Saturday, June 30, 2012

Can You Guess?

Can you guess what is going on here? We have been talking about the best title for this, and I wanted it to be a "blind hed" which is an old newspaper term for a headline that doesn't tell you what the story is about. So the photograph is of Liz and Amy and Sarah in the side yard at dusk. What could they possible be doing. Any guesses? OK, the answer is "fireflies." The side yard was filled with them tonight, and the girls were reaching out for them, and sometimes they would sit on their hands. The really cool thing is that Sarah is from Utah, and they don't HAVE fireflies out there, so this was a pretty exciting event for her.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Solstice

The Solstice was 10 days ago. What it means in terms of my photography, is that the sun is as far north as it will be this season. It doesn't set in the west, but in the northwest. And that means that the sunlight, for a few weeks, shines in through the front door of the house, as it did today, and illuminated this lamp and table and small bowl of artificial flowers. But the subject of this photo, of course, is the sun itself. It's wonderful light at this time of day, isn't it? It seems impossible, but from now on, the days only get shorter and shorter.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Thrill Ride

So I was sitting on the front porch, having coffee and a sandwich. Suddenly I heard this loud kind of whirring sound coming down the hill. The next thing I know, three guys come down the hill, doing at least 25 MPH, riding on skateboards - on their BACKS! Whaaaaaa? I couldn't believe it, because I could not imagine how they would stop, for instance if they discovered a car coming UP the hill! Yikes. It gets better... 5 minutes later, a jeep comes up the hill, with the three guys riding upright on their boards and clinging to the car. So then I went and got my camera, and ran out to the street, looked up, and saw that two of the guys were getting ready for their second run. I was ready. Does this look like fun to you? Uhhh... It does not look like fun to me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Astronomy Lecture

We had a terrific speaker tonight from Stonybrook University, speaking on Supernovae. Type 1a, to be specific, and he covered a lot of ground in a lot of detail. These three members of my astronomy club were completely absorbed. Howard, at right is an engineer, and "The Lurkers" in the background are studying engineering and physics, so they were able to understand it all. I love the intensity with which they are watching the presentation. That's where the power of this photograph comes from, I think. And the lighting is pretty nice too - it is just the lighting in the room during the presentation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Airplane Window Rant

OK, so I have been thinking about this for a month, and I may get into a rant here. An airplane is a magnificent magical machine - it takes us out of our world here on the ground and lifts us among the clouds. When I fly, I do so with my nose glued to the window, from takeoff until landing. There are so many wonderful things to see in our world, as seen from the air, and I have taken photographs to show you. I can't imagine people not wanting to see this. Well, on my last flight, I had a center seat, and the woman on the window side, closed the window shade, and went to sleep - sometimes with her head back, and sometimes bent over like this. What a waste of an airplane flight! And I noticed one other feeling - how uncomfortable I felt on takeoff, not beging able to look out the window and watch the takeoff progress. That was a surprise.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Some Assembly required

I have driven by this place and walked by it for a couple of years now. What I haven't done is to pay close attention to what is going on there. I have seen half-finished sculptures of a horse or two, but I never noticed whether or not one was ever completed. So it gets worse... I did stop and take this photo, finally, but I have no idea what material the horse and statue are made from. I *should* have walked right up to it to see for myself, but I didn't. Bad reporting on my part. I think the material is not marble, though. I really should stop and ask, but actually I have never seen anyone working on this.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guitar Man

I was photographing those buildings in Sea Cliff, and when I turned around, I saw this man approaching, with a guitar over his shoulder. I was interested, because the guitar was not in a case, and I never saw anyone carry a guitar like that. So I did a couple of shots from the side, but the background was distracting, so I fell in step behind him and started shooting. He and the guitar stood out better against the background as seen from this angle. Why WOULD anyone carry a guitar like this?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Two Frames!

