Friday, December 31, 2010
Fathers like to feel useful. Yes they do. So I was pleased to have both Liz and Amy have a few little projects to do when we were in California. Liz needed a shelf installed using toggle bolts, and Amy had bought some antlers when she was in Alaska on an assignment. "How did you get them home?" "They put them in a box for me to carry back." "Oh." So it was down to the hardware store to look for ways to attach something to the antlers, and something else to the wall, and some way to connect them. These were not big projects, but were really fun to do, and I did feel as if I had helped some when I was done. So here is Amy and her antlers.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Well, the night flight from Los Angeles to JFK was uneventful, thank heavens. The thing that made me nervous was knowing that if for some reason we were late and missed it, it might be several more days until we could get home. So we arrived three hours before the flight, just to be sure... :-) Everything went well. I do have a question, though: Why do people take the redeye flight? I mean, you try to sleep, but only get 2 hours max - the flight was only 4 hours and 40 minutes. They you arrive wasted at 5 AM and when you get home have to go to bed anyhow. So why are you ahead with this process? We had no choice, so we took it, but it was not my favorite time of day to travel.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 1:48 PM
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
In Santa Monica there is a great place to wander around, if you like to shop. It is called the "Third Street Promenade." They closed the street years ago, and it is a long pedestrian mall that runs for several blocks. Along the center there are these bronze dinosaurs and some of them are water fountains, and others, like this one, have ivy or something similar growing on them. Really nice sculptures, if you look at them, instead of all the shops that line the mall. I only saw this photo, after passing the dinosaurs a number of times, because the sculpture was silhouetted against the sky.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:12 PM
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
After watching surfers yesterday for about an hour and a half, and soaking up the sun and salt air, we walked up the boardwalk along Venice Beach to Muscle Beach, and a bit beyond that was this amazing skateboard park. It is fairly new, and the railings around the "pits" were lined with spectators. The skateboarders were mesmerizing to watch - I probably couldn't even stand up on one of these boards! They seemed to race around the bowls and up and over the tops and back down effortlessly. Just astounding to watch. I guess we spent an hour and a half here as well, me with my eye glued to the viewfinder, and the camera pointed at this one spot, waiting for skaters, and shadows to change on the surface of the concrete bowls.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:26 PM
Monday, December 27, 2010
Those of you living on the east coast know that all the NY airports have been shut down for two days because of the blizzard. We were due to fly out of LA this morning, but guess what? No dice. So we are trapped in L.A. for several more days! Oh my, trapped in a place where the temperature is 64 degrees and it is clear with brilliant blue sky and sunshine! We walked out on the Venice pier today and just watched surfers. This is not a great surfer shot, but I did have a 300mm lens with me, so managed to get something semi-decent. Makes me realize how hard a surfing photographer has to work - everything has to be right, and the surfer needs to have good form. So this is my "duffer" surfing shot. I can still smell the salt air, and feel the sun on my face. Better than being where the temperature is 22 degrees and the wind is 30 MPH!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:39 PM
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I drove up to the Getty Center today to see some photographic exhibits. The Getty is such an amazing place! There is the architecture to photograph, the people who visit, and people viewing artwork in the galleries, views of the city from various plazas of the center, and I love to look at all the other photographers who are snapping pictures everywhere. It is an inspiring place. I took several different photographs and was on my way out when I saw several children with masks on. There are family activities here, and a number of children had masks. I watched a scene unfold, and photographed this girl with her older brother, then he ran away, and I decided that I liked this shot best, of the girl and the mask, standing alone.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:55 PM
Saturday, December 25, 2010
So this is Christmas in California! No snow, tropical plants, and temperatures in the 60's. This is Amy and Gus and Liz in front of Amy & Gus' house here in Venice. When we showed up for our day together, Amy and Gus were dressed in red and green like this! A fun start to a wonderful day!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:20 PM
Friday, December 24, 2010
Sunlight! At long last! Obviously this is a photograph from the other day - the day that we saw the sun for the first time after over a week of rain here in Los Angeles. It really was remarkable to see sunlight coming in the front door of Amy and Gus' home. I am serious. It looked and felt so good to see this. So while I was admiring this, Lucifer, a cat that Amy and Gus are sitting for wandered into the picture to look out through the screen. The shape of the shadow blew me away, and I managed to grab about 6 exposures before the cat moved off. Only one image was good enough, though, and here it is.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:29 PM
