Friday, February 29, 2008
I am still shooting houses for the "affordable homes" story. What I love is finding something for me that is a bit different. This is a foreclosed house, and the previous owners had made a bedroom in the attic with fold-down stairs, which they had then ripped out. So I had to stand on a step ladder to look up into this space. I thought it had a bit of a strange quality to it, which I loved. I would bring you more outdoors photos, but the landscape seems pretty boring, with no leaves on the trees these days...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:12 PM
Thursday, February 28, 2008
I was photographing an empty house that is for sale, and I am always looking for the "something else" photo, in addition to the photos needed for work. While I was framing this white-on-white composition, the real estate agent walked out the room to the left. I saw her shadow on the door, and asked her to go back in to that room and pause so that I would have the mysterious shadow on the door. Subtle, I thought, but makes it kind of interesting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:57 PM
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
When I photographed Jacqueline the other day, the Genocide survivor, I saw some of the photos in her slide show, and realized that I had some photos of two Genocide Memorials that I had taken in Rwanda back in 2000. I had to go hunt for them, and I will be sending them to her to use. The survivors of the Genocide worry that the perpetrators would deny that it ever happened. That, by the way has come to pass - the Hutus now say that it was a "war," not murder on an unimaginable scale. So that probably explains the nature of the two memorials I saw. They were both located at churches in the countryside. I was taken aback when I saw this - it is in a lean-to at the side of a church. The interior of the church was left in the way it was. Families had been living in the church for what they thought was protection, but rebel soldiers came one day and killed everyone, with guns and grenades. The survivors created this memorial. It is shocking, of course, but the evidence is undeniable. Perhaps the most powerful memorial that I have ever seen, in its simple and direct way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Well, it is obvious that I didn't shoot this photo today. This weekend there was a review of a new documentary on HBO about The Gates, and how the project was conceived, and what the artists had to go through for 26 years to finally get permission to use Central Park for the installation. At the same time, I was going through my digital photographs, organizing them at long last, and saw a folder of images of The Gates. Seeing the images again took me back. I spent a magical day walking all over Central Park, in and around and under them, and photographing until I dropped! What a sublime experience. I did go back again a few weeks with my sisters, and got to see them again. The experience was just stunning. They were larger than life, and strangers were turning and talking to one another because of the need to say something to one another about the experience. People were handing strangers cameras and asking to be photographed with The Gates as a background - I think I offered to do that at least half a dozen times. It was a magical time indeed. (I just went to check the facts, and am chagrinned to read The Gates were only up from Feb 12 to Feb 27, 2005. Just 15 days!)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:53 PM
Monday, February 25, 2008
I was asked to fine a "weather" photo today - something to do with the relatively warm day. Drove by this creek out east, and turned around to come back and shoot it. I found people feeding ducks for the shot I needed, and then noticed this landscape. I was taken by the unusual collection of textures - the Phragmites, the flatness of the water, the trees in the distance, and the snags in the water. While composing this photo I realized that I had never quite seen a landscape like this before. It was fun to spend time trying subtle differences in the composition, before finding this view.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I was on the way out for my bike ride, when I paused to look at the snow in the back yard, seen with the late afternoon sunlight raking across it. I went back in the house and grabbed the camera. This is more of a fragment than a complete picture, but I find it very evocative of winter and snow and late afternoon.
Well, SPAM has come to my blog... sigh... Some of you no doubt have seen posts in the comments section that say "jon says..." or "click here..." there was another one tonight. Thanks to Mary Jane for first pointing this out. If you click on one of those links in the comments section, it takes you to a website that purports to scan your computer for viruses, and of course says it finds them! Even if you have a Macintosh, which does not get Windows viruses. Anyhow, the posts themselves are harmless, as long as you DON'T CLICK on them. They are not comments in the first place, so we get taken in by our curiosity. It is still OK to go to the comments to see what has been written. And even if you do click on a link, it will not be fatal. It is better not to do it. I thought it was important, after three of these posts in the last two weeks, to gently warn my faithful readers.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:57 PM
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Went outside today with my camera looking for a photo. I tried a lot of different subjects, and really tried to stay away from my favorite tree, but it wouldn't LET me! :-) With the snow on some of the branches, the structure of the tree shows more clearly than in any other photographs that I have taken. I promise not to photograph it again... well, at least not until spring...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:31 PM
Friday, February 22, 2008
I woke up this morning to find four inches of snow on the ground, and it was still snowing. I scanned the view out my bedroom window and noticed right away a "blob" in one of the Locust trees up the street. I could see with my naked eye that it was a hawk, so I quickly threw on some clothes, ran downstairs and grabbed a Nikon and my 300 mm lens. I went out on the front porch to take a photo, and discovered to my dismay that I didn't have a clear view of the hawk from the lower vantage point! My favorite Japanese maple was in the way. I decided to try shooting through the tree anyway, hand-holding the camera and the heavy lens, and got this photo, with the darker gray areas in the sky the result of out-of-focus branches in the foreground. Then I went outside, grabbed a tripod and did some proper pictures. When it was time to choose, I found that I liked the photograph with the more complex sky the best. After I took the photo, I went and grabbed a spotting scope and was able to identify the bird as a Red-tailed hawk. It apparently stayed on that branch, in the snowstorm, for at least an hour or more, its head swiveling from side to side, looking for any sign of motion below that might end up being breakfast.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:49 PM
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I covered a reunion of patients who had experienced severe brain trauma, and who have been saved by a innovative surgical procedure. This may be more than you want to know, but... When a human head smacks into something hard the first concern is the impact damage. The second concern is that the brain begins to swell. The pressure becomes great enough so that arteries and veins are compressed and blood flow becomes reduced and the brain dies. The new procedure is to cut 4 large openings in the top of the skull to let the brain expand unimpeded. The results have saved a number of lives. This beautiful young girl is one of the success stories. I photographed 5 different patients, but this child touched my heart strings!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:37 PM
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tonight there was a total eclipse of the Moon. We had high clouds, so the beginning of the eclipse was seen through them, which is frustrating. When the moon was finally hidden in the Earth's shadow, the last of the clouds moved out and I made this photo. Isn't it gorgeous, seeing the moon in that lovely copper color! The other cool thing is, since the Earth's shadow blocks the sunlight from illuminating the moon, we can see not only a dim copper-colored moon, but the stars as well. You may have to click on the image to see an enlarged version. In any case, that starlike object in the lower left of the photo is the planet Saturn! Very cool! It is even more magnificent seen with the naked eye, in real life. I hope some of you saw it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:08 PM
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I was standing around eating a sandwich and talking to one of the models on the bridal shoot the other day, when I spotted this. I am not sure what caught my eye - it may have been the decorative oval castings on the iron ballustrade. I think that was it. But then there was the chandelier and the two windows. I realized that while talking, I was sort of moving my head around while creating the composition in my mind's eye. I think the model just thought I was weird... :-) Anyhow, finally excused myself for a minute, grabbed the toy camera off my belt and shot this. I like how the eye does not settle in one place, but kind of bounces around within the frame. Does your eye do that too?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:58 PM
Monday, February 18, 2008
I was indoors all day today, editing. When I left the building well after sunset, it was raining lightly, with low overcast clouds. These high tension towers and the wires are always there, but on rainy days there is a "buzzing" from the high voltage present on the wires, so I looked up to see them against the sky. The mercury vapor lamps on the building and the mist added a strange contrast to the dark blue of dusk. It did seem to be an ominous landscape, indeed. Maybe it is just the latest news of another round of buyouts and layoffs. Maybe it is not the landscape at all...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:47 PM
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Before I made the photo of the seagull walking on the railing the other day, I spent some time working on this photo. These lamp poles are relatively new in Sea Cliff, and I hadn't seen them before. It killed me that there were no people out on a misty day - a person or two would have made this the perfect photo. OK so no people, then what. Alright... A seagull will have to do. I was taken by the scene because it seemed very European in feeling.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM
Saturday, February 16, 2008
We had some snow the other day, with some strong winds at one point. What happened is that the snow blew in from the west and coated these poplar trees just on one side, making them bright white. When it cleared, the late afternoon sun with it's golden light, illuminated the scene. It was stunning in person. It sure is less than stunning in its reproduction on the blog! It is a bit better if you click it to see a larger image, but the golden light is missing. Every time I see how badly some photos look, I promise myself I will set the blog up on my website. But I don't. Too many applications to learn these days - Final Cut Pro for work, and Aperture to catalogue all my photos... One of these days...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Friday, February 15, 2008
This is Jacqueline. She was born and raised in Rwanda until she was nine. One day she went to stay with her grandmother in another village. While she was gone, her mother and father were slaughtered in the start of the genocide, as were her four brothers, and her two sisters. Her grandmother fled with her trying to reach safety. Twice they were stopped and thought that they would die. Finally her grandmother managed to reach an orphanage run by Italian priests where she left Jacqueline, and promised to come back and pick her up. Three days later the grandmother was dead as well. The Rwandan Genocide was the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, as well as their moderate Hutu sympathizers, in Rwanda, 1994. Some estimates put the death toll between 800,000 and 1,000,000, all in 100 days. Jacqueline is now a college graduate and working on Human Rights, traveling around the United States and the world, challenging people to remember, to fight indifference, and to coexist. And I was lucky to have a chance to photograph her today, and hear her story.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Thursday, February 14, 2008
On the bridal shoot that I told you about the other day, I lit everything with electronic flash. I can control the look of the lighting using a portable studio strobe, and the color balance of the finished photograph is always very accurate. While looking for another location in the building for my next shot, I saw this room, which had all the lights out and just daylight from some large glass doors. It looked like some kind of a stage set. The color balance was way off - in this case the light was really "warm." But I loved the look, and so after shooting the bride in another spot with my strobe, I brought her over here for a shot for me. I had to use a tripod because the light level was low, but I LOVE this shot! Feels like a scene from one of those English period movies.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:51 PM
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
This is amazing... I have been photographing this tree on my front lawn for years, and have never seen it like this! I went out to get the newspaper in the rain this morning, and coming back up the driveway I noticed the tree was black in color from the rain. At least the lower part - the upper part was glistening from the sky reflecting off the wet branches. It immediately occurred to me that you are never done with a subject. There is always at least one other way to see it. So just because I get one nice photo, doesn't mean that I am done. Either on that day, or on days to come. A good lesson to be reminded of.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:04 PM
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I had another bridal shoot today. This one was interesting because it used real people, instead of professional models, to wear the dresses. It was a lot of fun, because the young women brought their fiances and their moms, and there were people all over the place. The young women enjoyed posing and the guests enjoyed watching their daughters/fiances be photographed. A nice change of pace. This is one of the young women being evaluated for hair, nails, and makeup before starting in on getting each of them ready.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Monday, February 11, 2008
Today I worked on a story of a church that will be celebrating its 350th anniversary this year. It was built in 1777! And the shingles on the outside of the church are the original shingles. I did a number of more traditional architectural photographs, but then was drawn to this scene with the shadow of the tree on the front door. I love the subtlety of the variations in shades of white on white in this photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:17 PM
Sunday, February 10, 2008
It has been overcast for the past several days, and the light is flat, and everything seems gray outside. As you have seen from my posts, interesting light is one of the first things I see when looking for photographs. As I was backing out of the driveway I was looking at the yard, and thinking how uninteresting it was in flat light, given that it is wintertime and all the colors are muted. So I thought "There MUST be something that will look good in this flat light," and was determined to rise to the challenge to find something interesting in this light. Six feet closer to the street I spotted the trunk of my favorite tree and realized that it looked its best in this light, because in bright light you would loose detail in the shadows and loose the subtle textures of the tree.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:26 PM
