Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Teapot

I had a wonderful evening observing last night!  It was a magnificent night, nearly as clear as can be, and the brilliance of the stars was breathtaking.  This is what amateur observers hope for.  Mainly I went out to look at some of the fascinating objects that are in the universe - stars, galaxies, nebulae and star clusters, with one of my telescopes.  But I brought my camera and a camera tracking platform and tried making a few photographs.  This is the constellation Sagittarius, the archer, with the star clouds of the Milky Way rising into the sky - a spectacular sight with the dark lanes of dust intruding into the star clouds.  This is the most spectacular part of the entire sky, in my view.  There is an asterism which is part of the constellation, called "the Teapot" and it is easy to see if you know where to look.  I have done an unusual thing, and drawn lines on the photo connecting the stars, to show you the teapot.  The sad part of all of this, is that very few people can actually see the Milky Way, if they live in populated areas, because of light pollution.  The Milky Way is such a spectacular sight, it is a shame that so few people get to see it.  Please click on this image to see it in greater detail.


My apologies for being so late with this post.  I drove out to Southold last night to do some astronomical observing with my telescope and photography at Custer Institute.  Arrived home at 3 AM, thus no post last night.  So I showed you the magnificent Hibiscus blossom yesterday, in stunning color.  Just for the heck of it, I also shot it in infrared, and this is the result.  To me this is just a stunning photograph.  It just seems ghostly, and absolutely beautiful in black and white.  The more I look at it, the more I love it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

In Full Bloom

This Hibiscus has been on the front porch all summer.  There were blooms, but they were less than perfect, I think because of the heat.  Funny how this plant works - it blooms and then all the blooms fall off after a single day.  There are rolled up blooms the next morning all over the porch.  But it has come into its own now that the weather is a bit cooler, and today all the blooms were just stunning!  Here is one of them.  Wait and see what I will show you tomorrow.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Caution: Bee at Work

I went back and took a look at my shoot in the wildflower garden and found this.  I forgot about shooting the bee.  I did make about half a dozen exposures of this bee at work, and this one is the best because you can see the bee from the side.  Man, that bee was all over the plant,  taking pollen from all over the yellow part.  You could even say it was "as busy as a bee!"

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Sky Was On Fire

I decided to go down to Sea Cliff Beach, to watch the sunset, in hopes I might find a photograph.  I was thinking that maybe I could get the sun reflecting off the water or something like that.  But the disk of the sun was behind the clouds.  What I got instead was the appearance that the sky was on fire.  I'll take that instead!  Water, boats and the sky.  How can you loose?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yellow & Green

I stopped to photograph some wildflowers up the road that are in a border garden alongside the street.  I struggled to get a really nice composition with good looking blossoms.  I am not sure I got anything decent.  As I was walking back to my car, this scene jumped out at me, from a street garden next door.  What a great combination, ferns and Black Eyed Susans!  Just delightful.  A winner, in my book.  Whew!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rain Today, Finally

Finally, some rain, and cooler temperatures.  Amazing to have the temperatures go from 94 down to 65 in a relatively short time.  So how do I photograph the rain in a new way?  Not sure if this is new, though.  I was thinking about how to find a photo for today, as I was driving back home, and as I parked the car in front of the garage, I turned off the windshield wipers and watched the water drops form on the windshield.  And I watched the world become more abstract.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Won't Work

So all of my infrared photographs were taken so far, with a specially modified camera, where you look through the viewfinder normally, and shoot the picture.  But there is another way that sometimes works - you buy a special filter for the front of the lens, that only lets IR light through, and use it on a regular camera,   A friend bought the filter, so tonight I tried it on my new Canon camera.  The filter is so dark you can't even see through it to compose the image!  And the exposure time, late in the day, was on the order of 30 seconds!  I tried a couple of shots and realized that this would never work for me.  But I did get this strange looking color photograph and it did have an interesting feeling to it, so here it is.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Storm Clouds

I went to an FAA Safety Seminar this evening, and it was a stormy ride, because of thunderstorms in the area.  On the way home, there were still some thunderstorms in the distance.  So I pressed my luck, hoping that I would not have what the photodude refers to as "An Airbag Moment."  I was very careful and I didn't take that many photographs while on the LIE in order to get this.  Lovely quality to this I think.

