Monday, March 31, 2008
So this is the "First day of the rest of my life," or something like that, right? Well, for the first day, I had a wonderful day! I took my new Nikon D300 down to the harbor late in the afternoon, and even though it was cold, I photographed for over an hour, and I have some interesting images. But... This day is my daughter Liz' birthday - she turns 40! I found this photo that I had taken years ago, with an old roll-film Polaroid, and I used it to make her a birthday card. I love this photo dearly, so kind readers, I am posting it today, and you will have to wait a day or so to see my landscape photos. This shot is worth seeing though, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:30 PM
Sunday, March 30, 2008
So this has been quite a weekend - my last day at work followed by our daughter Liz and her partner Rogers coming to visit from Los Angeles where they live. (Liz is on the right.) For years we were spoiled because Liz and Amy lived in Manhattan, one uptown, one downtown. Then within one year, they BOTH moved to Los Angeles! We were spoiled - they were just a train ride away. Now they are a 6 hour flight away. We were there in January, and so it was nice that they came east for a few days. So good to see them! I love this photo because of the smiles, and also because the cat is in the photo, and the duck decoy! Only thing not in this photo is the kitchen sink!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I actually took this photo yesterday, but I needed to post my last day photo instead, so I have saved this for today. This is Ken, a colleague and friend at work. (Remember I don't use complete names on the blog - there are "bots" out there...) He is editing video, and you can see the intensity with which he is working. He is a terrific photographer, both still and video, and he has done some wonderful and well-crafted video stories for the web. I am not sure what this project is, but I am guessing that will be worth watching.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:36 PM
Friday, March 28, 2008
(photograph by John Williams)
I had a strangely unemotional last day, and I am not sure why. Maybe because it seemed so familiar. I had one assignment, which was really nice. It was to cover a woman who started a foundation to teach the value of laughter in healing as she made a presentation to a group of hospital staff workers. Then I came to the office where there was a goodbye party for 15 colleagues in the feature section. Lots of wonderful words, and comments and thanks and hugs. And still it felt like an ordinary day. Then I turned in my cameras (still and video) and my laptop, and signed the papers and left the building for the last time. I asked my friend John Williams if he would do a photo of me leaving. I like this photo a lot. Nice feeling about it, I think. Maybe an ambivalent look on my face, which is how I feel. Perhaps the sadness of leaving is tempered by the excitement I feel to suddenly have so much time for projects I am anxious to work on. Stay tuned, and I will let you know how it goes from here on out.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:31 PM
Thursday, March 27, 2008
We went to Manhattan the other day to meet with a financial company that came highly recommended. We were not perpared for this, however. 36th floor conference room with this view of Central Park! Wow! I have been in a few apartments over the years - homes of celebrities - which overlook Central park, but never anything with a view like this! Sure is interesting to be reminded about how some other people live!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:02 PM
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So I have to turn in the company cameras on Friday. I couldn't stand the idea of being cameraless for even a day, so last Friday I ordered a new Nikon D300. It arrived yesterday and so I had to start learning the new things that it does. Focus modes are are a big issue for me, so I wanted to understand them fully. So I was sitting in my easy chair trying out each of the modes. I held up my hand to make the camera focus close, then I would remove my hand and watch the autofocus move to the background. Then suddenly I looked at the PICTURE in the viewfinder, and realized that it was really interesting! I have told you all about www.willyurman.com and how his daily photo blog is inspiring to me - he does a lot of "different" looking photos and I always *think* of ways to do that, but never quite end up with really different images. But this one IS different. I have no idea of what it means, but I like it for its difference. The color is so much better in the original, by the way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:18 PM
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Actually I do "do" sports - I am an active cyclist and I try and ride every day. What I mean is that I don't SHOOT sports. I mean, I have, but as a rule I do everything else but sports. But this was a story on a woman triathelete, and about getting in shape for spring. So I photographed her doing stretches, and did a nice portrait of her standing in water at the end of the pool, and then I did this. She first did the crawl, and only came up for air twice while swimming the entire length of the pool. "Well, this isn't going to work," I thought. Then she switched to "The Fly" - I love that - it's really the "butterfly" stroke. Two passes down the pool, coming right at me, and I am thrilled that I got this! Maybe I CAN do sports! And I had a lot of fun talking about cycling with her - because cycling is one of the parts of the "tri" in triathalon.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Monday, March 24, 2008
I was out on the east end of Long Island, and drove by a sod farm where I saw this irrigation device. It looked like some kind of centipede or bug coming over the rise of this hill! So I had to stop and have some fun playing with it. I think this is the best shot. It is called "Linear Irrigation" by the way, as opposed to those circular irrigation devices - the work they do can often be seen from high altitude in an aircraft, a bunch of tangent circles looking bright green in a surround of tan earth. You would be interested to know that linear irrigation is so efficient that it can water up to 98% of a field. Aren't you glad you came here today to learn stuff like this?
