Saturday, December 31, 2011
Happy New Year! You can see that the kitty is SO excited about the arrival of the new year - you can see it in her eyes, and the smile on her face. She jumped up on the coffee table to celebrate! We hope you have a wonderful New Year, all of us!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:21 PM
Friday, December 30, 2011
Another "aerial photo" of people, this time from the Getty Museum. OK, so we are back in New York, but I have a lot of photos from California, so I will post them for the next few days. I will show more photos from the Getty, my favorite place in Los Angeles. There are photos everywhere. There are several levels of plazas and multiple stairways and balconies looking off in all directions - the views are spectacular. So I was idly looking down at the lawn and gardens below, late in the afternoon, and saw this young girl starting to run. Fortunately, I was ready, and managed to get one nice shot.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Thursday, December 29, 2011
So this is the second part of the Benice Cafe story. This is the building itself. The first thing to note is that the word "Benice" sounds like the city of "Venice" but if you break it down, it also can say "Be Nice." How wonderful is that! It is lovely both outside and inside, with morning sunlight streaming in through the windows and on to the tables. The cafe is not fancy at all, and that too, is part of its charm. And the service is sunny as well. Bacon and eggs, or omelets and hot buttered sourdough toast, and steaming hot coffee and conversations with good friends. There is a remote chance that it will survive, and we certainly hope so, but things are not looking good.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:43 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
OK, so this is a long story, and this post is Part One. Liz has a group of friends who get together for lunch on Tuesdays once in a while, and so they call themselves the "Tuesdaters," One of their favorite places to eat is the "Benice Cafe." Interesting that "Benice" is in "Venice." We have eaten breakfast there several times. Awesome! Anyhow, Benice may be gone before long, which is terribly sad. It has to do with stuff like leases and things like that. So I decided I would take a photo of the group, and the owner, for the sake of posterity. The owner is in the middle of this group shot, wearing glasses. Her name is Elan, but I don't know if it is spelled that way, and she is delightful. More tomorrow...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:04 PM
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
When we were at the beach yesterday, after walking around for a while, some of us stretched out on the sand to relax and soak up some rays, and even snooze just a bit. When we got up, some of us found out that we had been lying on sand that was slightly damp. Liz was one of those, so she was trying to figure out a way to dry her jacket. Then she came up with the idea of twirling the jacket around to see if that would dry it out at all. The wonderful thing is, that she decided to do this at sunset, so that made for an interesting shot! I am not sure how much dryer the jacket got.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:46 PM
Monday, December 26, 2011
We did a lot of walking today, including around the Venice canals, and then we came down to the Venice pier and walked out over the beach and the Pacific Ocean. It is absolutely beautiful at the beach, with the mountains in the distance. I was watching people in the distance, strolling along on the wet sand. Then I noticed one couple who was approaching and I moved over so I would be above them when they walked under the pier. I photographed them from further away, and then got this last photo just before they disappeared under me. It feels to me that it is a bit more than just a straight photo - it seems a bit cosmic in some way - as if they are walking into the future, perhaps.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:19 PM
Sunday, December 25, 2011
On the way to the beach yesterday, Amy pointed out this rooftop on a home just a stone's throw from Venice Beach. The building is three stories high. We know nothing at all about who lives here, or who made these statues, or anything else. Zero. All we can do is be amazed that someone took the time to do this. Sorry for not knowing more about this. Some things in life are supposed to be a mystery.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:07 PM
We went off to church at 6 O'Clock, and then after the service, we took part in our annual family tradition of Christmas Eve dinner in a Chinese restaurant. We were trying to figure out how long ago this ritual started, but we couldn't remember exactly. anyhow, we had a really delicious dinner, and then suddenly Amy put this package on the table in the restaurant. She said it was a family present, for all of us. So because of that, we all put our hands on it to open it. I thought: "Hey, that's a shot!" So here it is. The present? A board game. Games are another tradition in our family. This one is called "Catch Phrase" and we have had fun playing it tonight. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, as we are!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:25 AM
Friday, December 23, 2011
We went to the Huntington Library, which consists of a Library, Art Collections, and a Botanical garden. This was our first visit to this amazing place. There is so much to see that we only scratched the surface with our visit today. We did spend most of the time in the gardens. The Chinese garden is particularly beautiful, with multiple bridges, courtyards and buildings. There were pictures everywhere. But when I looked up and saw this one, it really touched me - Liz and Amy are masters of hand-holding their cameras in order to do portraits of themselves wherever we go someplace special. And there they are, at it again. Aren't they beautiful!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:29 PM
