Thursday, February 28, 2013

2190 Posts Equals 6 Years!

So this is fun...  Last night I just happened to check the number of posts I have made since the start of the blog, and saw that the number was 2190.  Not a significant number, it seems.  But just for the heck of it, I divided it by 365 days, and came up with exactly 6 years!  Wow!  A milestone, and I nearly missed it!  It is a nice feeling to have had the discipline to keep the blog going this long.  I was sitting in my easy chair and reading while having lunch, and put my glasses down on the book to rub my eyes.  Wow!  Wonderful what direct sunlight does.  And it is only for a brief period each year that the sun comes in the window on the second floor landing, and shines on where I am sitting.  In case you are curious, the book is "Fate is the Hunter" by Ernest K. Gann - the story of his early days in commercial aviation in the United States.  A stunning aviation book!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trying Something New

There was a speaker this evening at the astronomy club, so I was taking some photographs of him during his presentation, possibly for use on the website.  All the photographs were "normal" in their composition, but when I was doing the editing, I enlarged this photograph and was taken by how the photograph looked better when I just concentrated on his hands.  Then I decided to crop so that just his mouth was in the image, instead of his whole face.  I keep talking about trying to see things in a different way, and this is probably the best example.  It IS different.  It is not a particularly flattering picture of the subject, however.  But it does feel as if I am seeing things in a differently.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Couple

We just finished four weeks of this winter's Pre Cana at our home.  Five couples came this year as part of the marriage preparation program at church.  This engaged couple was one of those in the program, and they were wonderful participants.  I snapped this quick portrait when were chatting after the other couples had already left.  It is not a great portrait.  I should have set something up to make a more formal portrait, because they both have wonderful faces. This needs a tighter composition, and I didn't want to change anything, and when I took these, she was checking her phone.  I know better, and should have done a better job.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Look What's On The Lawn!

This is one other piece of sculpture on the lawn that I passed going to the museum.  Wow!  This is crazy wonderful!  I spent a fair amount of time walking around it looking for the best angle.  The museum has a number of children's programs, so kids must be either terrified or fascinated walking by this piece.  It is titled "Snake Tree" by Niki de Saint Phalle and it is eighteen feet high!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fellow Cyclist

The Nassau County Museum of Art has an amazing collection of sculpture on the grounds, and visitors pass by a number of the pieces on the way in.  This one caught my eye the other day - gee, I wonder why?  The piece is called "Girl on a Bicycle" by Bruno Lucchesi.  It is such a creative piece - if you look closely, it is amazing how the artist has represented the bicycle, and the wheels and spokes in such a clever way.  The best part, however is the woman rider. - she is amazing, and you can spend a lot of time examining the details of how she is represented.  She is absolutely striking.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Magnificent Woodwork

During one of my visits to the museum, I stopped to chat with one of the guards, who was seated at the top of the stairs.  While talking to him, I happened to look to my right and saw this staircase spiraling down to the first floor.  I had just come up these same stairs but it never occurred to me to look down when I got to the top. This Georgian brick manor house was built in 1904, and then modified in 1917 by Charles Frick, whose father was one of the founders of U.S. Steel.  This oval staircase with turned balusters winds up to the third floor and is an absolute marvel of woodworking.

Friday, February 22, 2013

"Wood Duck"

I haven't had enough of art museums lately.  Two days ago I went to the Nassau County Museum of Fine Art to see an exhibit of paintings by American artists over the last 300 years.  It is a stunning exhibit - so good, that I went back again today, to see it again.  I looked out of a window in one of the galleries and saw this in the distance.  It is a sculpture titled "Wood Duck" by the artist Allen Bertoldi.  Normally it just sits in the water, but what makes this scene so spectacular is that it is now surrounded by ice and bare trees, and everything in the photograph is gray.  I will photograph this again, but I am guessing that this photograph at this moment in time and in this light will be hard to beat.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

All Over The Place

I still have photographs from Philadelphia, but I also have photographs taken since then, and I went to another art museum yesterday.  Anyhow, when you park at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you enter the building from the rear.  And that means this is the first sculpture you see.  It is a bronze sculpture of Chief Justice John Marshall by American sculptor William Wetmore Story, installed in 1931.  It is a stunning sculpture, and it has a wonderful presence.  I think I mean that it draws you in immediately.  It had snowed on that morning, and I like the highlights on the statue from the snow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Red Tail!

