Thursday, January 31, 2008
I covered a press conference today by a legislator who was proposing a law detrimental to undocumented immigrants and their ability to get work. This gentleman is pastor of a church, and he is a tireless advocate for immigrants. These camera crews are from spanish speaking stations and were interviewing him about his reaction to the new legislation, after the official press conference. I liked the light in this photo and the silhouette made the image more striking. I also felt for some reason, that all the blank space on the right was helpful for the image. For the paper, this would be cropped much tighter.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I am still working on the video project for Black History Month. I have shown you one film setup already, in a room with plenty of space. We are all using a cloth background, which uses up a lot of space to set up, and in this house, I ended up in a very small space. While the subject was answering the questions, I kind of backed up and looked at the setup, and thought it lookied interesting - he looked completely hemmed in by all the stuff I brought with me! Thought you might enjoy seeing the setup.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I was sitting having coffee and looked out the shop window and saw these birds in the tree. The first thing that came to mind, because of their placement, was musical notes. So I grabbed my toy camera on my belt and snapped two pictures, before something frightened them and they all flew off! I have no other philosophical thoughts that go along with this! What a refreshing change, don't you think?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:57 PM
Monday, January 28, 2008
I hoped that when I started this blog, that I would experiment with new ways of seeing. This is not an easy thing to do. When I look for photos, and when I compose my images in the viewfinder after all these years, that process is intuitive. I don't think about where the edges of the frame are, and the placement of the subject within the frame is, for the most part, automatic. So it has to be a conscious decision to try and see in new ways. I think that I have done that here. What makes it different is dividing the frame into sections, and finding something interesting in each section. I was sitting in traffic when I saw this, and the lightbulb went off in my head, and I grabbed the camera. I like this, and will spend time thinking about how I can apply this to my day-to-day work.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:12 PM
Sunday, January 27, 2008
There was deck of gray clouds overhead most of the day today, but just before sunset the sky cleared at the horizon and the sun's light shown through. It was a more brilliant orange than I ever remember seeing. By the time I noticed the light, I only had a minute or two to grab the camera and shoot this before the light faded. It was simply stunning to see the orange light on the trees against the gray sky. The frustrating thing is that the color will be so reduced in the image displayed on the blog. Please double click the image to see it in full color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:21 PM
Whoops! Forgot to post last night! My apologies to you loyal readers out there. I didn't have a photo for the day, and perhaps that's why I forgot. When I awoke this morning there was a light dusting of snow on everything. That makes it much easier to find a photo. Brought the Nikon with me when I went out to fetch the newspaper, and spent a few minutes at the side of the driveway, looking at the snow covered leaves. I hate to rake all the leaves at the end of the season - it makes things look so bare when you do that. So I leave them lying around until spring. You know, just in case I need a picture at the last minute! I love the texture of the snow on the leaves, and the warm colors. And there was something about the two larger shapes that caught my eye.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:38 AM
Friday, January 25, 2008
I saw this camera sitting on a desk in the room we stayed in, in Los Angeles. It was my first camera! Wow! Hadn't thought about this camera in years and years. But seeing it really took me back. The first camera I used was my mom's Kodak Vigilant 620 folding camera. I remember that the shutter stopped working, and I took it to the camera shop for repairs, and they said that they "lost it." I am not sure what happened, but the camera was first made in 1939 and I think that maybe in the 50's when I was using it, that it was a collector's item. We couldn't afford a replacement, so I was out of business for a while. I finally got my Brownie Hawkeye in a most unusual way. I was hit by a car! Well, actually, I was knocked down by a car as it was backing up. I had a terrible gash in my head, and one ear, and so ended up in the hospital. Naturally people sent cards with money in them, and when I got out, I bought my very own camera! I loved it because it was "modern" and easy to use. I am not sure how long I had it - several years I think - but my mom borrowed it, and was standing on a speedboat taking a picture, and the owner carelessly gunned the engine and she nearly fell overboard! Fortunately she was unhurt, but the Hawkeye went overboard, and that was the end of it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM
Thursday, January 24, 2008
So I was driving through Garden City after my first assignment today, thinking, geeze, I need to find a blog shot today. No more LA stuff for a while. I happened to look out the rider's side winddow and was stunned at what I saw! This is the Cathedral of the Incarnation. I couldn't believe all the scaffolding! I immediately thought that it looked just like the Statue of Liberty did back in 1984 when they were refurbishing her. That was an amazing sight, and this one was too! The steeple is 200 feet high, and it has a ten foot tall cross on top, and the scaffolding is even taller than that! After spending about half an hour walking all around the building to find the best view, I picked this shot. I called the Cathedral to ask why the scaffolding was there, and found out they have removed the spire on the steeple, to reinforce it, and then they will be putting it back. This is a larger than normal file size, so please click on the image to see more detail in it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:50 PM
