Friday, April 30, 2010

Me & My iPad

After staying up all night, sitting on the front porch steps... :-) the Fedex guy came at about 12:30 PM with my new toy. The quick answer, is that the iPad is awesome! It is VERY cool! Because of the "Apps" that so many developers have made for this, it is a device that can do so many things more easily than can be done on a computer. The fun, of course, is learning how it works. I haven't had this much fun since I bought my first Newton Messagepad in 1995, may it rest in peace... Each of those little squares on the screen is an App, and each one does something very specific. And, there is no mouse or keyboard - everything is done with finger touches and gestures. I need to stop typing now, so I can get back to enjoying my "magical device."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Waiting For Fedex...

You know what day this is, right? Right. April 29th. And what is the significance of that? Easy. It's the day before April 30th. "And the significance of April 30th, Ken?" Ohhhhh.... Why April 30th is THE DAY MY NEW IPAD ARRIVES! From Apple. Via Fedex! Can you tell I am anxious? I will be sitting out here all night long, because I do NOT want to miss the arrival of the Fedex guy, and the arrival of my new iPad. Sad, isn't it? :-)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eeeek! A Dinosaur!

A friend and I were looking around behind the planetarium tonight, before the start of our meeting. We came around a corner, and came face to face with a dinosaur! Wow! What a surprise. It was apparently part of an exhibit at the museum at one time. It is a beautifully done model. I wish you could see it up close.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dinner with Bobbie

I had dinner tonight with my friend Bob. We try and have dinner every 4 or 5 months, just to keep in touch, and to talk about life and work. We ate at a wonderful restaurant called The Lake House, and we got to sit by a window and look out at the lake. As it got close to dusk, I took out my small camera and was taking a few shots out the window, when suddenly these two geese flew toward us taking off. Click. One shot. Got it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Empire State Building

I still have a bunch of leftovers from Boston and New York that I want to share with you. This is a photograph of the Empire State Building - when I did the photograph of this building with a rainbow, it was from further away, and the building looked really tall, which it is. As I got closer, I kept photographing as I approached. When I saw this I loved how unexpected the view was. I thought that the building didn't look all that tall. I love the reflections off the metal trim and windows, and that is the thing that made me decide to take the photograph.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Now THIS is a big telescope!

This is my friend John, and his giant telescope with a 32-inch diameter mirror. He built the telescope, and made the mirror. Back when he first built it, it was one of the largest telescopes on the East coast, if not in the country. John taught himself to be a first class mirror maker, and has always made huge mirrors. I think the mirror itself may have taken 2 or 3 years to make, and then the telescope had to be built. I have spent a lot of time looking at the heavens with this telescope, and everything looks stunning with such a large aperture instrument. John had his telescope on display at the Astronomy Day yesterday. The telescope that I am building only has an 18" mirror, but I will be thrilled to have a telescope that size to use on my own.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Observing Venus

Our astronomy club took part in Astronomy Day at the Vanderbilt Planetarium all day today. We had people with Hydrogen alpha filters for observing the sun, and I had two home made telescopes on display (they are the telescopes in this photograph). I had a chance to talk with a lot of people who had questions about amateur astronomy, and about how I built my telescopes - I really love having conversations like that about this hobby of ours. Toward the end of the day, one of our members, Frank, at left in this photo, said that we could see Venus in daylight, so we started looking for it. Here, he and Mal have found the planet and were studying it through the eyepiece.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I got some leftovers. Some from NYC a week ago, and some from this past weekend. Better stuff than I could shoot around here, because I have been working on cleaning out the garage. Not many photos in there. (Whoops, I am sure that if I applied myself in the garage I could actually find a shot there! There's a challenge for me. I will work on that. Never say never.) Anyhow, crawling in traffic I saw this last Sunday as I approached the Whitestone Bridge. The cross is pretty cool, but it needed both the late afternoon sun, and the dark clouds behind it. Pretty dramatic I thought.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


