Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I was out drinking the other night, and saw this scene behind the bar. Just kidding! What really happened was that while walking down the main drag in Saratoga Springs, around lunchtime, there was a sign in front of a restaurant: "Best Burgers in town." So we thought, "What the heck - let's give them a try." While sitting in a booth, and looking around waiting for food to arrive, I spotted this dramatically lit scene behind the bar. Click! I just love the richness of the electric blue. Really stunning architectural design. Oh, I nearly forgot... The burgers were absolutely delicious!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Monday, May 30, 2011
I drove back home from Saratoga Springs this morning. We arrived about noon. After unpacking I realized that it was Memorial Day, so I went to the closet and got out our American Flag. It was then that I realized I missed the Sea Cliff Memorial Day parade! I have probably attended every Memorial Day parade for the last 20 years. I didn't used to go every year, but read an article by a friend years ago about his growing up in Maine, and the meaning and importance of the parade to him. After that, I have gone every year. Sorry I missed it this year.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:19 PM
Sunday, May 29, 2011
The reason we came to Saratoga Springs is for the wedding of the son of my good friend (and astronomy mentor...) Sam. It was lovely - held at a country club with gorgeous scenery surrounding us, on a day with blue sky and sunshine. It was amazing to see the bride and groom, and to see his grown sons and the wonderful young men they have become. I did some snapshots here and there, but it was when we took a walk in the evening and looked back at the tent, with the reception going on inside, that I decided that this was the shot. I just love the colors and the lines of the tent - sort of ghostly, almost in the dusk. A beautiful photograph on a beautiful day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:45 PM
Saturday, May 28, 2011
We are in Saratoga Springs for a wedding, and I have been wandering all over the place with my camera, and have a bushel basket of photographs so far, and it is only day one! This is good news. I spent several hours in Saratoga Spa State Park, which, as you will come to see, is an astounding and beautiful place. On the way out I stumbled across this site. It is called Geyser Island Spouter. Like many of the springs around the area, there are "spouters" that are springs spurting out of the ground. In this case, as I understand it, the water from the spring contains carbonate materials, and after shooting out of the ground, the minerals precipitate where the water falls down, and this amazing formation results after millions of years. It appears to be a rock, but is far too smooth, and when you see it from across the creek, you can see how it was formed. It is an astounding thing to come across unexpectedly. I have posted a larger than normal file - please click on it to see more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:56 PM
Friday, May 27, 2011
This is funny - I just noticed that the shadows in this photograph include a plant that at first glance looks like a fern! It is not. I, of course, have no idea what kind of plant it is. I noticed the shadows on the dining room wall, from the sunlight shining in the kitchen window, and the image stopped me in my tracks. At this time of year the sun has moved further north when it sets, giving this perfect alignment. What you are seeing are the shadows of the blinds in the windows, and a mobile made from pieces of glass hanging in the window over the plant, and the shadow of a chair back in the dining room.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:25 PM
Thursday, May 26, 2011
"Fern Week 7" - Wow, that means that Fern Week is drawing to a close. Are you tired of ferns yet? I think I may be... This is the last photo showing the underside of a frond. I don't see anything in particular under the individual parts of the frond, but I was amazed to see how hairy the stalk and branches are. A lot of this depends on the lighting, but it really stands out here. Please click on it to see it in a larger size, which enables you to see more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:09 PM
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Two friends both suggested photographing one of the fronds, from underneath. Thanks Sam and Ginger! I am not sure what I am supposed to find underneath, but it seemed like a good idea. I tried a couple of things - neither of which involved diving into the center of the bed of ferns to photograph. I picked a frond, and fastened it to a small light stand so I could move around it more easily, and change the light that I put it in. When I had finished doing that, I extended the lightstand so the frond was against the sky. Wow, that looks different! So here it is. At least this photograph is significantly different than all the other images.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:51 PM
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I saw the sunlight on the front lawn, illuminating the grass, and the ferns as well. So since ferns are in the picture, I figured that it would make the grade for Fern Week. But the photo is all about the light, of course. Ferns are in the picture, but the picture is really about the way the sun and shadows cover the lawn.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:55 PM
Monday, May 23, 2011
OK, here I am at Day 4 of "Fern Week." This semi-brilliant idea may not make it past day 5! This is harder than I thought, and I am finding that there is more similarity to the photographs than I first thought. So this means I will have to work harder, or give up Fern Week a couple of days earlier than I first thought! I have learned that when it is overcast, it is MUCH harder to take interesting photographs. Direct sunlight, as in this photograph, makes more dramatic images, in my opinion.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Sunday, May 22, 2011
