Saturday, May 31, 2014
Late in the day I went out to the side garden to look at the Peonies which I could see had flowers. At least I thought they were flowers. I am not sure what you call these - are they actually buds? I was surprised when I saw these magenta balls up close - the first thing that came to me was that they looked like planets in orbit because they were so perfectly round. The trick was to move around until the buds were in an interesting arrangement.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Friday, May 30, 2014
I came out of the grocery store after buying stuff for dinner and saw these trees lit by the setting sun, against the beautiful clouds. A cold front had just passed through and we had showers and beautiful thunder gray skies. I was carrying two bags of groceries with me, so I held them both in one hand, and grabbed the toy camera on my belt with the other hand. It takes about 4 seconds for the camera to open and be ready to shoot, and by that time, some of the light had gone off the trees. Rats! I took the photograph anyway. Then I came home and did a little work in photoshop to darken the sky just a bit, and to lighten the trees. So the effect is the same, but I wish I had come out of the store about 30 seconds earlier.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Thursday, May 29, 2014
I drove out to the Vanderbilt Museum this morning for a meeting. It was strange for me to be there in daylight - usually it is dark out. So I spent some time looking around after the meeting was over. The Vanderbilt Museum was the summer home of William K. Vanderbilt, II, He was born into wealth, and loved the oceans and the natural world. In his sea-going global travels, he collected fish and other marine life, birds, invertebrates and cultural artifacts for the personal museum he built on this estate. I was unable to find out where these six columns came from but they are the first thing you see after driving through the front gate. I love how weathered they are in appearance.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
So here's an interesting window display, particularly for Sea Cliff. These mannequins have been in this window for years now. I am not sure why I decided to stop and photograph them, but on this day it finally occurred to me that the scene would make a picture. And you know me, I am always looking for pictures. What seems strange to me, is that these are in the window of an architect's office. I guess that's why the hard hats. Can you find the photographer?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:45 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I walked through town the other day, and since I wasn't driving, I had plenty of time to look around. Actually it is rare that I even drive down Sea Cliff Avenue. I was so pleased to see what has become of the two side-by-side buildings that were being refurbished. The bottom photo was taken in June of 2012, and the buildings have come a long way since then. Both of these buildings are a beautiful addition to the architecture of the town.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Monday, May 26, 2014
When I set out to photograph the Memorial Day parade I hope to end up with a memorable photograph when I am done. The first thing I look for is an "overall" shot that shows the parade in its surroundings - one that would give a sense of Sea Cliff. Then I start looking for "medium" shots that zero in on smaller parts of the scene. Then I look for the close-up in hopes that it will be more dramatic. The way it works, of course, is that I am looking for all of these things all at the same time! So I only did an "OK" job today. I have some nice things, but nothing as strong as I might hope for. The photograph with the Green Beret saluting is kind of an exercise in composition, where I have him looking out of the frame, for something different. The last photograph is interesting - it is a grandfather, who served in the Coast Guard in WWII, with his grandson who is on active duty in the Marine Corps. I think maybe the best picture is the group of Girl Scouts, because we can spend time enjoying their faces and see how much fun they are having.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:11 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2014
This is a story of a pond reborn. This is Scudder's Pond not far from our house, and over the years it has become silted up, because of some strange drainage design. The water runoff from one of the big streets that runs down toward the water, empties into this pond! That's stupid! The rainwater that runs down the hill to the pond, washes dripped oil and gasoline residue and sand into this pond where a lot of wildlife lives. So they have spent a couple of million dollars to dredge the pond, and to remove all the Phragmites surrounding it. I didn't realize that Phragmities are an invasive plant, but apparently they are not natural in this place. So all the vegetation will be replaced with native plants, and they are adding a "swirl separator" to take out the sand - but not the residues from the street. Go figure. I took the "after" picture with a normal camera, and it is taken from the same place where I took the black & white "before" picture with an infrared camera a year or so ago. The area of the pond is almost twice the size as it was before the dredging.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:03 PM
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Remember Floppy Disks? These are actually Zip disks which have been chopped apart with an axe before discarding them. I am going through and trashing old technology. These were pretty amazing at the time. A floppy disk would store 1.4 MB of stuff, and these would store 100 MB. I checked to see if there was anything important on any of them - I still have a drive that will play them - and I saved a few old photographs. But to make sure that no one would retrieve anything from them, I made sure they were completely destroyed. This almost looks like an abstract painting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:26 PM
Friday, May 23, 2014