I was going to title this blog "Hanging out at CVS" because that's what this picture is about. But I think that it is more significant how the photograph came to be taken. We had just pulled into the MacDonalds drive-through line, to buy a couple of vanilla ice cream cones. There were cars ahead of us, and after stopping I happened to look out the passenger side window and saw this scene. I quickly got out my toy camera and made one shot, and then another, and then I had to move the car. Two shots! Whew! This is the second shot, and it was better than the first because of where the people were and where they were looking.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Another Mystery

A thunderstorm came through here this afternoon, so I had to stop painting the garage doors! After the storm cleared, I went out to the car to run some errands, and I passed by these flowers in the garden next to the house. The color got my attention first, but then I noticed the drops of water on the leaves, and then on the blossom. OK, that looks like a picture. The only mystery, of course, is what kind of flowers these are. I do know that these are beautiful flowers... But that's not enough - I should be able to tell you the names of these flowers that I am always photographing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Two Kitties, Again

The two kitties are so much fun! I never tire of watching them. Something, that only kitties could detect, happened outside, and the two of them ran to the radiator, jumped up, and looked in exactly the same direction. Everything about them was exactly the same, and their tails were the clincher. Fortunately my toy camera was right at hand. I had perhaps a minute to get this which is good, because one of them started looking around and I had to be patient and wait until they were both looking in the same direction again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Fern Bank

I looked at the ferns while getting the mail, and decided to try photographing them in a different way. I saw a photograph in National Geographic the other day, and the photographer had illuminated a cactus with a small hand-held flash held off the camera, over the top of the cactus. So I decided to try the same technique with the fern bank. This is the result. The difference between this flash image, and a natural-light image, is that some of the ferns are more brightly illuminated by the flash, in this photograph. I really like the effect.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Driving through town the other day I saw these two buildings, completely stripped of their outer sheathing. The original material, which has been removed, was asphalt shingles, which was actually pretty ugly. These buildings are pretty old - I believe that one of them was the original U.S. Post Office at one time. After taking the pictures, I went over and read the permit, and they are going to replace the windows and doors and heating system. I bet they are going to look pretty nice when finished. The thing that I really liked about seeing these buildings in this condition, is that you can see the nature of the construction. The sheathing that is nailed on diagonally is to strengthen the building - they used to do it that way, before the time of plywood sheathing. Click on this picture to see it in more detail.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Garage Doors

I am starting to paint the garage doors. They have long needed painting and I just haven't gotten around to it before this. But here is the thing - there is a wonderful quality about the old cracked paint, the rust stains from the latch and the wear on the door from hands opening the latch day after day after day. There is a lovely patina to all this. I have photographed this before, but I thought I would do this one last time before fresh paint brightens everything, and makes one of my favorite subjects disappear. I think that this photograph, by the way, is a lot about the wonderful shadows formed by the parts of the latch.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fathers Day

Every year on Fathers Day, at the end of the service at church, they ask all the fathers to come up on to the altar, and then a blessing is said by the priest and the members of the congregation, over all the assembled dads. It is a nice moment. This blessing, by the way, is also done on Mothers day as well. So here we all are on the altar, and I realize that there is a picture. And where is my point-and-shoot? In the car! I didn't mean to forget it. But then I thought of my iPhone, and quickly got it out and made two exposures. The result is that the quality of this image is no where as good as it would be with my toy camera. I chose to convert it to black & white because the color image is too garish in color.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Burger Joint

What? "The Burger joint?" OK, there is an interesting story here. I went for a burger the other night at a new place that just opened. They do have really good burgers, and GREAT french fries. Most times I don't get the fries, but I did the other night. I should tell you about how the restaurant only has one salt shaker and one pepper shaker for the entire restaurant, but I won't. Instead, I will tell you that when I left after dinner, I got in my car, and went to back out of my parking spot, and as I looked out the right window, I saw this! I think it was the flash of color that first grabbed me, and then the sense of fading afternoon light. Oh, and of course I have no idea what kind of flowers these are...

Friday, June 15, 2012

The LIE at 2:00 AM

The Long Island Expressway, known as the "LIE" in local shorthand, has been called "the world's longest parking lot" because of the traffic jams that it is known to have. I have never had any trouble with traffic - all you have to do is to pick the right time to drive on it! Like 2:00 AM. Of course that is not a practical solution. I just happened to be on the road at this time, because I had been out in Southold all night, doing some astronomical observing with my telescopes. So what I do is figure how long I can stay awake, safely, and then leave my observing session an hour and thirty minutes BEFORE that time, and I always get home safely. Please click on this to see it in more detail - it looks better in a larger size.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flag Day

The Fourth of July was always considered the country's birthday, but it is believed that in 1885 a teacher in Wisconsin liked the idea of a holiday just to celebrate our flag. It took a long time until Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day in 1916. But it took until 1949 for President Truman to declare June 14th as "National Flag Day." I tell you all of this, because I got nothin' to say about my picture of the flag! Well, actually I could say I was desperate again, an wondered what I would find, and then wandered onto the porch and saw this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Lurkers Are Back!

