Monday, May 31, 2010
I have lived here for 44 years. When I first came to Sea Cliff I went to some of the Memorial Day parades. After a while I stopped going - I guess I couldn't be bothered. Then I read an essay about Memorial Day in a small town in Maine, by a writer at the paper who I worked with. It was a lovely essay, describing Memorial Day in his town and how this writer grew up with parades as a kid, and when he returned as an adult, the parades were no more. So I suddenly realized how lucky we are to have a parade each year here in Sea Cliff. I have not missed a parade since, and Leslie's essay was done about 25 years ago. This is the color guard from the Fire Department, stopping during the parade at the memorial for fallen firefighters.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:46 PM
Sunday, May 30, 2010
So I was sitting at dinner and suddenly realized that because I had been working around in the yard, I had not taken any photos today. Oh man! What am I going to do to find a blog post? I was absent-mindedly staring at the candle in the middle of the dining room table, and was amazed to see how beautiful the flame was, and that if I looked really closely, I could see some really interesting details. Like the wick, most of it black, but the tip of it was bright orange, and if I looked really closely, I could see the end of it was bubbling! So I grabbed the macro lens, and here is the photo that saved my day. Please click on this to see it in greater detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Saturday, May 29, 2010
There were fireworks down at the harbor, in celebration of Memorial day, so we went down to watch them. I have photographed fireworks at two different sites in the past, and posted the images here. But I thought tonight that I better do something different, because shooting the bursts in the sky was getting old. I realized that I need an interesting foreground if the picture was to be worthwhile. Well, I lucked out, because I saw this family standing right at the edge of the water. Perfect! The one frustrating thing was that the exposure was 5 or 10 seconds, and they kept moving while watching the fireworks. So they are blurred to different degrees. But they do read as a family with a small child, fortunately.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:50 PM
Friday, May 28, 2010
So this is a photo I did back in Baltimore, and I have been waiting to post it. Do you know WHO this is? You will never guess. Click on the image to see it up close, to help you guess. OK, the correct answer is, believe it or not, George Washington! Whaaaat? Here's the story: It was done by the famous sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi, about 1791, and for some reason, he made George look like a Roman. I have no idea why. Here is the interesting part - Napoleon Bonaparte persuaded Ceracchi to come to Paris and commissioned a series of busts of himself. The relationship did not last long, and in 1801 Ceracchi was executed for his involvement in a plot to murder Napoleon! Wow! See how much you can learn reading my blog... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:20 PM
Instead of watching TV last night, I went out to the side yard to look at the moon with my telescope. Clouds moved in, so I was watching the full moon with dark clouds moving across its face - a lovely moment. Some times astronomical observations are more poetic when you can't see the object clearly. Anyhow, I stayed out late, and completely forgot to post a photograph! This is a rose that I photographed while on my photographic expedition around Sea Cliff on my bike the other day. I love the beauty of the rose, and the simplicity of the darker background, which keeps the focus on the blossom itself. A rose is such a magnificent object. The hard part is finding a blossom that is in perfect condition.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:54 AM
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
We were really lucky tonight to have a professor from a local university come talk to us about his research on Neutron Stars. A neutron star is a type of remnant that can result from the gravitational collapse of a massive star during a Type II, Type Ib or Type Ic supernova event. "Supernova" as in when a star explodes towards the end of its life. I spent some time trying to get an interesting photograph, and the best shots were when he walked into the beam of the projector to point out a detail of one of the illustrations. This is my favorite.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:49 PM
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sorry about my Moon obsession. As the moon approaches full, I was back out in the side yard again with a larger telescope and a more rugged mount. So this is a higher quality photo than the image from the other day. And of course, the photo the other day was first quarter, and tonight the moon is 2 days away from full. What is interesting about this is, if you look carefully, you can see the texture of some craters in the upper left and lower left of the moon's surface. I have posted an extra-large image, so please click on it to see more detail. You will see a larger image, and the cursor will have a "+" on it. Please click again to enlarge the image even more.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:14 PM
Monday, May 24, 2010
