Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Sun Came Out!

For a brief period today the sun came out. I happened to be over in Roslyn, and saw the sun on these white buildings. They kind of reminded me of barns in New England. I mean, not exactly, but a little bit. There is a nice collection of lines and diagonals both in roof lines and in shadows on the walls. I also liked the shadow of the tree branches on the wall to the right. I think the photograph FEELS like sunlight. Ahhhhhhhh...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Gantry

I just love this bridge project! Can't get enough of it! The yellow gantry is such an astounding piece of hardware. It moves over time, very gradually, all the way from one side of the harbor to the other as its support structure moves from pier to pier. It is so difficult to give a sense of how huge this thing is. I spent about 45 minutes in the rain and mist trying different views of this. This photograph looks the most ordinary of all the images I shot, and yet it probably gives the best sense of how long the structure is. It dwarfs all the buildings on this street. Please click on this to see it in a larger size.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cedarmere Grist Mill

I was driving through Roslyn today, on the way back from the Apple store when this scene flashed by quickly. There was something about the mist and the fog that registered, so I turned around and went back. I guess I spent half an hour looking for different views of the scene - from up high on the sidewalk, and then down to the level of the pond. This is my favorite, but I did find some other things that were pretty nice. I just love the rain and the fog and the atmospherics. Grabs me every time. This is the Grist Mill at the former home of William Cullen Bryant, on the shore of Hempstead Harbor. They are going to restore this building, which is important - it is a beautiful structure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I went to the grocery store to buy some salad fixings, and this is the first thing I saw. I have posted a photograph before of a single pepper that I brought home and photographed here at the house. Usually these red peppers are indoors in a display case. But they have moved some outdoors, and the lighting is completely different. First I spotted the brilliant red, and then I started noticing all the bright highlights on all of the peppers. It was a completely different was of seeing them. So I grabbed the ever-present toy camera on my belt, and made a few exposures. Oh, and I also bought some to eat - they are delicious, AND they are really good for you as well.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kitty Furball

The kitties are always curled up around here sleeping. And they do it so many different ways - stretched out flat on a radiator with legs hanging off, flopped on a chair here and there, and, my favorite of all, curled up in a ball. But it is not all that often that they are in an almost perfect ball, as "Sweet Pea" is here. I grabbed the camera and made a few exposures, and then she moved just a bit, and one leg stuck out! Whew! That was close - I nearly missed it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

My New Camera - Geek Alert

I bought a new point-and-shoot camera today. I have always been happy with my Canon SD800, but... The quality of the images could be better. The images at almost all ISO settings are very "noisy" - a quality that makes the pictures look "grainy." My new camera is a Canon S90, and there is a huge improvement in quality. The new camera has an F/2.0 lens (the older one only f/2.8) and the new camera has a higher ISO setting - 3200 (the old one was only 1600). All this means better image quality, and particularly in low light conditions. One last thing - I was astounded to discover that the new camera shoots in "RAW" format, which means it collects data, and does not automatically process it at all - I do that manually, which means even better quality. I stopped by the opticians today, and while waiting, took this photo in a magnifying mirror - my hands are not twice the size of my head!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trying For Something Different

I was thrilled to see a flash of yellow out by the driveway today. The Daffodils have been pushing their way up slowly, and then suddenly today - they bloomed! So I grabbed the camera and went looking for a picture. Everything I tried to shoot looked like any other photo I have ever done of Daffodils. I thought: "I can't post any of those shots - I really needed something different." For some reason I thought of putting the camera in the dirt, and pointing it up at the blossoms. Only problem was that I had no idea what the lens was seeing. The beauty of digital photography is that I can make an exposure, lift the camera up, see what is in the frame, and then put it back down and aim it slightly differently. I shot a lot of frames, and finally I was blown away by this version - looking UP at two daffodil blossoms. It felt good to feel like I was finally able to see in a new way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Northport Stacks