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
OK, another day of two photographs for the price of one. I am still a sucker for sunsets, so here is one more from Venice Beach. I was composing the shot and realized that it needed something else to make it a more interesting picture. The palms are quite tall, but it wasn't obvious without a person. So I went and got Amy's husband Gustavo, from where they were playing paddle tennis, and asked him to jump up on the wall. That's it! The human figure made all the difference! Thanks Gus!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
I got a request from "anonymous" for more Los Angeles photographs. OK! Well, actually I was busy shooting and editing video today and didn't see a blog shot. (Don't you love it that I read the comments on the blog?) So I still have photos you haven't seen from CA. This is actually the first photograph that I took after arriving in the city. It is the hallway of the house we stayed in, very close to West Hollywood. The home was built around 1920, I believe, and was really lovely. I particularly like the light in the hall in this night shot.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:45 PM
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
OK, so this isn't one of my greatest photographs. I guess it is more about social commentary. I was in Starbucks again today (My second home...) and this couple came and sat down in the stuffed chairs next to me. They put their coffee and sandwiches down, and the man's phone rang and he answered it and started talking. With that, the woman got her cellphone out and she started a conversation, and started eating as well! It was just so strange, I thought. This is only a grab shot, taken by pointing the camera while holding it in my lap. Right, as if you can't tell! :-)
Oh, after about 15 minutes or so, they both put their phones away, and spent the rest of their lunch talking to one another. I promise to post a real photo tomorrow!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:37 PM
Monday, January 21, 2008
I was stopped at a light getting off the parkway, and noticed the very pale moon in a pastel sky. It occurred to me that usually we are aware of the moon when it is in a jet black sky, and I loved the subtlety of these more delicate colors. So I grabbed the camera and tried several different views. Then I drove toward work, but the moonrise would not let me go. I stopped twice more, looking for other foregrounds, and took some more photos. Then I realized that I was approaching the Long Island National Cemetery just up the road, with its geometric lines of headstones. Wow, what a great foreground that would make! By then the sky was getting darker, and the pastel shades had changed, but more importantly, the foreground was so much more dramatic, the photo was no longer about the moon at all! Funny how the nature of a photo can change as you explore the subject.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
OK, so I know that I am back home, but I took so many photographs while in California, that I thought I would continue to post some of them. Some are just kind of family snapshots, but I post things like that from time to time. So I will probably continue to do that this week, for a while. We took a walk on the canals of Venice late one afternoon, and I was enjoying the long shadows behind the pedestrians. I was told that 20 years ago these canals were filled with junk and stagnant water. You would never guess that now, with small houses being torn down and three story homes being built on the previous foundation. This is definitely a high-rent district!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
This is Lincoln. He lives in the house that we were staying in while in Los Angeles. I didn't realize it, but I was sitting in HIS chair! The first thing I knew, he came over, was really friendly, and then jumped up into my lap, which he had never done before. Then I was told that I was in his chair... :-) He is a wonderful, friendly dog, and I was happy that he felt comfortable to come join me!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:59 PM
Saturday, January 19, 2008
It is always great to be away, especially if it is to spend time with our daughters. And it is also wonderful to be heading back home at the end of our visit. Such was the day today. And today it was magical, with clear skies across most of the country, and a gorgeous sunset at Flight Level 330 with the earth already in shadow below. What an amazing thing is an airplane wing such as this! I suspect that most people in the aircraft were looking at the little TV sets on the seatbucks, rather than out the window at the wonders of nature to be seen there. What does that say about us?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:14 PM
After finally getting a passer-by and his shadow on the barbell building, I walked down to the large dune on the beach, and wandered along looking for some interesting silhouettes that would look good against the sky. Imagine my joy at finding both two people and seagulls in combination. I did a number of photographs of this scene, and picked this one, as being the most interesting in the way the birds are "arranged" within the frame, and the directions in which they are facing.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:08 PM