"TRW" is the aviation shorthand for "thunderstorm," in weather forecasts. We had our first thunderstorm of the season this afternoon. Where I was, it was not a big deal - not a crasher boomer one. I saw it coming when I was going into a Starbucks for lunch, so grabbed this shot and then ran from the rain. The sky looked gray and threatening, but honestly I didn't see all the details when shooting this, that I did see when looking at the image in my laptop. I guess I was in a hurry to get the shot and get out of there. How's that for being dedicated to my craft!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Street Photography

I hapened to be standing in front of the NY Public Library on Fifth Avenue last week, and I was just looking around at the construction, and all the people sitting on the steps reading and relaxing. I happened to be looking down, and was aware of people passing me - first I would see their shadows ahead of them on the sidewalk, if they came from my left. So I got my camera out and was watching what it looked like as the shapes of pedestrians and their shadows passed me. Then I started to try and anticipate when an interesting shadow would pass me. It was really difficult, because the people were fast moving and there was a significant "shutter lag" - I press the shutter release, and the scene has changed by the time the shutter clicks. So I have to guess and anticipate. I shot about 30 shots, and there were four possibilities. This is my favorite because, except for the hand, everything is either black or gray in color.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Molten Silver

We had a bunch of antique silver serving pieces, but they were kind of ugly, so I got this brilliant idea today to melt them all down and just sell the silver. That's a good idea, right? So I got out my acetylene torch, and started melting the pieces one by one, and just watching them turn into a puddle of silver. The melted silver made really interesting shapes, I thought, so I photographed them. Just kidding. This is really molten lead, not silver. I was melting some ingots so that I could made a small counterweight for one of my telescopes. The shapes are still interesting, though. Please click on it to see it in a larger size.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New England

On the way to Boston two weeks ago, I stopped in Arlington when I saw this house on an overcast misty day. The windows jumped out at me - this house is SO New England I had to stop and photograph it. It is all about the windows. It is an historic structure - The Jason Russell House. There were two signs out front with conflicting dates, but I think this was built in 1680, and it was the site of the bloodiest fighting between the minutemen and the redcoats on April 19, 1775 - the first day of the American Revolution. Aren't you glad you read this blog?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bored On A Bridge

OK, right off I have to say that I was NOT driving when I shot this, OK? I was stuck in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge on the way home from the astronomy conference. There were at least two cars that had crashed, and maybe a third. So traffic was backed up for several miles, and since a lane was shut down on the bridge, it was stop and go all the way over the bridge. I was bored, so started looking at the bridge structure, which you really can't do when driving at the speed limit. I liked that I had plenty of time to study the construction of the bridge this time. I thought this made an interesting design with the pattern of the trusses crossing back and forth in the picture.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Throg Fog

This is the Throg's Neck Bridge, in the fog. And I shouldn't tell you this, but I held the camera up and shot through the passenger side window (when it was closed) hoping to get something decent, while approaching the bridge to cross it... :-( I was lucky to get something. I wish I had time to exit and go back and park the car and photograph the bridge with plenty of time. I was on the way to an astronomy conference, and didn't have time to stop. By the way, my friend Skipper, I think it was, used to ask me what a "Throg" was, given that this is the "Throg's Neck Bridge." Didn't know then, don't know now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Not A Rainbow

On my way from Penn Station to the Museum of Modern Art, I was looking for photographs every step of the way, which is how I work wherever I am, but even more so in Manhattan. I photographed the Empire State Building from several blocks away, and continued to find nice shots of it as I got closer. Suddenly, when I was very close to it, I looked up and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw what I first thought was a rainbow, arcing away from it. It was not raining at the time, and then I realized it was not a rainbow, but rather something called an "Ice Halo." How do I know this? Because the blue ring of the bow is on the outside, away from the sun. And, the halo is exactly 22 degrees away from the sun itself. Well, I didn't measure it, but the laws of physics make it so. Please click on the image to see the image with better color saturation. It's quite pretty.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"The Artist Is In"

