Sunday, July 31, 2011
The pilgrimage to Mecca is a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime. This is a different pilgrimage to a different "Mecca." Adam and Jessica, as budding amateur telescope makers, made their first pilgrimage this weekend to the birthplace of amateur telescope making in America. The Stellafane Convention began in the 1920's, in Springfield, Vermont. Some people have come here as teenagers, and are still attending 40 years later. I first came here in 1989, and this was my 23rd convention in a row. This is Adam and Jess' first convention, and they brought Jess' commercially made telescope. Next year they are planning to return with their first home-made telescope. I can't wait to see that!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:09 PM
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I am at the 2011 Stellafane Convention, in Vermont, the premier amateur telescope maker's gathering in the world. It has been going on since the 1920's and the building and property have historic landmark status. In addition the field is covered with home made telescopes of every shape and size and design. It is telescope maker's heaven. Unless you are a Chihuahua. This is Benjamin, and he apparently is not a fan of telescopes, OR he is really tired, or both. He was really sound asleep, which was so cute to see, in this backpack. It is interesting that a couple of hours later, I was really tired as well, and took a nap in the shade of a tree. Maybe telescopes put everyone to sleep! :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:51 PM
Friday, July 29, 2011
OK, so it is not a dungeon. But the story about this tunnel is very cool. This tunnel runs from Hartness House, which is now a hotel, but at one time was the residence of James Hartness, governor of Vermont from 1921 to 1923. He was an amateur astronomer, and it gets COLD up here in the winter. So he and some friends build a concrete structure out in the side yard, much of which is underground, and out of which protrudes a refracting telescope. So he could observe the heavens from a warm place during the bitter cold winters. Only thing is, he needed to GET to the telescope from the house. Thus, this underground tunnel from the house to the telescope! Very cool indeed.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:39 PM
Thursday, July 28, 2011
It was dusk as I waited for darkness tonight. I set up my telescope on the observing field, and was waiting for both darkness, and for the telescope mirror to cool down. I was waiting in the car, relaxing, when I saw this in the distance. I hadn't noticed this when I was close to it - just later on from a distance. It looks to me like a big aluminum bear standing upright. You know, Grizzly Bear? It is not that, of course. It is a mylar cover for a telescope set up on the field. It is a protective cover. Funny how it ended up having two points, like ears, on the top.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:05 PM
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Talk about nonstop! From LAX to JFK to Springfield Vermont, in the space of 24 hours! I am now at the Stellafane Convention for amateur telescope makers, after a quick turnaround in Sea Cliff and a 5 hour drive! I saw these clouds around sunset and only had a minute or two to compose this image. Or should I say, to select this much of the image from the surroundings. The secret? I was in a shopping center, and if I lowered the camera about 5 degrees you would see a sign that said "Radio Shack!" And you thought I was in the woods somewhere! They are beautiful clouds, though.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:58 PM
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Yesterday Amy and I went for a walk on the beach in Venice. We had been so busy with party planning and so on, that we hadn't been to the beach in the entire week we had been there. So off to the beach it was. Ahhhhh... the smell of salt air is just sublime. We walked along the shore for quite a while, and then we walked across the beach up to the sidewalk that runs along by all the shops. That is a completely different experience with characters of all kinds strolling the promenade. Never a dull moment. Oh, and you can buy sunglasses, tee-shirts with stupid sayings on them, and hats, among other things. Fortunately I didn't buy anything. Today we left a cool and sunny Los Angeles and headed back to New York, where fortunately the temperature has dropped from last week's 100 degrees.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:29 PM
Monday, July 25, 2011
I was going to the hardware store the other day on Lincoln Boulevard. I pulled over to park and saw this store. Or rather I saw this mannequin, dressed up Hollywood style! This is a wonderful, funky store, and was in here a couple of years ago when Amy bought an old chair to reupholster. I just love the combination of the mannequin, and the old chairs, and the bright pink colors. I did try converting this image to black and white, and it was pretty cool seen that way, but the pink won me over to the color version.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:08 PM
Sunday, July 24, 2011
So we have spent all our time out here setting up a surprise party for Amy's birthday. What made it a bit easier was that her birthday was July 1, but she and Gus were away, so our hope was that she would not suspect anything. We were nervous, though. But our deceit was rewarded this afternoon when we completely surprised her. She NEVER suspected a thing! You can see how surprised she is as she came around the corner into the back yard. Then she was very emotional, thinking that all these people would show up to help celebrate her birthday. It was an amazing party.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:50 PM
