the beautiful blue horizon in the distance. I have shown you photographs of this before, so the object was to try and show it in a different way. So it is a vertical composition, but I think it is the light which makes this photo.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Constellation of Leaves

It was overcast and raining today. Late in the day when the rain stopped, the overcast sky lent a golden glow to everything. I went out looking for photographs in the fading light. These Japanese Maple leaves were near the back of the garage, in front of the ivy that is on the ground. I needed a tripod in the dim light, and long exposures, but I love the colors. It just appeared to me that there were so many small leaves, it felt like a constellation of stars.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Slight Mistake

I made a *slight* error a few weeks back. I had stripped the roof on one side, and then buttoned it up with felt paper to protect it from the weather in case it rained. I went to bed late that night in the dark, and it had been raining for a couple of hours. I put my head on my pillow and it was wet! And then I heard the "drip, drip, drip" of water from the ceiling! Yikes! So I got a bucket, changed the pillow, and went to sleep. The next morning I went up on the roof in the rain, and saw one small spot I missed where the water was coming in. It took 2 minutes to fix. Several days later the stains from the water began coming through cracks in the plaster. I was looking at the stains this morning, and it felt as if some life force from the house was making itself visible on the ceiling. climbing up toward the sky. I won't dwell on this long - I will probably paint it this weekend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Signs of Fall

Well, at least there are no more pictures of feet today. Instead, this is the Japanese Maple next to the garage. These trees are in my experience, the last of all the trees to change color in the fall. It is interesting to see the tips of the branches have changed color, while the rest of the branches are still green. It makes a lovely pattern, the orange and yellow against the green, don't you think? Please click on the image to see better color saturation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different...

"And now for something completely different." as Monty Python was so fond of saying. Something different indeed! Maybe this is pushing it, however. These are my feet, as dirty as the feet of a coal miner, I think. What a surprise when I came down off the roof - that was such a dirty job, tearing down the old chimney. The dust of the crumbling mortar, and the black soot from the coated bricks in the chimney. I couldn't believe how dirty I was, - face, hands, arms, shirt, pants, and this was the final surprise just before I took a shower! I just knew you would all want to see this... Or not! :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Amateur Hour

So this was what I did today. Here is a sequence of photos of the rebuilding project. I am not done yet but it is going to rain for two days and I had to get the roof buttoned up before the rain moves in. Man, is my back killing me! And I banged up a finger, but I have not fallen off the roof, which is good. I am disappointed in how it looks - I wanted it to be perfect, and it is not. I talked to and watched two masons in Texas when I was down there, and they made it look easy. Guess what, it is NOT easy! It looks amateurish, when you see it up close. But it will outlast me by a whole bunch of years, so I guess that is good enough. Click on it, please, to see more details in a larger image.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Perch

So today I built a couple of things that I need for my chimney project. This is a platform for holding both the new bricks (all 84 of them which I bought today) and as a "mortarboard" for working with the wet cement while building. I also made a support arm for a pulley and rope, which I will be using to lift the bricks 30 feet from the ground to the roof. This is no small task - one brick weighs 4.6 pounds and 84 will weigh 386 pounds! I will also use it for lifting as well all the mortar which I will be mixing in the wheelbarrow on the ground. So after building all this, I discovered that it is also a comfortable perch for looking out on the world at the end of the day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Chimney

I am sorry I am not out shooting for the blog these days. I have been focused on my next project, before finishing the roof. This is the chimney for the oil burner, and I need to tear it down to the roof line and rebuild it! Yikes! I have been reading books on masonry and bricklaying, and roof flashing, and in a lucky chain of events, when I was in Texas I met two masons working at the hermitage, and they were very helpful with suggestions and information for my project. I took a course in masonry and bricklaying at an adult education course perhaps 35 years ago. But I forgot a lot. Now I am coming back up to speed. I expect to do the project this week, so stay tuned - I will be posting an "after" photo if things go as planned.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Now That it is Cold Outside

A few weeks ago I posted a photo of my lunch on the front porch. One of the joys of retirement is the ability to sit on the porch with coffee and a sandwich, in the warm weather and read a book. It is just a glorious was to enjoy a small part of the day. But it has gotten cold this past week - way too cold to eat on the porch. So here is my new lunch spot - my easy chair in the living room, with my coffee on the bookcase shelf, and my sandwich balanced on the shutter doors! Still cozy, but I am not outdoors, where I would like to be.