Monday, February 28, 2011

Storm Clouds & Boulder Creek

The Photodude and I went to Boulder Creek for lunch a few weeks back. You might recognize his name - he is a faithful reader and commentator of this blog. Normally I order a steak here, but for lunch I had a burger and it was absolutely delicious. So when we were hungry late in the day today, we headed here so I could get another of those burgers. It had been raining earlier in the day, and storm clouds were still scudding along low in the sky. There was something about the foreboding look of the clouds, and the warmth of the building and its sign that got my attention. I really like the tiny image of an aircraft inbound to Kennedy Airport that can be seen if you look carefully, just clear of the clouds.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blue Sky & Sunshine

I was riding my bike along the water on the last leg of my ride today when I was struck by the beauty of the blue water, blue sky and sunshine. It seems like such a wonderful change from snow and rain and fog. I wasn't planning to stop, but I found all the blue irresistible and pulled over in order to take this picture. It was nice that as I stopped, this couple walked by. I spent some time working on how I cropped this. I decided finally to cut into the branches on the left. I was reluctant to chop into the branches, but realized that the final picture would make the trees seem more monumental.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I went out looking for a photograph in the mist and rain yesterday. In desperation I wandered over to the Japanese maple tree. Instead of seeing a group of branches, I saw this single branch, with some small threadlike thing hanging off the end of it. I have never seen this before. Anyhow, as I watched, the bright drop of water that caught my eye suddenly dropped off the branch! Oh no! But then as I watched, another drop slid down the branch, and replaced the first drop! This was repeated every thirty seconds or so. For some reason, it was really fun to watch. And frustrating, with the wind blowing the branch toward and away from me. I shot a lot of images, hoping one would be in focus, with a water drop on the branch. Lucky me, I got it. I was immediately struck, looking at this scene, by how minimalist this scene was. The photograph is made up of so little. I think the subject of the image is really the shape of the line made up by the branch, and, of course, the single water drop.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I photographed the new bike chain a few days ago. It was worn and needed to be replaced. Unfortunately I rode the bike way too long with the worn chain, and as a result, the work chain damaged the set of gears, or sprokets on the rear wheel. The assembly of sprockets is called a cassette. The smallest gear has 11 teeth on it, and the largest has 26 teeth. This is what gives a racing bicycle the huge range of gearing for different conditions. When 10-speed bikes were first made, the sprockets were just flat circles with teeth, stamped out of steel. Now, as they add more gears and use narrower chains, these assemblies are just astounding works of complex machining. The teeth of the sprockets are not all the same, they are not symmetrical, and "shifting ramps" are machined out of the metal as well. But what a gorgeous piece of machinery this is!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Different View

This is left over from the snow the other day. I was trying to get something different, and found myself looking up from underneath this dogwood branch covered with snow. Usually I am looking at trees from eye level, more or less, but not straight up. So it was interesting to play with the composition of these delicate branches. A completely different feeling, I think.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"With or Without You"

"With or Without You?" What? Ok, here is the story for this photograph. I was coming home from Astronomy, and had a "driveway moment." I had turned off the engine, and the radio was still on, and suddenly the U2 song came on. I hadn't heard it in a couple of years, and I was enjoying listening, but realized that the radio would automatically shut off in 30 seconds or so. So I turned the ignition key back on, and the headlights lit up, so I turned them off, leaving just the parking lights on while I listened as the song played. It was then that I saw the garage doors illuminated by the yellow parking lights. Loved the strange quality to the scene, so I did this photograph. Phew, that story was a long way around, wasn't it... :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snow Mountains & Shadows

Oh boy, here I go again - out looking for a photograph in the snow. I actually spotted this scene from the dining room table. There is freshly shoveled snow from yesterday by the side of the driveway, and then those wonderful long shadows in the side yard. My first thought was that the piled snow looked like a mountain range. And it is the strong light from the side which brings out this texture. I think that this photo is really about the wonderful shades of blue-gray, from white to dark. Click on the image to see it in more detail.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More snow? Whaaat?

We got 5 inches of snow overnight. Everywhere I looked I saw photographs that I had already taken earlier this winter. What to do? Well, look harder, I guess. So I tried to look in new places. I have photographed these lights on the edge of the porch steps before, but this morning the colors of the glass were brighter than I had seen before - I think because the white of the snow was reflecting off the glass. So this is my choice for the day, more subtle than you might expect for a record of a snowstorm.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Well, this is probably not a mystery at all. You recognize, this right? I was trying to photograph something different today, and decided on a still life, instead of a landscape photo. Now, what to photograph? After a little while, I thought that maybe I could take my new bike chain, and try and make an abstract photograph of it. For aficionados, this is a SRAM 971, 9-speed chain. It is bunched it up to try and disguise it. I illuminated it with a spotlight, hoping that the dramatic lighting would help to disguise what it is. I am guessing I haven't fooled anyone.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Moon & The Hickory Tree

I took the garbage can down to the street last night, and turned to look up at the moon, as I always do, when it is visible in the sky. There were high thin clouds in front of the moon, which spread its light over a larger area, and made the silhouette of the hickory tree more obvious. I grabbed a tripod from the car and set about shooting. I moved around to put the moon where I wanted it, in the arms of the tree, then I needed to figure out what I wanted the picture to look like, based on the exposure time I selected. I tried longer exposures, which made a lighter picture, and showed more branches, but then after some thought, decided I liked the darker image which showed a bright spot in the center, but much less detail in the darker areas away from the moon. More mysterious, I thought.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Long Does It Take...