I got a craving today, when I was out on my bike ride, for a Carvel pineapple sunday with chocolate ice cream. Go figure. So I headed out after dinner to Carvel. On the way back, I had to go by the post office to mail a letter and a Netflix return. As I turned from the mailbox, to go back to the car I saw THIS! Wow! I know the house, and have photographed it before. What made this something extra was the moon in the sky behind the house. It felt as if it were an Edward Hopper house. The colors were a bit much, so I converted it to black & white.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The object, when I went out the other day with the telescope I was testing, was to look at and photograph the first quarter moon. It was still daylight when I started observing and photographing. What I saw was the moon while the sky was still bright blue. So you are not seeing the bright moon against a black sky, but instead a more ghostly view. I have posted a larger than normal image, so please click on this to see a larger view, and to see the craters in more detail. It is such a magnificent object, I never tire of looking at it. I wish I could show EVERYONE the moon through one of my telescopes.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:25 PM
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I drove by some flowers this morning on the way from the recycling center, and thought I should come back later in the day to photograph them. I took my bike and rode back to the flowers later in the afternoon, then after shooting them decided that I should continue riding around Sea Cliff and look for some more photographs. This rusty gate is the result of that expedition. I was stopped by the beautiful curves of the ironwork. As I looked at it carefully, the thought occurred to me that it seemed like a symphony. Of course that can't be true, because symphonies are not completely symmetrical, as the ironwork is. I tried several different angles, and I chose this one because of the simple dark background which isolated the pattern of the gate.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:45 PM
Friday, May 21, 2010
I was out in the side yard setting up my telescope to look at the moon. Somewhere along the line I happened to look over at the front porch and saw this. It was stunning how beautiful the reflected sunlight was on the porch - it was just magical! It was exactly the right time of the day. When the light is right...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:13 PM
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I was using a telescope in the side yard to look at the moon while it was still daylight. A bit earlier in the afternoon I was rummaging around in my trunk, and I looked up at the moon and suddenly I saw a beautiful contrail, being drawn in the sky right next to the first quarter moon. It happened so suddenly I didn't even have time to reach for my camera. Anyhow, back to looking through my telescope at a close view of the moon. I took my eye away from the eyepiece, and saw another plane flying away from the moon, leaving a contrail! Duh! So finally I got my camera out, set it down next to the telescope, and within 15 or 20 minutes, here came yet another airplane and its contrail! Click, click click. Here it is, finally!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:00 PM
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
There is a Robert Frost poem that begins: "I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light." I thought of that when trying to come up with a title for this post. I was on my way back from my Astronomy meeting, and driving through Sea Cliff I thought "I should go out looking for some night shots." Five seconds later I passed this church, and screeched to a halt. Perfect. I got out and photographed this, then I did a street scene, and then some industrial buildings. It was so nice to be out at night, with no one else walking or driving by, and with almost complete silence. I was really enjoying the stillness and the moment. Oh, and I really love the mood of this photograph, as well.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It was raining today, and when I went down to get the mail, I looked at the ferns in the rain and soft light. I photographed them in the late afternoon sun the other day, and they looked completely different today in the rain. So I grabbed my camera and did some looking, trying different angles, wide views and close-ups. Then I noticed a few ferns of a different type, up near the house. I finally chose this one, near the house, because it showed some of the amazing detail in just one of the leaves.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:48 PM
Monday, May 17, 2010
We all know of the famous Washington Monument in the District of Columbia. Did you know there is another Washington Monument in Baltimore? Yeah, I didn't know either. But it was visible out the window of our hotel. Liz and I went out exploring one morning, to see what this was all about, and we were surprised to find that it was open for tours. So we set out to climb the 228 steps to the top, in a narrow winding stairway. The view from the top was spectacular. And, boy, did our calves hurt for the rest of the day after we got down. It is an amazing piece of architecture. It was the country's first major architectural monument, and the first civic memorial to George Washington. It was completed in 1829!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:02 PM
Sunday, May 16, 2010
It was a beautiful day today, so I went to the beach to look around. Spring at the beach begins with these grasses coming out of the sand. They are small now, but by fall these grasses will be two to three feet tall, and will cover significant parts of the beach. Naturally I went looking on the web to try and find out what they are called, but I was unsuccessful. I *think* they may be something called "sedge grass" but I can't be sure. Anyhow, I love their light green color this early in the season.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:12 PM
Saturday, May 15, 2010
When we bought our house, back in 1971, it was September and there were dead plants of some kind on the front bank, which drops off about 6 feet, at a steep angle. I didn't pay any attention to what was there, because there was so much work to do on the house itself. In the Spring I was amazed to see the fiddleheads of ferns coming out of the ground! It was a fern bank, and it was just beautiful, with bright green, delicate ferns springing up out of the ground. All these years later the ferns continue to arrive each spring, and they never cease being beautiful. I was mowing the lawn today, and saw all the ferns backlit by the sun, so grabbed my Nikon and spent some time looking for a shot. I think this one is something special. I made it a bit larger in size, so please click on it to see it in greater detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:10 PM
Friday, May 14, 2010
Lesson One: "Always bring a camera." I usually follow that rule, but today as I was headed out on my bike ride, I though of leaving the camera home. The sky was not that interesting, and it wasn't near sunset so I thought "Why bother?" But I did bring it. Fortunately. I stopped at the park bench down at the harbor to cool down after my ride, and watched some dark clouds form on the horizon. The forecast was for possible thunderstorms late in the day. So as I sat and watched, the clouds moved in. I was thinking that the sky looked nice, and then I noticed a fisherman way off to the left. So I quickly got up, and walked down the sidewalk to the left so that the fisherman was silhouetted by the bright sky reflection on the water. Bingo!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:56 PM
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I had to go to Connecticut today for a meeting with my sisters at a law office to take care of some legal stuff. Then after the meeting we went to have lunch together, which is always fun for us. Naturally it was time for a picture for our scrapbooks - we are after all, a family of photographers. There is no one in all our family, who does not own a camera, and who does not use it at every family event. We all learned this from our mom! My daughters are both photographers, and have mastered the art of holding a camera out at arm's length to do a group shot. So that's what I did here. Now you know what we all look like!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I didn't go out and photograph today - it was cold and rainy. So on the way home from Astronomy, I stopped and shot this. The original was in color, but I thought this worked better in black & white. I mean "worked" may be stretching it. I was desperate and I thought this was a picture, but maybe it is not... It seemed a bit atmospheric in person, but it may not look that way in the photograph. Oh well...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I sat for a while at ICP the other day, and had a sandwich and coffee for lunch. There was a change from the last time I was there - they have put these beautifully shaped vases on each table, and added fresh flowers, a lovely touch. I loved the shape of the dark vase, against the dark table, and got out my toy camera to try and make something of it. I tried a few things, but something was missing. Just then, this young woman came and sat down at the next table. I realized that she was the one element that completed the photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:22 PM
Monday, May 10, 2010
This is what dinner looks like at Obrycki's Restaurant, a Maryland institution. You sit at a table which they cover with sheets of brown wrapping paper, and then you order steamed crabs by the dozen. When they arrive, they just dump them in the center of the table like this! Man, are they good! I can still remember the taste of their special crab spice, which you can see covering some of the shells! Getting the meat our of crabs is hard work, by the way. But when you DO get the crabmeat out, it is awesome! I do have to confess that after 4 days in Baltimore, I am about done with crabs for a while!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:42 PM
Sunday, May 9, 2010
This is an unremarkable photograph of a most remarkable event. I know it is a wedding, and that may not seem remarkable. However, three weeks ago the groom lay in a hospital bed in Texas, with one leg split wide open from ankle to knee, the result of a boating accident. The wedding was three weeks away, and no one was even considering the possibility of the groom being at the event. What this photograph is really about, is what true love is - both the love between the brothers, Chris, the groom, and Pat the best man, and the devotion and love of Angela, his bride. She immediately flew from the east coast to be with him in Texas, and Pat was there already. The two of them spent night and day at his bedside, and through extremely good luck, and the force of will, three weeks later Chris was on the altar with his bride! He still has a long recovery ahead, but the wedding was a joy to behold for all who were there.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:16 PM
Saturday, May 8, 2010
We stopped by a museum on the Inner Harbor called "American Visionary Art Museum" and looked around. I saw this quote from the Talmud on the cement wall, and the kids running around and playing. Then I kept walking! Duh! Five seconds later I stopped, backed up, and shot a few images of the kids and the quote. I am so mindful these days of photographing children, that I didn't spend much time trying to get a shot - I would hate to cause suspicion from the kids or their chaperones, so I did enough photographs quickly, and then moved on. This is my favorite. What a wonderful quote, though, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:33 PM