The original "Muscle Beach was in Santa Monica, and after it closed, bodybuilding attention shifted south to a small weight pen in Venice Beach. Later, this large current facility was built, as part of the revitalization of Venice in 1990. Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out here! This is a photograph of the new building, which you notice has a huge concrete barbell on the roof, and bleachers for spectators. It seemed more dramatic at sunset, but it needed something else - a figure. Maybe a weightlifter! I stood here for 30 minutes, but no weightlifter was to be seen, so out of the passers-by that I photographed, I chose this one.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:56 PM
I photographed this young girl today looking intently at her camera before taking a picture. Taking a picture of what? Read more about what she is looking at in the my next post in the blog. But I love this photograph for a few reasons - The intensity with which she is studying her subject, that it makes us wonder what she is looking at, and I love the delicacy with which she is holding her camera with her fingers.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:41 AM
You know me, if it is the least bit mysterious, and you can't tell at first glance what a photograph is, then I am most likely going to love it! This is an 18" diameter polished brass ball suspended on a long cable from the ceiling of the Griffith Observatory. It is the first thing you see when you enter the lobby of the building. The complete device is called a Foucault Pendulum, and it slowly swings back and forth in this pit that you can look down into. Over time, the pendulum slowly changes the angle of the back and forth movement within the pit, which demonstrates the rotation of the Earth on its axis. The ring of light on the ball is a reflection of the illumination within the pit, and if you enlarge the photo, you may even be able to see the heads and shoulders of people looking down at it from above.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:33 AM
My daughter Liz and I took a field trip today and went to the newly renovated Griffith Observatory. This is one of the most popular destinations in all of Southern California, they say. It is a stunning Art Deco architectural structure built in the 1930's. I could probably shoot a week's worth of blog photos in one day here. But I will spare you, and just post three today. These arches surround the planetarium dome, and the combination of light and shade, and the brilliant blue sky stopped me in my tracks. The views from this spot are also astounding, overlooking Los Angeles.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:22 AM
Friday, January 18, 2008
I had been walking along the sidewalk and bike paths at Venice Beach for an hour or so, and the sun had already gone down. You saw the photo I posted a few days back of people by the water at sunset. So I figure that I am done for the day, and then I see these two guys playing vollyball. I only had the toy camera with me, so it was difficult to get the exact moment I wanted, but I thought I would give it a try. Took two frames, and this is the second, and I got it! The lesson? You are never done looking for photographs!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:09 AM
Thursday, January 17, 2008
What the heck is this? When I first saw this I thought I could get a neat shot out of it. "Neat" meaning that I hoped when people first looked at the photo, it would be kind of mysterious what they were looking at. Know what it is yet? OK, it's water from a fountain at the shopping center The Grove" here in Los Angeles. It is a programmed fountain, which goes through a sequence of spurts of water, and at one point, instead of solid streams of water, it shoots "spurts' which end up floating in the sky like this. I shot about 30 photographs trying to get it just right.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:58 PM
For the third time this week, we went to The Farmer's Market for breakfast. The first day it was at Bob's Doughnuts, and yesterday it was Du-Par's and today it was back to Bob's. The sign says "The best doughnuts in LA" and I believe it! I was taken by the lovely ladies who waited on us both days, so today I asked if I could take their portrait. They were worried that they wouldn't look good, but I promised to take a nice photo. The only problem was, that I was using my toy camera (the Canon SD800) and I can't shoot a quick burst of frames, as I can with the Nikon D2xs camera. I got them all laughing, but missed the perfect moment. So I got them smiling again, and missed it again. So this is not exactly what I had hoped for, but I wanted you to see what Bob's looks like, and how nice the counter ladies were.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:19 AM
We went on a "field trip" today to see how close we could get, legally, to the Hollywood sign! This is the result. It was so cool to look up and see it on the hill above us. We are all used to seeing it from miles away, and here we were within perhaps 1/4 mile. The trick was to drive up local residential streets in Hollywood until we got as close as we could. When you get here, at a dead end street, there are signs warning that is is private property beyond, and no hiking allowed beyond this point. OK, so don't ask me how I know this, OK, but guess what happens if you try hiking up the steep hill to the base of the sign? After you get about half way there, you suddenly hear a voice (not a recording) that says you are trespassing, and to turn around! How does it know? Well, there are security cameras posted there, and they are watching you, and when you get close enough to the cameras, some guy talks to you and you hear his voice from the speakers! So if you come up here, don't go beyond the signs, or else! Aren't you glad that I told you this?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:10 AM
