Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leica M6

When got my first paycheck, right out of RIT, I bought a used Leica M2 - something I had always wanted. In later years I wanted a Leica M6 but couldn't afford it, and really didn't need it. But about 10 years ago, just as digital was beginning to show up on the horizon, I went and bought a used M6 in mint condition. It was the camera I brought with me on trips to NYC. Since it is not a single-lens-reflex, with all the complexity and noise, it is a great camera for candid photography because it is so silent. So the first trip to the city, I had my new Leica with me, and was hoping to take a real "keeper" of a photo. I was downtown - I forget why, and it was a rainy day. I was standing at a crosswalk, holding my umbrella overhead, and saw this old building and then the red lights and red door. While I was contemplating that, along comes this pedestrian with his red umbrella! OH MAN, THAT'S IT! Click! I forgot about all of this, but found a scan of this film negative just the other day. Please click on this to see it larger, and with more color in the reds.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monty Python

The "Monty Python" title is kind of a blind lead. I used that because they were always saying: "And now for something completely different." So today's post is different. My friend Sam looked at yesterday's post, and then apparently downloaded the image and rotated it 180 degrees, and said that the shadow on the floor looked like a rider on a horse with a spear of some kind. The minute he said that, I saw it! I would call it the rider of the apocalypse! Yikes! What a apparition. What a great imagination my friend Sam has. Can you see the rider and the horse, in the shadow of the plant?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Porch Needs Painting!

I went out the front door this morning to go buy some milk, and saw the shadow of this plant on the front porch. I grabbed the camera, and was composing the image and studying the shape of the shadow, when I noticed that the front porch floor needs painting! Arghhhhhhhh! Oh well. So I went ahead and took the picture. Just what I need - more work!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Cairns

I found these down at the beach, in front of the bench I rest on after my bike ride. Piled stones like this are called "cairns" and they have been with us since ancient times. They have been used as landmarks to mark trails, especially in mountainous regions above the tree line, for astronomical purposes, and for spiritual and ceremonial purposes. I probably saw the largest number of these in one place out in Sedona, Arizona where people construct them where the "vortices" are located. (You can look that one up.) These cairns are different. First of all, they include pieces of broken concrete, not just smooth rounded stones. I think they are done just for fun. Maybe just to make people curious. It is kind of cool to find these - it is as if someone has made their mark on the landscape for others to see, and there is a nice feeling of being connected in some way when I see them. I appreciate that someone has done this just for play, and it makes me smile.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Ice Cream Cone

After yet another ritual MacDonald's vanilla cone, we drove by the water again. "Nice clouds", I thought. Worth stopping for a shot. The cool thing was, when I got the camera out of the trunk and turned around, I noticed this woman sitting on the wall, knitting. Just the thing! I did about a dozen pictures, and only included the street lamp in ONE photo! Geeze, what was I thinking? The picture does need both elements. Well, at least I got one good one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The White Flag

I was driving back home after supper, and as I came by the golf course, I caught a glimpse of the haze in the air, because the distant trees were much lighter than those closer to the road. I really like atmospheric effects like this. I can't get a clear shot of the golf course because of the fence with all this brush growing on it. So I had to take the camera and hold it over my head at arm's length so it can see over the fence. The trick is, I have to do that, take a picture, then look and see what I got, then try again. It takes a while to get a sense of how to point the camera to get the composition I want. I think I shot about 40 images before I got it right. I was aware that the "flag" for the hole was in the foreground, so I moved until I could see it through the hole in the brush.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Roasting Coffee Beans

I am a coffee brat. Yup. No excuses, no apologies. I hate crummy coffee. For years I roasted my own coffee beans. When you roast your own beans, the coffee is as fresh as it can be. And I can roast it to exactly the degree I like - not too light, not too dark. Well, eventually my coffee roaster died, and I replaced it with another. That one died too after some years. So now the newest one has arrived, after being unavailable for a couple of years, and I am a happy camper once again. These machines roast coffee by making hot air and blowing it up through the green beans, and the beans fly up in the air and all around until they are roasted. You might think that roasting coffee would smell wonderful, but you would be wrong, as I was. It smells like burning rope! Yuk! So I have to roast it out on the porch, and this day it was late in the day so the setting sun gave a warm glow to the beans as they roasted.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sea Cliff Fog

I came back from my astronomy meeting tonight in dense fog. At some places along my route you could barely see twenty feet. I was excited about what I might find when I got to Sea Cliff. The closer I got to home, the less fog there was. Well, that's no fun. I drove around town a bit, but this was the best that I could find. There were other streets with streetlights, but the effect was not as scenic as I expected. On this street, Sea Cliff Avenue, it was the dark shapes of the trees that finally gave me a more interesting picture.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making a Mirror

I met these two High School students several months ago, and what immediately impressed me was their enthusiasm. We were talking about astronomy and telescope making, and they said that they wanted to build their own telescope. I was impressed. I asked if they were going to buy a mirror, and they said: "No, we want to make that too." Now I am REALLY impressed! I said I would offer any advice or help they needed. So here they are in my back yard today, working on constructing a "tile tool" which is used for grinding the mirror - the first step. These two people are so smart and so enthusiastic, that I find that talking to them excites me and makes me more enthusiastic - and you all know how enthusiastic I am already! I will probably be reporting on this project as it progresses.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Flower

There were flowers arranged around the altar yesterday. There are usually flowers there. But what grabbed me was the light on this particular blossom. It seemed like a first quarter moon - half illuminated. Which made the center of the flower stand out. Just a lucky happenstance. So I spotted it, and then had to wait for services to be over so that I could go up and photograph it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

At the end of the service at church today, they invite all the fathers up to the altar, and we all face the congregation, and they say a blessing for all fathers, which is a really lovely thing. Of course I am looking for a photograph, so I have my toy camera with me. I did manage to take about 5 images quickly. I was in the back row, so most people had no idea that I was photographing. It is an interesting spectrum of ages and cultures.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Surprised Kitty

Who knows what keeps kitties happy? Not me. But for some reason, one of them hangs around me in the morning when I am at the bathroom sink. It seems she wants a drink. So I grab a little plastic Dixie cup, and fill it with water from the spigot, and then I leave the cup in the sink. So for some reason I decided to go back and see if she was drinking. I brought my camera with me, and after I took a picture or two, she looked up at me. Click. Does she look surprised or annoyed? I have no idea, but I like the shot because it is different.

Friday, June 17, 2011

iPhone, again

Clearly I am enamored of the camera in the iPhone. But not the regular camera already in the phone - instead I am a huge fan of an application called "Hipstamatic." I like it because you can choose different kinds of "film" - a faded color effect or black and white, and then there are "lens" choices, which add various effects, and there are some lenses that produce interesting borders. Anyhow, there was a shaft of sunlight reflected from the hall mirror, on to the bannister. I chose the black and white film, and a lens with a grunge border.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


On the way to my astronomy meeting last night I found myself behind this car. It was amazing to study it from behind. One of the more obvious things was how narrow the tires were. I looked the car up in Wikipedia: The Citroën 2CV (French: “deux chevaux” i.e. “deux chevaux vapeur”, literally “two tax horsepower”) was an economy car produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1948 and 1990. It was technologically advanced and innovative, but with uncompromisingly utilitarian unconventional looks, and deceptively simple Bauhaus inspired bodywork, that belied the sheer quality of its underlying engineering. It was designed to move the French peasantry on from horses and carts. It is considered one of Citroën's most iconic cars. In 1953 Autocar in a technical review of the car wrote of "the extraordinary ingenuity of this design, which is undoubtedly the most original since the Model T Ford". I have no idea what year this car was manufactured - It is a CV6, so perhaps 1970's or 1980's. But here is the funny part, from a website, referring to the fact that the car is under powered: "The car will go from 0 to 60 MPH in a day." Others jokingly said they "had to make an appointment to merge onto an interstate highway system".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Tea Brewer