We had an amazing astronomy meeting tonight.  About a year ago I went to the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center to give a talk about astronomy and show some telescopes to a group of  young children.  So they said they could bring some of their raptors to our astronomy club in exchange, and give a talk.  Wow, what an amazing thing to be so close to these birds! This is Alice, a Wildlife Care Coordinator and her favorite raptor, a Red Tailed Hawk, and she also brought an Owl, and a Kestrel.  What magnificent birds, and what a great presentation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Pediment

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the United States. The main building is an astounding architectural treasure, and its construction began in 1919.  The building has eight pediments which were intended to be adorned with sculpture groups, but only one was completed - this one called "Western Civilization" (1933) by C. Paul Jennewein, with painted terra-cotta figures depicting Greek gods and goddesses. It is a stunning piece of sculpture, as you can see from these two photographs.  I decided to include a close-up so you can see the beautiful detail and brilliant color. Please click on these to see even more detail

Monday, February 18, 2013


I LOVE to photograph in museums!  I love museums that allow photographs in them!  This is a favorite photo I took in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  I spotted the man who was tired, leaning backwards on his companion's shoulder, and then the trick was to wait for the people in the background to make an interesting composition.  I love this photograph because it is unexpected.  It stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it, and that was really fun.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Compliment

When I returned from Philadelphia I had at least a week's worth of blog posts, but I came home to snow, and then there was fog, so that kind of took over the blog.  But I want to post some of the photographs that would have been posted already if the weather was more boring.  After wandering around in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I decided to go out the front door and photograph the plaza and the stunning architecture of the museum.  Just outside the front door, I noticed the columns illuminated by sunlight reflected off the front of the building, and the glow was wonderful. So I pointed my camera straight up, and started shooting, when a man and his wife walked up the steps.  She said out loud, "What are you looking at?"   I said, "the columns", she looked up, and said to her husband. "Wow, look at this shot!"  Then she said to me "How did you FIND this?"  I said "I saw the light on the columns, and looked up."  Then her husband pointed his camera straight up and started shooting. So that felt like a nice compliment. For the technically minded, this is a mild HDR image, to keep the sky dark and yet allow detail in the columns.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


It never ceases to amaze me how I know so little about what drives me as a photographer, and what it is that makes me stop and take a picture.  You would think I might have a clue, but I don't.  I was sitting at this red light, where a small road meets a larger road and ends, thus the traffic light is on a pole on the opposite side of the road.  Behind the light is a historic colonial house in Roslyn.  The scene caught my eye for some reason - maybe because most traffic lights are way up high against a confusing background and this one is against a plain background, maybe because there is a window behind it, or maybe it's the contrast between the old and the new.    I haven't a clue, but I find this really fascinating.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Shower & Sunlight

Is it obvious to you right away what this is a photograph of?  Take a minute and see if you can figure it out.  It was a brilliant sunny morning and I turned on the water in the shower, which in our house, is in the bathtub.  There happened to be a shaft of sunlight shining into the bathtub, and the brilliance and beauty of the water from the shower praying through the sunlight was mesmerizing.  So I broke my rule - I was about to step into the shower, and I didn't go get a camera.  Fortunately when my shower was done the sunlight was in about the same place, so I grabbed my camera and used a range of different shutter speeds - between slow and fast - to try and preserve in a still photograph, the sense of what I saw with my eyes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Railing and Fog

 The trees I love so much are at the harbor's edge, planted along a sidewalk. But this is the view if you turn and look out at the harbor. I like this photo because it is completely different from the ones of the trees in fog. Mainly this photograph is about design, and about how I divided up the space within the frame. It is also different because it's not a full range photograph - there are no pure blacks or pure whites in it - just shadows of gray, which is appropriate for a picture taken in the fog.  I also like that the far shore is only barely visible - I like the subtlety of this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fog Week

I am not really going to post photos every day with fog in them, but I did do a whole bunch of photos the other morning. I was out shooting for a couple of hours. For two reasons - I really photographing in fog, and, in the middle of winter with bare trees, I find it difficult to come up with interesting landscape photos - until the fog comes along. So I will be posting a few more fog photos over the next few days. This scene, with the Sycamore trees alongside Hempstead Harbor is probably my favorite location for finding photos - unless, of course, you consider my Japanese maple tree. I love how the trees disappear into the fog in the distance. I do like this, but it is the expected thing from me. Let me see what else I can come up with. It looks better if you see it in the larger size, so please click on it. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"The Fog Comes on Little Cat Feet"

 Here's a lesson - I drove out to get bagels yesterday morning, and the trees along the shore were enveloped in fog. I thought that I would stop on the way back, because of the snow on the road, there was no space to park going in my direction. Not ten minutes later I returned and the fog was GONE! Yikes! So I drove home, had breakfast, and then noticed that it was foggy out in the side yard. So I drove down to the water and photographed for an hour or so. The lesson: Shoot it NOW, don't wait! Then I drove around town looking for other photographs that didn't involve the Sycamore trees all in a row by the water. I liked the shape of these trees and the variation in types of trees, up by the ball field.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The End of an Era

Tonight was the end of an era at Newsday. My colleague and good friend Bob Keeler retired from Newsday after 41 years. There was an amazing collection of tributes including videos from people like former governor of NY State Mario Cuomo, and NY Met Bud Harrelson! Wow! And there were regular people as well, and family members and friends. And two of Bob's grandchildren, who are shown here with their grandfather, and the amazing cake that was made to look like a copy of Newsday. Yeah, that thing with Bob's picture on it is a cake.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Act of Kindness

OK, you're right this is a pretty ordinary photograph. But it represents a really generous act of kindness. We have been in Philadelphia for three days, and we drove back home this morning I knew that I would have to shovel the driveway, and I kept a shovel on the front porch at the ready. Imagine our surprise when we came up the street, and saw that half the driveway had already been cleared with a snow blower! Our neighbor Judy, who feeds our cats, left us a note. She was shoveling her driveway, when a neighbor offered to help her finish the job. And she said "Do you think you could clean part of the Spencer's driveway? They are away." So this neighbor, Jason, brought his snow blower down and spent half an hour cleaning our driveway! I know him to wave to and say "Hi!" to but that's about it. What a wonderful act of kindness. I went over to thank him, and we spent some time chatting, and I asked if either he or his wife or their two children would like to see the moon and planets through one of my telescopes. He said his son is really fascinated about astronomy, and they would LOVE to look through my telescopes! So I will be able to repay his kindness in some small way.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Can Take Pictures Here!

Oh happy day! I spent today at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and they allow photographs in the museum! So I was discrete, but I walked all around the museum looking at paintings, and photographing some of them to study later. I also looked for pictures for the blog - pictures of people in the museum looking at the artworks. I have a couple of nice things inside the museum, and some exterior photographs of interesting architectural details. It was so nice to know that I could take photographs whenever I wanted. It is not that I took a lot of photographs, it's just that I knew if I found something interesting I could photograph it. It left me with a wonderful sense of freedom. I love this view because of the strong perspective in the photograph - it reminds me of how exciting it was to learn how to draw objects using a vanishing point in fourth grade. I shot the scene with no one in it, and then spent a while waiting for people to come by, and when they did I shot them in the distance, then up close and in different parts of the rooms. This shot with the people in the distance is more interesting. But they couldn't be too large in the image, or it would distract from the perspective.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Barnes Foundation

Did I mention we are in Philadelphia? I am just tagging along while Kathy attends a professional conference. She is locked in a building all day and I get to haunt my favorite museums. But THIS museum is something really special. It is a long story, and today was a pilgrimage for me. The Barnes collection of paintings is one of the world's most important collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings (it says in the brochure.) This collection was in the mansion of Albert Barnes in Merion, Pennsylvania since 1922 and then was moved to downtown Philadelphia last May. Look up "Barnes Foundation" in Wikipedia to learn some details of the controversy. Anyhow, I have wanted to visit the collection at the mansion for the last ten years but never got around to it, and then they moved the paintings to this new building. So today I finally got to see the paintings, and the collection is stunning. I wanted to take a photograph in the gallery, but photography is not permitted. And I behaved myself. But you can at least see a picture of the new building that contains the collection, from outside.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Joan Wanted a Puzzle

So the other day I mentioned I had a picture that would be a puzzle, but I posted the beautiful line of Sycamore trees along Shore road instead. My sister Joan said she wanted the puzzle picture! :-) OK, so here is the puzzle picture from the snow we had earlier in the week. Perhaps this is particularly relevant because of the coming storm. So take your guesses, and post the answer, (in between shoveling snow) and I will jump in at the end and tell you what is in the picture. Big brothers have to keep their sisters happy, because that's what big brothers do! :-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lunch With "The Photodude"

For those of you who are frequent readers of the blog, and especially of the comments section, the name "Phototodude" will be familiar to you. He is the guy with the very offbeat and creative comments. He is also an accomplished photographer. We have known each other for several years now, and decided it was time for Mike and I to sit down and have lunch again. We talked a lot about photography and the meaning of life, and everything else under the sun, it seems. We both brought cameras of course, and so I needed to document the occasion.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Beverage Week"

It is interesting to me how photographs seem to sometimes come in subject groups. I am joking by titling this post "Beverage Week" - I did that because yesterday I posted a cup of cappuccino, and today a steaming hot cup of tea. It just happened that way. I usually have a cup of tea with a sandwich at lunch. I always put the tea in this spot on the corner of the bookcase - it just happened that a shaft of sunlight was shining on this spot. Steam from a cup or bowl of something hot needs to be backlit in order for it to show up, and the light was perfect for this. It also helps that the background is dark, allowing the steam to stand out. You might be interested in the bright yellow cup. I bought it in the airport in Barcelona, and it is based on a design by Joan Miro, who was born in Barcelona.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Breakfast Cappuccino

Confession: I am a coffee brat. That means, if the coffee is not at least great, then I am not interested. For years now I have roasted my own coffee beans. I have an Italian "Atomic" espresso maker that I have had for 30 years for making expresso and steaming milk. And when we were in South Carolina staying with friends who lived in Italy for two years, I learned about yet another way to make cappuccino. So I had to buy the Bialetti Brikka, and a "frother." Anyhow, this morning after I had breakfast I made a cappuccino the new way, to drink while I read the newspaper. Do you what a newspaper is? To quote Craig Ferguson, "It is a papery kind of blog, only everything happened yesterday."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It Snowed! It Snowed!

It only snowed about an inch, which is fine with me. I get bored easily shoveling snow. I looked around the yard and shot a couple of things, but nothing really moved me. I did one photo that would make a great quiz - a "What is This?" photo. It would have been a good quiz, but it wasn't a beautiful photograph - it was mysterious, but boring. So on the way back from my bagel run I saw this scene, with small amounts of snow on the trees, and a bit of snow under the trees. I liked how the white of the snow matched the white of the clouds. Subtle but lovely.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

In Tribute

I was making my run to the bagel store this morning, when traffic slowed and I came upon this - a giant American flag suspended between the extended ladders of two fire trucks. I don't think I have ever seen a flag this large! So the traffic was down to one lane moving slowly, and as I went by the firemen, I asked what the occasion was. "A funeral" he replied. Oh. I should have figured that out. It was a really impressive thing to see. I photographed this two different ways, by the way. Going south, the flag was backlit by the sun. This is the view coming back north, and the flag was front lit. When I was shooting, I thought the backlit shot was more dramatic, but I ended up choosing this instead. It showed more detail of the stars in the blue field.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Two Views

I have photographed this power plant before, as some of you might remember. I love industrial architecture, and this is one of my favorite structures. I came around the corner late this afternoon and saw the orange light of sunset on the stacks, and the brilliant blue sky in the background. But what I saw first, and for the first time, were the power poles and transmission lines in the foreground. I thought "Wow, I never noticed that before." So I stopped and took the first photograph. Then I walked toward the plant and continued taking more pictures, watching to see if I could get all the wires out of the sky. The difference in the photographs is that the second one is just about the power plant - the first one is more about all the poles and the wires. It is worth clicking on each of the photographs, especially the one with wires, to see how different it feels.