Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I went to John's for a visit and was attacked by wild dogs! Here is proof! This is Beatrice, and I forget the other dog's name. They are well trained, except for the part where they jumped up on me, and bit me. Well, they didn't actually bite my flesh, just my clothes. And maybe only one dog does the biting. But they ARE cute...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:10 PM
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
We went to Brett and Karens's for dinner, for a family gathering. Jo Anne brought one of the desserts - this trifle. I am not sure if trifle's were on my radar or not - I am sure she has made them before, but man, this one was awesome! A trifle is made up of strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, and custard and lady fingers, and whipped cream! Wow! Do I dare use the word "awesome?" Well, it is that too. We kept thinking about that dessert, so when we got home, Kathy made another one. It is gone now, of course... :-) I am feeling fat right about now!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:28 PM
Monday, June 28, 2010
Awesome. I know, it is an over-used word. But not when you see Niagara Falls. I first visited there in college, and then when I was based at the Air Force Base nearby. I used to fly over it just for fun when when I was learning to fly. But I haven't been there in years, so we took a field trip the last day we were in Rochester. I forgot what a beautiful place it is. The surroundings on the American side have changed dramatically since the 1960's - there is now a beautiful park, and you are hardly aware that there are the buildings from downtown Niagara Falls beyond the trees. And the water will take your breath away. The difficult part is finding a photograph that gives a sense of the falls. One of the neat things about the falls is that there are a number of places to view it from on the American side, and we went to them all. This is the precipice of the north side of the American Falls (as opposed to the Horseshoe Falls.) It doesn't begin to feel like what it is like to be there. Notice the tiny boat in the distance - the "Maid of the Mist" near the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls. If you go there, be sure and ride "The Maid of the Mist."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:46 PM
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I will be showing some "left over" photographs from Rochester. One of the exhibits I saw at Eastman House was a series of portraits since the beginning of photography up to modern times. I saw a number of early photographic processes, including Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes, and Salt Prints. So when I went out to photograph the garden in the rain, I started thinking about how it might look if I visualized it as it might be seen with an older process. So I shot this pergola in color, but I have converted it to sepia tones, as it might appear in one of the older processes.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:47 PM
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I stopped by to visit Herm and Mary Jane while in Rochester. I met Herm the year I graduated from college, in my first job at the Newspaper. I met Mary Jane a couple of years later. So I have known them most of my life it seems. Mary Jane and Herm write and illustrate books together, and are very creative, and have wonderful taste. I think it shows in their porch, which Herm built and the flowers. It was wonderful to see them.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:11 PM
Friday, June 25, 2010
The four of us drove to Niagara Falls today, on a bright sunny day. Haven't been here in years and years. What a stunning place. Since I first spent time here in the early 1960's the American side of the falls has been transformed into a beautiful park, and there are so many different viewpoints for both the American falls and the Horseshoe falls, on the Canadian side. I wore myself out shooting photograph after photograph - what a joy to have so many wonderful things to shoot! I thought it would be hard to pick a favorite, but as I watched the people in raincoats navigate the complex of stairs on the "Cave of the Winds" tour, I knew I had the best photo of the day. It looks as if they are present at the end of the world in some way! I just love the mystery - that we are not sure what is going on, and the beauty of it all. I am looking down on them from the precipice of the falls, about a hundred feet above them.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:22 PM
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I have an interesting story to tell you. I stopped to photograph this barn this morning, up in Ontario, New York. I parked down the road from it, so my car would not be in the photo. I slowly walked toward the barn, looking and photographing and trying different compositions. While I was photographing, a man on a self-propelled lawnmower came down the road from the direction of the barn. I waved to him, he waved back, but kept moving. When he got down to my car he turned around and came back. I heard him coming, so went over to the roadside (I had been standing in the field near the barn.) He said it appeared I was not from the government or some agency, so he stopped to chat. I told him of my love of barns, and architecture, and said I loved his barn, and so stopped to photograph it. We talked for a while, and he said that this barn was built in the mid 1800's and that his parents had started this apple orchard years ago, and at apple picking time almost two dozen people were employed here. I asked if the orchard was still active. He said that part of it was. Then he said that when his son graduated from college he said to his son, that if he wanted to come back to the farm and get the orchard going again, they could work together on it. Then he said that unfortunately his son had been killed in a car accident. Black ice, at night. I was stunned. We talked about how there is no way to understand when life takes a turn like that, and how something like that changes the order of how life should be. He said he wished it had been him, instead of his son. We chatted a bit longer, and then he said he had some work to do. I introduced myself, and we shook hands, and he headed off on the lawnmower. And I, having had such a moving experience, went back to photographing a bit longer, before heading off.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:17 PM
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
We went to dinner tonight to see Brett and Karen, who we haven't seen in a while. Imagine being greeted at the front door with Jessica in a cast! Apparently it happened yesterday, when Jessica collided with a playmate and crashed to the ground. Fortunately it is only a hairline fracture. However, she will be in a cast for 4 to 6 weeks. Here is the amazing thing - I have never seen a cast like this before. There is no plaster involved in this process. It looks like thick blue gauze, and is made of fiberglass. It comes in sealed packets, and is then wrapped around her arm, and it cures in about 10 minutes. It is now hard as a rock, and sounds just like plaster when you knock on it with your knuckle. Oh, and isn't Jessica cute as a button!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I went to the George Eastman House this afternoon to see three new exhibits: "Portrait," "Persistent Shadow: Considering the Photographic Negative," and "Colorama." Wonderful and thought provoking exhibits - I left there charged up and ready to photograph! It had been raining earlier in the day, and I was hoping it would still be raining when I left, so that I could photograph the gardens in the rain. I was not disappointed. I spent quite a bit of time, and shot a number of things, and chose this as my favorite. I may show you another photo later, but this is it for now. The rain means soft light, no shadows, and more color saturation. I love the brilliant blue!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:49 PM
Monday, June 21, 2010
We went to dinner at a restaurant that had outdoor seating. Four of us sitting around a table. Only one problem, with each of us facing in a cardinal direction, someone has to face west, toward the setting sun. That would be me. So the trick was to find if there was a way to block the sun. One of the sides of the umbrella over the table was broken and sagged. So we rotated the umbrella so that it kept me in the shade. With all the studying of the arrangement of the umbrellas, I suddenly realized that there was an interesting abstract photo. Here it is. By the way, I noticed today that this is my 1200th continuous post since the blog began. Feels like a significant milestone - about three and a quarter years.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:21 PM
Sunday, June 20, 2010
We are headed upstate for a visit, and one of my favorite towns is Owego, NY. I have been going through here for over 40 years, and I have seen many changes here in my passings. Originally there was a truss bridge that crossed the Susquehanna river, but that bridge was replaced with a modern concrete and steel bridge. But this scene, of the rear of buildings has been the most interesting to me. The rear of the buildings hang out over the river. Gradually over the years, the river has silted up underneath the buildings, and now that the new bridge has been completed, they have made a walkway at the river level. Years ago I visited an artist friend in Sea Cliff, and she had a painting of this scene, and I was blown away. I had a photograph that was almost an exact match! So it was fun to take time to photograph this scene again today. You might want to click on this to see a larger image with more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:40 PM
Saturday, June 19, 2010
This is a closeup image of a Hydrangea blossom next to the house. I was amazed when I examined it closely, and saw all the overlapping pedals of different sizes. It feels like an abstract painting - a beautiful one. I love the color blue that you see here. But here is the secret... this blossom is not blue! It is purple. Purple is the color you get if you don't use enough iron in the soil. I was amazed to hear a gardener describe to me how she found some old iron railroad spikes on an abandoned right-of-way and buried them next to her Hydrangeas to make them blue. So these are purple, because there is no iron. But why do they LOOK blue? It seems that the sensor in digital cameras sees reflected infrared light from the blossom, and that affects how the sensor records color, so the purple ends up looking blue. I have also seen this with morning glories, and other purple blossoms, and with film, in the old days, as well as digital.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Old folks enjoying the late afternoon sun. I am joking about the "old folks" part. Well, not joking exactly, but after all, I am "old folks." They were sitting on the bench next to me, where I stop after my ride to cool down, and enjoy the sunset. It is unusual for anyone else to be in the park, so I got my camera which I carry on the bike, stood up, and walked behind them to take their picture. They didn't sit long - I only got three frames before they got up and left! I was just starting to look for other angles! Rats! I wanted to try a lower angle to see if I could eliminate the distracting split rail fence behind them.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:34 PM
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The kitties are hyper active these days. Why? Because it is Spring, and there are birds everywhere. Additionally the windows are open, and the screens are in, so the kitties spend a lot of their day looking out of the windows, constantly on the alert for birds. It is fun to see them so hyper and so tuned into any sounds of chirping, or a flash of movement seen through a door or out the window. They are seriously hard at work, doing what is in their instruction manuals!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I went to the post office today to mail a letter, and when I got out of my car, I saw these ferns poking through this old fence. Know where this is? Right, the "Adams House" as someone called it in a previous post. You know, the shot at night with the house looking mysterious against the sky. Anyhow, these are really pretty ferns - not as delicate as the ones on the fern bank in front of my house, but pretty in a different way, with wider fronds. Something about them poking through the old white fence.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:39 PM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I went out to water the garden this afternoon, and was idly looking at each of the plants as I worked. Suddenly I noticed the water drops on the leaves of this particular Hosta. Not sure why it grabbed me, but it did have to do with the really interesting colors of the leaves. Sort of a different color than I am accustomed to seeing. Then there are the textures, and the drops themselves. So I put the hose down, and grabbed my camera. Here you go!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:56 PM
Monday, June 14, 2010
Two cubic yards of anything is a LOT of stuff. The "stuff" today was dumped in the end of my driveway by a dump truck, and it is called "Sweet Peet" and it is not spelled "peat" because it is not. Sweet Peet is a mulch made here on Long Island, apparently, and is a mixture of wood chips and horse manure, mainly. So I spent the afternoon filling my wheelbarrow a whole bunch of times and dumping the stuff in each of the gardens, where Kathy spread it around. The gardens look really terrific with this mulch surrounding the plants. When I was done, I took a look at this plant from directly above and saw this really nice design. The plant is cilantro, and I photographed it in the herb garden where it lives.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:25 PM
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Father Tom has been with us for five and a half years, and now he is leaving. He is moving on to be the pastor at another parish. The process is bittersweet. A new priest arrives and we slowly get to know them, through conversations and their teachings, and we become fond of them, and think how lucky we are to be in their presence. We are grateful, then before we know it, it is time for them to move on. It is amazing how quickly time passes this way. Today was a special mass for him, and then a party followed, with so many from the parish in attendance. He is a well-loved man throughout the parish.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:45 PM
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Man, what's with all this design stuff I am shooting, all of a sudden? I dunno... I guess I am seeing design more than other things these last couple of days. I was taken by the late afternoon light on the trees in the distance, and the dark sky, and started looking for a way to make a picture that included those elements. Of course I was in my after-my-bikeride-cool-down park, so I needed to shoot from here. I was playing around, and then suddenly I became aware of these zig-zag lines - the park benches, and the split rail fence. So I convinced myself that it was an interesting composition... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:45 PM
Friday, June 11, 2010
After my bike ride, I peeled a few carrots, tossed them on a plate to take out to the front porch so I could chomp on them while I cooled down from my ride. They rolled around on the square plate in a funny way, and when I set the plate down on the square table I intentionally set it down on a diagonal. Then I notice the carrots were on a diagonal, and the porch floorboards were on a diagonal as well. So then I started moving things, and becoming aware of the design of the whole composition. I didn't move too much, but ended up with this. I didn't take that many images before I just sat down and ate the carrots.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This is Jared, one of our three younger members in the astronomy club. Last night he gave his first talk to the group. He talked about Deep Sky Objects, and some of the better ones to look at. He was really well prepared, and it was clear he had done a lot of research. He also talked about some iPod applications that could be used for finding the objects. It was fun to see his enthusiasm - at his age, almost 14, I never would have dared stand in front of a room full of adults to give a talk!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:20 PM
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
"...a time to plant, a time to reap." I was out doing errands today, and took the back road home. It was raining and as I drove by this familiar field, I saw these newly planted corn plants sprouting from the ground. I was immediately taken by the sense of perspective as the mostly straight rows disappeared into the far distance. I took half a minute to register as something I wanted to photograph, so turned the car around and grabbed the camera and an umbrella and tried some different compositions, mostly the same. This feels like California to me, for some reason.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Does this photograph look a bit unreal? Because it is - it is "hyper real." It might not be immediately obvious, but when you are sitting on the porch looking at this scene, there is no way you can see detail in the shadows on the porch, and the house next door lit by bright sunlight. This is called "High Dynamic Range" imaging. I have been seeing a lot of this in the past few years. You take three, or five or seven different exposures - normal, over exposed, and under exposed, and then combine them with software into one image, which records both shadow and highlight areas which are normally beyond the range of a single exposure. It is tricky, and I am just learning the process. Stay tuned. It is fun to play!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:30 PM