I went to the Museum of Modern Art today to see the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit of photographs. And I accidentally stumbled into this astounding exhibit of performance art, by Marina Abramovic. The artist is in red, and a visitor to the exhibit sits opposite her and they stare into each others eyes, sometimes for an hour. The performance begins when the museum opens, she does not move or take a break or eat, until the museum closes. A visitor gets up and is replaced by another. It is a profound thing to witness. I spent an hour just watching and thinking about what was taking place in front of me. I cannot tell you what it means, or exactly how it affected me, but I was deeply moved.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Observing Night

This is Tom, a member of our club, looking at Venus as it was setting tonight, with his 8" Newtonian telescope. I got there earlier than normal so there would still be light in the sky, because I wanted to do a silhouette of someone observing. It was a gorgeous clear night, and we started by watching the planets Mercury and Venus set in the west, and Saturn was high in the southern sky. It was windy and cold, but we were still up for observing, at least for two hours. By then I was frozen, and headed home after having seen many wonderful things.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Bundle of Sticks

A bundle of sticks, yes, BUT... These sticks are nearly 4000 years old! They were found in a monarch's tomb, 10A at Deir el-Bersha in Egypt back in 1915 when a group of archaeologists from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Harvard University found it. The discovery of this tomb, and the archeological treasures inside, even though it had been looted back in antiquity, has been celebrated worldwide for yielding the largest assemblage of material ever found in a Middle Kingdom burial. This is part of a spectacular exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, and I spent hours there immersed in these treasures. The thing is, it was astounding to stand there in front of these objects, and to try and let it sink in that they were four thousand years old. The actual sticks are displayed in front of a photograph of them as they were found in the tomb. If you can get to this exhibit, do not miss it!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I found a whole bunch of interesting photographs while in Boston, particularly at the Museum of Fine Arts. So I am going to be showing you photographs from there for a few days. This is the last photo I took - I had left the museum and was headed back to the parking lot when I noticed these shadows of trees on the side of the building. There are so many interesting things going on in this photograph - I love the reflection of trees and sky in the window, and the blue is mirrored in the upper right hand corner of the picture And in that corner are actual tree branches, which mirror the shadows of the branches. Of course, at this point I am over-analyzing things - in the viewfinder, I just include stuff until it feels right. Click.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

House Tour

We stopped on the way home from Boston to visit Pat and Bethany, and to see their new house. When you see a new house, you get to take a house tour, which was fun. The light in the bedroom was really nice, late in the afternoon. I went over to the rocking chair in the master bedroom, and sat down. When I looked up this was the composition that I saw, and I stopped everyone and told them not to move. I love the composition of this, and the near-far arrangement of everyone. I didn't make the arrangement, I just recognized it in the moment.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Night"

I spent most of the day at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This sculpture, a giant baby's head, is called "The Night" and it is by Antonio Lopez Garcia. I was photographing the sculpture from several different angles when this young woman, who was there with a class, stepped in next to the head, and was posing to have her photo taken by a friend. I managed to shoot one frame before she ran out of the photograph. One frame, that's all you need!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Lightning Show

I spent the day at the Museum of Science in Boston today. It is an astounding museum! So many interesting exhibits, on so many subjects, it was impossible to see them all. To add to the excitement, there was a fire alarm and we all had to evacuate the building while the fire trucks rolled up! This is a photograph of a "Lightning Show" that they present several times during the day. One of the highlights near the end of the show, is that this young woman presenter climbs into the "birdcage" and then is raised up by a hydraulic lift, close enough to the Van de Graff generators -those huge spheres which generate several hundred thousand volts - and then lightning bolts jump from the spheres to the cage, with resounding explosive sounds! Yikes! And all the time, the woman is in the cage! Wow! Very impressive.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Have No Idea...