Monday, July 22, 2013


This sculpture, made from corks from wine bottles, is called "Cow-bernet" according to a sign attached to it.  Very funny!  This is located in front of a wine and liquor store where I went to buy some wine, and it stopped me in my tracks.  There was a sign on the cow with a photograph of the sculptor, whose name is Emizael Moura.  I am not going to even talk about where the corks come from - I am sure someone will jump in with a pretty good joke about this.  I just think that this sculpture is incredibly creative.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'll Stop After This One...

This was the first photograph that I made when I started to walk through the swamp the other day.  I am so enamored of the infrared photography, and I got so many good photographs in an hour or so.  I was seeing photographs everywhere I looked.  This looks magical with the big white leaves everywhere in the image.  I just had to post this.  I hope you are not getting too tired of the IR photographs.  I'll stop now...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

White Swan Black Water

I like this photo because it is different from what I usually see and shoot.  It's just a single swan, but I was on a raised boardwalk above a pond, so I got to look almost directly down on the swan.  And of course this is infrared once again.  The swan looks the same, but the water is jet black because it does not reflect any infrared light.  I like the graphics of the photo - a simple form and fairly dramatic. So here was the unsettling part - do you see how one black webbed foot it sticking out from under the white feathers?  I was worried that the bird was injured.  But eventually the swan started swimming away, and the foot disappeared into the water and seemed to be swimming properly.  Whew!

Friday, July 19, 2013

White Swan White Landscape

I love this photograph!  A white swan in a white landscape.  Obviously I am still playing with the infrared camera, and this is another photo from Shu Swamp.  The swan was in the reeds, and I tried getting a picture, but I didn't have a telephoto lens with me.  So I walked away, and then happened to turn back in time to see that the swan had started swimming away and there was my picture! Please click on it to see it larger and in more detail.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I May be an Idiot

There have been stories in the newspaper lately about the spread of West Nile Virus, which is spread by mosquitos, and is on the rise.  And there were other stories about the arrival of the Tiger mosquitos which are very agressive.  So today I decided it was time to go to Shu Swamp to photograph.  I haven't been there in a couple of years, and I was there in the fall the last time.  But to go to a SWAMP in the middle of summer, when it was 93 degrees?  What, am I nuts?  I did use insect repellent, and I wore a long sleeved shirt and long pants.  I only felt one mosquito, which was nice.  I took a number or really nice photographs, so it was worth the trip.  I love the feel that this looks like some mysterious mountain in this photograph.  It is really the root system of a huge tree that had been blown down.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Man on the Median

Leaving downtown Seattle every day, we had to drive up to what is called the University District, where we were staying.  You take I-5 to the 520 and get off at the Montlake Boulevard exit.  And every day, this man would pace up and down the median, by the stoplight.  He held both hands out in a kind of strange way - not one hand out looking out for a handout, but instead both hands together this way.  I wasn't sure if he was asking for a handout.  His speech was unintelligible to me.  On the second day, I had to stop at the red light near him, and handed him a $5 bill.  On the median in the background he had a bottle of water and some kind of plastic bag.  He was always there in the afternoons, but I don't know when his day starts.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Time Machine

We took the car ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, on the way to Sequim, last week.  Ferries are an interesting experience for me.  They are like some kind of time machine, it seems.  You walk or drive onboard, and then while the ferry takes you somewhere, it is as if you are in suspended animation.  There is nothing to do, really, during the ride.  I mean, you can read a book or talk on your cellphone.  But for me, what this does is slow me down, and make me look around.  I never sit - I need to be at the bow to watch the boat depart, and I want to be at the bow when it arrives.  The rest of the time I am out on deck, walking around, looking at the surroundings, or walking through the ferry people watching.  The ferry makes you slow down, and just observe the world.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mount Rainier, Again

I showed you a photograph of Mount Rainier, surrounded by clouds, on the way in to Seattle.  We were so lucky to be seated on the right side of the aircraft as it climbed up to altitude on the way home.  What an absolutely stunning sight!  I shot this a couple of different ways.  I shot the mountain all by itself, but I thought that this version, with the winglet included, made for a more interesting photograph.  It is interesting, that most Seattle natives don't get to see Mount Ranier all that often, because of weather and clouds.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This is Glass!

Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor and entrepreneur. His works are considered unique to the field of blown glass, "moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture," according to Wikipedia.  Those words do not begin to explain the brilliance of his glass sculptures! To see even one is astounding.  To see a large number gathered together is life-changing.  There is a new museum in town, in Seattle.  So new that it is not in many of the guidebooks.  It is called "Chihuly - Garden and Glass" and it is stunning.  These are three random pieces I photographed, and there are so many more, and each of them are radically different.  You really need to come here and see genius at work!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Flying the Seaplane

So today was the day to get some dual instruction in the seaplane!  I have been really looking forward to this all week.  I haven't flown a seaplane in probably 30 years so it was interesting to feel my way through the process again.  It is hard to explain how cool it is to push the throttle forward and feel the plane begin to gain speed as it pushes through the water, and then gets up on "the step" like a speedboat, and then finally lifts off and climbs away!  Beyond cool!  By the way, before you fly a floatplane, you need to pump out the floats to remove any water that might have leaked in.  I volunteered to do that today, just to feel like I was really the pilot. We flew around and did takeoffs and landings in three different bodies of water.  We flew over Bill Gates' home on the lake, and the Microsoft campus, and flew by the Space Needle again on final approach for the last landing.  A very cool flight.  Oh, and the good thing is that my instructor said I didn't do anything to scare her!

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Fly The SR-71!

I got to fly the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane today!  Well, I mean, it wasn't really the WHOLE plane - just the front end and cockpit that was saved after an accident.  It is on display in the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, in Seattle.  Well I didn't actually FLY it, either. It was on the floor of the museum the whole time.  I just kind of SAT in it.  But it was EXACTLY like flying the real thing, if you are a 12-year old, who is nuts about aviation, like I am.  The SR-71 is a legendary airplane and was the world's fastest and highest-flying operational manned aircraft throughout its career.  How about 85,000 feet and Mach 3.2+  How about Los Angeles to Washington, DC in 64 minutes and 20 seconds!  Yikes!  Can you understand my excitement to be sitting in the cockpit of such an amazing aircraft?

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Seattle is probably one of the seaplane capitals of the United States - well, at least in the lower 48.  I was excited about coming out here, because I hoped I could ride in one, on a tour of Seattle from the Air, AND that I could fly one myself, which I am scheduled to do on Saturday.  This aircraft is a DeHavilland Beaver, on floats, designed in 1946 (when I was 4 years old!)  They were manufactured up until 1967.  One of the really cool things is that they are powered by big radial engines, and have a wonderful deep throated sound when they are running.  This is a classic aircraft, and it was a thrill to finally get to ride in one.  I couldn't pick just one shot, so here is a view of the dock at Kenmore Air at Lake Union, and then a shot from inside of the pilot just before we took off, AND...  A shot out the front window as we flew by the Spece needle.  That must have been impressive for the people looking out to see the aircraft headed in their direction!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Yesterday morning early, we took a ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, and then drove for two hours from there to the Olympic Peninsula.  We were headed to a town called Sequim.  Over the last 15 or 20 years, a number of people have all decided to start Lavender farms in the area, and there is a giant festival there each year.  Fortunately we went to the farms when the festival wasn't.  Apparently they get 35,000 visitors in this small town.  Yikes!  It was an amazing day - we visited three farms and I did photographs at each.  I am not sure I did a good job in showing how incredible it is to see so much Lavender growing in one place. There are a number of different varieties that are obvious even to the untrained eye. Some of these plants can live as long as 18 years.  And the beautiful curves on the tops of all the plants are not an accident - the plants are trimmed each year, after harvesting, so that the next year's growth will be so even and beautiful.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Disappearing in the Morning Mist

This is the big car ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, Washington.  We left fairly early in the morning on this trip, and there were areas of fog on the water, and the city was backlit by the sun.  The further we got from the city, the more it receded into the haze.  There is something absolutely wonderful about riding ferries - the smell of the ocean air, the breeze in your face, and the sense of being in a kind of limbo during passage.  In a way it feels like time stands still during the voyage.  From Bainbridge Island we drove on up to the Olympic Peninsula, to the town of Sequim, Washington, one of the premier growing areas for Lavender in the United States.  Wait until you see THOSE photographs!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Snow! In July!

We flew to Seattle, Washington today.  It was cloudy over most of the United States, and I missed the chance to see a new part of the country from the air.  But as we approached Seattle, the clouds turned from overcast to scattered and broken, and first I noticed that there were snow-capped mountains which I could see through the clouds.  Then suddenly I realized that there was peak that was above the clouds!  Wow!  I waited until we landed, and I asked the pilot about it.  He said that it was Mount Rainier, which is about 60 miles southeast of Seattle, and the elevation of the summit was 14,411 feet.  What a stunning sight!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Another Painful Goodbye

We are loosing another priest at church.  This is Father Greg, and he is our good friend.  St Brigid's was his first assignment in a parish, and everyone here loves him.  He should have been here for a total of six years, but he is leaving with three years to go, because they need him at the Seminary to work on the curriculum there.  It is a painful loss for us.  We will still be in touch with him, but he won't be around on Sundays any more and that seems like a great loss.  They had a party for him after Mass today, and so many people turned out to say goodbye and have their pictures taken with him.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sunflowers. Again

I mentioned when I ran the photograph of Sunflowers in a vase, that I had done a number of different versions of the photo, and I threatened to show you others. This is one of them.  It gives a completely different sense of the flower, I think.  I love seeing each of the yellow petals, and I like the brown/green parts behind the petals, which I hadn't really paid attention to when shooting the picture.  Sometimes it is so difficult to decide whether to include everything in an image, or whether to just concentrate on one small detail.  One of the joys of photography is figuring out these kinds of questions.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Last of the Sunflowers

You saw my photograph of the vase of fading Sunflowers the other day.  Today they were just about completely gone, and I realized that this was a really different photograph, so I shot the flowers again.  Their shape was so interesting that I shot them as a silhouette in the window.  It is all about the strange shape.  I still have some other photographs of individualo blossoms, and you may get to see one of those pretty soon.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mrs. Spider is IN

We went to Connecticut today for the annual July Birthdays party.   The number of us born in July in this family is amazing.  In addition to our mom and dad, now gone, my sister Betsey, and our daughter Amy, my niece Kelsey, and I are all born in July.  So we have one party to celebrate all the birthdays.
While sitting on the back deck at Joan's house, I saw the sun glinting off something over by the hedges.  I went to investigate, and saw this beautiful spider web. As I got closer, I could see that Mrs. Spider was in fact home.  At one point when I was photographing, she sped to the bottom edge of the web for some reason, and then raced back to the center.  I could not believe how fast she moved.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Not a Simple Assignment

These are Kathy's birthday sunflowers from Sarah, from several weeks ago.  They were beautiful and we really enjoyed them.  But I do enjoy photographing flowers that are fading.  So I always insist we keep  flowers around, even when they have passed. So today I set about looking for a photograph.  That's simple, right?  Not exactly.  I tried a number of different things, including individual blooms and close-ups.  I must have spent nearly an hour experimenting.  I had such a difficult time picking my favorite.  I will start with this overall view, and then on some subsequent days, show you some of the other versions.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Faded Glory

This is not the real front door of this building, the read door is around the corner of the building.  It is the office of the masonry yard I photographed before.  I was really taken by this, because everything is faded - the flag, the paint, the building.  But they all seem to go together.  It was late in the day and I like the raking light illuminating the scene. I also left this just a bit dark, because it seems appropriate for the feeling in the photograph.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Rainy Day

I seem to be hiding from the rain a lot these days.  Overcast and showers for eight days straight - I know that because I wrote the weatherman to ask why. I said it was for two weeks, but he said it was only 8 days.  Anyhow, because it was raining I decided to stay under the cover of the maple tree.  I photographed this grouping of ferns.  I had photographed them before, but I wasn't happy with the composition.  I think this time I nailed it.  It is more interesting because of the contrast between the white and black areas and how they are distributed throughout the frame.  I like this a lot!  Yes, I know it's in infrared again, but I would say it is infrared well used.