Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Buttonball Tree

So this is what I saw from the car, and went back to photograph yesterday. Then I saw the long view along the line of trees, and forgot about this for the moment. These are "Buttonball trees" which are really American sycamore trees. I usually photograph them in a long line, but the strange convoluted branches against the sky are what caught my attention. The "lumps" on the end of each branch are not normal for Sycamores - they have been pruned like this for the 45 years I have lived here. That's because they are planted very close together and need to be pruned like this to prevent them from getting their branches entangled together. Please click on the photo to see it in more detail.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Went Looking For Something...

...and I found something else. But photography is like that. Life is like that too. I was driving along the shore and glanced up at the Sycamore trees and looked into the upper branches - sort of a close-up view, instead of the wide angle view of all the trees in a line along the shore. So I parked the car and walked back along the line of trees, looking for the best tree top. But then I looked along the line of trees illuminated by late afternoon light and realized I had a good picture, but only if there was a person way off in the distance. So I waited for about ten minutes until this woman and her dog came along. Bingo!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Kitty's Spot

This is one of the kitty's favorite spots. Which Kitty? I still haven't a clue... :-) This is the back of my easy chair in the living room, and right behind my chair is the radiator. So the kitty lies down on top of the radiator cover, with the chair back on one side and the wall on the other, and then there is no way she would fall off. Of course kitties don't fall off anything. But she looks so cozy jammed in to her favorite spot.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Ride in Late Afternoon Light

The wonderful thing about winter light is that the sky can be exceptionally clear at this time of year. Which means that when the sun is close to the horizon, it is still bright, and can cast long shadows. In the summertime, as the sun approaches the horizon it fades after shining through the moist stagnant summer air. So shadows like this only happen in winter. I was climbing the hill on my bike when I saw my shadow, so I stopped and took this photograph. I was using my iPhone, which I why I stopped, instead of trying to ride and photograph at the same time. Wow, first time you ever heard me say that! :-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Fog

I went down to the water this afternoon because it had been rainy and drizzly, and I thought I might find some fog, and maybe a nice picture. There was a layer of fog all over the harbor. Wow! I quickly got the camera out of the trunk. It had been cold, however, and when the warm air came in contact with the cold lens, everything fogged up! Oh no! So I quickly got back in the car, turned on the heater and put the lens in front of the warm air. Gave it a minute, and then started running for the harbor. But a cool breeze had started from the south, and by the time I got to where I could shoot, most of the fog was missing! Arghhhhhhh... I did manage to get this. But you should have seen it before.... Sigh.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

They Built Airplanes Here

This is all that remains of a proud tradition of aviation on Long Island. It is one of the few buildings left of the Republic Aircraft Corporation. They were famous for their P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the great aircraft in WWII, and the F-84 Thunderstreak, a turbojet aircraft, then the famous F-105 Thunderchief used in Vietnam, and lastly the A-10 Thunderbolt. This building and several hangars are all that remain. Fortunately the hangars are still in use - one as the American Airpower Museum. I think this abandoned building is not long for the world. So much of aviation began on Long Island, both at Republic, and Grumman, and Curtiss, and now the world has changed and there is nothing left.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Solo!

I went out to the airport this morning to go flying. While I waited for my instructor to finish with the student just before me, they came into the room and she got some scissors from behind the desk. Then she started cutting up from the bottom of the student's shirt! She kept on cutting from bottom to top. Whaaaaat? Well, it turns out that the student had just made his first solo flight in an aircraft, without his instructor. This is a great moment in any pilot's education. To this day I can remember exactly the moment I took off alone and while on downwind for landing, turned around because I couldn't believe my instructor was not in the back seat of the airplane. What a great moment! The thing I don't quite get here, is that I am familiar with the custom of cutting off a shirt tail after a first solo. I have never heard of cutting off the entire shirt! In any case, it was a grand celebration, as you can see, and we all enjoyed the moment.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Root Cellar

I have photographed this scene before, but under different weather conditions. I like it in the flat light of an overcast and rainy day where we can see detail in the highlights and in the shadows. What takes this image out of the ordinary are the branches coming in from the upper right corner - almost like tentacles reaching into the picture. It is always this "something else" that I hope for in photographs.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Challenge

