Monday, August 31, 2009
There is something fascinating about a tugboat. When I was a kid, I had a Little Golden Book about a tugboat, called "Little Toot." The curious thing is that tugboats haven't changed much in half a century, at least on the outside. Coming back from Philadelphia, I saw this tug as we approached a bridge, and I only had one chance to shoot it. But it is a perfect tug - all in red, and with such an interesting background, and late in the day with nice light to boot.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I was cleaning up today, and in the process, tipped the tabletop lamp which sits on the bookcase by my chair in the living room. When I tilted the lamp, it lit my African mask in a different way than usual. I bought this mask in Cameroon, even though it is not a Cameroon style mask - I looked it up one time, but I forgot which country it is from. The bird was done by an artist friend. I like the incongruity of the bird and the mask together.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:44 PM
Saturday, August 29, 2009
There is a privet hedge on the property line on the west side of the house. I haven't trimmed it in a couple of years, and it has probably gotten ten feet tall. So I have set about trimming it back down, and while cutting deeply into the hedge, I found a nest, and in the middle of the nest was one blue egg. I haven't seen a Robin's egg since I was a kid. I used to find the broken eggs in nests when climbing trees. This one is whole, but it has a crack in the bottom, and some goo was oozing out. For some reason the egg never matured. It was so cool to see a Robin's egg after all these years. I didn't photograph it where I found it - I put on top of some other greens I trimmed from an evergreen tree to photograph it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:57 PM
Friday, August 28, 2009
"Reach High and You Will Go Far" - that's the title of this painting by the artist "Joshua Sarantitis & PDRMAP" I did a search for that acronym and could not find out what it is. Anyhow, I saw this amazing mural when heading back to the train. Apparently he has painted murals all over Philadelphia, acording to his website. Anyhow, this stopped me in my tracks when I saw it. I took a different route from the museum, than I took to the museum, fortunately, and thus came across this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:20 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
While walking from the train station to the Franklin Institute, I passed by the Swann Memorial Fountain where there were a bunch of kids cooling themselves off, by dangling their feet in the water. What struck me was the way they had carefully lined up their shoes outside the pool, on the ground. I wanted to "work" this photo a little more, but the young boys, as young boys will do, were in constant motion, and after 5 seconds moved to other positions in the fountain. Bummer. So this is not as interesting as I hoped it would be. But, hey, I am desperate, so here it is!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:31 PM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
When I went to Jones Beach the other day, the first thing I saw when I stepped off the boardwalk to walk to the water, was a group of lifeguards. And I saw this one right away, because of his hair. Fortunately, I had the 200mm lens on the camera, and I made three quick shots of this head of hair. One shot was just right - this one. I like that is quite different from other photographs I have done recently. Very graphic. Does anyone else like this image as much as I do?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I took Amtrak to Philadelphia today to see the Galileo exhibit at the Franklin Institute. It was really cool taking Amtrak. I love the train, but it has been years since I was on Amtrak. Anyhow, when I got out at the 30th Street Station, I was looking around and saw this statue. It is striking, the minute you look at it carefully, and then I immediately wondered what was about. Turns out, it is a memorial to all the Pennsylvania Railroad workers who lost their lives in the Second World War. There are a LOT of names on the base! Walter Hancock is the sculptor, and the date of the piece is 1952. Amazing what you can find when you travel! Please click on this to see more detail in a larger image.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Monday, August 24, 2009
There were reports in the paper of twelve-foot waves at Jones Beach two days ago, so I decided, when I overheard some people talking about the waves, to go take a look this morning. I think today they might have been "only" 6 feet. They were still pretty impressive because although they were only 6 feet themselves, when they broke, the "splash" took them much higher. I tried shooting this several different ways - I tried silhouettes of small groups people in the foreground, and I tried individuals alone with the waves, as in this image. I think this is the most successful of the images for several reasons - the person is in silhouette, so the focus is on the waves, which I think I got just right in the background, and I love the sense that the waves were so huge in relation to the woman.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:51 PM
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I probably spent half an hour or more with this Anselm Kiefer sculpture, slowly walking around it, standing, crouching, looking, moving, and looking some more. It is a very powerful experience to be in the presence of this piece. This is how it is described: "Etroits sont les Vaisseaux (Narrow Are the Vessels), an 82-foot-long work of cast concrete, exposed rebar, and lead, rolling in ribbons through the gallery like waves along the shore. The concrete evokes rubble, the aftermath of war, natural disaster, and structural failure of immense proportions." You are not going to believe why this sculpture is presently on display at MASS MoCA - The sculpture was on the lawn of its owners in Fairfield, Connecticut. The town’s Historic District Commission insists that the 80-foot-long, 4-foot-high object meets the legal test for a structure and requires a certificate of appropriateness! A "structure?" It is a work of art! The owners lost a court case, which would have allowed them to keep it on their lawn, and so they had the 40-ton sculpture moved to its present site at the museum. Lucky for us, it turns out.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:05 PM
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Guess what? I am not done with MASS MoCA yet! I have some more photos from the museum I want to post. But first I have to tell you this... I have been reading about the artist Anselm Kiefer, whose works are on display there and they are powerful pieces indeed. I am incapable of describing what is going on, so here are two quotes from the catalog: "German artist Anselm Kiefer conjoins matter, history and time in a moving installation of paintings and monumental sculpture...