We were observing with our telescopes at the planetarium, and I happened to move away from the group down toward the water, so I could see if Saturn was rising. It was then that I noticed the reflection of the clearance lights on the smokestacks, reflected in the water. It was calm, so the harbor was a mirror. These are the "Northport Stacks" - part of the electric generating plant. The funny thing is, for pilots on Long Island, the stacks are a landmark for reporting your position when you are inbound to Republic Airport. This has such a nice feel to it - I need to do more night photography.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Family Photos

We had a memorial service for my mom today, and there was time to visit with family and friends before the service began. My sisters put together collections of snapshots and family portraits and they were on display for all to see. In this photo my sister Betsey, at left, is showing some of the photos to two of my mom's friends from the Women's Club, where my mother was a member for 50 years. My brother-in-law Vince is at right in the photo, obviously enjoying the scene. It was a beautiful service with a wonderful pastor, and so many people came, some from a long way away. We were all moved by the experience.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Photos of Mom

We arrived at my sister Joan's house tonight, so that we will be here for the memorial service tomorrow morning. Joan and my sisters and my nieces have been working all day finding photos in albums of my mom, and putting together displays for the funeral home. I came in and saw these framed pictures on the radiator, and loved how they looked together. So here is my picture for the day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Praying Over

As Easter approaches, people who have decided to join the church take part in RCIA "The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults." At Easter, they receive the Easter sacraments of initiation into the Church: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. Each week, they take part in the Mass, and then they leave the service part way through for more instruction. Before they leave the Mass, the parishioners pray over them, by extending their hands as a prayer is offered. This is what I have photographed here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ruth Clarke Spencer 1916 - 2010

My mom, who was 93 years old, passed away peacefully this morning just after 3:00 AM. We had a wonderful Christmas with her, and the next day she went to the hospital with pneumonia. After a stay there she went to a nursing home across the street, and has been there for two and one-half months. She has never been sick a day in her life, and so we are so thankful that she passed away peacefully. My sisters and I were talking today about all that she has given us. Our mom was the most selfless person we have known, and she sacrificed so much for all of us. She was gentle, and quiet and humble, and imbued us all with these qualities. This is a snapshot of my mom, with my sister Karen back in 1946. Isn't she beautiful?

Friday, March 19, 2010


I showed you the photograph of the thin crescent moon setting the other night. Today my friend Sam asked if I saw Venus setting with it. I had done a close-up version of the moon and the trees. I had also done a wide-angle shot of three trees and the moon. So I went back and looked. In the first wide shot, there was no sign of Venus. I used an astronomy application on my computer to see where Venus was. Venus was down toward the horizon, and a bit to the left and I guessed that it was blocked by a tree trunk. So I went and looked at another photo, where I had stood to the left to see how that composition would look, and there it was! I have posted a larger image, so please click on it in order to see Venus more clearly.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Look

We have three new young visitors to our astronomy club, and it has added a special feeling to the group. They are all so enthusiastic about astronomy, and are constantly asking questions of us all. Last night two of the young people got a chance to look through all our telescopes, and Patrick and his mom had never looked through a telescope before! So I showed them the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades, Mars, Saturn, and a pair of galaxies in the big dipper, among other things. They were thrilled, and I got an email from his mom that today he was still talking about what he saw last night! I took this photo, by the way, using two small battery-operated flash units, one to either side, and none on the camera, and set them off with radio control units.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Thinnest Crescent

I was on my way to my astronomy meeting, and when I got to the end of our street, there was the thinnest of crescent moons, setting in the west. It was just stunning in its delicacy. I did a wide angle view, and then this close-up, and I like the closeup better, because you can see how thin the crescent is. There is a term we use to describe the appearance of the moon, called it's "age." I don't mean 4.5 billion years. which is the actual age of the moon, but rather how many days it has been since "new moon." New moon is when the moon is so close to the direction of the sun, that we can't seen the moon because it is daylight. Each day the moon moves 12 degrees away from the sun, and then we can begin to see it, first as a thin crescent, than at a quarter moon, then as a full moon. The moon in this photograph is not quite two days old. Please click on this to see a larger image with more detail.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Strange Light in the Sky

I awoke this morning to a strange light in the sky. It was much too bright to look at. The sky was blue in color, and that is also very strange - it has been gray in color for so long - nearly two weeks. I was really puzzled, so went and got several of my astronomy books and started searching. The object in the sky is apparently called the "Sun" and it is a nearby star, and all life on Earth depends on it. It is ninety-three million miles away and yet it puts out so much energy, that even from so far away, it keeps us all warm, and helps grow the food we need. I am so glad that the Sun has returned to our sky.