For me this is a tough time of year to look for photographs. Today it was gray and drizzling outside. There was none of the lovely light that I can find at times when the sun is shining. Gray and drab. So I wasn't looking forward to having to find a photograph today. I looked out the dining room window toward the herb garden, and saw the silhouettes of the dead plants against the snow. I spent about 30 minutes looking and shooting, trying to find the most interesting shot. I started with wide-angle views of many plants together, and ended up coming in close to just one plant - in this case, just a single stalk. It was difficult to edit, and to pick the most effective image. These photographs that I did today are, for the most part, about the structure of plants. These stalks are absolutely fascinating, and so beautiful, when examining them closely. It helps to have the snow behind the plants, to set them off from the background.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Engaged Couples

It is the start of the winter Pre Cana program at church. These are all the engaged couples who will be working with lead couples in their homes for four weeks. We will be working with five of these couples as part of the marriage preparation program. As the Mass is ending, the priest, at right, invites all of the young couples to come to the altar, and the he introduces all of the couples to the congregation, and then he offers a prayer for them and their coming marriages.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The End of the World as we Know it.

You don't see one of these every day. It is the nuclear nose cone of a Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, in it's silo in Arizona. At one time nine of these silos, with missiles in them, were in a ring around Tucson. They were all fully staffed with a compliment of U. S. Air Force officers and men and women who lived there and were on duty around the clock. The logic was that the Russians could launch an atomic weapon, and if it made a direct hit on one silo, the silo and missile and crew would all be vaporized, but the other silos would all launch their missiles back toward Russia, thus destroying the enemy. There were other rings of silos around other cities in the U.S. Man who THOUGHT of this? Whew! What is cool is that when the Air Force decommissioned all of these sites, one aviation museum managed to preserve one of these sites, and an empty missile in its entirety, so that we could learn how crazy this all was.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Waves of Grass

On my walk on the rainy day I went down to the boardwalk which is in a really out of the way spot, so I rarely go by there. I am glad I did on this day, because these grasses which are fading, were sculpted into these beautiful shapes. I am not sure if the wind helped with this, or whether is it just the way these grasses grow. They feel like waves to me, which is appropriate, because they are growing about 10 feet from the water's edge. I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect angle - moving a foot or two one way or the other made all the difference in whether the composition worked for me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Ok, so I am having trouble making up my mind. Can you tell? This yacht has been just off the beach for several months now and I thought it was on a mooring. Then a few days ago it drifted ashore, so that when the tide went out, it was high and dry. I went looking at it closely, and found it was connected to a very small anchor, no where near large enough to keep the boat anchored.
So two days ago I spent some time photographing it when the tide was out. I was happy that I had a nice photograph of it, but then on the way to the bagel store this morning, I saw this view, with the boat and its reflection in the water, and the blue sky and sunshine, and wanted to do that version as well. I think the photos on the overcast day are better, when I am talking about a derelict yacht, but it is hard to walk away from the pretty image. So which shot do you like best?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Galaxy of Raindrops

It was raining out when I left the house for my walk yesterday. The first thing I saw was the famous Japanese maple tree, with raindrops clinging to all the branches. I was going to ignore the scene, because I have photographed individual drops on the branches before. But I decided to look around for a bit and saw this view. There were so many drops in this one image, it felt as if I was looking at a galaxy of stars. The trick was to move around until the the background was as dark as possible, and then the drops really became more obvious.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Pedestrian

Funny that I would call this "The Pedestrian" because this photograph is not about the person walking. It is about everything else in the picture, and the division of space within the frame. I was out walking in the rain and went to the harbor. Coming down the hill I first spotted this landscape - it was the light pole that first got my attention. So I framed the picture and then suddenly wished there was someone walking along, which would serve as a point of interest. I took a picture, and then continued down the hill. I happened to look back along the boardwalk and here comes someone walking along! Yikes! I couldn't run back up the hill for my original composition, but I took this from a different vantage point with a different light pole. Wow, lucky me!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Other Wedding Photographer

Well, I whined about the wedding photographers the other day, who stood in the center of the aisle during the service. Here is another photographer at the wedding, and I was really impressed with his behavior. He had this cool looking camera, that at first I thought was a toy. Apparently it does take real digital photographs. It made a cute sound each time he clicked it. He was having a good time using his camera - he photographed relatives sitting in the pew with him, as well as photographs of the altar with the bride and groom. What was particularly nice was that he didn't block anyone's view.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Memorial Park