Thursday, December 22, 2011
We woke up this morning to a sunny day in California. I loved seeing the shadows of plants on the venetian blinds in the room. Then I saw the flowers through the missing blinds. I know who did this. Tarzan did. Tarzan is Gus's cat and rules the roost here. He is a beautiful long-haired cat. Tarzan likes to look outdoors - I have been in this room and seen him come in and paw the blinds open so he could see what was going on outside. Amy said that he kept pawing them until several of them broke and so she removed several of the blinds. So now we can see the flowers outside. And Tarzan can see outside as well. I really love the shadows - I think that those are really subject of this photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:38 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
New York to Los Angeles covers a distance of 2475 miles, and encompasses an amazing variety of landforms as seen from the air. But this scene topped them all. I think it was on the border of Nebraska and Kansas, and most of the ground was brown, but there was a narrow swath of snow running east to west for maybe a hundred miles, and it was maybe 20 to 30 miles wide. I never realized a storm could be this localized. Anyhow, what caught my eye at first were brown fields with straight lines of snow on one edge. I guess the snow had drifted because of the winds. A bit further along this came into view. I am assuming that some of the wavy lines had to do with contour ploughing, but I can't be sure. It feels as if this is some kind of a child's collection of blocks. To me, it is an astounding image.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:25 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Well, I made my annual batch of Gingerbread cookies! Yummm... This is a fairly old New England recipe - my grandmother got it from her friend, and passed it along to my mom and she passed it along to my sisters and I. I am guessing that the recipe is 80 or 90 years old. And if you ever have one of these cookies, you will be ruined for life! There are generous portions of the spices and molasses that make up this recipe, and it is so much better than commercial gingerbread cookies that you buy. You make the dough, and then refrigerate it for an hour, then divide it up and roll it out, and use cookie cutters to make the cookies. That cutter that looks like a Dutch girl? I made that outline years ago, but I have no idea what it was based on. It is certainly not "a gingerbread man." It doesn't matter - one taste and you will be hooked forever!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:39 PM
Monday, December 19, 2011
Do you remember the four pieces of Lilac bush trunk, and how I was not sure why the scene appealed to me? Well This is another instance of that, I am afraid. I got out of the car, and saw the sunlight on this scene, which included some dead pieces of bush that snapped off. There is something about the light in this - the fact that it is coming directly over my shoulder - the kind of lighting I would usually not use because it is considered "flat." But there are exceptions to everything. I think this is also about little patches of color and texture in various places in the image.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Are you tired of my night shots by now? I am. So I found this sunny-feeling picture from a month or so ago. I saw it at the end of my bike ride. It was the single cloud that jumped out at me. It was just lovely against the blue sky. The thing that really clinched it was that somehow that single cloud was illuminated by sunlight, making it glow, unlike all the other clouds. Left me with a kind of mystical feeling. It feels as if the tree is reaching out to the cloud. I think this photograph is much more significant than I first thought it was. I shot this with the iPhone, believe it or not.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:38 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I got a late train out of Penn Station the other night after the concert. It arrived here in Glen Head at about a quarter after midnight. As I was walking down the platform I saw this crossing gate illuminated by the sodium vapor lights, giving the scene a strange reddish cast. I think that was what first made me stop to look more carefully at the scene. I had to struggle with the composition - there was a telephone pole very close so I did shots including it, and then excluding it. Then I spent a LOT of time trying to decide whether or not I liked the black and white version better. That was a struggle. I decided I liked the strange red light best. But the bad part is, there is no train! I think this picture would be much better if the train was disappearing in the distance. Duh! I may go try this photo all over again, and get the train next time.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:30 PM
Friday, December 16, 2011
On the way to the Beacon Theater the other night, I was walking down Broadway and saw one of those plywood walls surrounding a site. You know the ones - they always say "Post no bills." So I was curious what was behind the walls. I saw some heavy timbers along the edge of the street, so I climbed up on them to gain some altitude and to get a better view. This is the best I could do. It appears that these buildings are about to be torn down. What is interesting is to see how decrepit the fronts of the buildings are. I almost wonder if there were false fronts on the stores that have now been removed. I do think that this photo has a spooky feel to it with the three illuminated windows higher up.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2011