So here is my third photo for "Fern Week." This was the scene that caught my eye when I went down the driveway after the rainstorm, and the sun had come out. A shaft of sunlight was shining on this patch of ferns under the Japanese Maple tree. It didn't last long, but I had enough time to try some slightly different angles. On the front bank it is wall-to-wall ferns but here there are other textures like this ivy under the tree that adds a little more interest. This looks better when you click on it and can see it in a larger size.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Oh, I mean "Fern Week." I don't even know what "Shark Week" is, but Craig Ferguson is always talking about it. Must be something on cable TV. I ain't got no cable. Anyhow, it rained some this afternoon, and then the sun came out. I noticed a shaft of light on a small grouping of ferns under the Japanese maple tree, then I noticed long shadows on the front lawn, and the ferns I photographed yesterday were backlit. So I set to work seeing what I could find. It seems there were interesting compositions everywhere. So I decided to try having "Fern Week" this week. Like "Shark Week" only different. I swill see how many different fern photos I can take. This photo was taken yesterday, and it was not raining. I choose this one because it is so dramatically different from yesterday's post.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:10 PM
Friday, May 20, 2011
The ferns are up! It has been raining all week, and it seems as if the ferns on the front bank have exploded from the ground. A week ago there was evidence of a few wispy ferns emerging from the ground. When I went to get the mail today, I think it was the aroma of them that caught my attention. It is a very distinctive smell, and I enjoy it each spring. I did a couple of different views of the ferns. This one is more of a pattern shot. Maybe I will post the other one - it is so different. I do love the texture of this picture. Please click on it to see more detail in the larger image - it is a lot more interesting in a larger size.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:17 PM
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I will post this one picture, and then get back to more recent photographs. In May of 1974 I had an assignment to photograph Salvador Dali. He was onboard the SS France, about to set sail from the west side of Manhattan, for Europe. The writer and I were ushered into a stateroom, which turned out to be packed with people. Oh man, what a place to have to set up a strobe light and photograph. It had the feel of a circus, but Dali appeared to be having fun, with all the attention. I have photographed a lot of celebrities, but I was in disbelief that I was in the presence of Salvador Dali! We all know his painting "The Persistence of Memory" which some call "The Melting Watches." I remember how I was moved when I saw that painting for the first time at the Museum of Modern Art on a high school class trip, and here I was years later crouching at the master's feet photographing him! Sometimes life can be amazing.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:34 PM
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Please bear with me here - these photographs of Joan, Betsey, and Karen were unearthed with the transparency of the oyster boats from yesterday. I am mainly posting these images to surprise my sisters! They have no idea - I can't wait to hear of their surprise when they find themselves here in the morning. It makes me smile to think about it. I have no recollection of taking these pictures. But when I was a photographer as a kid, I photographed everything. These are color transparencies that have been scanned to make digital images. I love how cute and how beautiful they all are. I was absolutely blown away to find these. Another family treasure!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I stumbled across some old color transparencies from the mid-1950's, which would have been just about the time I began High School. I was thrilled to find one photograph of these oyster boats. When I was a kid, there were oyster boats that operated in Long Island Sound and that were berthed in Milford, Connecticut. I was fascinated by these rust stained white wooden boats. On some days I would ride my bicycle down to the harbor after school, and at 3:30 every afternoon, the oyster boats would return to their docks across the harbor where they unloaded. I have kept my eyes open for any photographs I might have taken of these boats, but never found any - until today, that is, and I am thrilled to have this reminder of something from so long ago. I posted a larger file than normal - click on the picture to see the boats in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:33 PM
Monday, May 16, 2011
There is something wonderful about blue sky, sunshine, and sand. I am drawn to this so - probably because of a lack of sunshine earlier this Spring. Anyhow, I spent some time photographing this from different directions, so that I could see it in different kinds of light. Interesting that this object drew me in so powerfully. One difficult decision involved the fact that there were two of these near each other. I have a nice photograph of the two objects in the same image, but chose this single one as better. So I needed to come up with a title, and thought of "monolith." I went to Wikipedia and looked for synonyms and discovered that this is not a monolith! There are very specific qualities for each kind of object, and the name that fit this one most clearly, is "Menhir." It feels as if I am displaying an affect to even use the term, but it is the correct and specific name for this. Well, sort of. A menhir is defined as is a large upright standing stone. Menhirs may be found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably; but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top. Sounds correct, except for one thing - this is a piece of driftwood, rather than stone. But it sure looks like stone, doesn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:35 PM
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I have climbed to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse a number of times, both to photograph and just to visit. I don't ever remember seeing this window before. The lighthouse itself is made from a layer of stone on the outside and many layers of brick on the inside. The stone handles the weathering better that just the brick would - this lighthouse is so old, that its construction was authorized by George Washington, I kid you not! Anyhow, on top of all that masonry, there is a cast-iron top, which contains the windowed "lamp room" containing the light, and another room underneath with the machinery to rotate the light. Anyhow, just below that lower room, on the circular stairway that runs from the ground up, is this cast-iron porthole. I just caught sight of it, and was intrigued by it. It is just kind of mysterious, and I love that the outer porthole is perfectly bisected by the horizon line, with sky and water.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:28 PM
