Monday, January 31, 2011

The Thermostat

This is an amazing device. It is the old furnace thermostat which has been on the dining room wall since we bought the house back in 1971. I am assuming it was installed with the oil burner. My guess is that all happened in the 1950's or so. This was manufactured by the White-Rogers Company, which fortunately is still in business. Here is what is amazing - this is an entirely mechanical device that works by having a "bimetal coil" which coils or un-coils depending on the temperature, and that in turn opens or closes a single contact, which then tells the furnace to start or to stop. This is a mechanical device which has functioned with no problems, ever, for at least SIXTY years! This mechanical wonder was replaced with a modern digital one, when we had the new gas furnace installed last month. Somehow it seems a shame to replace something that has served us so faithfully for all these years.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Looking Out Another Window

Now it appears that I don't go outdoors anymore! Two days of objects in front of windows. Well, at least I am not out there photographing the snow. Although as is obvious in this photograph, there is snow. It is on the bushes in the background behind these bottles. I have photographed these bottles before - probably two years ago. But that photograph was about the shadows cast on the windowsill by bright sunlight. This photograph is more about the bottles themselves. No shadows to distract us from the shapes and beautiful colors of the glass.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Flowers Instead of Snow

And now for something completely different. This is an orchid that sits in the back window of the dining room. Believe it or not, this is not a studio photograph. It just looks that way because of the "blown out" background which is because sunlight was shining on the snow-covered back yard. It is just natural light. I tried the photo a couple of different ways. I decided that I liked having small sections of the curtains in the image to add some interest. Nice that I finally post a photograph that is not about the snow, huh?

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Few Hours Later...

I took this photograph yesterday, of the same tree, about three hours later. As spectacular as it was in the morning, when the sun came out, it seemed even more spectacular. Something about the white snow against the blue sky. Pretty dramatic, and much less subtle than yesterday's photograph. I will take spectacular any time, though.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


What a day! Yesterday there was snow on the ground in the morning and I can't shovel because of a strain. So Kathy shoveled three times during the day. I think the total snowfall was about 8 inches. Then last night it started snowing again, and by this morning there were 14 additional inches of snow on the ground! I mean, we were seriously snowed in! Fortunately, the neighbor across the street offered his snow blower when he was done. What a lifesaver! Anyhow, after three hours, the driveway and the back sidewalk were clean. What cool machines, snowblowers! And the other neighbor's shoveling was eased when I went over there with the snow blower. Anyhow, the first time I stepped onto the front porch in the morning I saw my favorite tree, and it was stunning under its heavy coating of snow. Just beautiful! Click.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Have No Idea...

I took a walk down the street to the water today, just to photograph whatever I could find along the way, and to get some exercise. I found some interesting things and lots of snow - it has been snowing all day. The last photographs that I took were these, of pieces of ice floating in the harbor. The funny thing is, I am not sure what attracted me to this scene. I am beginning to think that there was SO much white everywhere, that the darker tones and yellow-green of the water, in contrast to the white snow, are what make this interesting. I dunno. But I kept going back over all the other photos, and my instinct tells me to pick this one.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Confession...

I really love how subtle this photograph is. I love how delicate the tones are, and how atmospheric the image. There were snow showers first thing this morning, and the flakes were huge! Big, soft, giant flakes. What that does is help increase the atmospheric feeling, almost like more fog in that kind of photo. Anyhow, the confession? I first saw this when I got out of bed, so I grabbed my camera, knowing that these snow showers can change in a minute. I went from window to window looking for photographs. I came up with about three different images, and I NEVER LEFT THE HOUSE. I shot these right through the glass windows! Real photographers would probably have gone outdoors! Or not.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Glass Forest

It was seven degrees this morning. Whew! I can always tell when it is really cold, because there will be frost on the windowpanes. And the patterns are always pretty amazing. I photographed the frost on three different windows this morning and each one was better than the last. This is my favorite. It reminds me of a forest of conifers on a hillside. I have posted the image in a fairly large size, so please click on the image to see it much larger, and to see the details of some of the crystals.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Candidates for Confirmation