Sunday, March 23, 2008
We have an easter lilly on the dining room table - it is a ritual each year, and makes Easter even more special. The blossoms are lovely to look at and study, and the aroma is sweet. So I thought I would see what I could find using my macro lens on the Nikon. I tried a number of things, but liked this profile view the best because it accents the difference between the light and shade.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:00 PM
Whoops, again! Forgot to post last night. So you will get two tonight. On Good Friday I went to an Hispanic church to photograph the reenaction of the Crucifixion by members of the parish. I was amazed at the detailed costumes that so many were wearing for the parade through the streets near the church. The characters were so caught up in their roles, that I found the whole event really moving to watch. I followed the procession for about thirty minutes or so, and tried a number of ways of "looking" at it. I saw the shadows in this view, and thought they might add more interest. They do, but perhaps the shadows are distracting from the more central part of the scene.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Friday, March 21, 2008
"...and you will be missed by your colleagues, and you will miss them." All true. Said at a gathering of about 75 people. 36 people are leaving - some via the buyout, like me, and some because their jobs are eliminated. Just like that. So this was a gathering so we could say goodbye to each other, although some of us are working for another week yet. And at each buyout we loose more and more talented and experienced people. A depth of knowlege and experience it would take years to replace. Gone.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:52 PM
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Well, they have made an offer I can't (or shouldn't) refuse, so I am taking the buyout! I never thought that I would - I was planning to work for another four years or so, but the financial security from this offer wasn't something I could walk away from. So here I am with my signed buyout document. Wow... 41 years at the paper, and I am not finished working, but I am done working here. I will continue to photograph, of course, because photography is not something I do, but something I am. I am really excited for the immediate future, with the prospect of a lot of free time for a number of projects. I plan to finish roofing the house, rebuilding the top of the chimney, building a new telescope for the 18" mirror I ordered last September, building a kayak from a kit, and maybe even going to Texas to live with a group of cloistered monks for a few days to do photographs for them. All this should keep me busy for a week or two!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:24 PM
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
This blog is about the philosophy of photography, sort of. I was assigned to photograph a press conference in the press room at the court building. It was held by people looking for a peaceful alternative to the war, on the fifth anniversary of the invasion. I decided that somehow I would do a photograph that was really different. I was going to make SURE that it was different. Not that I would necessarily submit the photo, but I would shoot it for me for the blog. Well, here it is. Now here is the problem. I think I got the shot, but I am troubled by the result. I think that because of the woman peering over the sign the way she is (which is what attracted me in the first place) it feels as if it is a "negative" view of her. And I really admire this woman and the others at this press conference for what they are are doing. So I am not happy with the result. Just goes to show you, that you have to be careful what you do, and make sure that "truth" is not lost in the process of trying to be creative.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:36 PM
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
(Photo by A. Sue Weisler/RIT)
This is me doing one of my Studio and Location Lighting workshops at the Northern Short Course in Rochester. I use a plaster head as the "subject" as I demonstrate various portrait lighting techniques. In this photograph I am showing where to put a "Hair Light." I have spoken enough about being at the convention lately that I thought you might want to know what I actually DO there...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:48 PM
Whoops! So much to do lately (more about that later...) that I completely forgot about my blog post last night! Sorry about that. I love this photo because it's hard to imagine what is going on here. These young women are not new recruits, but rather soccer moms! They are in a new type of fitness club, and it is based on a military boot camp theme. This is just one of the exercises that a group goes through in their one hour routine. The fitness instructors are ex-marines - can you tell? What makes the photo even more mysterious is that he is not lifting a tire, as the young women are, and that he is kneeling in this strange light. It makes the event seem somewhat mystical or spiritual, which it was definitely not!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:47 AM
Sunday, March 16, 2008
It was snowing this morning when we left for home. This is Route 96 heading south to Ithaca. There was something about this landscape in the snow showers that was riveting. There was just a light coating of snow on the fields, so the textures of the fields came through, and the flat lighting revealed so much detail in the old farm buildings along the way. I wanted to stop a bunch of times to shoot photographs, but we were anxious to get home without getting stuck in traffic, so we kept moving. I guess a real photographer would have stopped...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:37 PM
Saturday, March 15, 2008