Saturday, May 14, 2011
When I was in Montauk two weeks ago, I saw this bleached log that someone had stuck into these large boulders that are part of the erosion control system at the point. Only thing is, it was sticking straight up. I thought it was interesting, and began shooting it immediately. I thought I had a good shot, but hadn't got around to posting it. Then last week, when I was back in Montauk, and at the same spot, the log was horizontal! I have no idea how it got that way, but it grabbed me immediately. It was a MUCH better photograph! I think that's because it adds a dramatic horizontal element, that mirrors the other horizontal parts of the image. When I took it, I thought it was good, but it was only when I got it on my computer that I realized that this may be the best photograph that I have taken so far this year.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Friday, May 13, 2011
So I showed you my "creative" lighthouse, with the brambles, then a classic shot, showing the lighthouse in its surroundings. That shot makes for a wonderful landscape photograph, but it is more about the location, that it is about the structures. So this is my third version of the Montauk Light. It is about the architecture, and the structures of the buildings, rather than the location. I should also add that I was really lucky to be photographing on this particular day. Clear blue sky is actually kind of boring in some landscape photographs. Having a complex cloud structure in the sky can make photographs far more interesting, as it does here.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:43 PM
The other day I spoke of trying to photograph Montauk Light in a different way, and shot through brambles. Great for testing the creativity, but not as interesting a photograph, perhaps. So this is one of two other views I did of the lighthouse, after I shot the brambles. It is one of the classic views, but in order to do it, you need to know that this vantage point exists - up on the bluff west of the lighthouse, and then you need to claw your way through brush and brambles - the trails are not well known or used. Then you move out toward the cliff, being careful to not get too close to the edge - the cliffs in this area are undermined from erosion. Then you take the photographs, and fight your way back to level ground, and then you look for ticks! I found three, after carefully checking, and I went over each piece of clothing several times. But guess what - it was WORTH it. Isn't this a beautiful view? NOTE: BLOGGER HAS BEEN OUT OF SERVICE FOR NEARLY A WHOLE DAY BECAUSE OF TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. That's why this post is so late. Thanks to those of you who emailed to ask if I was OK.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 2:10 PM
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
This is a photograph of the Montauk Lighthouse. Yeah I know. But it is. I have photographed this structure many times over the years. As I got out of my car, I saw these brambles at the edge of the parking lot. I started wondering what it would look like if I crouched down so that the branches covered the lighthouse. I experimented for a while with variations, and liked this one best. But why would I do a photograph of the Montauk Lighthouse like this - you can hardly see the subject of the picture? Well I did it, because I am always thinking about trying to see subjects in new ways. I am not very good at actually accomplishing this, but I think about it a lot. This time I came up with something. I mean, if someone gave me an assignment to shoot Montauk Light, I wouldn't do this. I also photographed the light in traditional ways. I will show you those pictures in the next couple of days. You won't be disapointed.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
We're out in Montauk, which is one of Amy's most magical and favorite places in the world. She loves to come here to write, and soak up the ocean and salt air, all the way out at the end of Long Island. Late this afternoon we drove over to Ditch Plains which is a relatively small beach, famous for its surfing, when conditions are right. We walked along the beach, and of course I was leading the way, walking backwards, photographing all the way. I do that, walking backwards, a lot. You can draw all kinds of conclusions about me from that fact. I love the moment I captured here - blue sky, sunshine, the Atlantic Ocean, and Amy in her element.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:10 PM
Monday, May 9, 2011
We headed back from Rochester early this morning, under blue skies, sunshine, and puffy white clouds all the way to the horizon. OK, I know they are Cumulus clouds. I thought "puffy white" was more poetic. It was an incredible day - it has been years since we have been upstate in early spring. There were so many shades of light green everywhere, and farm fields full of dandelions in brilliant yellow. It was a charmed day, beautiful wherever I looked, and I was drinking it all in. But we were in a hurry, so here is another photograph through the windshield - and another of my lame excuses...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:59 PM
Sunday, May 8, 2011
It has been a couple of exhausting days, with the baby shower and visiting family and friends, and Mother's day. People to go see here and there, and visitors in the house. Tonight the men of the house prepared dinner for the women - we were awesome! :-) Anyhow, this is Pat, the father of the baby-to-be after a long day, taking a nap with their dog Liberty, after supper tonight. Libby looks quite content. Pat is pretty savvy when it comes to being around me when I am in my photographer mode. After two clicks, he turned his head toward me and smiled. I was busted! But I got my shot.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:29 PM
Saturday, May 7, 2011