Art historian Mark Rosenthal writes, “The subject of war is either implicit or explicit in each of the works on view at MASS MoCA and in the group as a whole … War - a tragedy for innocent victims and their families, for those sent to fight, and for the subsequent fate of the populations and nations left to rebuild physical and psychological damage - is pervasive in Kiefer’s art.” These paintings are huge, and they are actually three-dimensional with the layers of paint and a really thick, almost clay-like mixture. But it is the images themselves which are so powerful. Wait until I tell you the story of the sculpture which is on display as well! Stay tuned...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:03 PM
Friday, August 21, 2009
Stopped at Starbucks today for lunch, and I noticed it was getting very dark outside. When I came out to the car, the sky looked like the end of the world. I quickly grabbed my camera and took a dozen pictures before the squall line hit and the rains came. Within a couple of minutes all of these clouds were obscured. Moved on. Two minutes later coming out to the car, and it all would have been gone.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:18 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Here I go again, raving about MASS MoCA. This is a view from outside some of the buildings that make up the museum. This was the former Sprague capacitor plant in North Adams, Mass. I love old factory buildings, and the beauty of this place is that you can see the old buildings inside and out. I decided to present this image in black & white, because it is an architectural photo. Sometimes, when I am trying to show form, then color just gets in the way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We have a beautiful bank of ferns on the small hill in front of the house. I have not taken care of it recently, and this morning it had all kinds of weeds and vines growing in amongst the ferns. It was time for weeding. So I started in, reaching down amongst the ferns to rip out the vines and weeds at their base. When I got to the middle of the ferns, I looked down to see some small and delicate white flowers. They are past their prime, and you can see the two little receptacles with their pedals missing. I thought that these were so pretty, and so small - they are so small they are only about half-an inch across. I was so impressed with their beauty that I got my camera and took photographs... Then I reached deep into the ferns and ripped these little things out of the ground! What a meanie!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
You all know about a crescent Moon. Here is a crescent tomato! The lighting causes and effects of both are the same, believe it or not. When you light a sphere from the side, then you get an illuminated crescent, depending on the angle from which the light comes from. I was on my way out the door late this afternoon for my bike ride, and just happened to see this newly-picked tomato from the garden sitting in a shaft of late afternoon sun, on the kitchen shelf. I grabbed the Nikon and the 60mm Micro-Nikkor close-up lens. I always forget how quickly the sun moves in the sky. I had to constantly move the tomato to keep it in the shaft of sunlight as I photographed.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:59 PM
Monday, August 17, 2009
At Yale, the main exhibit I went to see was in the Yale Art Gallery, designed by Louis Kahn, a modern building which opened in 1953. I wandered around just a bit before leaving that building, and discovered THIS building, and this sculpture. The Gallery of Fine Arts, as it was known, was designed by well-known architect Egerton Swartwout, and opened to the public in 1928. This building is in the gothic tradition, as are many of the buildings at Yale. What blew me away was this sculpture, which seemed so incongrous in this space. It is relatively crude in its material and construction, and is such a great contrast to the gothic windows behind it. The piece is called "Boban" and is designed by Magdalena Jetelova. It is a wonderful construction, and so fascinating to walk in and around and under it, to experience it. It is a very powerful piece. NOTE: A reader has asked for dimensions of the piece, so not having that information, I am posting a second image, with people in the background for scale. This is tricky to correlate, given that the people are not next to it, but my best guess is that the piece is about 11 or 12 feet tall. Here is a photo from a different direction.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:33 PM
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Boy, MASS MoCA never disappoints! For the last three years, when I go to Vermont, I take a day to drive back down to North Adams, Mass, to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Every year there are the most amazing works of art by a variety of artists. This year one of the most astounding was an exhibit called "The Nanjing Particles." The artist, Simon Starling, took a bit of a photographic print, and looked at it with an electron microscope and found two grains of silver in the fragment, and then made two sculptures in stainless steel that are something like a million times larger than the original silver grains. And to display these works of art in this venue can only enhance the works. The huge banks of windows and large areas make this such an astounding space - this museum was built in the former Sprague capacitor factory buildings. The decision to turn this former plant into this museum was just brilliant!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM
Saturday, August 15, 2009