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I mentioned yesterday how we drove through rainstorms to get to the museum. We went for lunch at a wonderful little Mediterranean restaurant, and the rain gradually stopped. Liz looked out one of the windows and said: "There's a rainbow!" So I jumped up and ran outdoors to find a beautiful rainbow arcing across the sky. There were buildings in the way, but as I moved around I could see that it ran from horizon to horizon. I started blazing away with my camera, starting at the left hand side of the rainbow, and then moved down the street, still shooting, until the right hand side was visible, in this photograph. I like this as my favorite, but how amazing would it have been to be where there were no buildings, and to see it as a complete semicircle in the sky!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:13 PM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Liz wanted to visit the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. So we braved driving rain and a thunderstorm or two for a 40 minute drive up to Pasadena. It was worth the trip! What a stunning gem of a museum! On the way into the building we passed by this amazing sculpture by Auguste Rodin titled "The Burghers of Calais." It seemed particularly wonderful in the rain - there was so much more atmosphere I thought, and the relatively flat light allows you to see all the details of the sculpture. In bright sunlight the subtle shadings of the darker areas would be lost in deep shadow. There is so much more to see in the museum. I only saw half the collection on display!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:43 PM
We went up to Santa Monica to shop for a few things and to see a movie. While walking on the Promenade, I came across this woman, who I am guessing was homeless. It was nice that the police were not bothering her. The temperature was about 65 degrees, so she was probably not really cold. But still, my heart goes out when I see someone like this. It is especially poignant at this time of year, and is only highlighted by the festive lights in the trees. So I took this photo, and was feeling badly for the woman. I only had $5 in my pocket, so I walked over to her, and found she was asleep. So I put the money in an empty boot that was hanging on the chair next to her, and continued on. It didn't feel like enough money for the photograph I took.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:30 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Amy was writing a post for her blog this morning, and I was taken by the light, and the Poinsettia on the table, and so I made about a dozen shots, thinking I had a nice picture, which I did, actually. Then I looked over there again and it looked the same. But wait... what is that in her lap? It is a kitty cat. This is a new kitty for Amy and Gus, and her name is Guinness. She is a lap kitty, I can report. She will sit in Amy's lap, or anyone else's lap who happens to be at hand. Anyhow, her presence made a more ordinary portrait just a little bit more interesting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:16 AM
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Westbound again at 34,000 feet, enroute to California for Christmas with Liz and Amy! Oh happy day! I had the window seat for the trip out and was glued to the window for a lot of the trip. Parts of the country were overcast, so I would nap. But when I could see the ground I was looking at the world with an eagle's eye. About 125 miles west of Chicago I looked down and saw this snow covered landscape. I was stunned to be reminded again of how beautiful it is. I think the dark areas are groupings of trees in the landscape. The storm must have been recent because many of the roads are still snow covered. What an amazing machine is the airplane. I have been photographing from airplanes for most of my photographic life, although usually it is from a small single-engine airplane, from a much lower altitude.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:34 PM
Saturday, December 18, 2010
When I was outside at night during the snow flurries last Monday, I did a few different photographs. This was one of the ones that I didn't post. So I decided to post it tonight instead. I love the glow around the lights on the bush caused by the snow flurries, and the hazy look of the background, also because it was snowing. Nuff said, I guess...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:09 PM
Friday, December 17, 2010
I went over to the pizza restaurant tonight, and arrived a bit early, so I was sitting in my car looking around, wondering if there was a picture anywhere. First thing I saw was this telephone pole with a billion wires and cables on it. I was thinking that it was kind of interesting but it didn't quite make a photo. But I took it anyway. When I looked at the image on the back of the camera, I then spotted the Christmas wreath and its red bow! It sure seems out of place in this view, but I am sure the wreath looks far more interesting seen from the other side of the pole, overlooking the road. Anyhow, now it seems like a real photo. OK, so not the best I have ever done, but interesting nonetheless.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:08 PM
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I went to the Post Office and when I got out of the car I saw the clouds, and then immediately after, I was struck by the silhouettes of the rooftops which seemed more important. As a photographer I have a whole remembered history of photographs that I have seen in my lifetime, stored in my conscious and unconscious memory. There was something about the line of these rooftops that reminded me of something I have seen or felt before. Hopefully this is not a direct copy of anything - just a photograph that feels similar. Perhaps there is a bit of ominous feel to this, which is nice. Confession... I posted this in color, then started playing with a black and white conversion, and realized the B&W was so much better. Bye bye color!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:03 PM