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Liz took us to Du-par's restaurant at the Farmer's Market, over on Fairfax this morning. A restaurant that has been at this location for years. Great classic breakfasts - fresh orange juice, bacon & eggs, fries, toast and coffee served by waitresses dressed in classic 1950's diner dresses. Each table has fresh flowers, and we could sit in the warm morning sunshine and look at the Hollywood Hills down the street. This warm weather and sunshine could make you question why some of us continue to live in the Northeast!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:03 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
After breakfast this morning I went over to The George C. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park on Wilshire Blvd. I have seen the tar pits before, but not the museum. Really interesting exhibits of prehistoric animal skeletons, as well as stories of how the area developed. It was particularly interesting to read about the history Hancock Park, and how it went from farmland to an oil field to its present state as a city park. One of the strange things about the park is that because of all the asphalt underneath (which is what causes the "tar pits") from time to time,"seeps" of black asphalt develop in middle of the lawn of the park! Workers just put a cone over the seep, and you try not to walk in the gooey black substance! This Mammoth was common in this area, and this skeleton was dug from one of the tar pits on the property, the bones cleaned of the "tar" and the skeleton assembled in the museum.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:36 PM
Monday, January 14, 2008
When I saw this view of palm trees in Venice with the crescent moon I realized I had the possibility of a pretty nice photo. The trees make a wonderful California silhouette against the sky. But while composing the image, I suddenly noticed the illuminated window to the lower right and realized that now I had a far more interesting photo!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:44 PM
These are my two beautiful daughters! LA Women! We sent shopping in Santa Monica the other day, and Liz, on the left didn't have a hat, and needed something to keep the sun out of her eyes. Sun? You know, the round bright thing that we used to have on Long Island? Anyhow, I went into "Lids" store with her, and when we came out she had this cool blue LA hat. Which almost perfectly matched the one that Amy already had! Looks like a picture, I thought!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:38 PM
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I am having so much fun, and taking so many photographs, that I have decided to post two photographs each day this week. I am seeing wonderful things to photograph at every turn! The first photo is Tarzan the cat. He belongs to Amy and Gus, and this is his first day outside in five months. He is a beautiful cat with long, soft fur, and so friendly to strangers. The second photo is sunset at Venice Beach this afternoon. The Pacific ocean stretching to infinity, and the golden rays of the sun on the water. The trick was to find something of interest in the foreground which would make or break the photograph. I took a number of photographs as people came and went, and this is my favorite.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:15 PM
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Blew into town this afternoon from the East coast - 71 degrees and sunny - what else would you expect in LA? Hit a Mexican restaurant down in Venice because we were starving to death. Knockout food and on the way back to the car, found this motel that looked just too LA to pass up, so here it is. Also found two other definitely LA kind of shots, but they will have to wait for later on to be posted. Nice to be on vacation, nice to be with our daughters!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:11 PM
Friday, January 11, 2008
It was very foggy this morning, which is a bit unusual. I was at Nassau Community College for an assignment, and with the fog and the modern buildings, it looked like some kind of spaceport, I thought. I quickly took a few pictures, and then when a student walked into the frame I did a couple of more shots. Then I looked at the LCD on the back of the camera to see if the exposure was OK. I was surprised to see this blue photo! I had set the color balance to tungsten light yesterday and forgot to set it back. I then set it correctly, and took some more photos, but decided that I liked the "cheap trick" filter effect, so here it is. I think the blue makes the image look just a bit less Earthly.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:02 PM
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I have only shot video for the last two days (well, OK, I did a food job today, but you don't want to see that...) so I thought that maybe some of you would like to see how I do the set up for the video for doing this series of portraits. The setup involved two light stands and a pole for the background, (on the left in photo) and another light stand for the umbrella and quartz light, and then a tripod for the video camera. Then I have a wireless microphone for the subject, and a wireless receiver for the camera, and earphones for me. Whew! It takes a while to set this all up. (Maybe tomorrow I will find a real photograph for you...)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:24 PM