What strange land is this? Who are these strange creatures? It is Two AM and I have just come in from a night's observing at the Stellafane Convention of amateur telescope makers. People set up their telescopes during the day, when they can see, and then cover them with these mylar covers to protect them from dust, and to keep them cool by reflecting the sun. At night the covers are removed and the telescopes are at the right temperature. I just thought the scene was other-worldly so I spent a few minutes photographing the telescope field before finding this shot.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:06 PM
Friday, August 14, 2009
"Moose Crossing?" Well, not really. I did drive by two signs that said that, on some back roads I was driving on in Vermont, believe it or not. This moose is not crossing anything - It is made of fiberglass and bolted to the ground! I saw it by the roadside in Bennington, VT, in front of a bank. Downtown Bennington has them all over the place - this one was the most colorful. Very clever design and painting. I never saw a moose that looked like this, however. The artist who painted it is Lisa Ketcham, to give credit where credit is due.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I spent all day at a conference on the History of Astronomy, and it was a great program. It was also historic, in a way, because conferences like this haven't been done for years at the annual Stellafane Convention, but since this is the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope, it seemed really important to do something special. During the talks it occurred to me that we should really do a "class photo" but it needed to be done right, with proper preparations, like when they did group photos in the old days. So I arranged 10 chairs on the front driveway, and that way some could sit, some could stand, and some could crouch in the foreground, and in that way we would have a better composition. After the chairs were set up, I quickly grabbed this shot because it looked so strange to see chairs set up like this. The group photo, by the way, is really nice! I am glad we all took the time to do this right.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:36 PM
I spent three hours in an astounding show at Yale Art Gallery this afternoon! It is about the decisions curators have to make regarding how much restoration to do to a painting or sculpture or other piece of art. This is such a great image - a marble statue with what appears to be a broken arm. And her nose is missing as well as some fingers from her left hand. Turns out this statue was displayed outdoors for a number of years and was damaged by weathering. But it also had been repaired over the years as well. Curators discovered that her whole right arm was a replacement, and in fact, was badly done, so they are planning to remove it from the statue, because it is not characteristic of the pose of the time. So it is in the sling until it can be removed. Such a striking image when I first saw it after entering the gallery. A brilliant idea for the first thing you see in the gallery.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:29 PM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Packing for the trip... 1. Laptop. Check. 2. Cameras. Check. 3. Camera Card Reader for Compact Flash Cards for Nikon D300. Check. 4. Camera Card Reader for SD Cards for Canon SD 800... WHOOPS... Oh Nooooooo... I took some REALLY nice photos today, in New Haven, Connecticut on my way through, but I won't tell you where, specifically. Suffice to say I was in shock when I got to Vermont and realized that I did not bring the card reader for the SD cards in my toy camera! Oh man... I will probably be shooting with the Nikon from now on but my post for today will have to wait. It was SUCH a cool photo...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:54 PM
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Airliners seem large when you are on the ground looking at them, and boarding them. (Of course they seem tiny when a hundred and fifty people are jammed into one, cheek to jowl...) But in this photo, this aircraft seems tiny as it heads into some storm clouds. Storm clouds are huge, and an airplane is just tiny by comparison. I just liked the feel of this image. It is kind of pretty.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:36 PM
Monday, August 10, 2009
I went up to Memorial Park at quarter after 7 tonight, hoping to see a big red sun set over the water, or, if I was lucky, over a lighthouse way off in the distance. The sun sets around 8 PM these days so I was really early. About half an hour before the sun reached the horizon, it disappeared behind some towering cumulus. There were thunderstorms to the northwest, and so that was the end of my hopes for an orange ball setting into the water. But I loved this scene anyhow, so I shot it. I thought it had a nice mood to it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:10 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Every week on the way to church, there is a good chance we will get stuck behind a pack of cyclists that ride 4 abreast and take up the whole side of the two-lane road. The only thing to do is to drive slowly until we can pass them, if we are lucky. Today, when they stopped at the light, stretched across the road, I thought it made a nice composition, with the differing stances of each of the cyclists. It made a nice design, I thought. I was only able to grab two quick shots before the light changed. Then I had to quickly drive around them in the left hand turn, to get ahead of the pack. I was going to title this post "STUPID CYCLISTS!" because the traffic laws don't allow riding abreast on roads in NY State, but they do it any way! But, hey, it was sunday, so I gave it a different title... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:05 PM