It was a really clear night last night, so I drove for an hour and a half out to Southold, to Custer Institute with my telescope to do do some observing. Our skies are badly light-polluted these days almost everywhere, and the joy of being so far out on the island is that it is dark enough to see the Milky Way. It doesn't get "astronomically dark" until 10:30 at night, believe it or not, so I didn't start observing until then, and stayed until 2 AM! Another hour and a half drive back home, and in bed by 4 AM. Yikes! But it was a spectacular night of observing, and at about midnight I could see the summer Milky Way rising in the east. The Milky Way is full of wonderful astronomical objects - star clusters, nebulae and galaxies, to observe, so it is always a thrill to realize that we are moving into the summer observing season. This is not a good image in terms of quality - it has a lot of "noise" in it. That's because it is a relatively inexpensive SLR - it is my SONY alpha 200k. If I had my Nikon D-300 with me, it would have been a much better image, and would not seem nearly as "grainy."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:24 AM
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I went to a 65th birthday party in Connecticut today. It was for my friend "Skipper" Brockett. I am standing on the left in a white shirt, and he is standing next to me We have been friends since we were kids. He and his family lived two houses away from us, and my sisters went to school with his sisters and brother, and we all played together. So one of his sisters decided we should all get together, after all these years to celebrate. It was such a nice day, seeing everyone together. I will say this about Skip - he may be 65, but he is STILL surfing and hang-gliding! Oh, and his sisters are all readers of this blog as well. What's not to like about THAT!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I have been coming to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut once a year for nearly twenty years. I come here for an astronomical conference called "StarConn" (get it?) Anyhow, today I noticed a man staring at something on the wall, so I went over to look, and noticed that there were fossils of original dinosaur footprints fastened to the wall. I know they have been here for as long as I have been coming, but I never REALLY noticed them. These are really impressive. They were found in some nearby rock formations, across the river from the university. Anyhow, I started really paying attention, and tried to figure out how to make an interesting photo. Without some sense of scale, I realized that the fossils were not as impressive in a photo. Let's see, what to I have with me that I could use for scale? OH! I promise you I am NOT touching the fossils - my hand is about an inch or two away from the rock - I just thought you should know that.
Friday, June 4, 2010
A friend of mine bought a house a few years ago, and now is selling it to move to Florida. I stopped by the other day, and saw this metal pail out front. He said it was there when he bought the house, and he is leaving it behind now that he is selling the house. I recognized it as a milk pail, or container, and I think I know this from being on my grandparent's farm during summer vacations, as a child. They did have some cows, and I remember watching my grandfather milk them. But I am not sure why he would have a huge container like this. Maybe I am only imagining this. I love the patina of this container - the rust, mixed with the paint. It is a beautiful surface to look at. Click on this to see a more saturated color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:47 PM
Thursday, June 3, 2010
You can't prove it by me, but that was the tag on the plant. It is also known as "Pony Tails" Feather Grass. We went to the garden center to find some plants for the side garden. I know nothing about gardening, so I just wandered around to see if I could find any interesting photographs. This is my favorite - I saw the swirls of the grasses from quite a distance away. I love the delicate curls of the grasses, and subtle color differences.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:46 PM
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I was up a bit earlier than usual, and happened to walk down one of the narrow streets that Sea Cliff is famous for. Imagine my delight is stumbling across this scene. Just perfect! A porch and a garden and a flag, all backlit by the sun, and in the distance another early morning walker. What could be more perfect?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:58 PM
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I was very fortunate in having a chance to meet and photograph Dennis Hopper once, in 1991. He was a prince! The photo desk had forgotten to give the assignment out the night before, so they called me in a panic and told me to rush to Manhattan. The photo assignment was for 10AM and I didn't arrive until after 11:30. I called his room, where he was doing interviews, and he said to come on up. He was in the middle of an interview - he told me to set up my lights, and when the interview was over, he would give me time to photograph. This is astounding, for Hollywood stars. He had starred in a film called "Paris Trout" about a southern bigot. I wanted to do something a bit menacing, so I set my light up so it shown through a plant in the room, casting shadows on the wall. When he came over, I asked if it would be OK to light him like this, and he laughed, and said it would be fine. I had forgotten that in addition to being an actor, and a director, he had published a couple of books of his still photographs. He could not have been nicer, and I have always remembered his kindness. Here is one of the photographs I did that morning.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM