Monday, March 31, 2014
So I have this really cool project I am working on for a local library. It involves doing studio portraits of people from the town, each one of them holding one of the items from the library's collection. Then they will write about the object and what it means to them. The photographic prints will be 30" x 40" inches in size, and will hang in the library in an exhibit in September. Why am I photographed like this? I did some lighting tests and when I was sure of the lighting, I stepped in and had my picture taken, the way the subjects will be photographed. Of course I won't be in the exhibit.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:10 PM
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Two orange chairs down the street, just waiting for spring and a nice green lawn. Oh, and some nice warm sunlight. I don't think I have ever seen lawn chairs painted this color, but I love them. All the ones I have ever seen are either dark green or white. I look forward to keeping track of these, to see if I can come up with a different picture, when the lawn is green and the light is different.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:02 PM
Saturday, March 29, 2014
This is the last of the snow. Finally. It is gone now, after all the rain today. I am happy to see it go. It seems like a psychological victory to have no snow around here. Now if I could have no rain, and slightly warmer temperatures, so I could my bicycle whenever I want, I would be completely, ecstatically happy!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:38 PM
Friday, March 28, 2014
So I have been photographing this building for months now, as it is slowly demolished. One of my worries is that I will overlook a particularly good way of seeing the building. I imagine another photographer showing up and instantly doing a stunning image of the building, that I would never have seen. So when I am looking, I ask myself, "Do I want to leave off the smokestacks in this shot?" for instance. So I am working hard when I am around this building. I cut the smokestacks off by zooming in on the building, and suddenly I saw all the leaning power poles! I think the poles are more the subject of this picture, than the actual building is. Please click on this to see it in more detail - the power poles become more obvious.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:51 PM
Thursday, March 27, 2014
As I walked down the hill today to the water I passed these two chairs put out at the curb with some trash bags. I guess the people who put them out were hoping that someone would save them. There is a broken arm from the red chair lying on the ground next to it, in case someone wanted to repair the chair. I looked at the style of the chairs, and the age, and wondered about their history. When were they brand new, and whose house did they live in at first? And then what other houses did they live in, before they ended up here.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:37 PM
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Well, I can't begin to reach the moon, so how could I possible touch it? Oh, wait, they mean this model of the moon. It is a beautifully detailed, six-foot diameter moon globe in relief, in the lobby of the Vanderbilt Planetarium. Hundreds of kids stream through here every day, and how could you possibly resist touching such an amazing object? It is a magnet for little fingers who want to touch all the mountains and craters. Only thing is, if too many people touch it, the matte finish on it gets shiny, and it ruins the effect. Thus the sign.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:46 PM
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Sardines! I am back to having sardine sandwiches for lunch again, from time to time. I was at the grocery store buying a piece of salmon for dinner and happened to look down and saw these sardines. Yikes! Their appeal was somewhat reduced seeing the blood in the ice. Of course the sardines I use to make a sandwich, come in a can packed in olive oil, and they have no heads or tail fins, so they are a bit easier to eat than these would be. I like the design of this image, by the way - the diagonals and the varying sizes of the fish.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Funny how we take photography for granted - we see a scene and lift our cameras, and take a picture. Most times it works just fine. But today saw a scene and when I looked at the results, they were disappointing. A straight photograph is above, and the sky is all "blown out."
So I took two photographs, one lighter and one darker, and then pasted the darker sky on top of the lighter picture of the water, and this was the result. It still didn't look like what I saw with my eyes. That's because our eyes can see a greater brightness range than a camera can record. So...
So then I used the lighter and darker images, and a piece of software that makes images with a High Dynamic Range - it combines several different exposures together to get a lower contrast image that matches more closely what our eyes see. The image above, is that image. Interesting stuff, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:08 PM
Sunday, March 23, 2014
There was an opening of an exhibit of photographs at the Sea Cliff Village Library today, to which I was invited. This is a portrait of the photographer, John, who I know. He was an art director for years, and now does really interesting photographic art. One of the things he does is to place flowers directly on his film scanner, instead of photographing them, and he makes stunning compositions. The photographs in this particular exhibit are Polaroid transfers which he did, and they are beautiful images with this wonderful painterly quality to them.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:19 PM
Saturday, March 22, 2014
This is my latest report on the demolition. I went across the harbor where my view of the plant is not blocked by walls and wires. And when the sun is out, the light on the buildings from this side of the harbor is pretty amazing. I saw that light tonight, but didn't have time to stop and photograph it. They have removed all the windows, and the steel window frames. I would love to get inside the building to see how they will eventually take it down. I am curious, and yet I hate to see it come down.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:33 PM
Friday, March 21, 2014
After shopping for dinner I pulled into the driveway, and caught a glimpse of my favorite garden angel across the yard. What caught my eye were the shadows of tree branches on the neighbor's wall. I have photographed this angel before, but the background shadows really make this shot for me. Something about this small sculpture leaves me with a sense that she is lonely. Maybe it is time to buy another sculpture to keep her company. Please click on the picture - it looks so much better in a larger size.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:33 PM
Thursday, March 20, 2014
On the way back from the convention, since I left late Saturday, I stopped at my sister Joan's house to stay overnight. She lives in the house we all grew up in. When I woke in the morning, the sun was streaming in the windows, and reflecting off the mirror on the door. Even though I had just awakened, I knew a photo when I saw it, and grabbed my iPhone and made this photo. The interesting thing is that this was my room growing up in the family home. Of course it looked like a boy's room at the time, and it doesn't now. I love that it was a south-facing room, and filled with sunlight most of the day. Maybe that was what made me so tuned into light, which has served me well in my photography.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
This photo is terrible. But parts of it are good. Let me explain. It has occurred to me that I should be buying fewer books from amazon, and more from the local bookstore. A friend of mine encouraged me to do this, so when I went to buy the amazing new book "Cycle of Lies" by Juliet Macur, about Lance Armstrong, I decided to take a photo of me and my new book, in front of the store, and send it. Good idea. But... The sun was too bright, I was squinting and my face was all scrunched up and I had trouble seeing the screen of the phone. It was difficult composing the image and getting both me and the book in the photo, so the result is kind of cool, with only Lance's eyes showing. And then imagine my shock to discover that the image is all pixelated, because using the camera on the face of the phone results in a 640x480 pixel image! That is beyond stupid! So this whole thing should be good for a laugh, all things considered.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:05 PM
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
In the hall outside the lecture rooms, there seemed to be a constant gathering of students and their computers, hard at work. This is not good reporting on my part, but I think they were all refining their portfolios. At night they got to meet with photographers and editors who were the faculty for the program, and show them their portfolios, and have their work evaluated. I think what makes this photo interesting is seeing that three of the people in the picture have their hands up to their chins, with very thoughtful expressions on their faces!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:15 PM
Monday, March 17, 2014
This is John Tlumacki, an amazing photographer, and a staffer for the Boston Globe for over thirty years. He has covered the Boston Marathon for 20 years, and was at the finish line when the bombs went off in 2013. He was the first speaker at the convention and told an amazing story. He described the confusion and then how he photographed the carnage and the victims. Afterwards he met a mother and her daughter who were both injured - the mother lost both her legs below the knee. He befriended both of them and has documented their recovery for nearly a year now. He spoke of how at some point he realized he was suffering from PTSD as the mother and daughter were, and their friendship, and the documentary project helped all of them in their healing. What an incredibly sensitive and caring photographer he is. If I had turned around and gone home after his talk, the conference would have been worthwhile!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:26 PM
Sunday, March 16, 2014
One of the lectures was given by "The Dueling Instagram Guys" - two photographers who usually worked side by side for their different agencies covering events, but who both were shooting and posting for fun from the same locations on Instagram. Someone suggested that they should start posting together for fun. So they talked about their history and showed some of their Instagram streams. They are both brilliant. The man on the left is Eric, one of the photographers - the woman in the foreground is one of the audience members. I love the foreground-background design of the picture. If you want to follow both photographers their Instagram names are "ericthayer" and "joshualott".
Saturday, March 15, 2014
One of the lectures I attended was on portrait lighting. After showing examples of his photographic work - which was terrific - he did a portrait setup at the front of the room. Then he asked for volunteers. Wow, who wants to volunteer to be photographed while watched by about 40 people? Well, this is Cindy and she was a brave soul and stepped up. She mentioned that she loved dogs, so they gave her a backpack, and said to pretend that it was a dog that she could hug. She has such a wonderful smile and laughed a lot during the proceeding, and really made the exercise fun to watch. A brave soul and a good sport.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Friday, March 14, 2014
So this is John H. White, a legend in photojournalism. He was one of the featured speakers here at the Northern Short Course in Photojournalism. Here is the kind of guy he is - before his talk started, he stepped down off the stage, and came to the front row, and walked up to strangers, and began introducing himself! How wonderful is that. He has worked for the Chicago Sun Times for 35 years, until they fired their entire photo staff in 2013. John won the Pulitzer Prize for Photojournalism in 1982 for his "consistently excellent work on a variety of subjects." His talk was inspirational, and his photographs just stunning. He is a very spiritual person, and that showed when he talked about his love of people and of photographing them. And of course, he had time to pose for pictures with some of the younger photographers.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:34 PM
Thursday, March 13, 2014
I woke up this morning to show showers! Yikes! Oh, I forget, I am now in New England. "Don't like the weather in New England, wait five minutes." It continued to snow for part of the day, then eventually cleared and the sun came out, but it is cold outside. I was standing at the window with my camera, and this woman came out, and walked up through the picture to get to her car. After I had my shot, I looked, and I had the sensitivity set to 1600 ISO. Arghhhhhh. That would make my pictures very "grainy." Arghhhhh... So then I set it to 400, and immediately the woman left her car and headed back to the hotel, along the same route! Whew! Lucky me!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:50 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Where am I? What strange world is this? Did I take some bad acid? No, of course not. I am in Rhode Island at the Northern Short Course, on the 6th floor of a hotel, and it is raining. When I held the camera up to the window which has water drops on it, this is the scene that resulted. Each water drops are each is a lens and this is what results when bright lights in the scene are distorted by the little lenses.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:21 PM
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The old power plant is looking worse and worse. I like the long view, which gives it a sense of place, but you can't see much detail, so please click on this to see a larger view. I watch the work with fascination and dread - I hate to see this old plant go. They have removed all the iron work from the windows, and now they have cut channels in the brick from top to bottom. I am not sure what that is for, other than to weaken the structure in critical places. So I continue to watch and wait, and of course you will see what happens from here on out, as I take more photographs of the process.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:52 PM
Monday, March 10, 2014
I know what bird this is. It is a seagull, not a bagel. I was just trying to come up with a more interesting title for the picture, and this is as clever as I get... :-) For me, this picture is all about the pastel colors. There is the slightest hint of pink in the background. And this is a really low contrast image - I tried adding some contrast to it, but it changed the feeling so I have left it the way I shot it. There were high clouds, and the sun had set, so that is why the whole image is "soft" in terms of contrast.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
After the events of the day yesterday, a whole bunch of us went to dinner at a great Italian family restaurant. So I was surrounded by nieces and nephews and grand nieces and grand nephews. The danger for all of them, of course, is if they sit anywhere within my sight, they are at risk of being photographed! This is Nikki, and the thing that I like about this picture is that instead of it being just a portrait, it feels like it is a moment in some kind of story, with the hand up to her face. She is just checking texts, of course, but the blue light adds to the complexity of the photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Saturday, March 8, 2014
We drove up to Connecticut for the day today, to see Connor, and to visit with Maureen and Bill, and to help putting together the wheelchair ramp for Connor. He comes home next week. We also went to Keera's basketball game - her dad coaches the team. So I had to see if I could remember how to do sports photography. I didn't do that well, but I did get this shot, so there may be some hope. But not much. We had a great day, though.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:08 PM
Friday, March 7, 2014
I have passed this spot on the sidewalk a billion times in my life - while running (in the old days) and while walking, and while carrying my camera. I have never seen exactly this photograph before. What caught my eye was the kind of "whisk broom" branches in the trees on the upper left side, and then in contrast, the beautiful gentle curve of the railing. And what seems pretty important as well, is the delicate pastel colors in the water and in the sky. I walked the same route today, and everything was a leaden gray. The picture was just not the same.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:55 PM
Thursday, March 6, 2014
As they used to say on Monty Python - "And now for something completely different!" I was walking past my favorite marine salvage yard, down by the power plant, and happened to notice this bollard sitting in the back of a pickup truck. I saw the face right away, and realized that it was a picture. It always tickles me when other people do something whimsical like this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:55 PM
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
These are my friends Jess and Glenn. They are both brilliant, and wonderful to have as friends, and they keep me feeling young. They are both amateur astronomers, and Glenn loves to photograph and has a good eye, so we have a lot of things to talk about. He is also an engineer and a programmer, and he has just been hired by a startup in San Francisco and leaves on Sunday! It is a wonderful career move for him, and it is amazing to see him taking this kind of risk, but it is so bittersweet for me. I will miss being able to call and say "Hey, do you want to grab lunch at Panera?" I guess I can still do that but it will involve grabbing a plane to San Francisco. Wait, that's not such a bad idea!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:34 PM
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I took my camera for a walk down to the power plant today. I love the term "walk your camera." It was coined by a photographer from West Virginia whose work I really admire and who I have briefly corresponded with. I went in the afternoon, and the skies were a beautiful silver gray. I saw pastels everywhere and I took a lot of pictures, which I will be posting for the next few days. I love the mirrored effect of the sky in the water. And the few ducks add another element of interest.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Monday, March 3, 2014
I was out running errands, and was a couple of miles from home, and from the water, when I turned to the west and saw a spectacular sunset with layered clouds. As I headed toward the water, all the traffic signals were red, of course, and I could see the colors on the clouds fading. So I grabbed my iPhone and started shooting out of the windshield, hoping to get something. I wasn't talking on the iPhone so it was ok to be holding it (at least in my world view...) Something about the red traffic lights in the distance, and the red tail lights in the foreground and the hint of color in the sky seemed to come together and make a photograph. Not a great one, however.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Sunday, March 2, 2014
The other night, when the moon was out and the sky was clear, I happened to look out of the back door window at the snow before I went to bed. I could see the sparkles that I tried to photograph in daylight the other day, but the main interest was the shadows of the trees on the snow. The whole scene seemed ominous. When composing the picture, I was looking for some object of interest. Then I saw the broken branch coming out of the ground in the background, and the picture felt complete.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
OK, we need to establish this from the start - I have no idea which kitty this is! I happened to have had the close up lens on the camera when this kitty came by, near the window. The light was perfect, and the camera was handy. I just love the intensity with which she looks at whatever she's looking at. It is also fun to be using a lens that focuses so close, and then I become aware of so many small details in her coloring and her whiskers. You must click on the image to see a larger picture with detail that is spectacular!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:51 PM