I went out walking the other day (when it wasn't so cold... :-) It was gray and rainy and I thought that I should be able to find something beautiful. I did a lot of walking and shooting but didn't have anything dramatic enough. Finally I walked up the hill in Sea Cliff to Memorial Park. It is is a beautiful spot, high above Hempstead Harbor and Long Island Sound. I went over to the fence and looked down, hoping for a grand view of the sound, but it was just kind of gray overall. It was only as I was leaving the park that I turned to look back along the pathway that I saw this. If the pieces of slate were not wet from the rain, I think the path would not be as interesting.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Almost Famous

So this is cool... A videographer from a local media outlet contacted me because he wanted to do a story about people who build telescopes and make mirrors. I have built a number of telescopes but I don't have any under construction at the moment, so I suggested that the students I am working with be included in the story. So we began at Jess' house and he did video of them working on grinding their mirror, and then interviewed them about the process. Then we all came here, and I set up three of the telescopes I have made. He did video of them, and then interviewed me, and I spoke of the joys of amateur telescope making. The completed video should be up on the web in a few weeks. Oh, the green? The photographer was not comfortable with me photographing him at work, so in order to post the photo on the blog, I had to take him out of the picture. Thus, the green.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Wedding Photographers

We went to a wedding this afternoon - just the service at church - of a lovely young couple we worked with in the marriage preparation program. I *think* they actually got married, but looking at the altar, we couldn't see the actual vows at all! These two guys are two of the wedding photographers and videographers - there were four all together. But to stand in the absolute middle of the aisle, and not to crouch down is just nuts! It is also rude. It is as if they are completely unaware of everyone in the church behind them. I was really shocked that they were so oblivious. And they stood there for at least 15 minutes while the vows were being said, rings exchanged, and blessings read. This is just stupid!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Great Flood of 2012

Actually not really. But it was raining cats and dogs early this morning and the wind was blowing something fierce. I was going to go to the city to see some exhibits at MoMA, but I decided not to go. I checked the tides, and at noon when it was high tide, I walked down to the water. The wind had ceased an hour or so before this, so there were no great waves. The only thing I saw was this puddle, because sea water was splashing over the sea wall and into the street, causing this flooding. Some kid in an SUV came down the street and aimed for the puddle and made this huge tidal wave, and I had my hands in my pockets! Oh man, never saw it coming. So then I stood there hoping someone else would drive through the puddle. This was the best I could do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NY Trees, LA Trees

These two photographs were taken within 2 days of each other. The day before I left for California I took the first one - bare trees against a leaden sky. Reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, "My November Guest." Then we went to California, and I photographed the palm trees out there, against a crystal blue sky. Quite a difference. The thing is, I love both of these photographs and both of these places. I am aware that my life is connected deeply to the change of seasons - even if this change is the result of a six-hour plane ride.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Pond, Different

The sun was low in the sky and everything was orange in color. As I approached the pond I was hoping that I could find a photo here, even though I have photographed this pond before. I took my iPhone out of its protective pouch on the bike, and started toward the railing which keeps people from falling into the pond. Then I stopped and realized I was seeing a different photo. Normally I would be looking for the beautiful landscape. But I realized that by leaving in the pipe railing I would be showing the scene as it really is. And this shot does have an interesting feel to it - more like real life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another House on the Dead End

I have posted about this site before. Someone bought this big piece of property, which was a big hill, and proceeded to take most of the sand out, leaving really steep walls at the edge of the property. Then they built stabilizing walls with concrete blocks to keep the surrounding dirt from falling in. Anyhow, they built one house here, and it looked so strange, with towering walls around it on two sides. Now they have started to build another house in the same cul-de-sac. Maybe after a couple of more houses are added, it won't seem so strange. But maybe it will. It was the late afternoon sun illuminating just the house that caught my eye, as I rode by on my bike.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Strange Butterfly