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I went to the Getty Center again, as I always do when visiting L.A. and I always come away recharged. What an astounding place. I never know which to look at first - the architecture or the wonderful exhibits on display. I did see some exhibits first - starting with the Walker Evans photographs of Cuba in the 1930's. But the architecture is so striking, that after being in a gallery for an hour or two, I need to go back outside and see what photographs I can find of the buildings and the visitors. This was a grab shot - only one exposure, but it is a favorite.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:34 PM
We went out to a bar tonight to see an L. A. girl band perform, and they were fantastic! Liz and Amy have friends in the band, and that's why we went. The band is Luca, and they are a "cover" band - they do other's songs for the most part. They are all great musicians, and they seem to be having a lot of fun while performing. What seems a bit unusual is that they have a violinist as part of the band, and that adds a whole other feeling to their music. Here the violinist performs the Charlie Daniel's Band hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Wow, it was astounding! By the way, this is a straight photograph - no manipulation. The unusual coloration of the photo is the result of both stage lighting, and the over-saturated colors that result from the colored gels.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 1:50 AM
Thursday, July 21, 2011
So here we have the proprietor of "The Bike Whisperer" bike shop, and one of his satisfied customers. The tall guy asked the Bike whisperer for a custom paint job in yellow and purple. Why yellow and purple? Any guesses? Right, because the customer is a Lakers Fan! So the bike whisperer took a bike completely apart and sent the various parts out for painting, and when he got them all back, he reassembled the bike. That's when I wandered into his outdoor workshop. While I was still there the bike owner showed up to pick up his new bike. Because it was such a cool looking bike and both the owner and the mechanic were there, I asked if it would be all right to take their photo, and they agreed. Cool colors, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:40 PM
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I actually did a real double-take today when I drove by this scene. We were on the way to Amy's house, and I saw this flash by my window. So I dropped everyone off and turned around and drove back here to see what was going on. Turns out, this is a bike shop, in the front yard of a house. The proprietor works on bikes and has all his tools out in the open, or partly under an umbrella, on what is left of his front lawn. He said he had worked in other shops for years, but decided to open his own shop. His sign said "The Bike Whisperer." He assembles and sells bikes, and customizes some bikes for customers, and does a lot of repairs. Three people came in with problem bikes and he set about repairing them on the spot, and his prices seemed really reasonable. Tomorrow I will show you one of his custom paint jobs.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:57 PM
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Winslow, Arizona, from 35,000 feet. Westbound again, headed to California. Oh happy day! Going to visit Liz and Amy, and while it is 95 degrees in New York, it is only 73 degrees in Venice. I was amazed that about 90 percent of the window shades were drawn on the airplane. I cannot imagine flying across the United States without looking out the window to see the amazing landscape below. I loved the bleak landscape, the puffy white clouds, and the cloud shadows. I only got two exposures before the aircraft moved on.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:45 PM
Monday, July 18, 2011
I was going to take a giant family photo at the graduation, so I went into the house to make sure that no one was left in there. I turned the corner from the back room, and ended up in this room. I was stopped in my tracks! Wow! It was just amazing, the sense of light and color. Hard to know what grabbed me first, the light or the color, but the combination was an instant "Yes!" So then I had to run out to the back yard to find my camera. I did, and raced back inside the house to make sure that the light hadn't changed. I really love this shot.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:33 PM
Sunday, July 17, 2011
So for the graduation party, they rented a "Moonbounce" thing. It is an inflatable room that kids and adults can walk on, and then there are walls that are inflated as well. You climb into it, then close the netting, then throw yourself at a wall, bounce off, and land on the inflatable floor. Loads of fun, right? The kids came up with a better idea: They all stood against one wall, and had Kiera (lying on the floor) stand with them. Then everyone but her ran across the room, smashed into the opposite wall bending it outwards, and the whole room tilted, and the air pressure in the wall they just left, launched Kiera into low Earth orbit! Obviously it was fun, can you tell? I shot a billion images and got only two possibilities, and this is the best.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:25 PM