There was a baby shower today for Bethany and Pat. A wonderful family affair, that was a bit different for me, because the guys were invited. I wonder how common it is to include the menfolk? In any case it was really nice, both to celebrate the coming arrival of their baby, and because it was a giant family gathering where we got to spend time with people we haven't seen in a long time. I took a lot of photographs, and strangely enough, do not remember taking this one. There was only one frame of this moment. But it was a good frame!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:07 PM
Friday, May 6, 2011
My friend John and I took a quick visit to an art gallery to look at some photographs, and of course we needed to do a shot of the two of us together. We met at RIT back in 1963 when we were students together, and in the 48 years we have known each other, whenever we get together, we take a photograph of the two of us together. Sometimes it is in a photo studio, sometimes it is with John's airplane, or just sitting on a rock together. Anyhow, I set up the camera with a self timer in the gallery, and we posed together for a shot. Only thing was, I had no idea that the self timer was going to take three photos! Here they are! You can click on this to see a larger view of the three images.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:26 PM
Thursday, May 5, 2011
All or nothing. Funny how that works in terms of how to photograph a scene. In this case, it is Taughannock Falls, in Trumansburg, NY. I have photographed this before and posted it, but because it was spring, and because there have been heavy rains for the last week I decided to stop and see how it looked with a lot of water coming over the precipice. I was not disappointed. But when I included the entire waterfall, it looked kind of ordinary, in some way. If I showed the waterfall, and the river below and part of the gorge as well, it was interesting, but the waterfall lost all of its grandeur - it looked like part of a small stream. But when I cropped into the falls, and showed only part of it, and included some of the interesting formations in the rocks, then it appeared to grow in power. And as you can see, it became a bit mysterious as well, because you can't see all of it. So sometimes less of an object may be more. I like this photograph a lot, now that I finally figured out how to see it properly.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:45 PM
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
It is amazing to me that after all these years, EVERY spring I am astounded all over again, at how brilliant the greens are! It has been raining most of the day, and when I went outside, I spotted these ferns growing under the Japanese maple tree. It was overcast, and misty, and so the light was really soft. Colors are always more intense on rainy days, and the saturation of the greens was just stunning. The Japanese maple was green as well, but there was something about the ferns - perhaps because they were isolated and surrounded by the wet brown earth that made them jump out and grab my attention. My fear is that on the web the colors shown won't even come close to being as rich as what I saw in real life.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:53 PM
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I promised no more New York City photographs, and I am delivering here, with this shot from Montauk. This is a garden at Gosman's Dock. I love the combination of things here - the old wood, the rusted anchor, and the beautiful flowers. I should also mention that at one point I *thought* I knew what these are, but then I checked and I was wrong. So I continue to bat 1000 by not knowing the names of ANY flowers. Anyhow I hope you love the garden.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM
Monday, May 2, 2011
OK, this will be my last post from Manhattan, I promise. Most photographs of the Brooklyn Bridge are shot looking along the roadway and pedestrian walkways. From the South Street Seaport, I saw this view from the side. What I like about this is that it shows the complex arrangement of Suspender cables, both vertically and diagonally. The arrangement of all these wire cables is what gives the Brooklyn Bridge its distinctive beauty. The story behind the cables is really interesting. It turns out that the wire cables supplied were of poor quality. By the time they discovered that, it was too late to change them, so to be safe, they added diagonal cables from the towers to the deck in order to stiffen the bridge. It turns out they were unnecessary, but they were kept for their beauty. Please click on this image to see it in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:26 PM
Sunday, May 1, 2011
It is much easier to find photographs when I visit new places. So that explains why I am still showing you photographs from the trip to New York City a week ago. We walked over to the construction site where the World Trade Center was. You can't look directly into the construction site, but you can go around to the west side and look out the windows of the World Financial Center into the site. We did that, and then I turned around and looked in the other direction, toward the Hudson River, and saw this scene. It was the polished floor that made this.The buildings you can see out the window are in Jersey City, across the Hudson River.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:37 PM
OK you are going to look at this post and think that I am loosing it! I went out east to Custer Institute last night to do some observing, and got home at 3 AM - that's why this post is late. I was trying out a new device I have called an "Astro Trac" which attaches to a tripod, and you put a camera on it, and it will allow the camera to follow the stars for long exposures. The part of the sky in this photograph is called "The Realm of the Galaxies." Even in a modest amateur telescope you can see galaxy after galaxy, side by side. It is an amazing experience. OK, so here is the weird part - you can't SEE any galaxies in this photo! Duh! Please click on this though, and it will open in a larger window so you can see a sky full of stars. At the top center of the photo is an open cluster of stars called "Coma Bernices" which translates to "Bernice's Hair." The Realm of Galaxies and Coma are both seen behind the tail end of the constellation Leo "The Lion." The three stars making up the right triangle to the right center of the photo make up the rear end of Leo.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 AM