When out for our walk yesterday, we watched seagulls picking up mussels in their beaks, and then they took off and climbed to about 40 or 50 feet and dropped the shellfish on the rocks. Then the gulls would almost fall out of the sky, and proceed to peck away at the contents of the now broken shells. I have seen this before, but not recently. It was fun to watch. Then I got curious about how many mussels were actually around on the beach. I walked out on the beach to where the beach grasses grow - at this time of year there are just clumps of stumps of the grasses. And in amongst the grasses, what did I see but mussels growing. I pulled one out and it was clamped tight. So I got out my knife and cut it open - it was alive and growing. I had never noticed them on the beach before. I had seen shells, but didn't know where they grew. Anyhow, here is one, spread open. I thought it looked like a strange butterfly. No way I would take a chance at eating one, however.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sixty-One Degrees!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today, and the high temperature was sixty-one degrees! Wow! It was enough to make me stop working on painting the dining room ceiling, and decide to go for a walk. It was too good a day to miss, by being indoors. We walked down along the shoreline of the harbor, and then into Tappan Beach. While walking along this walkway I saw these two figures under the tree and quickly thought of taking this picture. Got the toy camera out, and managed one shot, before they moved a bit closer to each other, and the silhouette was then not as interesting. One shot. I am used to taking many more pictures than this, but at least I got it. Or rather, got something.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Fisherman

About a month or so ago, when I photographed the power plant that is going to be demolished, I walked all around the park across from the plant. I went out on this fishing pier, where a solitary fisherman was not having much luck, it seems. We only spoke a few words - there was a language barrier - but the sense was he only had one or two small fish. Then he packed up and headed back down the pier towards land. I think it took me half a minute to think of taking a photo! Anyhow, as he approached the end, I realized that the best part was this tiny figure at the vanishing point of the pier and railings.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Squirrel

This squirrel is lucky. Lucky that I shot him with a 300mm lens, as opposed to shooting him with a .308 Winchester. That's a joke - you don't shoot squirrels with high-powered rifles... :-) These guys are all over the yard here - one reason may be the Hickory tree in the front yard. They are all over that tree, because of the Hickory nuts. But they have be annoying this year - for some reason they have been digging all over the side yard. Digging all around where I planted grass in the fall. They are making a mess of the lawn - It looks as if it has been cultivated in some way. It is REALLY annoying. Maybe annoying enough, as I think about it, to go look for that .308 Winchester... :-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guess What...

Can you guess what this is, without reading further? You can click on it, and it will open in a larger window - I have posted a larger image which might help you to figure out what this is. Please try looking, before you continue reading.
So I was in Huntington, waiting to cross a busy street at the busiest intersection in town. I pushed the button for the walk light, and then waited about a minute for the light to change. While I was looking around, I saw this about a foot in front of my nose! At first I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I looked again. Wow! It is a utility pole, with about a billion staples in it! Whaaaat? Then I realized, that this has to be the most popular place to staple a poster in the whole town. Now there are no posters, but the staples remain. I mean, it is unbelievable how many staples there are here. Did you figure it out?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our Habit

This is our habit in the morning, when in Venice. It is called Abbots Habit, and is a great, funky place for great coffee (better than Starbucks) and wonderful muffins, sweet rolls, danish, and bagels. But the great thing about this coffee shop is the atmosphere. It seems to have a lot of writers, and Hollywood types and I would guess people in the movie biz. We go here day after day for our breakfast and always enjoy just hanging out here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Mirror Blank

My friends Adam and Jess have been away at college, and are now back home for Christmas break and are going to resume working on the telescope mirror that they are grinding. Here Jess is examining it with a powerful magnifier, looking for "pits" in the surface. Grinding needs to continue until the pits are gone. They will get some more grinding done, but they will not get the mirror done until they are on summer break. You will be able to watch their progress right here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"No Photography"

OK, so I can't tell you where this was taken, and I can't tell you the name of the sculpture or the artist. Why? Because I made a mistake... We were at this museum (a clue - my favorite...) and I saw this sculpture and did a quick shot of it, and then a guard said that you couldn't take pictures here and pointed out the tiny little sign on the wall that said: "no photography." Duh! Here is the amazing thing - I clicked one frame, and it just happened to be at the exact second that this father and his daughter were looking at the sculpture. Isn't it a stunning piece of art! I looked at this one object for about ten minutes because it was so striking and so beautiful.