I love to photograph industrial ruins. Oh wait, you already know that. I know these are not ruins. Yet. This was the Long Island Lighting Lighting Company for nearly forty years and has been here since before I moved here in 1966. It has been managed by something called "National Grid" the last eight years or so. It was recently announced that it will be shut down and demolished! Wow! This is only half the facility - there is a huge brick building with more smokestacks on it, to the left of these structures. I think these boilers are newer than those in the brick building. It will be unimaginable that these structures will be gone one day. Oh, and one other thing - this company pays a fortune in school taxes to the community. It is going to hurt when we have to make up the difference.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:00 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
One of my new favoritist groups EVER is "The National." I heard them do one number on Letterman about a year ago, and heard "something" in their music that grabbed me. So I asked Liz if she knew about them, and she sent me a few tracks. Then I got "Boxer" - one of their albums, and it was amazing. Then I got their newest album "High Violet" and it was astounding. I don't know anything about music, really, but their songs are very musical, and complex musically, and some of the songs do what Amy describes as giving her "The Chills." The National does that for me, so I got a ticket for their performance tonight at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. The venue is relatively small and really nice, their music is great and their performance was wonderful! So glad I got to see them live.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:26 PM
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I have done photographs of the destruction of the old Roslyn Viaduct, and the construction of the new one. I have been looking forward to photographing the finished bridge once all the construction equipment was moved away. I went by there today, and unfortunately there is still a lot of construction stuff around that ruins any attempt at a beautiful photograph. I wandered around, looking for some angle or composition that would not include the junk. I happened to glance up and saw this amazing abstraction with much of the structure in shadow, and only a narrow strip illuminated by the afternoon sun. I was stunned by how beautiful this was. I was also surprised that I didn't have to move more than a foot to get the perfect composition!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:26 PM
Monday, December 12, 2011
We have decided to put up some decorations, but are not sure what would be appropriate. So I have spent a lot of time driving around looking for good examples to follow. I think I found my favorite. This is about a mile from our house. Of course, it takes a lot of time to put up something this complex. I know that having done stories on people who "do" their houses, many of them start planning in July for December. So I am late to the starting line. I guess I will have to tone it down a bit, at least this year.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2011
We went to another Christmas party this afternoon with friends who we met when our kids were in school together. That was a long time ago. Anyhow, I met one of the grandchildren and was told that he loved science. He is 12 years old. I forget how the conversation with him started, but somewhere along the line I told him I built a telescope, and he was surprised, and asked how I did it. So we got a piece of paper, and I started drawing the telescope I built. He was fascinated, so I then explained about two different kinds of telescopes how they both worked. He still seemed interested so I spent some time talking about astronomy. Then I remembered I had a pair of binoculars in the car, and Jupiter was in the sky, so we went outside and I showed him where it was. He was able to see Jupiter and two of its moons, and he thought that was pretty cool. A couple of hours later he got to look at the rising full Moon. Here is the best part - I promised I would bring my telescope back to their house, at the next first quarter moon, and show everyone the Moon and Jupiter. Now THAT will be cool!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:05 PM
Saturday, December 10, 2011
So our astronomy club had its Holiday party tonight, a yearly event for us. It's always nice to gather with friends and have plenty of time to talk with each other. Of course everyone has to take photographs of everyone else seated at their tables. There were flashes going off all over the place - it seems as if everyone is a photographer. So while they were taking our photo I decided to take theirs. Always great to have my toy camera on my belt!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:12 PM
Friday, December 9, 2011
So we have this routine. The kitty waits outside the bathroom door while I take a shower. Then she runs into the bedroom, and jumps on the corner of the bed closest to the door. Then she sits. And stares. At me. Because she is waiting for me to scratch her behind her ears. So I carry out my part of the bargain, and scratch her behind the ears, then under her chin, and she purrs. And her day is complete. The sun was shining in the south window today, through the opening in the curtains, and it silhouetted the kitty on the wall. I know, you want to know which kitty this is. I haven't a clue...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:21 PM
