Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mister Speed Graphic Head

I am a part of the "Project Astro" program, where amateur astronomers are paired up with a science teacher to help teach several classes during the year.  So today I made my second visit to two middle school science classes.  I brought three of my telescopes, and some lenses, and a couple of mirrors, and this old Speed Graphic.  The camera was to demonstrate the fact that the image formed by a lens is always upside down.  They loved looking through this great old camera.  And this student had it positioned perfectly for an interesting shot!

Monday, April 29, 2013


I noticed that my favorite tree had some faint green color at the ends of its branches, so I went to investigate, with my macro lens.  There were the tiniest bits of leaves beginning to unfold from tiny red pods.  This photograph makes the leaves look much larger than they are.  This tree never fails to amaze me!  This is worth clicking on to see in more detail.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Father & Daughter

I saw that there was a car show down in the Tappan Beach parking lot today, so late this afternoon I decided to go down there and see if I could find a photo.  I was looking for interesting photographs of the old cars that have all been restored.  I got some things, but nothing that was exceptional.  Then I saw this.   Click, click, click, and it was over.  It was a father with a cell phone camera, and he was photographing his daughter's reflection in a chrome hubcap!  He was telling her to get closer or farther away for the best image, and they were both having so much fun.  It was a precious moment that made my day!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Over and Over and Over Again

Whenever I pull the car into the driveway at night, and there are no leaves on this tree, I see the branches in such strange light, illuminated by the reflection of the headlights from the ground.  Every time I saw this, I thought: "I really need to take a photograph of this."  But I didn't.  Not sure why - maybe it seemed like too much work at the end of the night.  Finally I realized that I really did need to take this photograph.  So I parked the car part way in the driveway, and part way in the street, got out a tripod, and finally took the photograph.  It is everything I expected.  Please click on this to see all the detail in the tree.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ansel Adams, in a Parking Lot

We went to a conference center tonight, to watch a special movie, and when we arrived in the parking lot, I found there were these flowering trees everywhere.  It was a beautiful sight, and so I went looking for a photograph.  I worked really hard to make the picture look as if it was taken in the winderness.  Then it hit me - I was trying to do an Ansel Adams photograph in a parking lot!  So here it is, and in beautiful black and white!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Waiting for the ISS

Whenever the the International Space Station makes a pass overhead shortly after sunset, the predicted times and directions become available well in advance, and at the appointed time we go outside to see if we can see it.  It looks like a very bright star, moving from horizon to horizon in 3 or 4 minutes.  So it was a clear evening, but the sky was fairly bright which makes it harder to see.  I went down to the harbor with my 7x50 binoculars, and waited for it to appear.  But I never saw it.  Fortunately I had my toy camera with me, and so I realized I could end up with a blog shot, so I used the self timer, and balanced the camera on a bench, and this is the result, tilted horizon and all.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


OK, truth telling here.  I was at my astronomy meeting and telling a fellow photographer that I did not yet have a photograph for the blog today!  Yikes!  So the pressure was on, on the way home.  I did remember an abandoned gas station that I did a quick snapshot of a month ago so I thought I would drive be and see what the possibilities were.  This is part of the gas station, but not what I was thinking of.  It was actually better because I didn't know the tree was there.  But the best part is the circle, which is caused by internal reflections in my zoom lens.  That was a gift - lucky me!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Trying for a Better Picture

This is the power plant down the road that is about to be torn down.  There are workers inside dismantling the machinery already.  Sure wish I could have gotten inside to see and photograph the huge boilers and generators.  So I want to make a good record of what will soon be what once was.  I photograph the exterior from every direction.  I did a photograph like this a month ago on an overcast day, but something was missing.  When I came down the road on this day the strong light from the side made the smokestacks stand out from the sky.  I also love the cockeyed power poles tilting at angles between me and the building.  So this is the better picture, but I am not done yet.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pitcher of Spoons

We were cleaning out one of the kitchen drawers, and there were too many old wooden spoons in the drawer.  Way too many!  So we took all these out, and were going to toss them in the trash.  But I happened to look at the pile of them, and envisioned a photograph.  So I found the pitcher that I bought in France in 2005, and put the spoons in it.  Then I went looking for a background.  Suddenly I saw the late afternoon sun, which was coming through blinds in the kitchen, leaving this pattern on the dining room wall.  I grabbed a tripod with a small tabletop on it, quickly put it into the sunlight, and shoot this. I love the quality of light, because it is not simple light - it is quite complex.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Coming of Spring

This is Scudder's pond which is about half a mile away, and I drive by it every day.  Today I drove by it on the way home from the astronomy conference, and it was the warm light of the setting sun that illuminated the scene.  Can you say "Jammed on my brakes!"  What grabbed me was the contrast of the color of last year's marsh grasses, with the light green new growth of the Weeping willow trees in the background.  Add the mirror-like surface of the lake to reflect part of the scene, and I think I may have a nice photograph.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wall-to-Wall Telescopes!