I spent today building my new tea brewer. This setup will brew a LOT of tea - 30 gallons worth, to be exact. Wait, Ken, that looks like the bottom of a garbage can. You are right! In the bottom is an air-distribution manifold that I constructed from PVC. But why do you need to inject air into your tea? Because it is not Lipton Tea I am brewing, but rather "Compost Tea." I will be using it on my lawn, and the hope is that after 40 years, I can finally cure the bare spots in the back yard and side yard I read about this on the Harvard University website, so the process is well researched. I will report back in a year to let you how it worked out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Today was Kathy's birthday, so we went to a nice Italian Restaurant to celebrate. It was a delicious dinner, from the bruschetta to the salad, to the main course and to the dessert. Ah, the dessert... Tiramisu. One of my all time favorites. When it arrived, its presentation was just stunning! I mentioned that I wished I had my camera with me. I had broken Rule Number One - ALWAYS BRING THE CAMERA! Kathy said: "I have a camera - I have my iPhone with me!" So I borrowed it, and here is my photo for the day. Is this an awesome presentation, or what!

Monday, June 13, 2011


It was another trip to McDonalds again tonight, for an ice cream cone. Pulled into the parking lot there - no drive through for me! Anyhow, as I parked the car, I saw this out the window. The orange sunlight from the late afternoon sun lit up the building. What made it more dramatic was the dark gray overcast sky. This shot needs more - I keep thinking that it would be cool if a couple of teen kids who usually hang out on the cement wall between McDonalds and CVS were there, and I could crouch down and silhouette them against the building in some way. Now THAT would be a photo.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trees in Manhattan

This is leftover from last week in Manhattan. I was walking from the heliport to a subway stop to get back uptown, and I looked up this stairway and saw a familiar sculpture, but from an unfamiliar angle. This piece is Jean Dubuffet's "Group of Four Trees", in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza. I have photographed this sculpture before, and honestly, this is not the best view of it. This photo is more about the relationship of the sculpture to its surroundings - the buildings are more important than the sculpture, in my opinion. Whichever is most important, the two objects together make a dramatic view.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Yesterday I mentioned that I had somehow deleted a folder of photographs by mistake, but that I had recovery software. Well, the software worked. It took several hours, but I got all of the photographs back. Whew! After I photographed the red saltbox house, I walked back to my car, and then saw these flowers growing all over this house. I was taken with how beautiful these flowers are. I was also amazed at how much they covered the house and porch. I just think it is a beautiful picure.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Technical Difficulties...

I wanted to post this other photograph from the helicopter tour of Manhattan, but I wasn't going to post it tonight. But I have to. I did a dumb thing yesterday, apparently. I was SURE I copied the whole folder of photographs of the Roslyn houses to my computer, but I can't find the folder and all the other photographs. I put the card back into the camera, and then formatted it. Whoops! All is not lost, however, because I own recovery software, and as we speak, it is churning away recovering the images from the card. But it is a slow process, and I need to get to bed, so I am posting this photo of the Manhattan skyline, with the Intrepid aircraft carrier museum in the foreground.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Historic Saltbox

I have photographed this historic saltbox house in Roslyn before. You might remember seeing it from its end, with a traffic light in front of it. Today I was coming from a different direction, and saw this view while stopped at a light. I parked the car and came back with my camera - no shooting while moving this time! I keep looking at this, and can't explain why I like this shot. Something about a sense of this house kind of hidden in the shadows. Maybe it doesn't translate to the photo, though.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ice Cream Cones

We decided to go out for ice cream cones, and while on the way, I noticed that the sun was this beautiful, magic, orange ball. It only happens in the summertime with hazy skies. So ice cream cones in hand, we headed toward Hempstead Harbor to watch the sun go down over the water. Fortunately there was a sailboat moored in the right place, to add interest to the photograph. I started photographing when the sun was higher in the sky, and continued to photograph as the sun got nearer to the horizon, and then faded from view. The photographs are quite different, and I have chosen this more dramatic one - one of the first pictures I took.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Christmas in New York

