Sunday, June 30, 2013
When I moved to Sea Cliff in 1966 there were two movie theaters in Glen Cove, the next town over. There were both in business for a number of years, then one closed. Eventually the other closed, and so we had to drive to theaters in other towns. Then about ten or fifteen years ago, a new theater was built when a redevelopment project took place. We came here quite a bit because it was so close and had first run movies. But in the last year or two, every time we saw a movie, there were very few people in the theater. And a week or so ago, driving by the back of the theater, we realized that there were no movies listed. It's gone. The theater is closed. I am not sure why it failed - are people only watching movies at home online, or on DVD? The other theaters we go to seem pretty busy. It is a mystery.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:05 PM
Saturday, June 29, 2013
I was backing down the driveway, to take stuff to the recycling center when I looked out the windshield and saw this. This is one of those cases where I walk by these flowers three times a day. It was only at this particular time of day, and that I was looking at them from a different vantage point. It was the brilliant pink flowers that first got my attention. So I was in a hurry, and didn't stop to shoot the picture. When I came back half an hour later, the sun had moved and the container of flowers in the back were in the shadows! Oh no! I quickly dragged it out of the shadows, and I had my shot. NEVER wait to do a shot. Never! You could miss it entirely.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
Friday, June 28, 2013
I took this photograph from a long way off. You all know that Dean has loaned me his infrared camera, right? Well, I borrowed something else to play with, from my friend John. For the technically inclined, it is an 80mm refracting telescope, made by William Optics. Its focal length is 555mm. A common telephoto lens for a camera is 200mm, or maybe 300mm. This telescope makes for a LONG telephoto lens. I took it to Memorial Park in Sea Cliff which is about 200 feet above Hempstead Harbor, and was looking around for something interesting. There was a sailing class going on, and they were doing some practice in rounding racing marks. It's not a real race, because the boats are not of the same type. It is kind of fun to put on a long lens like this, and then learn to look at the landscape, squinting into the distance, to try and find a photograph from a long way away.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:10 PM
Thursday, June 27, 2013
We had a humdinger of a thunderstorm this afternoon! Wow, did we get a lot of water in a short time. So rather than go out IN the rain to shoot (am I getting lazy here, or do I just want to protect my new camera? So I decided to stay dry and shoot from the porch. What is happening to me? :-) I spent about 15 minutes during the heart of the storm looking for a decent shot. I tried a close-up of the bell you see hanging there, but I think this is just more interesting. More colorful, more beautiful "things" in the picture, and you can see the intensity of the rain. I think it has a lovely feel to it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:25 PM
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
There is a division sometimes in photographs involving landscapes. In my case, most of my landscapes are about the landscape itself. But sometimes, what looks like a landscape is really more of a photograph of an object. For me this particular photograph is about just the object - the tree in the center, and its shape. It includes the surroundings, of course, but the center of the interest is just the tree. It is not easy to see, covered in leaves, but I kind of like that subtlety.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:29 PM
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I was on the way back from the grocery store with some stuff to cook for dinner. This was before I was attacked at the beach by the killer gnats... :-) I was coming down a street I drive on all the time. Maybe it was because it was late in the day - later than I normally go to the store - but as I drove by I happened to notice these day lillies. I think I noticed them because they were so brilliant, backlit by the sun. It is as they were illuminated by little lights in each blossom. And what made the shot even better was that the white fence is not brand new and perfectly painted. That seems to add such richness to the photograph.
Monday, June 24, 2013
You will not believe the price I paid to take this picture! At the end of my bike ride today, I saw a photograph that I thought might make a nice infrared shot. But I didn't have that camera with me. So I went back down to the water after dinner, which was a couple of hours later. Everything had changed of course. So I decided to shoot this instead. It was nice that the two kayaks were there. But here is the bad part - at this time of year, and this time of day, the gnats were smothering! Man, they were all over me - on my arms and my legs and in my hair! I couldn't believe how many there were! I was itching for an hour afterwards! It was not fun.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:32 PM
Sunday, June 23, 2013
It is in the nature of the Roman Catholic church that pastors serve a parish for six years, with the possibility that they may serve a second six year term. But after twelve years, then the diocese moves them to a new parish. When our last pastor left twelve years ago, we were devastated, thinking that things would never be the same. But Father Ralph arrived, and little by little we got to know him and appreciate his intelligence, his compassion, and his spirituality. Suddenly his time with us is over and he moves on to another parish. There was a wonderful party to say goodbye to him this afternoon. You can see how much his flock loves him. He IS in the photograph, in the center, if you look carefully. We will miss him so much.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 22, 2013
So I have been thinking about how I choose the way to render
a scene that I decide to photograph. It is a bit like how the
artist chooses his palette - sometimes an artist will choose
warm colors, or cool colors for his scene. For me the main
choice has always been between color and black & white.
But for the time being I now have the additional choice of
infrared to choose from. It is not a simple decision - it
depends on the subject, and it definitely depends on the tones
within the scene, and on the lighting that is present.
So here are two different subjects photographed several
different ways, so you can see the differences in rendering.
This is a black and white rendering
This is the color rendering
And this is the infrared rendering.
My sense of this scene is that it works pretty well in all three
renderings. That is not the case with this second subject.
This is the black & white rendering. The dark leaves
blend into the dark color of the building and are lost.
This is the infrared version, and the leaves jump out
in the photograph because they are white and the
building is dark. This is my favorite version of this
And this is the color version, and it is relatively
unremarkable. I think it is better than the black & white
I hope you find these comparisons interesting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Friday, June 21, 2013
This is not really my 119th industrial landscape, at least not on the blog. But I thought it had a nice ring to it. When I was shooting IR yesterday, I was also shooting with my regular camera. The setting sun on this concrete mixer just jumped out at me. So I shot it in color, and then in IR. I am getting much better at visualizing which scenes will look good in IR, and I guessed that this one wouldn't. Tomorrow, because of a request, I will show the same scene in color, B&W and IR.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:32 PM
Thursday, June 20, 2013
After dinner tonight, when the sun was low in the sky, I decided to take the IR camera to some industrial buildings I had driven by earlier in the day. I made a note of the buildings an thought that they might be interesting seen in infrared. I spent about an hour at three different buildings, and a railroad station. I may show you some others, but I like this one a lot. I guess it's because of the contrast of the dark walls of the building and the white vegetation.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:34 PM
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
This is Christina and her mom, the two newest members of our astronomy club. They showed up about a month ago, and I was thrilled to hear that Christina wants to be a scientist. They haven't had a chance to come to an observing session, so tonight I brought one of my telescopes, and instead of attending the meeting, I set the telescope up in the parking lot, and showed them craters on the moon and the planet Saturn. They were both thrilled and amazed!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:57 PM
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I am back having fun with the infrared camera! What I seem to be doing is revisiting some of my favorite sites that I have photographed before, but shooting them this time in infrared light. It is so much fun to see if the scene I selected actually makes an interesting photograph. If you click on this, you can see that the water in the harbor, seen underneath the bright white leaves of the trees, ends up being jet black, which is pretty dramatic.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:56 PM
Monday, June 17, 2013
When Liz and Amy were small, they always wanted us to read to them at bedtime. Years later I read that one of the key factors in children growing up with a desire to read, was that they were read to as young children. Well, it worked for both Liz and Amy - they have always been great readers. One of the fun things for me, is that if we are on vacation, they will be drawn to bookstores as much as I am. So here is Liz this morning, on the front porch, starting her day by reading. What a joy for parents!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:41 PM
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Amy brought to the family gathering in Connecticut, a collection of wonderful, beautifully printed paper masks that she found that were produced in the UK. She thought they would be fun for some family photos. Boy, were they ever! Here three of the guys were first to try the masks out. Jeffrey is on the left, Donny is in the center, and Brendan is on the right. This scene reminded me in some way, of "The Doors" album cover for "Strange Days."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:18 PM
Saturday, June 15, 2013
We all went to Connecticut today for a big family gathering of the McAvoy cousins. It is wonderful that the cousins all want to stay in touch over the years. So naturally we did a giant family portrait. While setting up the people for the shot I noticed Keera, holding her dog "Grady." She insisted that Grady be in the photograph. So after all the pictures of the group were taken, I quickly moved in close to get this portrait of just the two of them.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Friday, June 14, 2013
Today was Kathy's birthday. (There will be no numbers talked about here...) Liz and Amy wanted to make sure that Kathy didn't feel older, so they came up with the idea of getting some house dresses and some gray wigs, and dressing up, so that Kathy would be the youngest looking woman in the room. Oh, and they got me involved, complete with house dress and wig. Liz and Amy are SO creative to think of this, and when the three of us came down the stairs singing "Happy Birthday" I thought that Kathy was going to pass out, she was laughing so hard!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:53 PM
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I am having so much fun with the camera that Dean loaned me, that I can't stand it! It is a completely new way to see the world. I try and visualize what a scene will look like in infrared, and I am continually surprised by what the camera sees. Surprised at how different it sees the world. This camera makes the world seem magical, and sunny all over, and believe it or not, I feel really wonderful when I look at these pictures, after I have shot each one. I didn't expect that, it was such a nice surprise.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Liz and Amy are here from California for a week's visit, and of course, we are so excited to have them here, and to hang out with them. So I am always looking for photographs, and saw this scene when the two of them were both working on different projects at the dining room table. I really love this moment of the two of them at work. And I love the hat, which belongs to Liz, hanging on the chair in the foreground.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:16 PM
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Is this magic, or what! This is my favorite subject - the Japanese Maple tree in the side yard. Why does it look so different? Because it was recorded in Infrared light. All digital cameras are sensitive to IR light, but the manufacturers put in a special filter that blocks this light. So my friend Dean, who lives in Tucson, Arizona had his camera modified by having the filter removed, and then it can take pictures like this. I haven't known Dean for that long, and yet he said that I really should try shooting with an IR camera for a while. So he put it into a box, and mailed it to me, just like that! Is that a friend, or what! I have been going nuts shooting with this - it sees the whole world differently. Any plant with chlorophyl reflects infrared light, and so that vegetation appears white. You may soon get bored with me shooting up a storm with my temporary new playtoy.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Monday, June 10, 2013
I was photographing a Mass this past Sunday, and began by going to the back of the church where the Priest and the Eucharistic Ministers gather before the procession to say a prayer. I was photographing that, and then looked over to the corner where the altar boy, holding the cross, was waiting for the procession to begin. His eyes were fixed on the cross, and I quickly made a couple of exposures. I kept shooting, and was amazed that he kept his eyes fixed on the cross. I just love his face - such a handsome young man.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:42 PM
Sunday, June 9, 2013
We're loosing our pastor, after 12 years, and we are sad to see him go. The way the Roman Catholic church works, is, that pastors serve for a 6 year term, and that can be extended for another 6 years, but then its on to another parish. It is always so difficult to say goodbye to someone we have come to love. The cool thing, is that in addition to being a wonderfully spiritual person, he is also a geek! He has done wonderful things with the parish website to stay in touch with young people off at college, and he loves to take photographs. That's what he is doing here, at a small going away party that the Marriage Ministry members held for him the other night. It's always fun to be around another photographer!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:17 PM
Saturday, June 8, 2013
This really creeped me out. I was driving eastbound on the Long Island Expressway, in the center lane and I suddenly realized that some guy in a black SUV was right on my tail. Like 4 feet from my rear bumper. At 60 MPH! What a jackass. Not only was he so close, but his car was creepy as well. It was completely covered with mud, and his windshield was almost obscured by mud as well. So first chance I got, I moved over to the right lane, and he zoomed past, which was when I saw that the whole rest of the car was covered with mud. I hate drivers like this. This picture shows my rearview mirror, the image in it, and part of the view out the front windshield.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Friday, June 7, 2013
I did this photograph yesterday, before the rain. I went to the store in the afternoon, and when backing out of the driveway, noticed how the light was falling on the ferns. So when I got back, with the groceries, I grabbed the camera and explored the scene. It is amazing to me that less than a month ago the small fiddleheads were just pushing out of the ground. There didn't seem to be enough of them to fill in the entire bank. What a surprise - look at them all now!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:33 PM
Thursday, June 6, 2013
I first saw this fence about 4 months ago. I pass it each week on the way to my astronomy meeting. Only thing was, it was dark out - much too dark to take a photograph. So I kept an eye on it each week, and finally, as the days got longer, it was bright enough at the time I passed by, to finally take a photograph. It is interesting - most times if I see something, there is no thinking that I should come back later - it is usually: "I need to stop NOW!" It is risky to pass by something and think that I can shoot it later. But this was different. By the way, I left the color balance on the blue side, as I took it. I tried correcting the color by removing the blue, but I like that the pallet of this photograph is just cool colors.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
At the astronomy meeting tonight, we had a slideshow in the planetarium dome, about some of the objects in the sky that we look at during Spring. It was a well-done talk, with a lot of technical details. The problem is, that the planetarium has been recently completely rebuilt, and it has REALLY comfortable chairs. It is not unusual for members to fall asleep, especially when the lights go down when we have a sky show, and the entire planetarium is dark. I thought I would take a few pictures for the website since the lights were on. I was using a telephoto lens from some distance away, and that's when I saw that one of my subjects appeared to be asleep, even with the lights on.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:06 PM
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I wanted something with a different feeling to it - something unlike my landscapes. So I saw this little vase holding sticks that get dipped in fragrance and then are left to perfume a room. So I brought the vase and sticks it into the dining room, and put them on the window sash. Then I used a longer focal length lens with the aperture wide open to blur the background. And then I converted it to black & white to complete the transformation.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:40 PM
Monday, June 3, 2013
This rock has a storied history. I drove by this for at least 20 years on the way to the processing lab. The people who lived in the house had it painted bright white, and had their name painted on it: "Kamen." I can still see it in my mind's eye. Now the bad part. It seemed that every few months I would see that someone had thrown something onto the rock, defacing it. Eggs, paint, and who knows what else. The residents would patiently clean it and paint it again. It was distressing to see it defaced constantly, though. Well the house was sold perhaps ten years ago, and I never really paid attention to the rock, until I drove by it the other day, and the setting sun was illuminating it. The new owners have painted an American flag on it, and it appears that the rock is no longer being regularly defaced.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Well, this got my attention! When I first saw it, the entire lawn was dirt. I didn't stop to photograph it that first day, and then we were away. When we came back, there was a whole new lawn. I am guessing that they will be putting in a whole new fence, but that they will save this lovely gate area. But until the rest of the fence shows up, we have a very incongruous looking situation. I was immediately reminded of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" - a favorite poem by him, where he mentions a couple of times: "Good fences make good neighbors."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:10 PM
Saturday, June 1, 2013
I took out the garbage the other night, and as I usually do, I took a moment to look around. As I glanced up Laurel Avenue, I saw the fog that was in the air, illuminated by the streetlights. It was a lovely atmospheric effect, so I went and got a camera and the tripod. I shot the original in color, but the colors in the scene were really bizarre because of the mercury vapor street light. So I converted the image to black and white, and I like this version much better.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:14 PM