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I went back to my astronomy conference today, which lasted all day, so I was looking for photos the whole time. I was sitting in one lecture with slides being shown, and a small flash of light caught my eye. It turns out that it was a reflection of the image of a drawing of the earth, reflected by the glasses of the young woman sitting in the seat ahead of me. All I could see of her was this small part of her glasses, because her long blond hair blocked everything else. That image of the glasses peaking out from her hair seemed to be the photo. So here it is! I like that it takes a while to figure out what you are looking at.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM
Friday, August 7, 2009
That's not a photograph of the moon on the screen - it is a pastel drawing of the moon as seen through a telescope. It was done by Deirdre Kelleghan who is from Ireland. She was here on Long Island for the Astronomical League Conference this weekend, and she gave a workshop on drawing the Sun and the Moon. One of the really cool things is that she works with young children and teaches them about some of the moons in the solar system, and then helps them to draw them. Her program is called "Deadly Moons." The neat thing is that "deadly" in Ireland means "cool," and the kids love the program and have a great time.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Thursday, August 6, 2009
What do you mean: "Building a Photograph?" You take photographs, right? Well, not in this case. I found a discarded rose by the back door, and thought it was worthy of photographing. Then I wondered what would hold the flower while I took the picture. I found this old Olive Oil bottle in the kitchen which Amy gave me. Then I wondered what background I would use, and what kind of lighting. I put it by the dining room window which solved the lighting problem, and gave me the background - an old Chinese vase standing in the corner. Then I realized I needed something old to put the bottle and rose on, and found this old weathered 4x4 in the garage. Almost done, right? Well not exactly. I was having problems with the design and placement of elements in the photograph and realized I needed another rose. Back out the back door where I found another old flower, and Bingo! My finished photograph. I love the monochromatic color scheme.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Look what I found in the grass today when I went to mow the lawn! I immediately thought: "Mushroom Soup!" I love mushroom soup. But I am smart enough (I think) that I know the difference between mushrooms and fungi. This is fungi. So there will be no mushroom soup today. I was astounded when I turned this over and looked at the detail underneath. I guess I have never looked carefully under a fungi before. Isn't this an amazing structure? I couldn't believe it when I looked at it through the close-up lens.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:06 PM
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
There is a pond down the street from where I lived as a boy, and it was one of the centers of my life. I hadn't been to the pond in probably 50 years. Since I was in town for 4 days, I took some time to visit the pond and see how it has changed. When I was young, my friends and I went here to look for frogs and watch them swim. We were always planning to build some kind of boat or raft to float out on the water, and in the wintertime, the pond, being very shallow, froze easily and everyone went down there to ice skate. What I hadn't planed on were the mosquitos, so I didn't spend that much time there. I grabbed a couple of photos and thought I would come back with bug spray! This is my favorite photo, because of it's complexity. It has the foreground and a background, and the reflection of a cloud as well. I love the richness of all this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Monday, August 3, 2009
I went looking for a photograph today, and spied some chives growing in the herb garden. I decided to do a close-up photo of the chive blossoms so got my macro lens and went to work looking at blossoms. Suddenly I notices this tiny insect at work on the stigma in the center of the flower. I was amazed at how long the insect worked at the sigma. It gave me plenty of time to shoot, which is good, because the blossom was moving back and forth, and difficult to keep in focus. I decided that the insect at work was more interesting than just the flower. This insect is REALLY small - perhaps only 3/16 inch in length. When I removed the camera from my eye and looked at the flower, I could not see the insect, it was so small. I have spent half an hour looking for insect identification, but with no luck. I think it is some kind of wasp, but I can't say for sure. Click on it to see it in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:42 PM
Sunday, August 2, 2009
On my sightseeing bike ride yesterday, I came to the Gulf Street Bridge - the rusted one in the background. This old bridge has been replaced by a brand new concrete bridge, but the old one was more interesting to me. I was photographing the bridge, and then backed up and included this father and his sons fishing in the river. Actually, maybe that made the photo less interesting - what is the subject - the bridge or the people? Maybe I didn't photograph either well... Hmmmm...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:34 PM
Saturday, August 1, 2009
This is Fort Trumbull Beach in Milford where I am now. All day Saturday it was cloudy and overcast. I went looking for photographs and found this one. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time at this beach, watching eclipses, and gazing at the stars, and even swimming. It was fun to come back here to see how it has changed, which is pretty much not at all. I just love all the lovely shades of gray in this image - platinum grays, and silver grays, and dark grays. That is what this picture is all about, for me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM