Saturday, August 31, 2013
Jenga! Never heard of it. But it is one of the games at Captain Dusty's in Montauk. So Amy got it out and we played it. What a killer game! It is a lot of fun, because speed and quick perception is not part of the game. It involves contemplation, and more importantly, dexterity of the hands. The game consists of piles of blocks, three on a level, and you need to remove one block at each turn, and place it on the top. So the collection of blocks gets both taller and less stable as the game progresses. You can use only one hand to move the blocks. And then at some point, the whole thing collapses, and the person who did it loses.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:16 PM
Friday, August 30, 2013
If you are not a town resident, you can't park anywhere near the beach at Ditch Plains. So I dropped everyone off at the beach, and then drove some distance away where I could park in the neighborhood. Then I walked back to the beach, carrying my camera, of course. When I saw this mailbox I was fascinated. I just love the creativity that it took to design and construct this - a piece of driftwood plank, a bunch of rounded stones, and then the mailbox. A lovely and practical piece of sculpture!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:08 PM
Thursday, August 29, 2013
This is the Ditch Witch. "Ditch" because it is at the beach at Ditch Plains. But I don't know why it is called "Witch." But this trailer which has coffee and sandwiches and soda, ice cream, and other goodies to eat, is legendary on the East End of Long Island. It has been here forever. I spoke to the young man who was serving food, and he said that he first came here when he was three years old, I assume with his dad. I forgot to ask. I can confirm that they do have great coffee, however. I do think that this photo captures the feeling of summer at the beach. Please click on this to see more detail, and notice the surfboard standing on the left hand side of the trailer. Ditch Plains is THE place for surfing on the East End.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:29 PM
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The nice thing about the house in Montauk is that there is essentially no TV. So at night we sit around and read or, more likely, play some board games or card games. I happened to look outside the living room window and saw the reflection of some of those icicle lights in the window. Only it was still light out, so while we played on, I kept an eye on the window. Finally it was dark enough outside, and I managed to shoot this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:08 PM
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
At the house in Montauk, Amy's neighbor is Dee and she is a professional gardener. To brighten up the house and grounds she has made a garden in a number of planter boxes. I love the way she has planted them - in a conversation she said that she does "crowd" the plants, and I prefer that, instead of having each plant surrounded dirt. I don't know the first thing about garden design, but I love what she has done here. I photographed the boxes at several times over three days, and I can't decide which image is my favorite. I should tell you about the last photo - the house was owned by a long-time fishing boat captain in Montauk where he raised his family, and to this day some of the old nets and floats hang on the fence. I think this photograph has a problem - even with a long telephoto lens, both the flowers in the foreground, and the fence in the background are still both pretty sharp. I wish there was a way to make the fence more blurry. So which is your favorite photograph?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:14 PM
Monday, August 26, 2013
We went to the beach at Ditch Plains today, where the surfers hang out. There were a lot of people walking up and down the beach and I was looking for an interesting shot. I just kept watching until the relationships of the shapes made an interesting composition. So the photograph is not about the scene as much as it is about the various shapes and their relationships to each other.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:21 PM
Sunday, August 25, 2013
We are in Montauk visiting Amy, and she told us a story about a brilliant photographer friend of hers who made a short video for someone and it was of him dancing in slow motion. She and another friend thought it was so cool, so they made a video of themselves slow dancing. Tonight when we were talking, she suddenly started doing a slow motion dance. It was so funny to see, as if it was filmed with a high speed camera, but in real life. So, me being the day, I asked for a command performance, and shot this. Of course it looks the same as if she was dancing at normal speed. But you have to trust me on this - she WAS dancing in slow motion!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:36 PM
Saturday, August 24, 2013
I noticed that the ivy was coming around the corner of the garage to the front, so I went to check on the garage windows on the side. I had photographed this scene perhaps a month or so ago, with the ivy crawling up the window. When I went back I saw this - a lot more ivy and and a better photograph, in my opinion. I used the infrared camera, of course. Now that I have my better picture, I will go rip the ivy off the garage - it is not good for the wood and the paint to have it growing there.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:10 PM
Friday, August 23, 2013
Our astronomy club is required to hold a certain number of board meetings for officers and board members during the year. Sometimes they get a bit tedious with all the endless discussions. Sometimes some people get bored. Of course, it wasn't boring tonight. You can see that everyone is pretty excited...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:18 PM
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I went to buy a pepper at the store, and then bought two. Why two? Because this was such an amazing looking pepper I wanted to photograph it, and so I bought a second one to eat. This is an astounding object, isn't it? I used a powerful studio flash unit to light this. I wanted soft light, so I put the pepper on a piece of black cardboard on the dining room table, and then aimed the flash at the ceiling. So the light source is a huge area of light on the ceiling, and it has a directional quality, but it is very soft light. Perfect for this subject, I think.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
I saw this flash of color by the cellar door. There is concrete all around the cellar door, although it is old and has some cracks in it. Apparently some seeds for this flower ended up in one of the cracks, along with some dirt in which the seeds could grow. I was so surprised to see this blossom here - it just jumped out at me and I love the contrast of the bright color against all the gray.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:24 PM
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Kathy brought home a Ciabatta from the new bakery in Glen Cove. Wow, what a bakery! So we had some garlic bread last night at dinner, and this morning I cut further into the loaf to have buttered toast for breakfast. Imagine my surprise to find a tunnel running through more than half the length of the loaf! I've never seen anything like this before. The bread was really delicious - where the bread was. We just had to eat more pieces to make up for the missing part.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:17 PM
Monday, August 19, 2013
I am doing this backwards - this is one of the first photographs I took when going to Vermont. It was taken at the Vermont Visitor's Center, just after you cross the state line. It is a wonderful facility with interesting grounds and exhibits. I wandered around looking at the landscape before going inside, and found these flowers - my favorite flowers. They are Purple coneflowers and because they were by the corner of this wonderful weathered fence, I thought it made a nice photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:58 PM
Sunday, August 18, 2013
As is my custom, I drove down to Mass MoCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art, to spend the day. It is always an inspiring and refreshing day. I looked at a lot of art in a number of different exhibits. I photographed some that interested me. But a funny thing happened - at the end of one gallery, I saw this. At first I thought it might have been a painting, but it wasn't in a gallery. Then I saw the red fire extinguisher. It is a fire door. But the years of paint layered on it appeared to look like an abstract expressionistic painting. Fascinating, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:07 PM
Saturday, August 17, 2013
I continued my exploration of the Black River. That is the river that runs through Springfield, Vermont, and it is the river that powered so many businesses in the years past. This view is from a bridge which crosses the river, and I am looking down about 30 feet to the rocks and the water. I thought it was interesting how the waterfall split apart and then recombined. The photograph is so blue because I shot it after the sun had set, and the scene was illuminated by only the blue sky.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Friday, August 16, 2013
I hope you will forgive my fascination with old factory buildings. I am not done yet! In prowling around the town I photographed buildings on both sides of the river. While editing, I kept coming back to this photograph, for some reason, and the longer I looked at it, the more I liked it. I think that in a way it's an abstract photograph. It is about the different shapes and the slightly different colors all arranged within the frame. At first I thought that it was a documentary photograph, but now I realize that it is not.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:56 PM
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I have been coming to Springfield, VT for 25 years now. I haven't explored the town very much, but I did this year. I did a lot of walking around, looking for old factory buildings. This town was known as "Precision Valley" because of all the machine tool companies that once existed here. So I walked around and photographed. As I was heading back up the hill to my car, I saw this scene, that reminded me of photographs I had seen by an English photographer, of old mill towns in the UK. While composing a photograph, suddenly a car came down hill with its lights on, and I realized I had the shot! I love the mood of this, and decided to convert it to black & white.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:56 PM
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
I spent some time photographing some of the old factories in Springfield. Apparently water power was used in the old days for power, and in fact, there is apparently a small electric generating plant downriver that still operates. I think that this waterfall is part of the water power arrangement. Anyhow, I was prowling around at the end of the day, and saw this rock that appeared to be to be some kind of large fish swimming upstream. OK, so I have a vivid imagination. I mean, it does have two eyes...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:18 PM
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
I have been going to the Stellafane Convention for 25 years in a row. Luey has been going there for 34 years! He has had the food concession at the convention since before I first went there. I happened to have a conversation with him on Friday night when it was quiet, and he said that this was going to be his last year. This is a portrait of him and his wife Ann under their tent. They have been married for 10 years now and she has been there helping him, side by side for the last ten years. But he said the long days they have to put in are just too much at their age. Oh, and get this - in our conversation he mentioned that she is a cyclist, and rides 25 miles every day! They are both such lovely people and I will really miss them in the years to come.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Why is everyone looking into and photographing the garbage can? Clues can be found in the device on the stand to the left, and the bright thing on the stand in the far distance. What we are looking at is a solar telescope. The thing on the stand is a mirror which captures the sun, and reflects it onto another mirror way in the distance, and that mirror projects the image of the sun into a white card inside the garbage can. You need the garbage can as a shield to keep stray sunlight off the sun,s image. Everyone was amazed at the sun's image, including a sunspot or two, and everyone wanted to take a picture of the sun.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:19 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2013
This is Chris, the innkeeper at the bed and breakfast where I was staying. What a great New England face he has, don't you think so? So he and his wife were only temporary innkeepers while the owners were away, however. The first morning, he served me breakfast, and we started talking. He is an amazing guy, and was an audio engineer for years. He was born and raised and lived in New Jersey and worked in New York City until he retired. He's not a Yankee at all. We talked about all kinds of different interests we have, and then I realized I needed to take his portrait, and he agreed.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:24 PM
Saturday, August 10, 2013
What a spectacular evening observing! The sky, black as coal, and the stars upon stars, like handfuls of diamonds thrown into the sky! It was a magical evening, and I decided to photograph the Milky Way with a wide-angle lens. Those of you who remember my post about the teapot from two weeks ago might be able to find the teapot at the bottom of this image. These are the nights we live for!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:37 PM
Friday, August 9, 2013
After dinner the other night, the sun was still up, so I drove to downtown Springfield, VT to look for photographs. There are some old factories that are there - more on this another day - and then I saw the late afternoon sun on these two homes on Main Street. They caught my eye right away because of the light on them, and it felt as if the lighting was similar to that in so many paintings by Edward Hopper. It's funny, there was no question about composition with this image. Sometimes I look around for 15 minutes and try different things, but not for this photo. It felt right just like this.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
So I was in the Hartness House astronomy workshop all day today, and there were wonderful presenters from all over the United States, talking about solar astronomy. But all day in a room listening to lectures does make one sleepy at the end of the day. So I headed out to the car during the start of the cocktail hour, to grab 40 winks. I woke up with the rain pouring down on the car - I could barely see 50 feet the rain was so heavy. I thought, "Well, I guess I either will miss cocktails, or get soaked" so I stayed in the car and waited for the rain to stop. Suddenly, as the rain was ending I saw this out my car window. I quickly rolled down the window, and shot two frames, and then the rays of the sun were gone, as the last of the rain stopped. I lucked out!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:40 PM
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
So I was on my way to Vermont for the Telescope Maker's Conference. I stopped to have lunch with two of my sisters, Joan and Betsey. Uncharacteristically, the service in the restaurant that we always go to was impossible. It took nearly an hour to be served! And I was under a deadline because I needed to be at the bed & breakfast in Vermont by 5 PM. There was no time to waste. BUT... I wanted to stop and look at this iconic scene of Milford, the duck pond and waterfall behind town hall. This was one of the first scenes I photographed as a kid when starting out in photography, because everyone in the photo club I belonged to shot it. So I was in a huge hurry, and only took five minutes to look for and take this picture. And then there was not much water coming over the falls. And did I mention I was in a hurry? So I managed to take several views in five minutes and then dashed for the car. In the winter, with a lot of water flowing, and the falls iced up, it is a much better photograph. I will have to come back in wintertime. By the way, I have now been in Vermont for less than 5 hours and I already have a billion pictures for blog posts! Stay Tuned.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:54 PM
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
I went out east for observing last night, and got skunked. There were clouds, but they were supposed to clear. But they didn't. You can see them in this time exposure photograph of the sky - the clouds are blurred. In between bands of clouds I was able to view parts of constellations for a bit. But there was one very cool thing - there was a pass of the International Space Station. You can find schedules online for times that it flies overhead where you live. So I decided to do a time exposure and captured it as a long line bright in the photograph. It is always a spectacular sight - it usually looks like the brightest star in the sky, moving from one horizon to the other in maybe 5 or 6 minutes. You don't need any equipment to see this - just your unaided eyes.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:36 PM
Sorry for being late with this post - I went back out to Custer Institute for observing last night. More on that in tomorrow's post. This is another photograph that I took at the St. Rocco's Festival, featuring my favorite food - Sausage and Peppers. I love the light in this photo - the late afternoon sun, low in the sky, and I love the sky - storm clouds which passed nearby, but only left us with a sprinkle. I think that this gives more of a sense of what the festival feels like, than the bubble photograph from yesterday. Too bad the guy in the photo isn't clutching a Sausage & Peppers hero!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:43 AM
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Every year at this time there is the St. Rocco's Feast in the next town over. We always go over so I can have a sausage and pepper hero, and then a cannoli for dessert, with maybe a bite or two of a zeppole. It's fun to walk around and see all the carnival games, where you have absolutely no chance of winning anything - all the games are fixed. And there are all kinds of things for sale on the midway. This young man, and the young woman behind him were selling electric bubble squirt guns. It was cool how the bubbles came out of the gun in a stream. After I snapped a few photographs, he realized what I was doing and pointed the bubble gun right at me, and suddenly I had my shot!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:49 PM
Saturday, August 3, 2013
I was looking for some garden photos so went back through my collection and when I saw this portrait, I realized that I wanted to post it, even though it was taken about 6 years ago. Hey, I used to be a good photographer! I realize I like the idea of having more portraits in the blog. Anyhow, the story is, that the paper decided to do a series of interviews with civil rights activists in the 60's and 70's. This distinguished gentleman was the first black principal of a school on Long Island. And one stunning story that he told was that he was accosted by one of his teachers in a department store, who was also black, and she said "Why don't you go back where you came from! We don't need you here!" Wow. I remember be stunned when he told that story. What an amazing face he has - the signs of years of living. I tried to light his portrait to accentuate his character.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Friday, August 2, 2013
I have been cleaning up and throwing stuff out. Well, some stuff. In a cabinet in the basement I found this rainbow colored windsock - probably something I bought on vacation years ago. It was brand new and never used, so I thought it would be fun to hang it on the front porch just to brighten things up. I love seeing it every morning. When it is backlit by the Sun, as it is in this photograph, it is just brilliant and brightens my day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Thursday, August 1, 2013
I used to let the ivy grow up the side wall of the garage, because it was so pretty. The only problem is that it grows under the shingles and into the garage which is not good. So several years ago I stripped it all off, and kept after it. Last year I stored leaves from Fall in garbage bags next to the garage to use as compost, and this year the ivy had a shorter path to get to the garage from where it grows on the wall. It has grown up the garage wall quickly. It is beautiful, but I need to rip it all off. So I decided to photograph it first, and infrared makes the dark ivy so much more dramatic.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:54 PM