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I went over to the Apple store today to look at some stuff, and when I came out of the store I saw this light in the parking lot against the sky and the dark clouds. The surprise was, after composing the picture and shooting one frame, that the globe showed up green in color! The green is most likely there because there is not a conventional lightbulb inside - it is probably a gas discharge tube, like a florescent bulb. It looks white to our eyes, but green to the sensor in the camera. Anyhow, I loved the contrast of nature, and this perfect man made sphere. A bit surreal perhaps.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:04 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I stopped in the Starbucks in Hicksville today to have a late lunch, and while scanning the tables looking for a place to sit, found this fellow. I was blown away - it is my friend and former colleague John P, a fellow photographer from the place I used to work. He was working on some still photographs from his earlier assignment, and emailing them to the office, before going on to his next assignment. We hadn't seen each other in a while, so it was wonderful to catch up with work and life. He is a great photographer, and one of the best at doing video - John was fascinated with video in the early days and has done some great features for the paper - well, back when they were doing good features. Seeing him made my day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:22 PM
Monday, December 13, 2010
The forecast for tonight was for possible snow showers. "Yeah, right," I am thinking. Imagine my surprise then to take out the garbage and find out that it was snowing! The ground is completely covered! I am guessing about 3/4 of an inch of snow. So I am saved - I have something to shoot for the blog! So I went out and shot several things - the cars, and a bush with Christmas lights on it. As I headed into the back yard, I happened to look up at the spotlight that was illuminating the scene and saw how it made the snowflakes stand out from the dark. So I set the camera to a slow shutter speed to get some blurring, and made about 20 exposures. Only one was just right, and here it is. Oh, and yeah, I know it is not a blizzard... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:48 PM
Sunday, December 12, 2010
We went to the annual Christmas gathering of old friends tonight. Friends we have known since our children were in grammar school together. The women were all members of the volunteer "Mothers' Club" at St. Boniface Martyr church and they did a number of things to help raise money for the school. They performed as a singing group for some school functions, and once a year auctioned themselves off and would perform in people's homes. The name of the group was "The Hot Flashes" and they wore rather creative costumes for these performances. Anyhow, at the party tonight, 30-year old video tapes of some of the performances were played. And they were hysterical! As you can see from this photograph, as the group members watched some of their old performances! Oh, and the men enjoyed the videos as well.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:13 PM
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I was mixing cement and doing some brickwork today, so no time to photograph. Well, no time to photograph anything you would be interested in, other than the hole in the chimney I filled up with carefully laid bricks. This is a photograph I did of Pat and Bethany's pepper plant. They said that it just sat around being green all year, and then just before Thanksgiving, this green pepper turned bright red! I just loved the brilliance of the red among all the green branches and leaves. Almost looks as if it was glued on the plant!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:56 PM
Friday, December 10, 2010
This is Scudder's Pond just down the road from me. It is a beautiful setting, wonderful for wildlife watching and a classic skating pond during cold winters. I have taken a number of photographs here over the years. It is now, however a pond in trouble. As pretty as it looks, it is a mess and needs resuscitation. The water seen here is very shallow - in much of the pond it is only a foot or so deep, because it has been silted up with runoff from storm drains. It also has a number of invasive plants which have taken over, and there is a huge population of geese who nest here, and "fertilize" the pond which is harmful as well. Recently funds have been appropriated for a significant repair of the whole system. The pond will be dredged, and the basins for the water coming in and going out will be replaced, thus preventing the accumulation of silt in the future, and some invasive plants will be removed. Additionally they plan to change plants and landscaping along the shore to make the area less attractive for nesting geese. The costs of all this is in excess of a million dollars, I believe. Perhaps more - I can't find the article I read about the costs. Well worth it for such a neighborhood landmark.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:48 PM
Thursday, December 9, 2010
So when they were putting in the new gas furnace, they had to turn off the water to the house, in the basement. When they went to turn it back on, water started running out of the foundation wall! It turns out that the water pipe which has probably been in the ground for fifty or sixty years had rusted through. The walls of the pipe were paper thin. So today a whole crew showed up to dig a trench four feet deep, from the foundation of the house out to within ten feet of the street, for a brand new copper water pipe. All by hand. And even under the porch. Then they also had to dig a four foot diameter hole four feet deep for a "pit" which now contains the water meter out on the front lawn. It was a LOT of work for this hard working crew. Interesting how the handles of the shovels all point to the worker in the trench - that was I recognized just before I clicked this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:24 PM
