Monday, April 30, 2012

A Guilty Pleasure

Well the headline on this is obviously a tease, at least it is if you know me. The story is that I was driving home from Westbury at night after a class, and a Dunkin Donuts flashed by on the left, and I instantly had an urge for a donut. THAT is the guilty pleasure! So I stopped, got my donut, and walked by this store window with this mannequin in it. The mannequin got my attention right away. During the day I doubt that I would have stopped, but the feeling of the night and the light give this a completely different feeling. Sort of mysterious feeling, and a sense that this model in in a predicament, perhaps. I am not sure - tell me what you see. But I do love the image and it stays with me.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


OK, so I know I posted a photograph of this Owl yesterday. I went back to visit it again today, and an amazing thing happened. I was standing there just enjoying this magnificent animal, and suddenly the woman whose bird it is suddenly said "Oh, get your cameras ready!" I didn't have any idea why she said that. It turns out that there was a seeing eye dog that just came around the corner and one of the other owls saw it and let out some kind of cry which the woman recognized. And, the Eagle Owl recognized it, and in front of our eyes the Eagle Owl started getting larger and larger and larger, with puffed up feathers and partly extended wings! It was unbelievable! The bird looked so fierce, and ha gotten maybe three or four times normal size. It was astounding to see! I have never seen anything like this before. Within a minute or so after the dog walked away, the wings folded back in and the owl got back to normal size.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I went to NEAF today - the Northeast Astronomy Forum. It is all about telescopes and eyepieces, and equipment and books and gear, all about astronomy. But for the second year in a row, there is a booth called "Talons" which has about half a dozen raptors on display. They are stunning birds and wonderful to see from about 4 feet away. Last year I was able to hold one and have my picture taken, but they were not doing that this year. So I opted for a close-up of my favorite - a European Eagle Owl. Aren't you glad that you are not a field mouse?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Enterprise Flyby!

It was a great day in New York today! The Space Shuttle "Enterprise" flew on the back of a Boeing 747 from Dulles airport in Washington, to John F. Kenedy airport in New York. The really cool thing was that they decided to fly a tour of metropolitan New York to show the shuttle to everyone, before landing at JFK. It flew in from the south, then past the Statue of Liberty and up the Hudson River to the Tappan Zee Bridge, then back down the Hudson River and then over to Newark Airport, then up to LaGuardia airport, then out to Long Island, where it overflew the New York TRACON, which is where the air traffic controllers work. I decided to try and photograph the flyby from the Cradle of Aviation Museum near the TRACON, and I was in luck! I brought a 300mm lens and a 200mm lens, and the 300mm was the one I used on my Nikon to shoot this photograph. It was beyond cool to witness this in person! I have posted a larger than normal file - please click on this to see it with more detail.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Moosup's Grave

Liz had a cat named "Moosup," named, if you can believe it, after a town in Connecticut. Moosup lived with her for a long time while she was in Manhattan. When the cat passed away Liz brought her home to Sea Cliff, and buried her up on the hill in the back of the side yard. Then she planted some Daffodils and used a Belgian block as a tombstone. So we watch every spring for the Daffodils to bloom over the grave.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Hauppague Palace

This is Sam's kind of place - a diner! I was coming back from Stonybrook on Saturday night when I saw this all lit up, and fortunately there was a red light, so I was able to stop long enough to shoot this from the car. OK, real photographers don't shoot from cars, but I was desperate! I love all the bright neon colors, and I like that this is a night shot for a change. I only got three shots off before the light changed, and only ONE of them was not blurred from the slightly long exposure. Whew!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fixing Up

Well, I am doing some work around the house. It was time to paint one of the spare bedrooms. It is a messy job, for this old house. The house has wood lath and real plaster walls, and is about a hundred years old, so it has settled some, and there are cracks in the walls and ceiling. All of the cracks need to be dug out just a bit, and cracked paint needed to be removed. Additionally, there was some peeling paint as a result of some minor water leakage that occurred before I put a new roof on the house. So I went to work digging it out and scraping, and then I went to work with joint compound a trowel, and a spackling knife. This is the result, after the first coat. I love how this particular image looks - kind of like one of those optical illusion puzzles you see in books, when you first look at this for the first time. The color differences are the result of my using a quartz light on the right side, and the blue color is the daylight coming in the front window.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day + 1

I spoke yesterday of going out to find a photograph, and shooting several different scenes, and each one seemed better than the other. So yesterday I posted my favorite, and today I am showing you my second favorite. But I don't know - what do you think? Is this the best photograph? I shot this scene several times, from pretty much the same vantage point, but I started with a wider view, and moved in closer. I often do that in landscapes, for instance. I need to make sure that I "have it all" in the frame. When I am sure I have that, then I feel more free to crop more tightly. And often the tighter composition is stronger.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

I guess I am about 24 hours late with this wish for a happy Earth Day. Oh well... Anyhow, I knew there were some Daffodils out in the upper part of the side yard. So I went out to photograph them for Earth Day and thought I had my shot. Then I went over to the side garden and photographed some plants over there, and thought that was a better shot. But I kept on looking and went further along in the side garden and photographed this. Each time I thought I had "the" shot, but I kept on looking, and was rewarded by the last shot, this one, being the best. One other thing - I first photographed these leaves from a bit more to the right - the shot was OK, but it wasn't THIS good - it was only when I stepped to the left that I found this more perfect composition. Oh - I posted a larger image than normal - please click on it to see it larger and with more detail.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Astro-Fest 2012

My friends Adam and Jess invited me out to Stonybrook University for Astro-Fest 2012 put on by the Stonybrook Astronomy Club. I brought one of my home-made telescopes so they could use it as part of their display about telescope making. They also had another friend come from a different astronomy club, and she brought her telescope so that people could view the planet Venus. Here she is setting up her scope with another member of the astronomy club. I got to talk with a lot of the students who had displays set up for the public and had some really nice conversations about astronomy which made for a great evening.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pretending to Grow a Lawn

Our lawn has always looked less than picture perfect. No matter what I do, it looks great in the spring, but by the heat of summer so much of it dies off. I am not a big believer in wasting water just to have a green lawn. But this year, with no winter snows to speak of, and no rain at all so far, the lawn is a mess before the season even begins. Even so, I soldier on. I have planted two areas with grass seed and fertilizer, and I am very conscientious about watering these areas twice a day. It is a bit boring, so I decided to take a photo of my watering chores. I love that this photo is kind of mysterious - at first you are not sure what you are looking at.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Purple Buds, II

Last Saturday I posted the photo of the light green leaves, with the purple buds or whatever they were called, underneath the leaves. I think that photo was the best shot, but this is my second favorite. When I saw the purple "haze" near the leaves, I started photographing from a whole bunch of different angles. This was the last shot I did, before the one I posted before. I was right under the tree looking straight up. You can see those purple "things" sticking up. An interesting note is that now the driveway under the tree is covered with the purple things which have now fallen off. I love the "layered" quality to this image - the sharp leaves in the foreground, and the out-of-focus leaves in the background.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Country Bumpkins in the Big City

In the office building we were in yesterday, there was this view out the window, of Central Park and all the buildings surrounding it. Wow, there sure are a lot of buildings in Manhattan! Yup! Golly Gee. Lookit all them buildings... I didn't want to seem like a country bumpkin, so I waited until we were alone by the window, and then I quickly got out my toy camera and grabbed a few shots of the scene before anyone could discover me. It really is a stunning view.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I was in the city today and took the subway to get around, of course. While riding along as a "straphanger," meaning that I was standing up hanging on to the poles in the car - there are no longer any "straps" in subway cars - I looked down and saw these two people completely oblivious to their surroundings, doing stuff on their iPhones. They were transfixed by what they were doing, and I thought it made an interesting photo so - get this - I got out MY iPhone and took this picture!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Orange and Blue

We are taking a class down at church on Monday nights, and there is always a break where I get up and walk around. And I am always looking for blog photos. The class is held in the gymnasium and tonight when I was walking around, I looked back into the gym and was taken by the dramatic color differences - the blue walls lit by the blue light from outside at the end of the day, and the warm yellow light inside from the incandescent lighting. Then I just had to try and make an interesting composition out of it by balancing the different shapes and areas of color.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Fine Day for Motorcycles

On the way to church today we were passed by about a dozen motorcycles riding in a group as we entered Westbury. Then a hundred feel later, another dozen, and then another dozen, and finally, since I was stopped at a light I got out my toy camera and grabbed one frame of the last dozen. I have no idea where they were going, but they were organized - there were guys in orange vests at both the beginning and end of each group. End of my story. Sometimes I am not a great reporter... :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Beauty of Spring

I looked at the Japanese maple tree the other day, and in addition to the brilliant light green color of the leaves, there was a purple haze under the leaves visible as well. I know this color is not evident later on in the spring, so I decided to do some investigating. It turns out that there are little purple buds or something (and I know they can't possibly be "buds") but they hang below he leaves on little stems, kind of like tiny bing cherries or something. Anyhow, I spent some time trying to come up with the most interesting photograph of this, and I took about 5 different views, looking for the best. This may be it, or it may be one of the other photos, and I will probably show another one tomorrow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ursa Major

The name of the constellation, seen over the top of the telescope dome is "Ursa Major." Most people know it by its asterism name - the big dipper. It is upside down in this photograph, because of the time of year. It was a relatively clear night so I drove out to Custer Institute for some observing. When I saw the Big Dipper upside down, I decided to take a photo. The dome didn't show up at all in my original photograph, so in the subsequent exposures, I used my astronomy flashlight to "paint" the dome with light so it could be seen. You may have to click on this image in order to see it in a larger size, in order to see all the stars.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Photo Class

My friend Mike teaches a photo class down in Virginia, and for the past two years, on one of the class nights, he has me talk to the class via Skype. Mike asks me to talk about my photo blog - this blog - and my experience with it. I talk about how I learned of Will's "A Picture A Day" Blog and decided to start my own. I talk about the discipline and how it is actually fun to know that I NEED to take a photo each and every day. I talk about how it was a surprise to me to discover that the act of looking for photographs is what makes me feel like a photographer, not the act of clicking the shutter. OK, this photo... As a goof, after I got Skype up and running, I slid the Easter Lilly in front of the lens of the computer, so this the view the class first got of me - hiding in a jungle! It got a few laughs. I'm such a kidder!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nice Fence

I arrived at my astronomy club meeting tonight earlier than normal. So I started looking around a bit, now that it is still daylight out when the meetings begin. This is one of the buildings at the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium that I have not been inside. I think it is a museum which has on display some of the amazing objects that William K. Vanderbilt II, an avid collector of natural history and marine specimens, as well as other anthropological objects, acquired on his trips around the world. This photograph is actually more about the wrought-iron fence that is in the foreground - that's what caught my eye, and then I just included the building because it was there. It is a pretty interesting building, though.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Sandminer's Monument

I visited the sandminer's monument in Port Washington yesterday. The Port Washington sandpits were the source of 90 percent of the sand used to make the concrete that built New York City! For years I watched the machinery when it was in operation, and then when it all shut down, I spent a couple of days wandering around the old buildings and the ruins of the sand washing tower, but because it was so decrepit, I didn't dare go inside and climb around in it. How unlike me. Anyhow, now they have a monument to the men who worked here, and they included this original piece of conveyor belt left in its tunnel. I had to climb over a fence to get to this, but I wanted to photograph the real thing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Oh No, He's Using That Trick Again!

Another field trip today - this time to the Sands Point Preserve. There are two interesting buildings there - "Hempstead House" which was a home built by Howard Gould, and later owned by Daniel Guggenheim. His son Harry, and wife Alicia Patterson began Newsday back in 1940. The other structure on the property is called Gould Castle, and it is this building. Pretty classy, huh? Get this - it is the stable and carriage house! Some carriage house, huh? The inside is not open, but there is plenty to photograph on the outside. I used Hipstamatic on the iPhone, to give it an old-fashioned feeling.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Brooklyn Heights Architecture

Yesterday I mentioned going to Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade. The architecture of the Heights is nothing less than stunning! There is a concentration of over 600 pre-Civil War houses, one of the largest ensembles of such housing in the nation. And there is block after block of picturesque row houses and a few mansions. Architectural styles represented here include Federal Style houses from the early 1800's, brick Greek Revival and Gothic Revival houses, and Italianate brownstones. If you love architecture, this place is just a joy. I of course, have no idea about this particular house, but it just seems so "Brooklyn" to me.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Brooklyn Promenade

Vince and Jo Anne have never seen Brooklyn, so we drove in today, and I drove around showing them the sights, as I know them - you know, Flatbush Avenue, Grand Army Plaza, The Brooklyn Museum, and then we finished up at the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. It was a gorgeous day, and there were all kinds of things to photograph. But when I saw this "action" photo, I thought it was more interesting than the architectural photos I had been taking. It is the usual trick we all do, of holding a camera out at arm's length to photograph our own group shot. It is a photograph of this couple, but I think it also gives a sense of the Promenade and the Brooklyn waterfront. The cranes in the distance are part of a containerized shipping port, and I love the sense they give.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Tilted House

First, I LOVE this shot - there are so many things going on. Second, this is not a house, of course, but the title would be a bit awkward if I called this post "The Tilted Concession Stand," you know? Apparently they drag these buildings up near the boardwalk for the winter, but strong winds form drifts of sand around parts of the building, and undermine other parts, thus causing this structure to tilt. I wandered around it several different times while at the beach, and kept coming back to it, and photographed it from every different direction. Like so many times in my past, the best shot, this one, was the last shot I took. Happens every time. I love all the stuff going on in this photo, from the building itself to the drift fence, the sand dune, the feathery cirrus cloud above, and last but not least, the small singular figure off to the right.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Photographer

Vince and Jo Anne are visiting for Easter, and so we did a field trip today, to Jones Beach. It was a bit chilly, but the blue sky, sunshine, and sound of the waves crashing made it all worthwhile. Vince and I were both photographing all kinds of things at the beach, and then he turned around to photograph us sitting on the beach. So I thought I would make a quick photograph of him standing there concentrating, with his camera.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

13 Day Old Moon

Do you know that the moon has an "age" each month? Of course the moon has a real age - about 4.5 billion years since it was formed. But each month we talk about the moon's phase by talking about how "old" it is. It takes the moon approximately 28 days to make it's trip around the Earth each month. Because it travels around the Earth, we have the phases of the moon, from new moon, to crescent to first quarter, full moon, and last quarter. So first quarter Moon happens at 7 days, and full Moon at 14 days and so on. Well, tonight the moon was 12.9 days old, which means it is about one day to full Moon. Whew! That was a lot of explaining. Anyhow, it was just beautiful to see this brilliant moon in a deep blue sky, just above the silhouette of a tree, with no leaves on the branches yet.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Power Plant Has Trees

This is my favorite power plant, of course. When riding by it yesterday I noticed that these trees are in full bloom. I always bring my iPhone with me, because it is small and has a camera in it, and it can be carried in a small protective pouch on my bike. So I stopped and photographed the trees. I love the contrast between the flowering trees and the industrial plant in the background. And you want to know what kind of trees these are, and you know I normally have no idea about things like this. But THIS time, I can tell you they are flowering Cherry trees!

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Clam Phase

A few weeks ago I tried a can of New England clam chowder for a change - I usually buy the Manhattan version. It was by one of the big manufacturers - and it was awful! It was pure white and had almost no clams that could be seen with the unaided eye. So I got a recipe that I think was closest to what my mom used to make. I made a whole pot of it, and it was stunning! I had some clams casino as an appetizer in a restaurant the other day, so tonight I decided to make a bunch of them for dinner. My sister had the recipe, and they were great. And if you spot the bacon on top, not to worry - just take another Lipitor!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Magnolia Blossoms

The Magnolia trees around here are in bloom. One next door, and this one across the street. The photograph has a couple of parts - I love how the tree is in bloom, but I think without the pedals from blossoms that are on the ground, this would not be nearly as interesting a photograph. I like the way my eye goes from the tree, down to the fence, and then to the lawn, and than back up to the blooms on the tree.