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Several of us photographers are photographing about 30 people for a project. We are all using the same light beige background material and soft nearly-frontal lighting so the photos will look the same when used next to each other. Oh, and we are doing video interviews with each subject as well. With the video camera running and my subject answering a long question, I moved over to the left and leaned down to get my Nikon for some still photos, and when I looked up, the edge lighting knocked me out! But it needed more. After I was done with the video, I went out to the car and grabbed the piece of black cloth I have in the trunk, put it over the lighter background, and then did this photo. It won't fit in the layout, but I will submit it anyhow. This man is nearly 85, is a PhD and has been an educator all his life, where he began by working with underprivileged children, trying to make a difference in their lives. I was hoping to capture a sense of dignity about him, and a sense of how much he must have seen, both good and bad, in his lifetime.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I took this photograph at 8:15 this morning, of the winter sunlight coming in the window, and leaving patterns and shadows on the bedroom door from the wavy glass in the window panes. The reason this happens is that in the wintertime the sun only reaches an altitude of 26 degrees above the horizon at noon. At 8:15, it is only 10 degrees above the horizon, so the light can come in the window and shine across the room. In the summer, by the way, the sun's altitude reaches 71 degrees at noon. This is funny what I do... I am trying for mystical and magical photographs, and then when I find one, do I talk about the image itself? No. I give you an astronomy lesson instead! Well, I guess I hope that the photo will stand on its own.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:33 PM
Monday, January 7, 2008
This is a photo I took last year. Ok, then it was in the middle of February. But today the temperature reached 61 degrees! Not a record, but quite a change from a week ago, when the temp was 14 degrees! So thought I would post this to make a point about the difference this year. But mainly I wanted to post it because it is such a beautiful photograph. And that's what matters to me - finding beauty wherever I can.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:35 PM
Sunday, January 6, 2008
I need to brighten up things around here. It has been too abstract, and it is gray outside and cold. So here is something to warm us all up. I have two nieces in Connecticut, and they have children, and these are two of them. Does that make them grand-nieces? Anyhow, this is Nicole and Katie during my daughter's wedding in Mexico, back in July. I love their brightly colored cameras and the smiles on their faces! Makes me warmer already! And happier, with the memories.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:42 PM
That's my excuse. The dog ate my homework. The real reason I forgot to post last night was that I got working on some project, and lost track of time, and then it was really late and I was tired, and went to bed, forgetting all my loyal readers! Sorry for forgetting you! This is a photograph of a lamp in a house I photographed the other day. An amazing lamp. It is made from common 1/2" copper tubing which is bent, and then distressed, and then the surface is treated to make it dark, with hints of blue. The lampshades are 1/4" rough glass which is then heated and bent to form these lampshades. It is a stunning piece of sculpture. It is not for every home, but it works really well in the home that it lives in.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:14 AM
Friday, January 4, 2008
I was not trying to be ironic or incongruous with this photograph. At a stop sign, I saw this out the windshield, and thought it was a bit incongruous at first. Funny thing with me is, and my daughters are always laughing at me about this, when I find a new word that I like, like incongruous, I use it over and over again, sort of like I am doing here... Anyhow, I didn't think that the sign really related to the cemetery behind it, but I ended up liking the colors - the yellow sign against the clear blue sky. So I took it for a simpler reason than you might expect. No hidden meaning here!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:01 PM
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Wouldn't it be nice if I could tell you what I am up to with my photography. When I was a student at RIT back in the 60's, I remember Ralph Hattersley saying "Never ask photographers what they are up to, because they haven't the slightest idea!" That is certainly true for me. I respond emotionally to things I see, and am incapable of coming up with an intellectual reason for my photographs. So it is with this one. Something about the chair and mirror, which was intentionally placed here by the owner of the house. I don't have a clue why I liked this, but I certainly did. Perhaps someone out there can tell me why the image is interesting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:36 PM
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
This is a swearing in ceremony for the new leader of a legislature on Long Island. I had some "important" photos that I needed to take, but the whole time I was looking for something else. This shot is kind of cool, and I would have submitted it to the paper, but this particular guy was not the most important news of the day. The shots that mattered today were of the brand new legislator who was elected at a young age. Anyhow, this is the granddaughter of the leader, and I love how she is almost lost beneath the two large adults.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:03 PM
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
This photo is a reject from several photos I did for my Happy New Year post last night. I was trying to think of something appropriate for the occasion, and I thought of this - a partially open door with light streaming through the opening with a room blazing with light beyond. I dunno, seemed like some kind of symbolic photo. I also did one other photo, besides the photo of Sirius and Orion which I choose for last night's post. Anyhow, I thought I would give you a glimpse of how my brain works or something...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:15 PM