The Lurkers are back! Thank heavens, because I have missed them! They have both been away at college, and then they took a vacation to Hong Kong! Now they are back, they need to get busy working on the telescope mirror they started to make last summer. I forget whether or not I ever explained why they are known as "The Lurkers." When they first started working on their mirror, I did a photograph of them, and wanted to put it on my blog. I said to them I had a photo blog, and asked them if it would be OK to post their picture. They replies "Yes, we know. We googled you already, and know all about your blog." So I accused them of lurking... :-) They are so smart, that my brain has to work harder when they are around. This is a good thing. is is really nice that they are back, at least for the summer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I arrived in Manhattan early, for the memorial dinner last Saturday. I was lucky in that there was a lovely small park just down the street from where I was going. So I sat on a bench and did some people-watching, which is always fun. I spotted this older man with his walker making his way through the park, and the younger man stopped to chat with him for 10 minutes or so. Obviously they knew each other. What I liked about this was that they were being neighborly - stopping to pass the time with each other. Just a small moment in the big city.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Strange Graveyard

Well it's not really a graveyard. Although when I first saw it from the street as I passed by, it appeared to be a strange looking collection of tombstones. It turns out that it is some kind of temporary entertainment set up in one corner of the large park in Sea Cliff. It is called "Cosmic Croquet." I drove by the other day, and there was someone in a ticket booth. I guess you pay for a croquet mallet, and a ball, and then you play the course. This is not a teaching exercise. Each of the "tombstones" have some amazing and very clever artwork on them, and some kind of statement about the universe as well. And some have a semi-circular opening on the bottom that serves at a croquet "wicket" I guess. The number of these "tombstones" is astounding - I am guessing there are nearly 50 of these on display, and they are not tiny things - most of them are chest high, or waist high. Seeing these in passing sure was an attention getter!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Communion Dress

In church today there was this young girl in her Communion Dress with her mom, in the pew just in front of me. Behind me was another young girl, also in her Communion dress. These young girls were the cutest things in the church. So here was my dilemma... I could photograph this girl from behind, and she wouldn't be able to be identified. The girl behind me, however would be able to be identified, AND she and her parents would know that she was being photographed. I considered speaking to the mom and dad and telling them that I often take photographs for the pastor, but then decided against it. I guess if I had been working, it would have been worth it. But today, I thought that I wouldn't upset anyone by asking them to have to make a decision on whether or not they wanted me to take their daughter's picture. So you only get to see this picture.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Edie Beeson Smith

Starting in 1973 I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Edie Smith, who freelanced for the paper, producing fashion shoots for the Sunday Magazine. She had worked for Vogue magazine in the past and she and I worked together for about 10 years shooting all kinds of fashion stories and multi-page magazine spreads. What was amazing, was that she produced these stories single-handedly. She went to the shows to pick the fashions, and visited the designers for accessories, she chose the models, and we worked together to find locations. The photographic work I did with her was some of the best work I ever did. And all our shoots were fun, as well. Several months ago she passed away in Idaho, where her daughter and son-in-law now live. Today there was a luncheon in Manhattan with family and friends, to celebrate her life. Edie was the most elegant woman I have ever met, and this is a drawing of her made back when she worked for Vogue I think shows that elegance.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Patch of Sunlight

I glanced into the bedroom I am painting, and I saw a bright triangle of sunlight. When I saw what it was illuminating - the headboard of the bed - I ran downstairs and grabbed the toy camera. I started shooting right away, but after about 6 shots, the sunlight faded and was gone! I started with a wider angle view, but quickly zoomed in to get this more abstract view, which I like the best. Funny how quickly the sun moves sometimes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Old Mocos

I have no idea how long I have had these moccasins. But they are now perfect - they are not shiny and new - they have that perfect, used look to them. When they are brand new, they are actually maroon in color, with white soles. Sounds ugly, right? But these are Sperry Topsiders - the classic boat shoe, and that's how they look. So the trick is to wear them until they look beat up and used. Mine are now that way, but there is a problem... The soles are now kind of shiny, and very slippery. I have used sandpaper on them, and they are a little less slippery, but the bottom line is that I NEED new moccasins. So I will have to start all over, and it will take a long time for my new ones to get broken in, and look as good as these do.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Heading Into Battle

The Metropolitan Museum of Art really is astounding! I usually go there to see special exhibitions of photography, and painting, and the sculptures on the roof. I have been there so many times, that it is ridiculous that I never knew these two things: 1)There is an entire Frank Lloyd Wright room that has been moved into the museum, and 2) there is a whole room with a collection of metal armour, the type used in combat. Probably the most recognised style of armour in the World became the plate armour associated with the knights of the European Late Middle Ages, but continuing to the early 17th century Age of Enlightenment in all European countries. I started just looking at one or two suits of armor, but then got really caught up in studying it. But what blew me away was when I saw these three soldiers in full suits of armor, riding three horses with their own armor. I mean, this is unbelievable to see. It was just stunning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Three Minutes!

This is a photograph of the Transit of Venus, 2012, and I got to see it! For three minutes! I set up some big binoculars and a telescope at Memorial Park in Sea Cliff up above Long Island Sound. There were four of us there with either telescopes or binoculars. The transit started at about 6:00 PM and continued until sunset, two and a half hours later. The skies were completely clouded over at 6:00 PM and it had been raining for fifteen minutes! At about 6:30 there was a blue patch of sky that moved to where the sun was, and a number of us got a chance to view the transit. I watched through the telescope for a couple of minutes, and then put my Nikon on the back end of the scope and started shooting. I think I made about a dozen pictures before it clouded up again, and stayed cloudy until after sunset. So it was only three minutes, but I was thrilled I got to see even that much of the transit! There were 20 or 30 people in the park with us, and they were thrilled to have a chance to see the transit with us. The significance of all this is, that the Earth is only slightly larger than Venus. So think of this dot as the size of the Earth! See how small we really are.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Spaceship Has Landed

One of my favorite things at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is that in the nice weather they have these amazing sculptures in the roof garden. This year the artwork is called: "Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City." It is as if a spaceship has landed, and it is an amazing structure. The cool thing is that you can go up inside it via stairs, and walk through these modular structures that are connected together. Some have clear Plexiglass floor panels which is really disconcerting, and mind-bending, and fun. The only disappointing thing was that I was not allowed to use my camera when up in the structure. I put the wrist strap on, but I think they are afraid people would drop their cameras and cellphones from a great height. Please click on this image to see a larger version, and more detail.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Street Musician

I was in the city the other day - I wanted to see some exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And of course the museum has those wonderful steps out front. Literally hundreds of people sit there, and consequently there are street performers who entertain the crowds, hoping for donations. On this day there were some hip-hop acrobats on the side of the stairs, and around in the front, this street musician playing a saxaphone and a clarinet. His music was very enjoyable to listen to. But I was taken by the patina on his sax. I guess I thought that brass instruments were supposed to be polished. I asked the musician, whose name is Isaiah, and he said that absolutely you do not polish instruments! So the patina really matters.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Desert Rats

So this is the last post from Chaco. I thought I would show you the cast of characters. This picture was taken in front of a big rock in the campsite where our tent was, and the light was really nice here, so I decided to do a group portrait. That is Stan on the left, and Rush in the center, and me with the beat up old stetson. Desert rats, all of us. But from the photographs I have showed you, you can certainly understand the attraction of this place.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Imagining Things

This is the great kiva of Casa Rinconada, a 66-foot diameter structure that was once used for ceremonial purposes. I photographed this during the day but I had seen a photograph of a structure like this that was done at night, and that had been lit in some way. So I made sure to have a regular two-cell flashlight with me on the trip. After doing some star trails at the big pueblo, we came over to this site. I made a 1 minute exposure of the stars, and while the shutter was open, used the flashlight to illuminate the inside of the structure by "painting" the walls with the flashlight. I had no idea if the flashlight was bright enough to light up the scene. I was hoping that I would get something that looked OK, but this picture was beyond my wildest dreams! It is probably my best photograph from Chaco.