Saturday, July 31, 2010
We went to a bridal shower today for my nephew Jonathan's fiance Lauren. Of course I didn't actually go to the shower, and Jonathan didn't either. No boys at the girl's party! (I went off to see the Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower, but more on that another day) I came back to pick up Kathy, at the appointed hour, and the party was still going on, so I got to take some pictures. Lauren is a lovely woman, and has such a sunny disposition, and enjoys doing fun things, so she will fit right in. As an example, she took a bunch of bows from her presents at the end of the day, and made a hat, and then walked around among her friends showing off her new chapeau! I wasn't the only one who photographed her - it was such a lovely moment and it needed to be recorded for posterity.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:53 PM
Friday, July 30, 2010
I went to LaGuardia today to pick up a friend, and the plane was late, so I sat in a chair by the window that looked out on one of the alleys where planes move away from their gates, and taxi to the runways. The minute I sat down I noticed that something was amiss. There were two regional jets nose to nose! Planes don't really have reverse gears, although they can move backwards by using reverse thrust, but they rarely do that. I assumed what happened was that one plane was pushed back from its gate, and then another came in to the alley after landing, and couldn't get to a gate. This nose to nose is the result! After 10 minutes or so, a tug came out, and backed the airplane close to me, into a gate, then the inbound plane was able to pull into its gate. Puzzle solved!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:21 PM
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Here's the thing - even though there has been a heat wave for nearly the whole month of July, and we are starved for rain, my lawn looks really good! Look how green part of it is! Oh, wait... That green stuff doesn't appear to be grass, does it? There are a few blades of stuff here and there... :-) At least I don't have to mow this stuff...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:33 PM
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I put together the program at my Astronomy Club tonight. It was a workshop that involved looking through telescopes indoors, at a model of the planet Venus, which I made. The model was put inside a cardboard box, lined with black felt. The small white ball was illuminated with a bright quartz light from the side, making a crescent Venus, which is how it appears to us here on earth most of the time. After a while, one of our members, who knows more about the real Venus than most people on earth, went up to my setup, and looked inside to see what I had done. Fortunately I saw this from a distance, grabbed my camera and quickly made three exposures before he moved away. I love this shot, because it is strange looking, and not obvious what is going on at all.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:09 PM
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I'm playing around again - this is not a "normal" photograph. I wanted to show the sunlight sparkling on the water, but I also wanted to show the green of the grasses in the water, which is normally not possible. So I decided to try the "High Dynamic Range" application again. The interesting thing is, I think that you would not have noticed that this photograph is a bit "unreal." Our eyes naturally see detail in both the bright highlights on the water, and the green in the grasses. But the camera can't see this range of brightness. So I use multiple exposures of differing brightness, and then the application combines them. This is the result.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM
Monday, July 26, 2010
I was sitting at a red light, by a bank, and looked over and saw these Petunias in their window box opposite where I was. I first noticed this because of the strong diagonal shadow under the box. Man, I needed to get my toy camera on my belt, and get it NOW! and turn it on, and lower the driver's side window, and quickly zoom the lens to a slight telephoto, and click off two frames before the light changed. I got it done just in the nick of time, as they say!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Wow, a thunderstorm blew through here late this afternoon, and it was unreal! The wind gusts in the "gust front" that proceeded it felt as if they were 70 or 80 MPH! A couple of branches came down in the street, and I heard cracking everywhere. The wind blew entire magazines off the porch! I don't remember any winds that strong, ever! Then the rains came. It was beautiful. And the lawn needs the rain, can you tell? I did several kinds of pictures during the time it was raining, and then chose this more impressionistic one. Please click on this to see more detail in the rain, in a larger image.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Our astronomy club had a group tour of the Cradle of Aviation Museum today, where we got a guided tour of the collection, and saw an IMAX movie about the Space Station. This particular airplane caught my eye, because is used bamboo in its construction. Turns out, it was built by Glenn Curtiss, of Hammondsport, NY, and was the first airplane to fly over the Hempstead Plains on Long Island, back in July 1909. How different were these first airplanes, compared to now! It only had a 25 horsepower engine, and its top speed was 45 MPH. This is a reconstruction built by museum volunteers.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I was in Patchogue today and I parked in a public lot, and then walked to the camera store I was going to. On the way I saw this building and was taken by the name on the back of the building, and what a different feeling it had from the building itself. I guess it was how incongruous it all was that made me take this. I must confess to messing with the image just a bit. The image was "flat"so I increased the color saturation some to give the picture a bit more impact.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:13 PM
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I have been working on cleaning up the basement. I finally realized that I need to toss the hundreds of floppy disks, and the old unused hardware. I mean, people haven't used floppies for years, and yet I have saved so many of mine. So this is the end of an era for me to see this kind of hardware go. Others tossed this stuff years ago. And this, of course, is the key to why I have so much trouble trying to clean up!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:47 PM
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I was driving to my astronomy meeting tonight, and saw these towering cumulus in the distance. There were severe thunderstorm watches in effect in the Long Island Metro area. We didn't get any of the storms, but east of me they were getting a lot of rain. The clouds were just beautiful in their brilliance, subtle shades of gray, and colorations. Usually we see these storms coming, and therefore don't get to see clouds like this - the low clouds preceding lines of thunderstorms usually obscure the tall clouds of the storms themselves.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:24 PM
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It has been hot and dry, as most of you know, so we have been watering the plants around here. After doing the watering, I stopped to look closely at this particular plant - it is amazing what we can see when we stop to look really closely at the world around us. That was the case here - I noticed the color of the leaves of this plant, then noticed the water drops on the surface. I started to photograph the whole plant and then got closer and closer. I thought that including the whole leaf would be the strongest image, but decided I didn't need to include all of the leaf, for the strongest image. The gardener of the house has forgotten what plant this is... Bunny... Help!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:14 PM
Monday, July 19, 2010
I saw this cloud the other day, and was immediately taken with the fact that it was a completely solitary cloud, and that it had what seemed to me an usual shape. I don't think I have ever seen a cloud that looked like this. So I shot it! This was just the way it was, with no retouching or modification. I guess I can't say much more than that.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:37 PM
Sunday, July 18, 2010
A wonderful moment but only an snapshot, not a photograph, i'm afraid. I was sitting on my bench after today's bike ride when I saw this couple and their dog come into the little park. I was idly watching them, and the man went over to the fountain, pushed the button with his knee, cupped his hands and filled them with water, then bent over and held his hands while the dog lapped up the water! I thought that was so cute! I have seen this before, and maybe it was in the same park. Fortunately the man repeated the process enough times so that I could grab my toy camera from its pouch on my bike. I only got two exposures, though. This picture could have been better in a whole bunch of ways.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Liz had a crick in her neck, so since she knows all these things about muscles and joints and such, she lay down on the floor in the living room to do some stretching to try and relieve the ache. I, of course grabbed my camera and did a few pictures. I really love the quality that this photo has - the nature of the light, and the feeling of the whole photograph - something completely different. It almost feels as if she is levitating in some way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:00 PM
Friday, July 16, 2010
We went to a party with a group of long time friends - all our kids grew up together. If we are lucky, the group gets together once a year, and it is always so nice to see everyone and to catch up. We have known each other for so many years now. This is Genie, and she loves to take photographs. At every party, she runs around with her camera taking pictures - you would think she was me, for heaven's sake! You can tell from this picture how much she enjoys the fun of photography. This image is blurry, of course. I have a sharper image, but I really like the impressionistic feel of this photo.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM
Thursday, July 15, 2010
It rained again yesterday. But I had to post the photo of George, so I have saved this for today, a day late. It has been so hot, and so dry. I heard that usually there is one heat wave in August, but this year we have had three and it is only July. Maybe I will show you how awful the lawn looks - I don't believe in watering it. Anyhow, with the rain pouring down, I spent time trying to find something pretty, and came up with shooting the overflow from the gutter (I know, it's clogged.) as a close-up. I tried wider views, but this was the strongest with the feeling of water. I love the light delicate colors of green from the leaves of the hickory tree.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:56 PM
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
In 1988 I came up with an idea for a summer issue of the magazine to photograph people born on the 4th of July, and the editor said that should include me as well. "The Boss" was one of my choices. It took forever to get approval, and in fact he only said "yes" after the deadline had passed. The minute he gave the OK, I drove to Yankee Stadium and met him before a game. I had prepared various props for my subjects. George got a red, white and blue baseball bat which I painstakingly painted. I met him at his office, and he said "when we go out to my box for the photograph, you will have to work quickly." I asked why, and he said because if some of the fans saw him in his box, they might start booing him! So we went to his box, I set up my light, handed him the bat, and shot the portraits in under 5 minutes. I was thrilled that I finally got the portrait. He said to me, "If you like, you are welcome to stay and watch the game from my box." Now some of you know, I could care less about baseball, but there was NO way I was not going to watch the NY Yankees play a baseball game from George Steinbrenner's box at Yankee Stadium. That was a thrill!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:26 PM
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The whole time she has been here Liz has been hoping for a good old East Coast thunderstorm. I guess they rarely get thunderstorms on the beach in Venice. There have been threats for the past couple of days, but nothing. Until today. Today we got a nice one - a fair amount of thunder and a couple of lightning flashes, but most importantly, a pretty good rain for nearly an hour. When Liz was little, she and Amy would go down to the street, where there is always a small river coming down our hill when it rains. So, true to form, she headed for the street this afternoon, just to put her feet in the river, feeling that she was rewarded with the weather she was hoping for.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:26 PM
Monday, July 12, 2010
We all went out for a few hours today, and when we drove back into the driveway there was one of the kitties sitting in the window, waiting. They do that a lot. If no one is home they sleep for long periods, but eventually they jump up to the windowsill, and sit there waiting for one of the cars to come home. I guess they like our company. Such is the life of a kitty.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:49 PM
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Not sure why I am so taken with clouds lately. I guess it is because the clouds are so beautiful. The cause is a warm air mass with plenty of moisture. Warm air rises to higher altitudes where the temperature is cooler, and as it does, the rising air reaches the dew point and the clouds form. Now usually, there is so much haze and air pollution around, that we never really see the beauty of the clouds because we are looking through all the "junk" in the air. For some reason, the air is clear, and we can see the cumulus clouds in all their beauty.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
So sometimes photography is like this... I was driving up the hill on this road, which is lined with extra-tall high tension poles, and here was this most amazing rainbow! The only thing is, the power poles and wires are hardly the kind of frame you want for a photograph of a rainbow. I kept driving, and kept shooting through the windshield, hoping that I could get clear of all of this, but to no avail. Rainbows are such transitory things. The further I drove, the smaller the rainbow got. So I chose this, not as a great photo, but as a lesson in life. Things are not always where you want them to be! This bow was pretty amazing, because it was so much wider than any I have ever seen, and the full spectrum was visible from side to side.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:17 PM
Friday, July 9, 2010
It's a good thing that I can take photographs, because I am a terrible reporter. I have been watching this plant in the garden next to the house, and I finally decided to photograph it today. A week ago, I think it was just leaves. Now it has buds. I thought that the lighter colored stalks against the dark green leaves makes a really interesting photo, and it has kind of a mysterious feel to it. And of course, you are wondering what kind of plant it is. I mentioned the part about me not being a good reporter, right? The answer is: "I have no idea." But SOMEONE out there knows what this is, and with luck, they will tell all of us the name of the plant.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:11 PM
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Liz was arriving at JFK so we went to pick her up. They have this place called the "Cellphone Lot" so you don't have to drive around and around. You wait for a call from your passenger, then you drive to the terminal to pick them up. Works really well. We got there early, and I was idly staring out the window, and then noticed the clouds. Then I noticed the string of lights in a row, and I thought it was a kind of weird landscape. So here you go!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:36 PM
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I have this old astronomy book sitting on the end table in the living room. At this time of the year the sun sets far enough in the north that the sun shines in the window and illuminates this old book. I love the texture of the book cover, and the old paper it is printed on, and particularly the wonderful illustrations. Add to this, the late afternoon light, and I think I have a picture worth taking.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:15 PM
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
We bought a lobster to make lobster salad for a couple of sandwiches. It is some kind of ritual in the family that whenever we bought lobsters, over the years, we would put them on the floor, to see what the cat (or in this case, cats) think of them. We have been doing this for years, and mostly the cats get kind of spooked. With this lobster, one of the cats headed for the hills, but the other one was really curious. Here is the interesting thing - notice the shape of the cat. All of the cat's weight is in her hind end, so she can yank her head of there in a big hurry if the lobster does anything strange. I love the shape of the cat in this photograph. She got closer, but then got bored, and wandered away.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Monday, July 5, 2010
I was working on my bike on the patio, and a robin hopped by me, and stopped to watch. It seemed strange that it wasn't more cautious around me. It hopped around the back yard, and then headed into a garden near the house. A couple of hours later I saw it hop out of the garden and around the yard again. I began to think it might be sick. I put out a bowl of water, but the bird was not interested. Several hours later I saw it again while looking through my telescope at the sun. I brought the bowl over, and the robin jumped up on it and took a drink. It sat on the edge of the bowl for half an hour. After a while it hopped off the bowl, and fell on it's face. It tried to get up and failed. I got a box and put the bird in it in case any cats came by. But it was not long before the robin was gone. I have no idea why - it didn't appear to be injured.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
We went to Larry & Nancy's house for dinner and to watch the fireworks from their deck. So I am thinking that once again I can shoot the fireworks for the blog. We got out of the car, and here was an American flag hanging on the house, behind their garden. "Forget the fireworks," I thought, here is my picture for the day! Happy Fourth of July!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Poor Jen. She has two kitties, and one of them is really sick. And the kitty was sick all over her bedclothes. Yukk, what a mess. So Jen is headed for the laundromat with all the stuff that needs washing. Fortunately she has a sunny disposition, and she loves her cats, so this is just something that needs doing. What a great attitude!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:38 PM
Friday, July 2, 2010
Yesterday's photograph was more of an impression than a real photograph. While sitting on the beach, I was looking for real photographs the whole time I was there. My favorite is this picture of a couple that walked up to the water and stood here like this for a while. The thing that grabbed me was the man's outfit, especially the hat. I guess it seemed incongruous given the surroundings. He just stood there while his partner enjoyed the beach and the water. It was not that exciting until she spread her arms. Click. Then I knew I had something.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:46 PM
Thursday, July 1, 2010
We went to the beach this morning, just for a change of pace, and to have a breakfast of coffee and Dunkin' Donuts. As we sat there on the edge of the water, and I was looking out to sea, the first thing that occurred to me is that we so rarely see an absolutely straight line in nature. And here was this line between sea and sky, from horizon to horizon. I was going to ignore it and photograph something else, which I did. But my mind would not let go of this beautiful line and these wonderful blue colors.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:01 PM