Look, a photograph without snow! These teenagers were presented at Mass today as part of their preparations for the rite of Confirmation. This will happen at a later time, but they were introduced and prayed over today. I was taken by all the different faces, and all the differing expressions as they stood on the altar for this brief ceremony in front of the congregation.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter Patterns

In my sophomore year in college I did a photo essay for the college newspaper of scenes from winter. For the text I chose four lines from a poem:

"I love to see, when leaves depart,
The clear anatomy arrive,
Winter, the paragon of art,
That kills all forms of life and feeling
Save what is pure and will survive."

A decorative iron railing on the hill up the street was not exactly what the writer had in mind, but this beautiful ironwork is normally not visible against the ivy that surrounds it, but it jumped out at me when surrounded by snow, late on a winter's afternoon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Texture of Snow

The short version of this story is that I couldn't shovel the driveway today because I over-did it the other day. But I still went outside to look around. It was a gorgeous morning with fresh snow everywhere and the sunlight raking across the surface of the snow at a low angle. The snow is pretty deep in the side yard, so I must confess to just standing in the driveway to look for photographs. This is the best that I could come up with. We are so accustomed to the sunlight shining down from nearly overhead, that it really is a surprise to see what sunlight at a low angle reveals. In this case, is shows that the surface of the snow is not a completely smooth surface - it has quite a pockmarked texture. Ah nature, always a surprise.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What the Kitties Saw

I looked into the living room and one of the kitties had that look. She was concentrating SO intently on something she saw through the window, outside. So I crouched down to see what it was. There was a squirrel in the Japanese maple. So I went downstairs and got the Nikon and the 200mm lens, and quietly stepped out on to the front porch. Of course, by that time, the squirrel was gone. Then I happened to turn around, and there was this other squirrel, on a lichen-covered branch of the old Dogwood tree, right in front of me! Fortunately it didn't move as I raised my camera and got off three frames.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ice Coated

I shot this yesterday. First I shoveled the entire driveway (and took those lame shots.) Then, came inside to change clothes because I was soaked by the rain. Then we were headed out to Starbucks for coffee, and when I got to the end of the porch I saw this, and was blown away! My favorite tree was completely coated in a thin layer of ice, and I had never noticed! Duh! Anyhow, it was a straightforward shot. Only took me 15 seconds to arrive at a composition that I liked. Half an hour later, all the ice was gone. I nearly missed it! Whew! Please click on this to see it with more detail. It is really pretty.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Shovel a Driveway

Last night we got about an inch of wet snow, and then ice, and then rain on top of that this morning. Funny thing, shoveling this stuff was almost harder than last week's show. Last week's snow was very light and fluffy. So I started in my normal way, making a one shovel-width path all the way to the street, then widening it with other passes. I thought maybe a sequence would be interesting. Maybe it is not. Maybe I should have just posted the first photograph. Maybe that one is the most interesting. I dunno. You can click on this to see the sequence in a larger size.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Wedge of Sky

I was on the way home late this afternoon, driving along Shore road, and I saw a thin wedge of orange sky, off in the distance below the overcast. I thought it was worth investigating. I loved that it was only a thin wedge so I grabbed my camera and walked out on the mud flats because it was low tide. I did a photograph that showed the whole wedge, but as I experimented with the composition, I thought I could get a stronger, more graphic image by using a 200mm lens. So this is the one that I chose. I thought it was a stronger image.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Weed

I spotted this stalk coming out of the snow on the front bank behind the picket fence. What is amazing to me is that it somehow survived two serious snowfalls. Seeing it silhouetted against the snow makes its delicate structure more obvious. I love the simplicity of this photograph. I think the delicacy of the stalk is made more obvious by the top of the fence, which is kind of clunky in its construction, in comparison.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Memorial Service

There was a memorial service today for my aunt Jean, my mom's twin sister. She passed away a week or so ago in South Carolina. My aunt Jean outlived her sister for about a year. Because she and my Uncle Bill lived most of their lives in Wantagh, there was a memorial service there today at the church they attended. On the table were family photographs of my aunt Jean and her children and family. Among them was this photograph of Jean, left, and my mom, Ruth, on the right, back when they were teenagers. I was really taken by the photo for several reasons. I had never seen this before, and it is an absolutely lovely photo. I love the care and craftsmanship taken in creating studio portraits in the old days - I would guess this photo was taken in the late 1920's or early 1930's. My mom and aunt Jean used to sing together in church. My grandfather was an organist and they used to sing while he accompanied them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Power Plant, Setting Sun

I was crossing the Roslyn Viaduct late this afternoon, and spotted the power plant lit by the afternoon sun. So I got off the bridge and drove up the road on the opposite side of the harbor, looking for a place to photograph the plant. I stopped at one place but the view had junk in the water. Then I noticed Bar Beach park was open so drove in there and all the way to the water. What luck! I got to clear, calm water which was reflecting the plant like a mirror! What a stunning sight! I love the natural world, but I sure love the industrial landscape as well. And this light makes all this machinery look even more stunning. I have uploaded a slightly larger image, so please click on it to see it in more detail.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Brrrrr... It is even colder today. So cold that icicles are forming from eves of houses. There are icicles from the small roof of the bay window in the dining room. I photographed them. Then I went for a late afternoon walk, and found some more icicles on a porch down the street, and photographed them as well. But then after the sunset, I walked up another small street and found this whole batch of icicles hanging off a roof. I have struggled trying to decide which was the more interesting photograph. I guess I will post both of them. The closeup of the ice is about the ice - in the other photograph the icicles are in the photo but the photograph is about much more than that - the fence, the porch and the afternoon light.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sublime, and COLD!

I was watching the weather radar on my computer last night late, and I didn't think we were going to get that much snow. Imagine my surprise to wake this morning to about 9 or 10 inches of stuff. OK, OK, I know all of you in Connecticut got 22 inches! Yikes! Took a while to do the driveway - a neighbor loaned me his snow blower, so I did our driveway, and parts of 2 others. Then I went for a walk to the water later on in the day to see what I could see. The clouds in the sky were very complex - different clouds at different levels. It made such a magnificent scene. I have photographed these benches before with their red bows, but the bows stand out so much better against the snow, even if they are pretty beat up after all this time out in the weather.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oh No, the Blizzard is Coming!

The blizzard is coming, the blizzard is coming! Oh Noooooooo! Well, not really, at least I think. The forecast is for 6 to 8 inches. Of course that was the forecast for the great December blizzard. First it was 6 to 8, then 8 to 10, then 10 to 12, and who knows what the final total was. Anyhow, I am hoping it is not too much. But tonight the snow appears light. I think it is supposed to snow until afternoon tomorrow. Well, we'll see...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cleaning Up, Why Do You Ask?

It was getting a bit cluttered on the bookcase shelf next to my chair in the living room. So I decided to clean up. This is what cleaning up looked like this afternoon. Well, part way through the cleaning up process, that is. It looks much neater now. OK, maybe just a little bit neater. But it is some improvement anyway...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jungle Kittie

One of the kitties' favorite places is on the radiator in the dining room. One of the cats was sitting on the radiator during dinner, and when I looked behind me, I could see her surrounded by all these leaves. So, being desperate for a blog post for today, I got my camera and tried to get the kitty to look at me! If a kitty decides not to look at you, well then you are at their mercy. So I made noises of al kinds to no avail. Then I did a "mew" that in no way resembled the sound that cats do, and she looked at me long enough for two frames. That was enough, and here it is.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Basketball Landscape

One of the many sights on the Venice boardwalk, right near Muscle Beach is this new basketball court. What stopped me was the contrast of the mechanical-looking basketball hoop and the natural-looking palm trees. After I spotted this, I stood there for a few minutes composing the picture just so, and then noticed this man walking toward the court, so I waited until he got right here, and clicked the shutter.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Scenic Snowstorm

Oh no, a snowstorm is coming! Well, at least that's what the weather report said last night. Three to six inches of snow. Fortunately for the north shore of Long Island it was only an inch. I had to go over to the Apple store for a class, and while I was there it started snowing more heavily. I was inside so couldn't leave to take a photograph, but when I came out the trees were coated with a very picturesque coating of ice. So I looked around for a bit and this is what I saw. I had to shoot from a parking lot over a fenced area into a private neighborhood, so it's not the greatest photo, but at least it isn't one of my leftovers from California. There WILL be more of those!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Electric Avenue

Since first coming to Venice three years ago, I have seen the street signs for "Electric Avenue" which runs parallel to Abbot Kinney, where Abbot's Habit is located. The "habit" is a great coffee shop with wonderful coffee and pastries, and lots of interesting visitors. It is where we have breakfast most days. Anyhow, I saw this palm tree with the telephone poles behind the tree, and liked the combination. There was a song from a number of years ago called "Electric Avenue" by Eddie Grant, and I had always assumed that it was based on this street. Imagine my shock when I just went to check on Wikipedia, and found that the song was based on a different Electric Avenue in London, England! What a shock and disappointment... :-)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Left Over Fog

This is a leftover. I have been giving you nothing but leftovers lately, but they are going to be more interesting than anything I might find around here now, I think. This is one of the other photographs I took on the way to the bagel store last weekend. This is the scenic one. It is more subtle, but I love the delicate tonalities, and muted color. One thing you can't see here got in the way of a better picture - there is an oil containment boom in the water just below the bottom edge of the frame. If it was not there, I would have more of a mirror image of the trees in the glassy water because I could show the reflection of the tops of the trees. Bummer!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


This is Tarzan. A wonderful, gentle, good-natured cat. He belongs to Gus and Amy - he was Gus' cat before he and Amy were together. He is simply gorgeous and loves people, and it is so nice to be around him. Here he is begging me for some food - I think I was putting together a turkey sandwich the day after Christmas. I love the topsy-turvey sense of this - you are not sure what the point of view is at first - are we looking down or up? Is the he walking on the floor? That's what does it for me, in this photo - the sense of being just a bit disoriented.

Monday, January 3, 2011


This a detail of a wall on Liz' backyard studio. I saw it from a distance and thought "WHAT?" It looked as if the wall was covered with some kind of bugs. As I got closer I realized that what I was seeing was the remnants of ivy and the tentacles or whatever they are called, that the vine uses to attach itself to walls and things. I guess someone cleaned off most of the wall, but this one vine grew back. The bugs were what I saw first, but the single vine made the photograph.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Industrial Landscape

I love the fog - the moody, atmospheric magic that transforms landscapes. So when I woke this morning to see a 20 foot thick blanket of fog sitting on top of the snowy ground my radar started scanning. First thing I photographed was the Japanese maple in the side yard. Then I went by the water, and saw some trees reflected in the harbor which was as calm and reflective as a mirror. Then I crossed these railroad tracks on the way to the bagel store. It was this shot that stopped me. There is something about the industrial landscape that fascinates me. I love the natural landscape of course, but when I see an industrial landscape I find it a nice change of pace. I am not sure what it was exactly that caught my eye - I guess the fog which caused the tracks to disappear, but it was the power poles and the wires that really convinced me this was worth stopping to photograph.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

California Gold Mine

"California Gold Mine" as in a gold mine of photographs! It is always easier to find photographs when I am away from home, of course. I was seeing photographs everywhere! Every time I turned around, I saw something new. We went to the Venice Farmer's Market, and I ran into this man, selling his self-published book of photographs for $50. It was full of wonderful old photographs of Venice back through history. I talked to him for about 20 minutes and learned a lot. I wish I could have bought his book, but I have too many already, sad to say. I know he could have used the money... I asked if I could take his photograph, and he agreed.