The title of this post is intentionally a tease. The answer is simple: Today we took a helicopter tour of Manhattan, which was a Christmas gift from Liz and Amy. We got the gift at Christmas, but waited for warmer weather before scheduling this flight. It was very cool, as all helicopter flights are. I have flown around Manhattan in helicopters a number of times over the years. This was Kathy's first flight, and she found the liftoff and initial climb a real thrill. Suddenly you watch the ground fall away, without having to speed down a runway, and generally you are not that far from buildings on takeoff and landing, so it is an impressive experience the first time. The views, of course were spectacular. I have several photographs, but chose this one as being the most immediately recognizable.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Library

OK, no more strange concretions. Time for something beautiful, so I am going back to architecture. This is a view from inside the columns of the library at Saratoga Spa State Park. This is one of two nearly identical buildings, on the outside. You can see this building's twin through the opening in the columns to the left, across the expansive lawn. Not only is the architecture beautiful, but at this time of day, the light coming through the columns is lovely. And you know me, I love the light.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Concretion

So how weird is this? Yesterday I spoke about the spring house, and how the water went to a pipe under the road. Well, it comes out on the other side of the road, and then the water trickles down a hill, and ends up running over this huge concretion which is perhaps 20 feet tall. This is a detail of part of the accumulation of limestone, or whatever the material is that precipitates out. It is an amazing formation, and this "mouth" is just stunning to see. Notice that leaves which have landed on the formation, soon get covered with the deposits as well.I have never seen anything like this before. What a wonderful surprise to discover this while walking up the river.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spring House

This photograph is all about color. It is a small stone house that covers a natural spring, and the water from the spring comes out of the small pipe, and then shoots down into this man-made opening leading to a pipe which then goes under a road. But this is about the color. There was something about the colors that stopped me, and as I started to frame the image, I began to see the individual colors - the bluish rock at the top, the grayish rock, and the reddish colors in the water receptacle. I can't explain it, but the colors are complimentary, or "opposites" and I think this has a lot to do with the impact it has on me. You will need to click on this image to see it with better color.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sidewalk Accident

You want to know what the strangest part about this photograph is? It is the part about how I felt while taking the picture. People were walking behind me on the sidewalk while I was looking for the best composition, and I was imagining that passersby were probably wondering WHY this guy would even be photographing the mannequin on the sidewalk. I felt much better when I was done taking the photo! The winds were quite strong this day, and apparently this had just blown over, and the shopkeeper most likely had not seen it yet. Why did I photograph this scene? I have no idea, except there was this brief two or three second flash when I first saw this, that a person had fallen. After I realized that it was not a person, I was still left with that moment of shock, and I guess wanted to record it.

The Arches

Sorry for the delay in posting this - I drove out East for observing last night and didn't get home until 3:30 AM. A spectacular evening to be under the stars. This is another photograph from Saratoga Spa State Park. In the picture from yesterday, you can see brick archways on either side of the building, covering walkways where in the old days, people could walk or sit and relax, even in inclement weather. This is one of the walkways that extend from each of two similar buildings. I just love the way the light plays on the architecture here. There is direct sunlight and indirect light, and even a spot of direct sun up high on the wall to the left. There is something about the wonderful sense of perspective as the arches march away into infinity that draws me in every time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Saratoga Spa

This is a photograph of one of the buildings at Saratoga Spa State Park. Saratoga became famous for the various springs that flow from underground. In the 1930s Theodore Roosevelt decided that the area should be developed to attract tourism. Funds were used to develop bath houses. research facilities and a drink hall. That's funny, the term "drink hall" because that's what it is, but they only drank the spring water! This building included a drink hall. I was lucky to have this amazing sky, with thunderstorms in the distance just when I was there. There is a restaurant operating there at present. It is wonderful that these buildings are preserved. The brick arches cover walkways so people could walk or rest in chairs in all weather conditions.