Monday, March 15, 2010


This is the Van Nostrand-Starkins house in Roslyn, the oldest structure in the village, dating back to 1680. It has been restored to its 1810 appearance. While stopped at the traffic light facing this building, I was struck by how incongruous it is to have this modern traffic light right in front of the building. I just love the subtle angles that the roof lines make. Actually it kills me that this light is here, because it makes it impossible to photograph this beautiful architectural treasure properly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Angry Wepawaug

We went up to Connecticut today to see my mom, and we went to lunch with my sister Joan. She picked a restaurant on the Wepawaug River in downtown Milford. The restaurant is right by the beautiful stone Memorial Bridge which crosses the river. Boy the river looked angry today! I have never seen seen such a huge flow of water over the falls, as I did today. This, of course is because of the two days of rain we have just had. So naturally I went back and forth over the bridge and played with different ways of photographing the falls and the river. Oh, and the burger and salad were delicious... :-)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Contest

This is the last snow. Now that it has been raining for two days straight, this too is gone. I was joking with the neighbor next door that we were having a contest to see who would have the last snow of the season. This was by the driveway where the snow had been piled three feet high at one point. The neighbor's driveway snow was higher than that - I should know, I helped shovel it. So she wins. We are both glad it is finally gone!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Ranunculus? Snuffleupagus? Sounds like the same thing to me... :-) But Ranunculus is a real word, for a real flower. A very pretty one it turns out. One of the Pre Cana couples brought this as a gift on the last night of the program. The blossoms were much tighter at the time, and I thought they were really interesting because of that. They have opened more, so I set up a light and illuminated the plant and started exploring one blossom it with my camera this afternoon. I think this ultra closeup is the most interesting, in terms of the design within the frame.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old Age

I was standing by the garage after my bike ride, and thinking that I had photographed EVERYTHING on the property, and wondering what else I could possibly photograph. It did occur to me to look for a close-up of something. Then I absent-mindedly let my eyes wander to one of the hinges on the garage door, and I noticed how old it was. So I thought of old age, and decided to photograph this. I love the textures, and the rust stain, and the sense of old age.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Mentor

This is my friend, and mentor in astronomy, giving his last lecture at our astronomy club. He has retired and will be moving away, and it seems like such a loss. He is brilliant, knowledgeable, and funny in an offbeat way that we both share. It seems unimaginable that he will not be nearby. We will always be connected with the telephone and the internet, of course, but it will not be the same. His talk tonight was just brilliant: "The Way it Was." He traced his beginnings in astronomy along with the world as it was back in the 1960's and onward. He talked about what we thought we knew in astronomy 50 years ago, and what we have learned since, and he compared that to the path he has taken in his life. It was memorable and poignant, and brilliantly done. "A Swan Song" is what it is called, and so the evening was bittersweet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Not On Drugs

Wow, I was getting desperate tonight. Had an event down at church, and brought my camera in but couldn't find a photo at the event. Coming out of the parking lot, I had to stop at a red light, and photographed the light, and the church steeple through the windshield. Not a winner. On the way home while holding the camera, it went off by accident. It was pointed at the dashboard! I happened to look at it, and saw the blurry pattern, and thought: "Hey, this might amount to something." So I drove along, NOT LOOKING at the camera, but I just kept pointing it in the general direction of the dash board while pushing on the shutter and waving the camera around. This is one of my favorites. No drugs involved!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Late Afternoon Light

I was sitting in my easy chair in the living room, reading, when the light in the front hall caught my eye. It has not been bright like this all winter. But as the sun's path in the sky gets higher each day, the sun can illuminate places now, that it couldn't during the winter. In this case, the late afternoon light came through the kitchen window and illuminated the refrigerator, which is yellow in color. The light from the fridge then illuminated the paneled wall under the stairs, giving the scene this unusual light.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Oscars...