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Seated at the graduation cake are Brendan and Kelly. They are cousins and this is a graduation party for them, and they are surrounded by parents and family and friends. They have both just graduated from High School and so this was an occasion for a family party, with people coming from near and far to celebrate. It was wonderful, with kids everywhere, having great fun. Even their Great Uncle was there, with his camera. "Great Uncle?" Whaaaat? I am a "Great Uncle?" I don't feel THAT old yet...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Friday, July 15, 2011
This is a leftover from Attleboro. I saw Bethany's new front hall table for the first time, and was really taken with it. It is new, but looks old. It just has a wonderful look to it. Something about the curve of the legs and the color of the paint. But it is also about the oval mirror, and the vase with the single branch in it. And, of course the light.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:02 PM
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I was on my way to the grocery store (molasses for the compost tea... :-) when this scene flashed by the rider's side window. I did that quick brain thing where I ask myself whether I think it is a "real" picture - that's just inertia at work - maybe telling myself that I don't have to actually stop. It took about 100 feet for the "Yes" to click in, and so I turned right a couple of times and came around the block. You will be pleased to know that I did get out of the car to shoot this. I just loved the late afternoon light highlighting parts of the garden, the birdhouses and the house.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:45 PM
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Is there anyone out there besides me, who eats sardine sandwiches? I used to eat them as a kid, because my dad did. I think my mom made them which is a real testament to her love for us kids, because she hated to handle fish. I remember them being delicious, but for some reason I hadn't had one of these in years and years. I recently read that the same benefits that you can get from salmon, you can get from sardines. It is quicker to make a sardine sandwich, than it is to grill a salmon filet and then make a dijon dill sauce to go with it. So maybe I am more healthy now. This sandwich DOES look strange, doesn't it? It will have a second piece of bread on top.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Time to do the wash today. These cycling jerseys have been worn too many times to put on again! How come I even have these colorful jerseys representing a number of the European cycling teams? Because I am a bike jersey junkie? Well, yeah. My logical explanation is all of these can be seen from a long distance away. I would never wear a black jersey, or other subtle color. My object is to be as bright as I can while on the bike - to be seen by drivers. Oh, and if you are curious, I use as cold water wash and the gentle cycle, and then hang them up to dry as you see here.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:56 PM
Monday, July 11, 2011
"Bat Garden" indeed. Now I am just being silly. I had "Making Bats" and "Bat Sunset" so I just had to add "bat" to this post. Actually there were bats flying around here, but that is not the important thing. This garden is part of the famous thatched cottage, a children's playhouse built back when this estate was built and first occupied in 1906. The gardens at Old Westbury Gardens are simply stunning, and there are a number of them all around the grounds. If you are ever within a hundred miles of this place you owe it to yourself to come visit.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:38 PM
Sunday, July 10, 2011
After seeing the bats yesterday at dusk, we walked to another area where bats are sometimes seen. On the way, we passed this beautiful pond, and got our first view of the sky after sunset. It was such a surprise to see this, even though we passed the pond on the way in. I have spent a lot of time over the years here at the gardens, but I have never seen it at dusk, and it was a completely different, and a wonderful experience.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:16 PM
Saturday, July 9, 2011
There was a "Bat Walk" at Old Westbury Gardens this evening. We went over because we wanted to see some bats. It was a pretty cool program. There were a lot of young kids there, so the first thing they did was show the kids how to make bats. They had some black foamy material and black pipe cleaners, and the kids set to work. After the bats were finished, the kids ran everywhere flying their new foam bats - it was fun to see. Then we wandered the grounds at twilight, looking up, first at the birds heading to roost. Eventually the tell-tale flight of the bats gave them away as they zig zagged overhead, feeding on flying insects. It was very cool to see them flying only six feet over our heads.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:42 PM
Friday, July 8, 2011
So I have been struggling with this for a few days. I did this same photograph in the early morning, and posted it a week ago. The next night I happened to wake in the middle of the night, and looked out the window. It was a far more interesting photo, I thought. So I got my toy camera and shot the picture. But I had already posted this same scene. "I can't post two shots of the same thing," I thought. But I realized that this image is so much better. It is not really the same thing. You might be interested to know that I shot this in color, and because of the street lights, it has a very strange yellow color to it. So I knew immediately that I needed to convert the image to black and white. This has such a lovely quality to it now.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:17 PM