While eating lunch on the 23rd floor of the Hyatt Regency on Main Street in Rochester, we heard fire sirens. Those of us present, being newspaper photographers, went out to the patio and looked over the side to see what the ruckus was all about. Imagine our surprise to see both sides of the street lined with people for as far as the eye could see in both directions, and a parade passing by. I grabbed my trusty point-and-shoot and made about 8 frames. This is my favorite, because the two flags tell it all. I have turned the image 90 degrees, and so there is something a bit disorienting about it. Then, since we were in shirtsleeves, we went back inside and continute eating our lunch. How's that for dedication!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:38 PM
Friday, March 14, 2008
There is still snow all over the ground up here in Rochester. We drove through snow showers on the day we arrived, so there was a fresh dusting of snow on top of the accumulation from a big storm about a week ago. As the clouds became scattered late in the afternoon, the sun broke through from time to time, and made these shadows in Vince and Joanne's backyard. What a lovely gift for our visit!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:14 PM
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I was on a charter bus bringing us back from a reception at the George Eastman House tonight, and when the bus stopped on Main Street at a red light I looked out the window. I jumped when I saw this brightly illuminated bus shelter, surrounded by darkness. I quickly grabbed my Canon point-and-shoot, always at the ready on my belt, and shot across my seat mate and out through the bus window. There were silhouettes of several people waiting for the next bus. The only problem was that we were too close, and I couldn't get all of the bus shelter in the viewfinder, then the bus started moving and I didn't get a good shot! When I got back up to my room on the tenth floor, I thought I would take a look at the bus shelter, thinking that maybe I would grab my Nikon and walk down the street to shoot the photo again. But when I looked at the shelter from my high viewpoint, I thought it made a better photo! So I shot this. I like it much better, actually.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
How long ago was this silo built? How long will it continue to lean before it finally falls? I drove to Rochester where I am giving two lighting workshops at the Northern Short Course, and for most of the day I was driving in and out of snow showers. The landscape seemed magical - I saw photographs everywhere, and stopped often. But my favorite photo of the day is this silo on Route 96 in Catatonk. I have driven past this at least once a year for the past 44 years, and it still stands, and still leans. I am always drawn to houses and artifacts and evidences of the past. That they continue to stand long after they are abandoned is amazing to me and reaches something deep within. I cannot pass them by. Maybe it is the feeling that I can save evidence of their having been, proof that they once existed. I have taken many photographs of barns over the years that no longer exist, except in my photographs.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:04 PM
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I hope this photo is "readable" in this small size. I rode by Scudder's Pond several times before today, at this time of day, when out cycling. Didn't have a camera with me at the time. Today I was driving by in my car, with the usual trunk full of cameras, so stopped to shoot this, finally. It is a bit different than most of my other landscapes. Flat lighting, for one. It is a very subtle landscape, made up more of very delicate textures than of larger shapes or forms. It is lovely in its delicacy when seen on a 15 inch laptop screen. I was taken by the straw colors in the orange light about a half-hour before sunset. Maybe if you click on the image, then the enlarged version will show the detail better.
Monday, March 10, 2008
I was looking for a "weather shot" today, which was difficult because it was pretty cold and there were few people out walking around. I managed to find a photograph of a guy on a bicycle riding around in shorts, and was thrilled to find anything under the circumstances. So, happy at my good luck I headed back to the office, and as I drove along was stunned to see a woman riding a bicycle with a puppy in a basket on the back! Oh man, be still my heart! So I had to zoom ahead with my car, park it, grab my camera, jump out, wait for her to pass me and then shoot the photo! Then, just to be sure, I had to leap frog ahead and do it all over again. After the second series of shots, I caught up with her, to get her name and the dog's name which I needed for the caption. But, boy, was I ever thrilled to find such a lovely shot! The dog is named "Sophie" just in case you are curious.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:54 PM
Sunday, March 9, 2008
What do you mean "Interesting project? That's a church, right?" Yes it is. St. Brigid's in Westbury, the parish we belong to. This is the view from where we sit on Sundays. It is a beautiful Norman style stone church, built in 1915, with granite removed from excavations for the New York subway system. I first came here to work on a year-long story with my friend Bob Keeler about the life of a parish. When the story was finished, we joined the church. But that's not the "project" of the title. The project is those tall stained-glass windows in the background. They are something like 40 feet in the air, and I have been asked to photograph them for a historical record. Of course to do that, I have to be level with them. That involves the help of another parishioner who is a painter. He will bring in REALLY tall ladders, and I will climb up until I am level with the windows, then do photographs of each panel, and the small windows to the sides. Should be an interesting view when I get up there! I plan to be tied off with a safety rope. Stay tuned...
