Monday, December 31, 2012

Words To Live By

We went into a store in Los Angeles that sells all these signs - billions of them, it seems. Words to live by. Words like: "Changing the toilet paper will not cause brain damage." Such words of wisdom seem so valuable as we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome the new year. Believe it or not, I was able to resist buying any of these, but you can peruse the signs in the window and see if there are any that apply to you. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunlight & Shadows at the Getty

One of the photographic exhibits at the Getty Center was a collection of black & white photographs that made use of strong light and shadows. It's funny about getting immersed in a large photographic exhibit - I find that when I leave, I end up seeing the world in a new way as a result of the photographs that I saw. That was the case here, and I found myself looking for shadows as the subject of a photograph. So while looking at the late afternoon sun shining through this tree on the plaza, I became aware of the shadows of people going up and down the stairs. So I sat there and kept taking photographs as the people moved up and down the stairs, and then chose this one as the most interesting.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Sunny California Morning

I got up a bit early one morning at Liz and Sara's home, and walked into the kitchen, and saw this scene, ablaze with early morning sunlight. There was something wonderful about the feeling of all this sunlight. My friend Jim who lives in California is always ribbing me about "Sunny California." Usually right after a blizzard here in New York!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Seis Cuerdas

Back to the Promanade in Santa Monica. There are changing performers every day, and we were lucky enough to come by when these two flamenco guitarists were playing! Wow! We stood rooted to the ground as they played for a while. I took some different views, and this is my favorite. I did stop to talk to them a bit between songs. So I googled "Seis Cuerdas" and found a couple of YouTube videos of them performing. Here's the thing - when you listen to them play, my photograph seems insignificant compared to their artistry. Here is the link: < > Enjoy the show!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Moonrise, from the Getty Center

I managed to get to the Getty Center this afternoon for a few hours. I wanted to see two photographic exhibits, and an exhibit of paintings and illuminated manuscripts, called "The Dawn of the Renaissance, from 1300 to 1350" It is always exhillarating to spend time there. It is as if it is a castle on a hill - the grouping of buildings sit on a hilltop that overlooks the western part of Los Angeles, and the Pacific Ocean. It is always hard to decide whether to spend time in the galleries, or outside looking at the landscape and the architecture. I was about to leave late this afternoon, and just happened to catch a glimpse of this scene, the Moon rising over the hills east of the Getty Center. You can see part of Los Angeles in the distance to the right. Please click on this image to see it in more detail.

The Silver Man

There are all kinds of interesting performers on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, only a few minutes away from Venice. The promenade is lined with stores, but the street is blocked off and reserved only for pedestrians. I want to show you some guitarists I photographed the other day, but this silver man who showed up today just seemed astounding to me. Imagine how tedious it has to be to cover all of the skin on your face with this silver makeup. I have no idea what his deal was - he was just setting up when I shot this, and I didn't stay around to see. I was just taken by the effort he needs to expend just to show up for work each day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Girls, Christmas Gifts

I love this photo! From left, Sarah, Liz, The Monkey, and Amy. "My" four girls. "Four"you say? Well, yes. They are all wearing some of their Christmas presents. And Kathy is the one underneath the monkey hat and scarf! It was a gift from Amy's husband Gus, and we had so much fun laughing about how silly it looked.

Christmas Eve Mass

This is our third year here in Los Angeles during the Christmas holiday, and each year since the first, we have gone to an evening Mass at this church. My photograph does not begin to do justice to this young peoples choir. They are amazing, and wonderful and beautiful in their singing. I didn't want to make a big deal of shooting too many photographs, since it was during the service, so I only took three or four pictures. Unfortunately I didn't get them with joyous expressions on their faces. But I can still wish all of you a joyous Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa Claus Plays the Violin!

We got to go to a party last night, near where Liz and Amy live! Liz and Sarah are partners, and Sarah, plays the violin in two groups - one a women's rock band, and another newer group that plays Bluegrass. So we got to go because Sarah was playing with the bluegrass group at the party. It was wonderful, and I got to photograph her playing the violin. She was the only band member wearing a Santa hat, so it made the perfect picture.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Vanishing Venice

We have been coming out to Los Angeles since 2005, and it is amazing that in Venice alone, so many businesses have disappeared, for one reason or another. This is Lincoln Fabrics, my favorite fabric store. I have bought material here for photographic backdrops, and for making laptop sleeves and other projects that I forget. It was a funky warehouse kind of place, but fun to go searching in. I was so surprised to see that it closed back in October. I love the colors of blue in this, with the darker blue the same color as the sky. It was tough to pick this wide-angle view, because there are some interesting close-ups of strange mannequins in the abandoned display windows, wearing really weird clothing - you can see one in the lower right corner of the photo.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Breakfast With Bono

We go to Abbot's Habit every time we are here in Los Angeles. So today I wanted to take a photo of everyone having breakfast. As I was standing there with the camera, a person came in the front door, and asked it I wanted him to take the picture so I could be in it. I thought that was nice to offer, and turned to look at him, and nearly fell over - he was the spitting image of Bono! It was not, of course, Bono, but he got everything JUST right - hair, sunglasses, earrings and scruffy beard, and his face was very similar! An amazing likeness, well cultivated by this guy. So after he took our photo, I asked him to sit, and I took this photo.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Magnificent Land!