How long does it take for a cubic foot of snow to melt? The answer is: "That depends." And this is a ridiculous question, of course. Last Friday I posted my photo of the cubic foot of snow I cut so I could calculate the weight of snow on the garage roof. So here it is exactly a week later, and this is what is left in the driveway where I left the cube so I could watch it melt. You may ask, "Uhhh... what is the POINT of this?" Well, actually, there is no point. It was just fun to watch this melt. It is interesting to note the shape that this has evolved into. I included the tape measure, because otherwise there is no sense of scale at all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Mysterious Door

This door has fascinated me for over a year now. It is located ten feet off the ground in one of the new Roslyn Viaduct bridge abutments. The bridge is made in sections, and all the pieces are held together with a number of cables which all end up under tension, in this room. For 6 months they left a ladder up to the doorway, and I was DYING to park my car, and climb up the ladder to see how the cables are anchored. But I didn't want to get arrested. You know, "security." You know "Nine-Eleven!" They probably would have had to shoot me if I knew how the cables were fastened.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mountain Ranges

This is the snow on the front bank of the side yard, slowly melting around the time of sunset. It is fascinating to me that is has this scalloped form to it - when it fell, and after it was covered with ice, it was always as flat as a skating rink. I can't come up with a theory of why if melts this way. Caught by the setting sun it has these beautiful colors - orange on the side lit by the sun, and blue on the side lit by the blue light of the sky. It does feel as if it is an aerial photograph of a series of mountain ranges.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Kitties Don't Trust Me!

I was reading in my easy chair, and noticed that the two kitties were like bookends on the radiator with a table lamp between them. They were slowly falling asleep, so I waited and waited, and once they both appeared to be snoozing, I slowly crept toward them with my Nikon at the ready. One click and BOING! The kitty on the right is up and looking, and her movement woke the other kitty, and now they are both intently looking at me. Click! I had no choice, this was the only shot left.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hot Peppers

A friend in my astronomy club gave me these a couple of months ago, and said they would be great chopped up in a dish. I couldn't think of any dish right away, so put these on the windowsill (where some of you have seen them in other photographs and mentioned that to me.) I wanted to do some kind of still life with these and kept thinking about the correct background. This morning I noticed sunlight on the bathroom vanity, and the sunlight had a texture to it because the sun was shining through a window screen. So I took them upstairs, and messed with them for a while. I took a number of images, but like this as being different. Most of the other photographs were very two-dimensional, since I shot from above, and they were about the design of the photo. This photo is about the peppers themselves.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Four Hundred and Seventy Five Years

I went down to a special mass today celebrating the marriages of couples married for 25 and 50 years. When you add up all the couples, it is a total of 475 years of marriage! Pretty impressive feat. During the mass the couples came up on the altar and renewed their vows, and after the end of the mass they came up on the altar again for a blessing, which was when I took this photograph.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I walked by this still life on the dining room table after breakfast. At first I didn't pay any attention, because I see this every day. Then I realized because it is ordinary, it is the perfect thing for a photograph. Sometimes the ordinary is the hardest thing to see. Every morning Kathy does the Sudoku in the newspaper, and when she is done this is what is left. Glasses, a pencil, and the newspaper. Actually it was the sunlight illuminating only part of this scene that first caught my eye.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Science Project

You are going to LOVE this one... Do you know what this is? It is a cubic foot of snow. What? Yup. OK, so now you are going to think I am a nut case. My sister Joan was telling me about a number of building and barn and home collapses all over Connecticut because of the unusual snow load on the structures. I have been looking at over a foot of snow on my garage roof, and I was getting nervous thinking about the weight. Then I was curious - I wondered how much the snow actually weighed. So the problem is I have no idea how much snow does weigh. So I got a spade and cut a block of snow from the pile along the side of the driveway, and then carefully carved it into a one foot cube. Cool, huh? So then I got the bathroom scale and weighed my block of snow. Guess how much it weighed. Twenty four pounds! So I calculated the weight of snow on the roof of the garage and came up with over six thousand six hundred pounds! Yikes! There is less and less up there each day and I will feel much better when more of it is gone.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sunlight Kitty

One of the kitties hopped up on the vanity in the bathroom this morning, and stopped when her head was in the sunlight. I crouched down and was nose to nose with her, and was admiring all the delicate coloring on her nose. So I went and got my camera with the closeup lens, and tried to take her picture. It wasn't easy. She would look at me for a few seconds, then she turned away, and it was the devil to try and get her in the frame of the camera. I did get a couple of pictures and this is one. She looks really mad here, and I think that it has something with her squinting a the light. She wasn't acting mad at all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Epsilon Aurigae Eclipse

This is my friend Frank, who gave the presentation at our astronomy club tonight. He talked about and showed photographs of all the planets he photographed, that were visible in 2010, and then he added some interesting information about this strangely behaving star, which gets brighter and dimmer (they call them "variable" stars) and is known as an eclipsing binary. I bet that is more than you wanted to know, right? Anyhow, it was a great talk and slideshow. Can you tell I was desperate for a blog photo today?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Breakfast at Starbucks

This is what breakfast at Starbucks looks like these days. Coffee is great, and so are the scones... well, they are great until I got home and saw how many calories are in one of these babies! Yikes! My cranberry orange scone is 490 calories! The blueberry one was *only* 460 calories. I am working on knocking off a few pounds so I will be in prime shape for the Tour de France this year, and I will never get in perfect shape if I start my days with breakfasts like this! I need to find something more healthy to eat on those occasions when we have breakfast here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Root Cellar

This root cellar is about five houses down the street from where I live. I have passed it thousands of times, of course. And I have photographed it a number of times as well. I may even have posted a photograph on the blog already. I did this photograph the morning of the ice storm. I photographed it a number of different ways - from afar, and in closeup. I had a difficult time selecting the "best" photograph for this post. I think this is the more beautiful photograph (please click on it to see it larger) but this photograph is less about the root cellar and more about the surroundings. By the way, there is a grand house up on the hill behind this cellar, and to the right is a residence that was once a carriage house, both of which belonged to the larger house. Root cellars, by the way, were used for storage up until the 1950s when the refrigerator became a ubiquitous feature in every U.S. home. Root cellars were the chosen, and indeed the only, way to preserve produce outside of the relatively short harvest season.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Won't Be Going Out Today, I Guess

I ride by this car every day on my bike. I could always tell it was rarely used, because after a rainstorm, you could see sticks and rubbish stuck under the car wheels from the water that had run downhill. But this is at a whole other level! Man, this car is NAILED here. Wow! It will be really interesting to see how long before it is ice free. It seems as if it will be months before the owner can get the car out. But maybe with a few more days of 40 degrees or higher, like we had today, it may be sooner rather than later.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Concert

We went to a concert at a church in Glen Cove tonight, and it was astounding! The performer was Tony Melendez, and he plays the guitar. He performs with a drummer and another guitar player, and the performance was exciting and amazing. Oh, I forgot to tell you one thing - Tony is a thalidomide baby, and was born without arms. He places his guitar on the floor of the stage and plays it with his feet. They ask that no one take photographs, so I didn't photograph him, but I did take this photograph that shows the lighting of the set and two young women in the audience sitting in front of us. Tony was absolutely inspirational!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blue Shadows

The back yard still has nearly two feet of snow on it, and a coating of solid ice. For some reason - I guess it was because the wind must have drifted the snow - the snow is not flat, but rather undulating. So on top of this, late this afternoon, as the sun was low in the western sky, it cast long shadows of tree trunks across the snow. I spotted this from indoors and quickly grabbed a camera and went outdoors. I was afraid the light would go off the snow before I could find the right composition. I looked at the shadows in several places and then choose this. This view encompasses about half the yard. It is nearly impossible to get any sense of scale in a photograph like this.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ice With Everything

Well, in contrast with yesterday, today we had blue sky and sunshine, and it was cold. I suppose I should have gone out and photographed sunshine. But I had so many nice photographs from yesterday, that I have decided to post this beautiful image instead. It was warm enough yesterday that all of the ice melted off the branches, here on Long Island. My sister said that was not the case in Connecticut. She woke to ice covered trees and bright sunshine, which WOULD have made a beautiful photograph, IF she had thought to take it... :-) When I am composing a photograph like this, I just try to balance heavy dark "lines" and delicate lines until I feel a balance - that the photo doesn't feel out of balance on the left or right, or that the top or bottom doesn't feel too heavy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You Want Ice With That?

That's a rhetorical question. You GET ice with everything these days. There is not an option not to have ice with it. I took a bunch of photographs this morning after the ice storm. I have photographed buds and branches covered with ice before, so the trick was to come up with something different. I think I have done that here, because the ice is part of this image, but it is the graphic design that I think is stronger here. I just love the thin little black lines that zig zag throughout the picture. I did get some other nice photos, so I will post some more in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BIG Icicles

I cannot remember icicles during any recent winters, and certainly not collections of icicles this large! These things are amazing in their size. I hate to try and calculate the weight on the gutters! I put the gutters up myself, and was careful to do a good job. I will say that I can't wait for some of these to start melting to take the load off the gutters and the roof. One cool thing which you might overlook... Notice on the bottom right hand icicle, there is a drop of water which has just left the point, and is falling. I caught the drop in mid flight. Just a small subtlety which I thought worth pointing out.