On the way to Boston, we stopped at a McDonalds for ice cream cones. I saw these planters, and they got my attention, for some reason, but I didn't stop to shoot them. Got my ice cream cone, and went back to the car, and then got the camera. Something about these things held me. They are painted these bright colors, I believe, less for advertising purposes, but as a method of marking the parking lanes. But there is something that feels just a bit looney to have the bright colors on a structure that contains a tree. I still don't know why it is that these things seem weird. You can all decide, and tell me!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Before and After

This year's income tax was a nightmare. It just took forever, and I had a sense that I wasn't sure what was going on - that it was way beyond me and that I was tip-toeing my way through a minefield. I used a program on my computer, so that part was easy, but some of the items and entries were very complex. Anyhow, FINALLY it is done. I decided to take a photo of the mess on the dining room table, and then I thought of taking a shot when I had cleaned up my mess.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sitting and Looking

Now that it is warm out, at the end of my ride each day, I stop and sit on the bench in the little park at the edge of the harbor. I did that today, and was just sitting and looking around when a couple of fishermen walked by me with their gear. I didn't really pay attention to where they went, and then all of a sudden I noticed that they were standing side by side in the water, and divided by the post of the split rail fence. I just loved the design the way I saw it right from the bench. No moving required! The photograph is mostly about how I divided up the frame of the viewfinder. Sort of an exercise in geometry.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Happy Easter! Yes, I know I am a bit late with this. But I have a good excuse... I went to photograph this Easter Lilly on Easter night, and realized the lighting was not what I had visualized. "Previsualization" is a term I learned from Minor White (and the term may have been coined by Ansel Adams, a contemporary of Minor's.) It is the act of imagining what the final photograph will look like, while you are looking through the viewfinder. I had a clear vision of how I wanted this blossom to look. So I wanted until this morning to get the "explosion" of light around the blossom, coming from the dining room window. It matched my imagining perfectly.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Late Day Shadows

By the time that I crank my way up the street and then up the driveway, at the end of my ride, I am whipped. So it is my habit to hop off the bike, and rest my head on my arm on the seat to catch my breath. I did that today, and while looking at the pavement, happened to notice the shadow of the bike on the driveway! Wow! Cool shadow! Fortunately I had my little point and shoot camera right there in its pouch on the top tube of the bike, so out it came, and I fooled with the composition for about 2 or 3 minutes and ended up with this.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fuji Classic

A Fuji Classic bike. We call them "retro" bikes now, with a real appreciation for their classic beauty. This is my friend and cycling companion Ricky with his "new" classic bike. It was a gorgeous day today, and he called to see if this old guy wanted to try and keep up with him... :-) So we went riding for an hour up to Bayville Beach. I am so accustomed to riding alone, it is a real treat for me to have someone to ride with, and to talk to. Oh, and I was almost strong enough to keep up with him, except on the hills... He was riding his other classic bike, a gorgeous LeMond on our run today. When we got back, he showed me this bike, and I thought it was worthy of a photograph.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Golf was my dad's passion. To me, golf courses are only interesting places, in that they may make interesting landscape photographs. Artificial landscapes, of course with their manicured fairways and greens, but interesting nonetheless. Yesterday I was blazing by this golf course on my bike, on a different street, and the shadows of the trees on the fairway grabbed me, but I was in a hurry and didn't stop. Today I planned to stop, in advance. I stopped at the original site and did some photographs, and then continued on my ride. I passed this part of the golf course later in the ride, and I decided that I liked the photograph here better than the first stop. So I crawled through a big hole in the fence and made this photo.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Badge of Honor?

No, not really. I know it looks like some terrible accident happened, and that my leg is all chewed up by one of the chainrings. Not true. I went out for a ride, and after a while realized that my cyclometer was not working, so I pulled over to the side of the road, and unclipped, and had to adjust the sensor on one of the front spokes. Apparently that's where I put my leg up against the greasy gear. I didn't even see this until I went to get into the shower. Normally I would not have a filthy greasy chainring - I put lubricant on the chain very sparingly, but lately there has been a lot of water on the road, because of the rains, even though the rain has stopped. So I have the chain loaded up with lubricant because of all the water. So I am not really tough at all.