When I was at Roosevelt Field Shopping Center the other day, I saw mountains of dirt, piled almost thirty feet high where one of the parking lots once was. I wondered where that came from, then I rounded a corner, and saw huge pre-cast concrete beams coming out of the ground and extending into the sky. A new building is under construction. Huge cranes lift all these pieces into the air, and these workers bolt them together. So I was kind of playing with the design within the frame of panels, and spaces, and human figures. I think the official artistic terms are positive and negative space.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
OK, this is absolutely CRAZY! I was at a red light on a main highway and happened to look over to my right and the first thing I saw was the front wheel of this truck, with SPIKES on it. This is BEYOND crazy! I was absolutely stunned! I mean, who DOES this? Have I said that this is crazy? All I could think of was "Anti-Social." Not to mention dangerous. I wonder if this is illegal? I got one quick shot off out the front windshield before he drove off. Oh, and as I drove by him, keeping my distance, I saw his arm - tattooed from wrist to shoulder. Sigh... Be sure and click on this to see it in all its horror.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:33 PM
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I went to Roosevelt Field Shopping Center today, and while parking my car, noticed this goose walking around in the parking lot. The killer was, when I first saw the bird, it was walking around on the pavement. By the time I got out of my car with the camera, it had switched to walking on the grass. I thought, "Oh well, I will shoot this anyhow and see what I get." I think that this still works for my original idea. Maybe it is better with the green - maybe all pavement would be too boring. I do like the design of the image with the perspective of white lines receding into the distance.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:35 PM
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
These are the flowers that arrived for Mother's Day from Liz and Amy! Thank you, thank you! We have really enjoyed them on the dining room table, but now their time has passed. I am never one to quickly discard anything that is past it's prime. (That would include me, of course...) I keep things like this around to watch them change in case I can find an interesting photograph. These really are beautiful in their decline, don't you think?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Monday, May 19, 2014
Today was "Mars Day" at the Cradle of Aviation. I was invited to the event to set up a display of a couple of my telescopes and an exhibit of a telescope mirror and mirror making tools and some other astronomy stuff. I gave brief presentations on the different kinds of telescopes, and how they work. I always bring this demonstration telescope for the students to look through. What is amazing about this photo is that I have the face of another student imaged by the lens in the front of this demonstration telescope! I saw this image and shot really quickly but only got two frames. I love this photograph!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:08 PM
Sunday, May 18, 2014
I don't know what's going on around this house. You may remember that on April 1st, I posted a photograph of a teacup, that cracked completely in half. This morning I reached into the cupboard to get a plate for my toast, for breakfast. Crack! Now I have another piece of ceramics split in half! What is going on here? Nothing, really. We have owned these pieces for years now, so there is no mystery involved. The trick for me, was to photograph the broken plate in an interesting way. I wanted it to be a bit surrealistic, so that's why I put the food on it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:31 PM
Saturday, May 17, 2014
I love to fly. But killing with an airplane? I don't think so. This is the A-10 Thunderbolt close air support aircraft on display at The Cradle of Aviation. It is an impressive aircraft, both in it's size, and in its capabilities. It was built here on Long Island, at Fairchild Republic Aircraft. But this skull and motto? Wow. I wonder if this was a real motto on an aircraft, or if someone dreamed it up. Maybe it came with this aircraft when it came to the museum. I was at the Cradle for an FAA safety seminar. It didn't involve killing people from aircraft, however.
Friday, May 16, 2014
I took the garbage out last night, late, and happened to glance down our street. I was struck by how spooky the street looked - I realized that one of the street lights further down was out. I actually really loved the look and the feel of the street this way. Actually I would be happier if there were no street lights on at all, on our street. The street lights contribute to light pollution and make the sky brighter, and interfere with the use of my telescopes in the side yard.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:19 PM
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Well, they are getting serious at tearing down my favorite power plant. One of the workers told me a month or so ago, that they will pull the building down with cables. So now I see how they do that. They apparently spent a lot of time cutting through these blue I-beams which were behind a giant brick wall. Then they pulled the wall down. It was an amazing change in the building in a short time, and it is interesting to see all the supporting beams. I am now wondering how they will take the smokestacks down. I will be sure and let you know.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:21 PM
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Look what I found in the lawn today when I was mowing the grass. I hate when they grow in the lawn, but when I picked one of them up and looked really closely, I was stunned by the beauty of this Dandelion. It is really amazing to examine one of these closely. And the mechanics of the blossom are something to behold. On the top of each stem radiating out from the center, there are delicate hair like wisps of material. These hairs are what allow the wind to carry each of the seeds to some other lawn in the neighborhood. So I photographed it lit from the front, and then tried changing the lighting so the blossom was silhouetted against white so that you can see the structure better. I think the silhouette is the more dramatic picture, but I am posting the other version that I took first, below.