...have nothing at all to do with this photograph, except they both happen on the same day. Oh, and I am posting this blog while half-watching the Oscars. You would think better of me, I know, if I were not watching them. Anyhow, I came out of the house this morning and saw this branch just sitting on the snow. I like that you can see the structure of the plant, which you wouldn't be able to see easily if the plant was still in the garden. It is also interesting that it is not immediately obvious what the snow background is.

The Larger Bear

Ursa Major, "The larger bear," or, as we more commonly know the grouping of stars, The Big Dipper. I was out under the stars last night, for the first time in 6 months or so. Wonderfully clear night, out on the east end of Long Island, in Southhold. In this picture, you can see the building and the dome of Custer Institute, where I go to observe. They have a large telescope in the dome, but I use my telescope with a 10" diameter mirror, in the side yard. I mention Ursa Major, not because that group of stars is in this photograph, but because I started my observing with that constellation, and enjoyed views of some amazing galaxies. I was freezing after three hours, and so headed for home, a drive that takes an hour and a half. Got home at 2 AM, so today I am whipped. It was all worth it! Please click on this image for a larger one - when that image opens, you can see the stars in the sky more easily.

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Hail Mary"

I passed this golf course yesterday and saw the pattern of the melting snow and the trees. It caught my eye, but the sun was out and I didn't like the bright blue sky and the bright sun. Today when I came by on my bike there were high clouds in the sky and the sunlight was muted. So I got off my bike and tried to shoot the scene. Only thing was, there was a chain link fence, covered with vines between me and the scene. It was 5 feet high, and I had no way to see through it, or get up high enough to get over it. So I reverted to an old news photographer trick. I held the camera as far over my head as I could, and aimed it in the general direction and made an exposure. The beauty of a digital camera, is that I can then look at what I shot, and try aiming again until I get it right. This is called a "hail mary" and I should mention that the term is offensive to some. I learned the technique from an old timer, about 40 years ago. It can save your day by allowing you to look over people or objects in your way, and still get the picture.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Not a Knot

I had the unenviable task of replacing all the ropes for the window sash weights in one window today. This is nasty work, at least the way this house is built - back in 1910 or 1920. Anyhow, after a lot of prying off of trim I was finally able to get to the sash weights sitting at the bottom of their chambers, their ropes having broken years ago. When I fished out the weights, they were tied in this interesting way. This is not a "knot", it is a "hitch." I will spare you the technical details, other than to say it works by friction alone. It is interesting, if you tied this with a strand of spaghetti, it would just slip free, and yet with this sash cord, it has stayed like this since it was first tied. And that got me to thinking about how long ago this was tied. If the house is nearly a hundred years old, I would guess that the sash cords were replaced perhaps 50 years ago. Who was it that tied this? I am the first person to touch his work since he did it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Curled Up Kitty

It is a continuing source of wonder to me, to see how the kitties sleep. What curls up next to what, what's folded under what, and what's over what! Kind of like a Rubick's cube or something. They just never cease to amaze me, and they ALWAYS look completely comfortable! And cute too!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Goblin in the Side Yard

Obviously I didn't shoot this today - the snow has been melting for several days now. But I did this the morning of the second large snowstorm, and really want you all to see it. I just thought it was funny, when I came out the back door and spotted this thing looking at me like this. I had to try some different compositions, and ended up showing the side of the car beneath the drooping snow - sort of makes it look like a mouth. Just a fun picture for the day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My New Light

I bought a new quarts halogen spotlight the other day. Just to have around. It is small, and only has a 200 watt bulb in it. I just thought it would be helpful if I wanted to photograph some things around the house, because it is easy to set up. It is easier than setting up an electronic flash, and I can see what is going on in the viewfinder, instead of having to shoot a flash picture and checking that on the camera. With this light, what you see is what you get. So a few minutes ago (and it is night here...) I set up the light and experimented with this Philodendron plant. I love that it looks like a summer's day, instead of night inside the house.