Thursday, July 7, 2011
I photographed this cairn a couple of weeks ago when the tide was out. I have checked on it when I sit on the bench by the water after my ride. The cairn stayed together for a few days, but then when it got windy, and waves formed, it was knocked down. Then whoever made it, put the stones back up again. This is funny, but every time I saw it, it was low tide, until today. It looked so cool to see the top of the cairn, and I saw immediately that it looked like a monk, looking out over the water. Fortunately, I had my toy camera on the bike. You remember the rule - always bring the camera!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:36 PM
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Today was a big deal for the two students I am working with who are making their own telescope and mirror - they started grinding glass. An 8" diameter glass disk is put on top of a tool made from small bathroom tiles, and water and carborundum grit are added between the two and then they push the glass disk back and forth, gradually hollowing out the piece that will be the mirror. Two pieces of glass and grit? Makes an awful sound... This picture is a bit of a mistake - I under-exposed it by mistake, but then decided that I loved the dark painterly effect
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
We went over to our friends Larry and Nancy's house last night to watch the fireworks. We have done this for a few years now, since their house overlooks the harbor. Only the fireworks were supposed to be Sunday night this year, and we were away. Boo Hoo. But then they called and said there was a postponement, so we got to see them after all. What was really nice this year, and I don't think I have ever seen this before, was that they started the fireworks when there was still light in the sky. It was a nice effect - you could see more detail in the surroundings.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM
Monday, July 4, 2011
This is my birthday suit. Well, not THAT birthday suit! I already had the bike shorts, but I got the matching jersey for my birthday. And so I went for a ride with my new jersey when we got home from the party in Connecticut. Here's the interesting thing - I ride 10 miles up and down the hills of Sea Cliff, at an average speed of 15 MPH. On the flat, I can do 21 MPH when I am really hammering. Pretty cool, huh? Well, no, actually. During one of the days of the Giro d'Italia, the riders rode for seven and a half hours nonstop, climbed and descended five mountains, AND did it at a average speed of 35 MPH! Yikes! There goes my chance for a berth as a domestique in the Tour de France!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:34 PM
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Pat and Bethany are expecting, very shortly, as you can see. This morning she was lying out in the sun, with their dog Liberty. I have been watching the whole time we were here, for a nice moment to take a photo of Bethany, showing how far along she is in her pregnancy, and finally this was the moment! The most difficult subject, of course was the dog! I have to be so quick with her - the minute she knows you want to take HER picture, she disappears. Fortunately Bethany stays in one place longer.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:11 PM
Saturday, July 2, 2011
This was the day of a surprise birthday party for Vince. We came to Masachusetts from Long Island, and Chris came from Baltimore - he arrived from the airport in the trunk of Pat and Bethany's car, covered in a blanket, as a surprise, and other relatives from upstate New York arrived as well. Vince was stunned, at each new arrival. What a great surprise. Here Pat brings his dad the birthday cake, with more candles than I have ever seen... :-) It was an amazing and wonderful day!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:09 PM
Friday, July 1, 2011
This is the view out my window - the window of my bedroom at home, when I was growing up. And now it is where we stay when visiting. I woke this morning and looked out to see the early morning sunlight on this familiar scene. The street that goes off in the distance is Seaside Avenue, and it is the route I walked along to grammar school every day. It is the street that goes to the beach, which I rode with my bicycle. It is the street on which I returned to the house after my early morning paper route. I remember watching bright stars twinkle in the sky over the years, and I watched the moon arc across the sky from here. It was good to be back home.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:53 PM
I was thinking of titling this "Stupid ATT!" You might wonder why I would put such a strange title on my blog. Well, for one, because I was unable to post last night. We stayed with my sister Joan, in Milford and when I arrived late at night, she said, "I hope you don't need the internet. I switched over to ATT and half the time it is not working. No phone, no TV, no internet!" Well, now we are in Massachusetts, at Pat and Bethany's and FORTUNATELY, their internet works. So here is my delayed post. This is a house we passed by after arriving in Milford, decked out with bunting for the Fourth of July. It seemed appropriate.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:55 AM