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I was on my way to a course I am taking this morning, and I had no time to spare. Naturally I suddenly drove into an area with fog all around, and there appeared to be photographs everywhere I looked - well at 30 miles per hour! Oh nooooo... Photos everywhere and no time to stop! Arghhhhhhh... So I was bummed. I hadn't found my photo for the day by suppertime. I went out to start up the barbeque grill, and looked up to see gray clouds scudding low in the west, above the bare trees. I ran to get my camera, and then when composing the shot, noticed the illuminated windows in the house next door! It took several exposures to come up with the right settings, and that included pushing up the ISO speed to 1600 before I got a usable image, I made about two exposures and realized that there was one less window illuminated! Then another light went out, and another! So I realized I was done - I had to hope that one of the few exposures was correct. One was.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Friday, March 7, 2008
I photographed a house for sale today, for a story about affordable housing. The woman homeowner really had a touch for style with simple arrangements of common items. One of my favorite scenes was this grouping in the living room, near the front door. I thought it looked "sunny" and it made me feel good. So here it is for you to see.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:40 PM
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Sorry for another bleak image, but everything is so unsettling. This is about the 8th buyout, and perhaps the worst one of all in terms of morale. Everyday more news of people who I thought were "safe" maybe having to leave. So at least I tried something different in my shooting - the blur. Right, how stupid am I, shooting with the little toy camera while driving down the road. Gee, that's pretty smart... But I like that I was desperate for some kind of picture, so that desperation let to trying other things, and this is the result. OK, so I know it's not Ansel's "Moonrise," exactly. But it is about beginning to see in a slightly new way. I promise that I will have pictures that are more "sunny" in the next day or so.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:25 PM
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
We had a meeting to hear of buyouts and layoffs at the place where I work. Friends and colleagues are suddenly out of work, Lives changed completely, BANG! just like that! Many others are taking the buyouts which are offered. Entire departments are being eliminated. We have been through this so many times in the last five years, it just seems beyond belief that we are having yet another round of buyouts and layoffs. Everything seems so bleak. When I came home from my astronomy meeting tonight I set up the telescope on a crystal clear night and spent time just looking at the planet Saturn, hanging there looking so beautiful in a jet black sky. Some sense of the eternal, it seems, to anchor my place in the cosmos.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Today there was a press conference at a nearby hospital to show the world (and the press) the first set of identical triplets known on Long Island. "Identical", meaning from a single egg which split twice to form triplets. Anyhow, it was a bit of a madhouse with about 10 video crews from television stations, and half a dozen still photographers, and ONE guy who was shooting both stills and video - that would be me! I quickly grabbed this photo of some of the other still photographers zeroing in on the new parents and their babies, out of view to the right hand side of the photo.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:52 PM
Monday, March 3, 2008
So today I went looking for a "weather" picture, and was not all that pleased with what I was able to find. Then I went to a fish store to do video of a television celebrity, talking about why this particular fish store was his favorite. Really nice guy, and the owner of the fish store was too. After doing the video, I needed some stills of the subject, and then I happened to look down as I was leaving the store and saw this. A shaft of sunlight was coming in the window and just illuminating this red fish. OK, so this isn't the best photo I ever took either, but it was something... :-) Click on the photo, please and see if some of the saturation in the original photo can be seen. Yikes! I just did that, and the photo still looks awful! In the original, the fish is bright red. No kidding.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:19 PM
Sunday, March 2, 2008
I stopped to look out the window of the landing on the way upstairs this afternoon. I saw the grape arbor in the neighbor's back yard, and was taken by the random curves of the grape vines, against the straight shadows of the trees. Well, OK, so it's not the greatest photo I ever took, but I was having trouble finding something today and this is kind of interesting.