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I take the subway up from Penn Station to Times Square then walk over a block to get to the International Center of Photography. As I was passing through Times Square I saw this video camera on a tripod and lighting setup. So I stopped and watched for a few minutes, and before long the man began to talk. I couldn't see any sign of what this was for and I didn't recognize the speaker. I do know that this kind of thing is called a "standup" where a reporter on a story ends up filming himself talking, instead of filming the scene. So that's all I know. And this may not even be a reporter on a storhy. I should have asked more questions!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The weather around here has been wonderful for nearly a week, with fog every morning. What is interesting and different is that the fog on the water stayed around for most of the day, but it was a fog bank out over the water. Late in the afternoon I decided to take a look at the Sound from Memorial Park in Sea Cliff which is very high up overlooking the water. I was stunned that the fog was still there. And what was really cool was the way that it was absent from the harbor, but at the tip of Sands Point, it had moved in and enveloped the tips of the peninsula. It looked as if it was the dawn of time. Please click on the image to see it in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I went to the city today to see the photo exhibits at the International Center of Photography. Found all kinds of interesting photos along the way. But when I left ICP and stepped into the street, I saw this. Twilight in Manhattan. The city is magical, at this hour, on a gray and drizzly day. In fact it is magical at so many times. It always recharges my batteries to go there. Makes me feel more connected to the world.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:10 PM
Monday, December 5, 2011
We had surprise visitors yesterday! We received a call from Chris, and he and Angela had to come to Long Island for a funeral, so we offered them a place to stay overnight. This was not the best time for them to travel - Angela had JUST had surgery on one of her feet, so the last thing she needed was a long ride in a car to get from Baltimore to here. We did make it worth their while with a nice dinner Sunday night, and some home-made bran muffins washed down with my legendary coffee made from beans I roasted here at home. So bright and early this morning they headed out for a long day at the funeral, then a family gathering, and after all that, they head back to Baltimore late in the day! Whew!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:16 PM
Sunday, December 4, 2011
I can't stop looking at these four pieces of tree trunk . You have seen them in another post, surrounded by beautiful fall leaves. There is SOMETHING about these pieces that I can't let go of. They are from a Lilac tree that I planted about 30 years ago. About six months ago I cut away the dead wood, and these are pieces from that. What attracts me to them, is that the branches have a twist to them. I laid them down together, because they fascinated me. I could have just thrown them out, but I didn't. I walk by them every day, and I have photographed them several times, but I can't seem to put my finger on what it is that I am trying to show. But I keep trying different views, different compositions, from close to far, and in different light. This closer view seems to be the right one, but I can't tell you why. Anyhow, here they are, and they are still a mystery to me. You might want to click on the image to see it in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:36 PM
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Christmas Cookies! It's that time of year, and these are the first ones done. Very fancy this year. In fact, they are so fancy, that you should be able to tell that I didn't make these - Kathy did. But guess is going to help eating them? Yes, you got that right. I test one about every 15 minutes, just to be sure they measure up, and because I am the quality-control officer for things like this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:59 PM
Friday, December 2, 2011
I still have some pictures from my urban exploration project. This room was in the building I photographed from outside and posted a couple of weeks ago. It apparently was a plumbing supply room - thats what the bins on both sides of the room are for. There were some fittings left in some bins. I love the light in this room but it was contrasty, so I did several exposures and combined them to show more detail. The processing is called "HDR" for High Dynamic Range, for those of you who are technically inclined.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:04 PM
Thursday, December 1, 2011
When I stopped to photograph the trees yesterday I leaned my bike up against a fence that was covered with vines. Curious, I tried to look over the fence, but it was difficult. I grabbed my iPhone and held it up over the fence, and I could see the view. So I shot this. This property was going to be developed, so the owner cut down a lot of trees and removed brush put up a fence, and then they discovered that the property at one time had some kind of industry on it and was in fact polluted. Wow. So the land has been untouched for several years, and these vines have completely taken over. A very strange landscape.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM