Thursday, May 31, 2012

Venus Over the Pueblo

I am in the home stretch, as far as Chaco photographs go. Almost at the end. This is the planet Venus setting in the west after the end of the Annular Solar Eclipse. And it is setting over the Pueblo. I was taken by the space in the masonry and how it would make an interesting compositional element. So I walked back and forth until Venus was positioned just above the opening. So now it looks like some amazing "alignment" between the architecture and the heavens. Only its not - it's just me moving around.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The T-Shaped Doorway

So I am getting to the end of the Chaco photographs. But I took so many interesting images, that I hate to stop posting them, and then have to look for interesting things in my back yard. So this is one of the most famous parts of Pueblo Bonito - the T-Shaped Doorway. No one knows why they built this doorway this way. I saw it suggested that it might be for people carrying large loads. The flaw in that theory is, that this doorway can only be reached by passing trhough smaller doorways in any direction that you approach it from. But it is a stunning thing to see, with more doorways in the distance, leading to room after room. This particular view is the most iconic image from Pueblo Bonito, and is featured in almost every book about Chaco Culture Historical Site. Isn't the stone work stunning? It is incredible how carefully the stones are shaped and fitted in these structures, given how long ago they were constructed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From the Top of the Cliff

I hope you are not getting bored with my Chaco images. I took so many photographs in the time I was there, and of course I want you to see them ALL! I have wanted to climb to the top of the cliff since my first visit here years ago. I wanted to look down on the huge expanse of Pueblo Bonito. It is an amazing sight, and only from this vantage point is it possible to see how vast this complex is. Notice all the circles within the outer walls of the structure - each of those is a kiva.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day, 2012

Every year Sea Cliff has a Memorial Day Parade, and I am always so thankful that we have this part of "Americana" right here. So I go to the parade every year and look for a photograph. I photographed a number of different scenes today, but just as I was about to leave the grounds where the ceremony is held at the end of the parade, I spotted this face. His name is Charles, and he is our neighbor from down the street, and he is a U.S. Navy veteran from the Second World War. He served in the Pacific on a "mini-flattop" as he explained to me. Sort of like a small aircraft carrier. It's funny, after shooting all kinds of images of the parade, this photograph - of just one person - seemed so much more significant than all the other photographs, as a way to honor our veterans.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Other Photographer

I am finally caught up! I have been doing two posts a day all week, and now I have filled in for the days I was off the grid. Anyhow, I went to Chetro Ketl shortly after 7 AM because the light was really nice at that time of day. After wandering around photographing for maybe an hour, another photographer showed up. He was using a 4x5 view camera and shooting in black & white. I watched him for a bit, then went over to talk to him. He was there for the same reason I was - just to have fun shooting photographs of the Pueblo ruins. I was using a 4x5 camera, and shooting black & white when I made my first trip here years ago.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Big Dipper

We went into one of the rooms of Pueblo Bonito as darkness approached, and set up our cameras on tripods in order to make long exposures of the sky as seen through the open roof. I started making exposures when there was still light in the sky, and continued until the sky was completely black. I was surprised to see that I liked the first exposure when the sky was still blue. By the way, Polaris, the north star, is visible through the window to the left. The big dipper itself is upside down in the center of the picture. Please click on the image to see it larger. It is easier to spot the dipper.

The Way Down

Stan and I climbed up this very narrow trail through the face of the cliff, in order to reach the top of the mesa. We wanted to be able to look down from above to photograph two of the pueblo sites, which we did. It was an interesting viewpoint of a spectacular scene overlooking the whole of Chaco Canyon. You could see for miles from up on top. After hiking about a mile along the top of the mesa, we turned around and headed back. This is Stan on the descent through the narrow cut in the rock that is the trail to the bottom.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Kiva

This is photograph of a kiva, which is a subterranean room apparently used by the ancient Pueblo peoples for religious and ceremonial, and perhaps for other communal purposes. Some of these rooms are huge, as large as 100 feet in diameter in some cases. And they had roofs covering them. They would erect stone pillars, and then large logs, then smaller logs and eventually the structure was covered with earth. I am guessing that the depth may be as deep at 20 feet. They are impressive structures when you see them in person. Most of the pueblos have a number of Kivas in them, some are much smaller than this.

The Photographers

A number of photographers were set up on a small plaza within the ruins of Pueblo Bonito for the annular eclipse. After totality I wandered over to behind where they were, hoping against hope that the sun would begin setting in the haze, so I could get the photographers in the foreground, AND a partially eclipsed setting sun. No luck with that, because with such clear skies in New Mexico there was no haze, and the sun was too bright then to photograph the sun without a filter. But so it wouldn't be a total loss, I photographed just this group of photographers. Imagine how cool this would be if the eclipsed sun was in the picture!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Face at Chetro

I'm sorry to mention the face, but I just can't get past that when looking at this photograph. I walked around the wall with the door and two holes in it, and turned around to look back and saw this. This pueblo ruin is called Chetro Ketl, and is the second largest pueblo at Chaco. It is also at the base of a cliff, as yesterday's photo at Pueblo Bonito was. What is not obvious here is the incredibly detailed stonework. There are at these pueblos, sharp edged right-angled corners, and thin stones carefully arranged in complex patterns. Remind me to show you a detail of the stonework.

The Milky Way in the Desert

Observing the skies doesn't get any better than this! The desert at Chaco is clear and dry, and so so dark because Albuquerque is a hundred miles away. It is a magnificent experience to stand under skies this dark, with the Milky Way brilliant overhead, in a graceful arc from North to South. What a shame that we have so many lights in populated areas, in the name of "security" that the Milky Way is no longer visible to us. Please click on this image to see it in more detail.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Annular Eclipse

OK, I know this looks strange. I did not bring a telescope with me to Chaco, and I did not bring a long telephoto lens, so I really had no way to photograph the annular eclipse. I just decided to watch the whole event with my giant binoculars - 16 x 70 Fujinons. But when it got to annularity, I suddenly thought to use my Canon S-90 and try and take a shot through the eyepiece of the binos. This is the result. What you see is the entire disk of the sun, blocked by the entire disk of the moon, leaving a "ring" - an annulus. It is not a great photo, but at least I have some record of the event.


So this is your introduction to Chaco Culture Natural Historical Park. It is located about three hours northwest of Albuquerque, in the middle of the desert, which is one of its attractions. It consists of an enormous number of Pueblo ruins built between 850 A.D. and 1250 A.D. I believe the current understanding is that it was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture. There are roads leading to and from here that go for hundreds of miles. This is Chetro Ketl, and you can see that it is located near the base of the cliff on one side of the canyon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back from New Mexico!

So I am now back from New Mexico, and it was an astounding trip! I can't decide whether or not to post the photographs in the order in which I took them. I will figure that out later. When I arrived in Albuquerque in the afternoon, I had three hours before dinnertime, and I decided I didn't want to waste it. I took a chance and drove over to Petroglyph National Monument. I spoke with one of the rangers and got a suggestion of which of several sites to go to with my limited time. The site I chose was a 2.3 mile round-trip. You just hike along the base of this canyon and look for petroglyphs on the dark black rocks along the route. Petroglyphs are made by chipping away the dark "varnish" on some kinds of rocks. It is not clear what these particular figures represent, but they are a joy to look at, after the "treasure hunt" you need to go through to find them in the first place. They are not easy to find.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Off The Grid - No New Posts for a Week!

Ok, so here is the story. I am in New Mexico and will be driving to Chaco Culture National Historic Site to photograph some of the remaining structures of the Ancestral Pueblo Peoples. Chaco was the center of the universe in 850 - 1250 AD, and all roads led to and from here. It is out in the desert about 3 1/2 hours west of Albuquerque. There are no facilities there, so I will be camping with two photographer friends, and then Saturday at sunset we will be observing and photographing the Annular eclipse of the sun. So I will be off the grid! No cell phone, no internet, NO FACEBOOK... :-) THERE WILL BE NO MORE BLOG POSTS UNTIL NEXT MONDAY NIGHT, so please don't think something has happened to me. When I return I should have some stunning images. This, by the way, is a trail I was on at Petroglyph National Monument today, and it shows the shoe prints of so many hikers who have passed this spot.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Flying Things

So does this photograph speak of the Southwest? Brilliant blue skies, clear until forever, mountains in the distance, and these sun screens suspended by wires to shade the patio area of Petroglyph National Monument visitor center, outside of Albuquerque. And the choice of color for the screens is not accidental - the color reminds us of the color of adobe, and there are so many buildings built of adobe out here. Even the new interstate bridges are painted the color of adobe, with a beautiful turquoise band running the length of the bridges.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Joy of Rain

Ah, the joys of rain! This Spring started out so terribly dry. And it was a dry winter with almost no snow at all. Then it was unseasonably warm. We were really worried for all the plants around here. So the last few weeks have been a huge relief, and the last two days a joy with all the continuous rain we have gotten. So I went out today to look for evidence of rain. The first thing I noticed were tiny water drops on the tips of the leaves. But photographing them was not easy. The wind was blowing and the branches were moving. So it was frustrating, but I kept at it, and this is the result.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Old Dogwood

This is the old dogwood, seen from the front porch. Unfortunately it is in sad shape, and nearly covered in Ivy vines. Twenty years ago it would bloom beautifully every spring, but little by little it was damaged by the fungus that kills Dogwood trees. Our neighbors have lost two trees, and this one is nearly gone, sad to day. The photograph of it has a really nice mood to it, if somewhat sad.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Two New Bikes!

This is Derrick, at left, and his dad Derrick and their new bikes! I met them when were at Joan's last night. They got the bikes and yesterday took them out for a spin. They rode ALL over Milford, miles and miles, to the Subway for lunch and to the beach and I think to the nature center, and everywhere! What a cool thing - a father and son, riding bikes together! As you know, I love bikes and I love riding, and when I am on a bike, I feel like a 12-year old. So it was so much fun for me to hear from Derrick and his son about how much fun they had!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Light in the Forest

OK, so I can count, and it is really three lights in the forest. But wasn't there some book titled "A Light in the Forest" or am I just imagining that? I do that a lot, you know - imagine things, and think that they are true... :-) I was at my astronomy meeting on the grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion, in Centerport, NY and while waiting for other members to arrive, I stepped outside the building as it was getting dark, and saw that it was foggy. I love fog! So I looked around for an interesting composition. I do have a shot with two people walking along the pathway, but it feels as if the people distract from the trees and the fog.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Venus at the Beach

I went observing tonight at a new place for me. I usually drive for an hour and forty minutes to Southhold, but tonight a couple of friends from the astronomy club said they were going to Robert Moses State Park and suggested I come join them, and it is only half the drive time. We observe from a parking lot that is normally used for beach parking. While waiting for it to get dark, I was looking around and saw these strange tops to some of the evergreen trees there. Then I noticed Venus setting in the west, and moved around until I had a composition that I liked. This is it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Spot on the Sun

There was a report of a large sunspot on the face of the sun today, so I got out my telescope and camera and went out to look. I need to use a special solar filter on the telescope so the Sun won't blind me or damage my camera. I was astounded to see how large the spot was, and how complex. I will spare you what sunspots are and what causes them, but they come and go over time as the Sun rotates. After I took a bunch of pictures and looked at them on the computer, I compared the size of the sunspot with a picture I did eight years ago of the planet Venus crossing the face of the sun. Venus is only slightly smaller than earth. Anyhow, the sunspot was MUCH larger than the image of Venus. So this is one BIG sunspot. Please click on it to see it in a larger size and see the complexity of this spot.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Robin's Rest

I almost didn't get this one! I opened the front door to leave for some errands and spotted this robin on the mailbox. But I needed a "long lens" for this shot, and it was in the basement. I stood at the door for a few moments, trying to guess what chance I might have for going to the basement, getting the telephoto lens, coming back upstairs, opening the door again, and wondering if the robin would still be there. I thought I would take a chance, and the robin stayed on the mailbox. I was thrilled. I have no idea why a robin would want to sit on a mailbox near the fern bank.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grasses Along the Walk

When we were out walking yesterday, we climbed the famous "Tilly Steps" which gain about a hundred feet in altitude. The steps were restored about 10 years or so ago. On the way up the steps I noticed these stalks of grass growing against a poured concrete wall by the steps. What is interesting is that generally for grasses like this, we never see then silhouetted - they are always in a bunch, in a field. That's why these jumped out - because they were individual "stalks." I thought the composition only needed just the grasses, but this bunch had the curving vine coming into the frame from the top - that added the extra something.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Let's get this straight right away - this dandelion is NOT growing on my lawn... I went for a walk around Sea Cliff with Jo Anne and I spotted this down near the water, so I stopped to photograph it. I was thinking I wanted to show the whole flower, or whatever they call it when it has gone to seed. It looked nice - this perfect white ball against the green weeds out-of-focus behind it. But I cropped into the image to see how it looked, and it seemed so much more dramatic, so I have chosen to show this version. What an astounding thing this flower is, with all its detail and delicacy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunlight Refracted

We went to lunch today at a restaurant, with Vincent and Jo Anne and a few other friends. As the afternoon went on, sunlight came through a window in the restaurant, and was shining onto the tablecloth on our table. As it did, the water in the water glasses acted like lenses and refracted the light as a lens would, and made these interesting patterns of light on the tablecloth.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The New Bed

So I finished painting part of the bedroom, and we went out and bought a new white metal bed, and it looks so pretty against the green wall. So I thought I would go take a photo of my finished handywork. I went into the bedroom and saw a patch of sunlight coming in through the front window, and suddenly that became the subject of the photograph. I did a sort of normal photograph, and then thought "What else can I do here?" So I started experimenting by moving in closer and trying different angles. This is the result. I thought it had an interesting feeling to it, and it is a different way of looking at something than I normally do. I don't know what it means, but I really like the composition. Maybe later on I will show you more of the room.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I Finally Got it Right!

About a month ago, I opened a can of Progresso New England clam chowder. I love their Manhattan version. The New England version was completely white in color, and I could see diced potatoes, but hardly any clams. It was the worst soup I had ever had! So I decided to make my own chowder. I called my sister to get my Mom's recipe, but Joan said that mom just had the recipe in her head. Of course! So I found a good looking recipe in a 39 year-old copy of "The Joy of Cooking." It was a large recipe, and I cut it in half, but was not careful about the division. The soup was great, but there was too much bacon taste to it. So then I made another batch a few weeks later, and after steaming the clams, they said to saute the chopped clams before adding them to the soup. They were tough. So the other day I made my third iteration of the soup and it was perfect! This is what it looked like tonight when I had the last bowl from that batch. Notice how you can SEE the clams! Yum!

A Sea of Green

I have been painting all day. So I stare at the roller tray with green paint in it, and the green roller, and the brush with green paint on it, and then at the green walls. A sea of green, indeed. I am only half way done, and tired of the color already. I guess it is that way with painting. First it is new and exciting, then it becomes ordinary, then boring. But the walls do look really nice after the paint is on. No more cracks in the plaster, or little areas of peeling paint. So in the end, I am happy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Flying Saucers!

First, click on this image so you can see it larger. It does look a bit like a huge fleet of flying saucers. Well, except that they are not exactly round. The are water drops on the windshield of the car. It was raining very gently today, and so the drops didn't get really large and then run down the windshield. They were smaller and just sat there on the glass. By the way, each water drop is a lens, and you can see, if you look carefully, the black panes of the garage door windows, with the white mullions in an "X" shape.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Bells

I went out the back door tonight to put a steak on the grill, and, as usual, the bells hanging on the outside of the back door jingled. Not something I think of at all, but for some reason tonight, I realized that they have been hanging there for 41 years! They were a housewarming gift from Mrs. Cornell, my friend's mom. I can't tell you why it's so nice to hear them ring each time we open the door, but it has been a part of our lives as long as we have been in the house. Funny how the time goes - you hang them on the door, and suddenly it is 40 years later. What a lovely gift these bells were. And what a lovely reminder of what a wonderful woman Mrs. Cornell was.