Man, I was in fat city today!  This is the weekend of the Northeast Astronomy Forum up in Westchester county.  I have been going to this conference for over 25 years.  You can find any piece of  astronomical equipment or telescopes that you have ever heard of on display here.  And the other cool thing is that walking around, I kept running into friends from all around the country, and we could stop and chat, and catch up.  This is a view of the floor of the field house at the college where this takes place.  Wall-to-wall telescopes and amateur astronomers!  Like I said, fat city!

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Would You Take a Picture of Us, Please?"

The photodude and I were walking on the lawn near the mansion, and a woman holding a small point-and-shoot camera came out from under some big trees, and said "Would you take a picture of us, please?"  I said "Sure" and followed her back under the trees.  She explained that she and her husband had lost their son at age 19, back in November.  So they decided to sponsor a bench at Planting Fields as a memorial, and they were excited that it had just been installed.  The bench is located in a beautiful quite spot under some trees and has a plaque with the name of their son.  It was really nice to meet these people and hear their story- it fells important to connect with others and talk about such significant events.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Greenhouse Landscape

Finally, a real garden photograph.  I mean, closeups of blossoms or cacti are kind of interesting, but I like working at making a garden photograph that is more of a landscape.  And a good landscape photograph is liable to have more than one element, and it is also liable to have a foreground, middleground and background.  How the photographer arranges all these elements makes the difference between an interesting photograph, and just a snapshot.  I thought you might like to see something different from this series.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You Are Going to LOVE This One!

This stunning cactus was in a special greenhouse devoted to succulents and cacti.  By itself it was stunning, but with blossoms forming on the top, it was amazing!  I love the design of this photograph.  But here is the unexpected best part...   I had the scientific name, so I looked it up in Wikipedia, and read THIS:  "Echinocactus grusonii is a well known species of cactus native to central Mexico from San Luis Potosi to Hidalgo. Described by Heinrich Hildmann in 1891, it is popularly known as the Golden Barrel Cactus, Golden Ball or, amusingly, Mother-in-Law's Cushion."  "Mother-in-Law's Cushion?"  Are you kidding me?  That is hysterical!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Elusive Photodude at Work

Frequent readers of this blog are familiar with the "Photodude."  Here I have captured him in his element - at work taking photographs, which he is very passionate about.  Check the backpack he is wearing.  Inside it is another camera body, and a ton of lenses, and another portable flash unit.  He said he was going to bring all his lenses with him, and since I have a brand new Canon camera, I was anxious to try some of those lenses.  So he comes carrying all this gear, and I show up with one camera and one lens.  So when I saw something I want to shoot, I would say "Hey Mike, can I try the 70 - 200mm zoom?" and he would dig it out of the backpack and hand it to me.  That makes life easy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Death of a Tree

I love the grounds and the mansion, called "Coe Hall" at Planting Fields Arboretum.  We wandered around the grounds after visiting the greenhouse, and I was shocked and saddened to see this magnificent giant Linden tree, which was a state champion, uprooted and lying on its side on the lawn. I have photographed this tree hundreds of times over the years  This was a huge tree - I am guessing that the diameter was at least 80 feet, and it was probably over fifty feet tall.  If you walked under all the branches that were hanging down, there was a whole world inside. It was a magical place.  So terribly sad that it is gone.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Horticulture Quiz

The photo Meetup began by the group of photographers heading indoors to the greenhouses.  The spring flower display was spectacular everywhere I looked.  It was a lot of fun for me to be doing garden photography again - trying to find either lovely complex compositions, or, to find a single plant that was interesting, and from which I could create a beautiful photograph.  This plant stopped me in my tracks.  This thing looks spray painted gray, but this is the plant's natural color.  I believe the larger  structured plant is a Bromeliad, and the delicately structured material is Spanish moss.  But this is a quiz, so YOU will tell me what these plants are.  I love learning new things!  You must click on this to see more detail.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Photo Meetup

Today the PhotoDude and I went on an expedition.  He belongs to a group that is one of a number of virtual communities on the web, called "Meetups."  The community gathers on the web, but they ALSO get together in real life, face to face, for various activities.  I had never heard of these communities until today.  And this was a gathering of photographers at Planting Fields Arboretum this morning.  There were probably twenty or twenty five people of all ages.  I've never seen so many cameras and tripods in one place before!  We had a good time, wandering around and photographing both in the greenhouses, and outdoors.  More to come...

Friday, April 12, 2013

"The Woodshed"

How's this for the name of this classic Victorian house here in Sea Cliff.  "The Woodshed."  I have no idea where the name came from for this house, but this structure is a long way from the building on what was our family farm,  that actually held the wood for the wood stoves and fireplaces.  In any case, this is THE classic Victorian home in Sea Cliff - the one that everyone points to, and that we all bring visitors to see.  It is spectacular.  I sure wouldn't want to have to paint this, working by myself!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Skeleton of a Leaf

I saw two old leaves in the driveway this afternoon.  They were about 6 inches in length.  When I picked them up, what was amazing was that there was almost nothing left of the leaves - just a delicate tracery.  I was astounded at how delicate it all was.  Then the mystery to me was how this structure managed to survive.  I realize that when you turn a leaf upside down, you can see this structure, when the leaf is all green. So apparently the "stuff" that holds the chlorophyl is more delicate and disintegrates, while this structure does not.  Please click on the image to see it in more detail.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Squall Line

I was on my way to my astronomy meeting tonight, and as I was leaving the house, it was getting dark.  By the time I got about 3 miles away, it was really dark, and I could see this huge black cloud coming from behind me.  While sitting at the red light it passed overhead and headed into the distance.  It was the leading edge of a squall line - the front that precedes thunderstorms.  About 10 minutes later the wind and rain arrived, along with lightning.  There is something wonderful about seeing nature's power in this way.  And sometimes it makes for interesting photographs.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Piece of the Moon

After visiting the Museum of Modern Art yesterday, I went to the Hayden Planetarium for a lecture on the Core of the Moon.  The speaker, Ben Weiss, is a Planetary scientist at MIT, and he talked about the nature and history of the Moon's core.  It was a terrific lecture, and at the end he mentioned that he had brought a piece of Moon rock with him, and we could all see it out in the lobby.  So that's what he is doing here.  I love that someone illuminated the rock with a really bright LED flashlight, and so the rock itself appears to have some supernatural glow to it.  You would never know what is going on here, if I didn't describe what was happening.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cleaning the Artwork

I went to the Museum of Modern Art today to see the exhibit "Inventing Abstraction" before it closed.  On my way up to the 6th floor, I went by this window looking out on the courtyard.  I was so surprised to see a stepladder next to one of the sculptures, and apparently one of the curators, carefully cleaning this piece of art.  She was working very carefully, cleaning small areas at a time. I could have done it much quicker with a garden hose, soap and a long-handled brush, but that is NOT how you clean a valuable work of art!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Donut for Joan

We drove up to Connecticut today to visit with my sister Joan.  I know she loves Dunkin' Donuts coffee, so we stopped at the nearest store and I got her a cup.  Cream, no sugar.  When I was standing at the counter, I noticed a whole tray of bright yellow donuts, with faces on them!  It was the cutest thing I have ever seen in a donut store.  So I just had to buy one.  Only thing is, Joan does't like sweets.  But she laughed when I gave her the bag, and she looked in to see a face in the bottom!  It was worth $.99 to hear her laugh.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Coindre Hall

This is Coindre Hall in Huntington,  a 40 room, 30,000-square-foot mansion in the style of a medieval French ch√Ęteau constructed in 1912 for pharmaceutical magnate George McKesson Brown.  Brown lost ownership of the property after the stock market crash of 1929.  The property is now owned by the Suffolk County Parks Department - the building is used for various purposes, and people can come walk the grounds.  The architectural detail is amazing, particularly this copper trimmed dormer.  Can you imagine constructing a building like this, and the loosing it?  Wow.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Blind Spot

In February 24th, I photographed this sculpture at the museum and thought I had gotten "the" shot.  I took the picture on my way into the museum.  On the way out, I saw a young woman doing a closeup of the cyclist's face.  I thought "Gee, I wonder what she is getting,"  and kept on walking. On my most recent trip, I stopped to look at her face, and was blown away.  Wow!  So I photographed her face close up.  Then I walked around the sculpture again from a distance and found another view I had overlooked as well.  Yikes!  I love both of these photographs, and wonder why I had overlooked them the first time.  Must have been a blind spot.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I had a schedule to talk to my friend Mike - we have been friends since college days.  We use either Skype of Facetime, since we are both Mac users.  I always try and surprise him so that when he sees me, it is not just my face.  Sometimes I hold the laptop upside down, so I appear inverted.  Just child's play on my part.  So today I grabbed the Easter Lilly on the dining room table, and quickly put it in front of my face.  So silly, but he did laugh!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cosmic Clouds

I took this down by the beach - I was walking along looking down at the pilings and the old bulkhead.  I was attracted by the dark wood and the dark green marine growth, and then I noticed the forms and colors in the water.  There is something in the combination of the reflections and the colors and streaks that reminds me of molecular clouds out in space.  This photograph now feels more cosmic than ordinary, to me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Ordinary

One of the joys of photography, and one of the risks as well,  is to see an exhibit, or book of photographs of a photographer you admire.  At the Met a week or so ago, I saw a collection of William Eggleston photographs on display.  He is considered one of the pioneers of color photography, and his mature work is characterized by its ordinary subject-matter and the way he sees the complexity and beauty of the mundane world.  So on a walk to the beach today, without really being aware of it, I saw this scene and took a photograph of it.  It was only later, while working on the image, that I realized that it has echoes of Eggleston's work to me.  Not to a museum curator, I suspect.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Face Juggler Fun!

There is a new "killer app" out there! It is called "Face Juggler" for the iPhone, and it costs $1.99. Here's how it works. You take a photograph of  several people, being sure that they are looking directly at the camera, with their face forward.  Then you import the photograph into the app, and it magically copies just the eyes, nose and mouth of each person in the photo, and moves those faces to other bodies in the photo!  It is amazing, astounding, and hysterical beyond belief.  See how much fun everyone is having looking at a group photo with them in it!