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
We decided to put up a few Christmas decorations this year. No more single candles in each window for us! Nosiree! Just kidding, this is not our house. I did stop to photograph this house on the way back from astronomy tonight. As highly decorated homes go, this one is not too bad. It seems nicely designed. It does not have a billion different figures all over the lawn and it has large and small objects mixed, and the blue trees are nice. Anyhow, it is nice, if you like these kinds of decorations.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:20 PM
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I was having lunch at Starbucks today, and while adding milk and sugar to my coffee, a woman stood next to me fixing her coffee, and she had this dog with her. I mentioned that the dog was cute and asked what kind it was. She was minding it for a friend, and said it was a Pekingese, and that it was afraid to come into Starbucks, but she brought it in anyway. Something that she had ordered at the counter was ready, and she started to walk over to get it, but the dog was lying down and wouldn't budge. So she just pulled on the leash, and dragged the dog across the floor! So it was then that it occurred to me that in addition to being cute, this little white fuzzy dog would make a great dust mop! Not all dogs would, of course. I mean, no one would try to drag a big black Lab across a floor to clean it!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:43 PM
Monday, December 6, 2010
When we were in Baltimore last summer, we toured the Submarine that is berthed there. One of the most amazing things that we saw inside were the miles of plumbing and wiring. It is astounding how much tubing and wiring they shoe-horned into the sub. When I watched the plumbers do the plumbing and wiring of our new gas furnace, all I could think of was that this looked like the inside of a sub. Well not really, but you get the point. These guys did a beautiful job. I guess you have to be a plumbing geek to enjoy the beauty of this bright copper tubing.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:06 PM
Sunday, December 5, 2010
When I drove by the water a few days ago I saw that all the benches along the harbor had bright red ribbons on them! What a wonderful idea! I love the subtlety of it. I have no idea who has done this, but it really brightens up the landscape. As beautiful as all this is, you would not want to be sitting on these benches today. Temperature was in the 30's and the wind was blowing at about 20 MPH. I was only photographing for 20 minutes, walking up and down to find the perfect bench with the perfect ribbons, and I was frozen when I was done. All in the service of my art!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:25 PM
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I went to the recycling center this morning and spotted this tricycle just outside one of the dumpsters. Rather than just throw it out, someone thoughtfully placed it where another visitor could find it and bring it home. I was really affected by seeing this tricycle here - it did seem so forlorn and out of place. All I could think of was how thrilled some child would be if they could find this under their Christmas tree. I could only hope that it gets rescued, and that a deserving child ends up with this wonderful toy.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:28 PM
Friday, December 3, 2010
I was walking down the driveway tonight to go to my car which was parked on the street. For some reason I looked behind me and saw the shadow of my favorite Japanese maple tree on the front of the garage. The shadow is there because the neighbors have a REALLY bright front door light on their house. The reason I have never seen this before is that usually when coming or going at night, the headlights of my car would light up the garage destroying the shadow. But tonight, no car, no lights. It stopped me in my tracks, it was so neat looking! I did a dangerous thing, however - I didn't shoot it right then, but waited until I returned about an hour later. Very dangerous. What if the neighbors had turned off the light? I would have lost the photo.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:41 PM
Thursday, December 2, 2010
"All Rivers Run to the Sea..." it says in Ecclesiastes. When I am desperate for a photograph at the end of the day, I run to the sea as well, and it never disappoints. I was lucky today because the tide was out and so I caught the reflection of the sky in the rivulets of water headed to the harbor. Where I live, there are a number of small fresh water underground streams coming down off the hill, and into the harbor. Years and years ago they installed concrete pipe culverts when they built the road, so you can see the fresh water draining into the sound along the harbor's edge when the tide is out.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:31 PM
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The speaker tonight at our astronomy meeting was Dr. Chiaki Yanagisawa of of SUNY Stony Brook. Dr. Yanagisawa is a particle and astroparticle physicist who has been studying subatomic particles and their interactions. He spoke tonight about the fate of the universe, based on discoveries involving Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Please do not ask me to explain this to you in this tiny space. You can see the title of the slide behind him. The good news is that at the end of the talk Dr. Yanagisawa is smiling from ear to ear. I think we have about 10 to 15 billion years left to go! Whew, I was worried.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:06 PM