Friday, May 7, 2010
Went over to Fells Point about dinnertime, to have crabs at Obrycki's Restaurant, a Maryland institution. As the taxicab approached the restaurant, I saw this guy shooting hoops in an empty lot. The image stayed with me - something about the simplicity of it, and the emptiness all around. I wished I could have taken the picture. But then two blocks later we were at the restaurant, a bit early, so I walked back two blocks, and asked him if I could photographing him shooting baskets. He said "O.K" so I took a few photos. I put the camera on the ground, and pointed it upward a bit, just guessing. This was the first shot, and it is the best of all! It is a simple picture, but there is something about it that seems to me more universal, about basketball and life, and the joy of shooting hoops alone, in an empty lot, at the end of the day.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I was sitting on a park bench by the water at the very beautiful inner harbor in Baltimore. I was looking around, as always, for photo possibilities. Then I noticed that since it was late in the day, the people walking by were silhouettes against the pale blue sky. Since they were only outlines of people, I began to see them not as people, but as design elements. So I put my camera on my lap, and aimed it upward just a bit, and without looking directly at the people (or the back of the camera) pushed the shutter button each time one person, or a group strolled by. Yeah, I know it is random, but I was thinking that if I randomly got something interesting, it would be my sensibilities that would recognize if there was anything artistic there. You know, like the proverbial roomful of monkeys on typewriters. 90% of the images were misses, but there were a couple of keepers, and this is the best. Something different for me - people.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
This is an astounding story! I went to an exhibit today, of photographs taken with home-made cameras. That description does not begin to describe how amazing the photographs are, and what incredible work went into the making of this camera and a number of others. As usual, I don't think I was supposed to photograph these objects, so I am intentionally omitting the museum and the name of the photographer. The photographic prints, taken years ago, and literally hundreds of cameras were stored in an outside shed, and are all the worse for wear - they are covered in dust, and some mold. The photographs were intentionally made almost as an "anti-photography" statement, the photographer refusing to use any modern tools or processes, and the photographs show that. Sorry for being so obscure. You would be amazed if you could see these instruments in person, however.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:09 PM
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I passed a store window on 5th Avenue today, and saw this mysterious meeting of these three ladies. I wondered why they were wearing bubble wrap instead of clothes. Well, it is New York City after all - you never know what you will find here... :-) the tough part was trying to shoot this without getting reflections from the window and of people passing on the street behind me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:52 PM
Monday, May 3, 2010
I was talking yesterday about how I made a little studio setup for photographing my dandelion. It occurred to me that you might like to see how I went about that. Here are two photographs of my setup. The only light is the studio flash unit up high on a light stand, lighting the flower from the top and slightly behind, and then I used two white cards between the camera and the dandelion, to bounce fill light back to the front of the dandelion. You can also see I used a black card behind the dandelion as a background. Seems kind of complicated, for just one small flower, doesn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:43 PM
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Coming out of church today I absently-mindedly noticed a dandelion that had gone to seed. I have been seeing the yellow ones all over, of course, at this time of year. But this is the first white one. I quickly thought that it might make some kind of photograph, so I stopped, picked it, carefully placed it in the car and brought it home. I thought that natural light wouldn't do the bloom justice, so I got out one of my studio flash units and set up a little studio on the dining room table, and experimented with a couple of different kinds of lighting. This is my favorite. Please click on it, to see it in greater detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I have been saving this photograph for a few weeks. It is from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It was part of the exhibit "The Secrets of Tomb 10A." It is a fragment of a relief of Mentuhotep II, Dynasty 11, reign of Mentuhotep II, 2061-2010 B.C. recovered from a tomb. I was really taken by this piece. It seems more powerful, for some reason, because it is a fragment rather than a whole face. Perhaps it is because it forces me to look more carefully, because there is not much there. If it was a complete portrait, I might have thought "Oh, that's nice" and move on. This piece held me, and I was mindful the whole time, that it is 4000 years old. That fact alone boggles my mind, and causes me to study it even more. It was a moving experience to see just this piece, and this was just one of many pieces in the first room, of a multi-room exhibit.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:05 PM