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I came up out of the subway the other day, walked through City Hall Park, and here was this statue. I was taken by the scene because not only was the statue dark, but the background of bare trees and the dark building behind it as well. I thought it was more interesting that it would have been if there had trees with leaves behind him, for instance. I will confess to not knowing who the statue was - I had to walk up to it to read the title. Horace Greeley founded the New York Tribune, and changed the nature of newspaper journalism: "The Tribune set a new standard in American journalism by its combination of energy in news gathering with good taste, high moral standards, and intellectual appeal. Police reports, scandals, dubious medical advertisements, and flippant personalities were barred from its pages..." [Nevins in Dictionary of American Biography (1931)] Wow! How's that for an amazing concept!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:18 PM
Friday, February 8, 2008
I hope you like architecture, because I shot a lot of it in Manhattan yesterday. That's because there are so many fascinating and beautiful buildings in the city. This is the Woolworth Building seen through the branches of a tree in City Hall Park. I love the delicacy of both the branches and the tower of the Woolworth building. Here's the sad thing - I can't tell if this photograph is about the branches or the building!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I went to Manhattan today to renew my press card, and then decided to walk north up lower Broadway. For some reason I have never done that in all these years. Walked about a mile north, and passed a number of beautiful iron front buildings. This one feels as if it is in a predicament. I believe that the bracing structure was added on the left when the adjoining building was demolished. This is a beautiful structure, and is in excellent condition. Something about the narrowness of the building, and the fact that it was sitting all by itself was what grabbed me. Its size is deceiving however, because the side of the building we can't see goes half way down the block. I was finding photographs everywhere I looked, so stay tuned for more images in the coming days.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:37 PM
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
It's not really a stage set. It is a room in a house for sale, and much of the furniture has been removed already. A few odd pieces are left to make the house seem more "homey" I guess. I was wandering around - the house has so many rooms - and looked into this one. There was something about the lone chair being the only furniture in the room - I did feel as I were on a stage set. Can't tell you why, but I really like this shot!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:24 PM
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
"A Floater." Strange term, isn't it? It's what they ask for when they need the odd photo here and there to drop into a page in the paper. Not an assignment, just window dressing. So that's what they needed today. I found a really neat scene with a boardwalk, some european-looking lamps, and a foggy harbor. It desperately needed a person, but since it was drizzling there were no people to be found in half an hour's waiting. While I was waiting, I started looking for other things, and thought this seagull made an interesting photo - not so much because of him, but because of the interesting railing he was walking on. The thing is, with the Super Bowl Parade in NYC today, and it being Super Tuesday, there is slim chance this photo will ever see the light of day. And maybe it deserves that fate.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:05 PM
Monday, February 4, 2008
We have two cats, and I still can't tell them apart. So I just call them each "Kitty." They each have different behaviors, however and each of them have favorite places they like to sit, or curl up or lie down. This kitty hates to miss out on anything going on in the back room, so if someone is on the computer, she hops up on the armrest of that chair, and she will sit there for quite a while, just looking at the computer screen. She hates to miss out anything! Cute, isn't she?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Last night Channel 13 ran the classic James Dean movie "Rebel Without a Cause." So what does that have to do with my post today? There are two scenes in the movie that take place at Griffith Observatory. When I was there in January, I found that there is a bronze sculpture of the head of James Dean off to the side of the plaza. I couldn't imagine why until I read the inscription. So when the movie was on last night, I had to watch it. I was reminded of what a magnificent and beautiful building this is. If you click on this, you will see more clearly the city in the background.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:58 PM
Saturday, February 2, 2008
You remember me mentioning Lorina, right? She is a colleague at work and a good friend. She was imortalized in one of my early posts "Lorina doesn't want her picture taken!" She is a talented artist, and had one of her artworks accepted in a juried show at a local college. The opening was today, so a number of us from the workplace went to see the show. I took some snapshots but then the daughter of one of our colleagues wandered over and stood in front of the piece to study it. I grabbed the camera, and she walked away! Oh Noooooo! So I asked her mom to have her stand in front of the work again. I might as well be honest here. It is a shot for me, so I didn't mind recreating it. If this was for the newspaper it would be forbidden to do that.
Friday, February 1, 2008
I had a fun job today - I went with a writer to a psychic. She wanted to ask the woman who would win the Superbowl! Cute idea. So I went and filmed the process - shuffling the cards, putting them down on the table one by one, "reading" them, and then the vague answers: "I see disappointment..." "I see the color Red," and so on... Then the writer asked some other questions and I had a chance to do still photographs. I liked this one because it is the most dramatic. Not to worry, though - in spite of how the photo looks, she was not in distress. She was just thinking. Or channeling. Or whatever.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:42 PM