Westbound from New York, on the way to Los Angeles today. There was a massive snowstorm in the midwest which we flew over, and then we flew into clear skies and could see the landscape covered in snow. The white of the snow did wonderful things in terms of revealing details in the landscape in ways that would not be obvious had the snow not covered everything. I was glued to the window for almost two hours, photographing as the ground scrolled by underneath our wings. This is perhaps my most interesting shot. The whole time I watched, all I could think of was how lucky we are that the United States is made up of such magnificent landscapes. And how lucky we are, to have the gift of wings, to see it all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Barnacles in the Garden?

I went out with my camera to wander around what is left of the gardens. I found a few things which I may show you at a later date. I was poking around in the garden next to the house, to see if there was anything to be photographed, especially in what's left of the Sedum. The remains of the flowers on the ends of the stalks are dark brown and not very interesting. But while looking carefully at that, I spied, down near the ground, bits of green showing! Green? At this time of year? What? So I moved some brown leaves out of the way, and was astounded to see this! I guess this is how they will make their way through the snows of winter. I will keep my eye on them and report how they are doing. Oh, I thought that they looked like the barnacles you would see on boats or pilings in the salt water.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tropical Sunset

Riding the bike today, as usual, I was thinking that I still needed a blog shot. I was desperate. Then I noticed these clouds on the far horizon. They looked more like clouds we might see the tropics than in the northeast. So I got out my iPhone which travels with me on the bike, and tried several variations. I tried having just one tree in the frame, with the clouds behind it, and the tree obscured the most important thing - the clouds - so instead you get this composition.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Technology Alert!

This is my friend Marty at the Astronomical Society Christmas dinner on Saturday night. He forgot to bring his reading glasses with him. So suddenly I see this bright light next to me. It was coming from Marty's Samsung Galaxy III cellphone. I looked over at what he was doing and saw that he was looking at the restaurant menu with the phone. This is cool - he turned on a bright light on the back of the cellphone, and then, the camera on the back was doing video of what the light was illuminating, and it was then displayed on the front screen of the phone! It was an electronic magnifying glass! How cool is that!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Curled Up Kitty

For those of us who have cats, there is an endless fascination with how these wonderful animals find so many different ways to sleep. They must have a billion ways to curl up. OK, so maybe only a million different ways. I just love keeping my eye out for some new way they have found to arrange their different parts. This curl seems like one which requires some of the most flexibility. I would probably call this "The Pretzel." The cool thing is, no matter which form they take, they ALWAYS look really comfortable, even with parts of them hanging off the edges of things!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mulled Cider

It was chilly the other day, so when out at the grocery store we came up with the idea of making mulled cider. I couldn't remember the recipe, so I went on "the internets" and found a couple of recipes. I had forgotten about the orange slices, so it's good that I didn't try and make this from memory. It is a good thing for me not to do ANYTHING from memory these days. :-) And after it was cooked on the stove for a while, it was absolutely wonderful to have a steaming mug of this great winter drink.

Friday, December 14, 2012


In college, I did a series of photographs for a photo essay on winter. I found a poem to go with the pictures in a layout in the college newspaper, and I remember the first stanza to this day.  There are three other stanzas as well, if you want to look it up.

Autumn by Roy Campbell (1901-1957) 

 I love to see, when leaves depart,
 The clear anatomy arrive,
 Winter, the paragon of art,
 That kills all forms of life and feeling
 Save what is pure and will survive."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Geminid Meteor Shower

So my friend Stan and I drove out to Southold tonight, about an hour and a half away, to watch the Geminid meteor shower. We met four other amateur astronomers, and we set up cameras to photograph the meteors, and did some observing through my telescope. Meteors are funny - they can appear anywhere in the sky, which means if my camera was pointed south, then we saw them in the west. If I was pointed east, then we saw them in the north. I think Stan and Glenn both got a photograph of a meteor or two, but I didn't get any. I like this shot, though, with a few clouds drifting through the field of stars - it has a lovely feel to it. Please click on the photo to see it larger. The little blue star cluster in the upper right of this photo is the Pleiades, and the bright "star" is Jupiter, and in the lower center are the stars of Orion the hunter, with the three stars on a diagonal representing his belt. Home and asleep by 4 AM. Yawn...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Really Interesting Light

In Guilford Connecticut, they have a tradition for all the wonderful old homes around the town green - most all the homes put a single white candle in each window. It is a stunning sight to see. It is so simple and so subtle, and so beautiful. So naturally, since I was born and raised in Connecticut, we do the same thing at our house. I put the electric candles in each window the other day. Last night I went in to one of the front bedrooms to turn the light off, and saw this. The light seemed really unusual, so I decided to photograph the scene. Light is usually the first thing I see when I am looking for photographs.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas is Coming

You have seen this gate before. Back in September, it was surrounded by beautiful wildflowers and I couldn't make up my mind about which composition was best. Anyhow, I went by the gate again today, and saw this beautiful red bow on it. I think this is a lovely decoration for Christmas - simple and subtle, and it doesn't need batteries or extension cords.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lichen in Close-up

First, you should click on this image to see it in more detail. When I was cutting up the neighbor's Dogwood tree, I noticed some beautiful light green Lichen on some of the branches. I stopped to look at it closely, and was fascinated. So I cut off a small branch and brought it home. This branch is about 3/4" in diameter, and this is a fairly extreme close-up. I looked up "Lichen" in Wikipedia, and I could not understand what they were explaining! Here, you try it: "Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a fungus (the mycobiont) and a photosynthetic partner (the photobiont or phycobiont) growing together in a symbiotic relationship. The photobiont is usually either a green alga (commonly Trebouxia) or cyanobacterium (commonly Nostoc)." See, what did I tell you. Anyhow, I love the colors and the shapes of these organisms. They look otherworldly to me. I photographed this one branch several times over a couple of weeks, trying to find both the best light and the best background that show this subject most effectively.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One World Trade Center, Fog

This is the new building under construction which is known as "One World Trade Center." I believe the steel structure is finished, but the exterior cladding is not done yet. At the time of its completion in 2013, One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third-tallest building in the world by pinnacle height, with its spire reaching a symbolic 1,776 feet in reference to the year of American independence. More simply known as "1 WTC," it has been the tallest building in New York City since April 30, 2012. It was really interesting to see it disappear into the fog on a rainy day in New York City yesterday.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Amy's in New York!

Amy came to New York at the last minute to meet with her agent, and publisher, and some other people, so we got to go to Manhattan and have lunch with her, and wander around. None of us have seen the National 9/11 Memorial. And we didn't see it today - we didn't have tickets, and even with tickets, the lines are really long. So we walked around the outside and only got the smallest glimpse of one of the pools. Disappointing. There sure is a lot of construction going on down in the area - it was everywhere, as you can see from the background in this photograph. But the best part was having time to sit and talk, and catch up with what Amy has been up to, and of course, woof down a good meal.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Strange Landscape

This landscape fascinates me - the juxtaposition of the mechanical and the natural world. What also makes it interesting is the strange quality of the light - it was taken very late in the day when the natural light is very blue, and this combined with the reddish light from the mercury vapor lamps around the facility. I didn't take too many pictures because the security guard hassled me, and this time he brought two big guys in hard hats. They, of course would not listen to reason, about whether or not I had a right to photograph. Next time, I will call the police - this is getting tedious.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finishing the Christmas Cards

The Christmas Cards are done! Yea! I think that having them done, and now mailed this early in December, is a new record for me. For years, I thought that if I got them mailed by Christmas Eve, I was home free. But now with us traveling to Los Angeles for Christmas, I have a drop-dead deadline. So I worked hard all this week to make and print the cards. I put stamps on them here, in the morning light, at the dining room table, and then took them to the Post Office. Oh happy day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Riding home after sunset the other day, I was struck by the delicate pastels in this scene. It is hard to avoid photographing a brilliant orange or red sunset, I must admit, but there is a subtlety to the colors in this scene that seem to have more significance for me. I think it is more difficult to find subtlety - the tendency is for more brash and brilliant colors. I have taken that route myself, but as I get older I think I am attracted more to look for the subtle in life.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mailbox of the Stars

I was walking down the street after some gentle showers, and was stunned to see this! I couldn't believe my eyes! Japanese maple leaves, even smaller than the ones on our tree, were stuck to the mailbox because of the rain. I have always enjoyed how small and delicate the leaves are on my favorite tree at home, but I was blown away by how incredibly tiny these particular leaves are. And to see them arranged like stars on this mailbox was just sublime.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Fascination of Television

For a short period of time, Finley was allowed to watch a children's show on the television. She sits in her chair, about six feet away from the television, and stares. Every once in a while, she would get out of her chair, and move this close to the screen, absolutely transfixed by the color and the movement. This is how it begins. When we lost power during the storm, we realized we were addicted to watching television. Not broadcast TV all that much, but movies, and some of the really good series. Yes, we are addicted.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Before the Colors Fade

I posted a photograph of this whole tree two weeks ago. About a week later I looked out at the tree in the morning, and the colors had faded a bit, but more importantly there was some fog behind it. The whole scene was much more subtle than my other photograph of the whole tree. So I hope that you won't be completely bored by yet another image of this scene.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Does The Kitty See?

Sometimes one of the kitties will go to a window, and then stare outside intently. I will creep up behind them and look over the top of their head in the direction they are looking, to see what attracts them so. I have never been able to figure out what they see. And when they are in this mode, they are staring intently, hyper vigilant. It is hard to imagine how animals see the world - my best guess would be that some almost imperceptible movement catches their eye. I will never know. Frustrating for someone as curious as I am, wondering what makes the world work. She is beautiful, though, isn't she?