If you like the second photo better, please let me know. Thanks.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:44 PM
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I had another day of shooting for my library project, that I can't tell you much about at the moment. I met some really interesting people who I photographed. This woman was over 90 years old and told an amazing story. She went to a high school marching band concert, and told her mom that she wanted to be a drummer in the band. Then she went to the director and asked him, and he said "Well, we have never had a woman drummer, but if that's what you want to do, we'll be happy to have you in the band." So she played the drums for four years, between 1938 and 1941! The band won a number of competitions in four years, and this is her band cap, with some of the medals pinned to the top of it. This cap is older than I am!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
Monday, May 12, 2014
This is our mom. The mother of Karen, Joan, Betsey and I. I should have posted this picture yesterday, on Mother's day. When we went to Connecticut, Betsey had the original print of this photograph, so I made a quick copy. Our mom was beautiful, in so many ways, both outside and inside. She was so giving to all of us, and made so many sacrifices. It was wonderful to see this photograph of her in her wedding dress, a photograph I had not seen before
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:34 PM
Sunday, May 11, 2014
We went to Connecticut to spend the day with my three sisters and Joan's daughter, Jenny, and son, Jonathan, and his wife Lauren. It was a wonderful day with so many of us gathered together. So this is a photograph of Jon and his sister Jenny. They are an amazingly close brother and sister, and when Jon married his wife Lauren, all three became really close. In the summer the three of them work at a camp for children with cancer - they have been doing that for years. It is really nice to see them together, and see how they interact with each other.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:42 PM
Saturday, May 10, 2014
In the old days (that would be when I was shooting film in my cameras) there was a technique that might be used once in a great while, called "the negative print." It was only used for artistic purposes. Minor White gave us an assignment to produce one. The trick is to visualize the subject in real life, and then imagine what the subject would look like as a negative print. In the darkroom, you would take a black & white negative, and use the enlarger to project the image on to another piece of film, instead of a piece of photographic paper. Then you would develop that negative, and it would be a positive, and you would print it on paper and end up with a negative print. I know, way too confusing. So I tried this today to see if I could visualize something interesting, and I do like the design of this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:58 PM
Friday, May 9, 2014
I was driving along by the harbor when I saw these two men, with a bucket and a pitchfork headed for the beach. I figured I could find a photo if I parked the car and went looking for them. They were in the perfect spot, in the middle of a tidepool, looking for clams, I think. What I hope is that they want these clams for bait, so they could go fishing. Due to the nature of pollution in the harbor, these clams are not safe to eat. What I waited for when shooting this was the shapes of the two men reflected in the water.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Thursday, May 8, 2014
When I stopped to have lunch with my sister Joan a couple of weeks ago, I noticed these buildings out behind the rear of the parking lot. They caught my eye because of the architecture. The "sawtooth" roof line tells me that it is an old New England style factory building. We can't see the right hand side of each triangular roof section, but when these buildings were built, they would have had one side of the sawtooth covered in windows. The window light was what illuminated the factory floor below. Where the windows were has probably been covered with roofing now. But the roofline identifies the purpose of these buildings. I also really love the texture of the shingles on the outside of the buildings. That's why I converted the color shot to black & white to lessen the distraction of color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:16 PM
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
I was waiting at Jamaica station to change trains for the one that goes to Sea Cliff. I happened to notice that these red plastic additions to the platforms were standing out in a way that I hadn't seen before. I am not sure why that is exactly. Perhaps it is the light at this time of year. So after seeing this, the trick was to see what else I needed to make a photograph. Unfortunately there was no one on the closest platform. So I waited, camera ready, until someone walked by. I had only one chance at this before my train came.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
How's this for a great view in Manhattan? Pretty decent, in my opinion. In the distance, if you click on this to see it larger, is the George Washington Bridge spanning the Hudson river. In the mid distance are all the buildings along Central Park West, and all the trees of Central Park. You might want to ask where I was in order to take this. You might ask, but I can't tell you. I don't want the security people coming after me...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:37 PM
Monday, May 5, 2014
I had a wonderful day today. I met a photographer from Montana through a mutual friend, and he was visiting New York and came to the house today. He wanted to know about portrait lighting in the studio. So we spent about 6 hours talking about lighting. For 20 years I taught a portrait lighting workshop to young photographers and I came up with a nice way to demonstrate the lighting techniques. I got this plaster head that was cast from a real live person, from a sculptor that I did freelance work for. So I set up the plaster head and lit it. I love this photo because the head looks ghostly, and it appears to be floating in space.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
I drove by Roslyn Park the other day and was stunned to see that a new statue has been installed in the park. And what a statue! Where did it come from? So this gets just a bit complicated. In 1898 an estate was built by John Mackay, who got his money from the Comstock silver lode, in Nevada. He later went on to form AT&T. The estate, Harbor Hills, was on the highest point on Long Island, and was 648 acres in size and had a mansion and gardens beyond imagining. There were two statues of horses on the estate which are replicas of the Marly Horses commissioned by Louis XIV in Paris in 1649 and now located at the Louvre. Some of you may remember that I photographed a statue in two pieces outside a factory building a while back That was one of the statues from the estate, which for years was at Roslyn High School. That statue was badly deteriorated and missing the head of the man, and is being restored, which is why it was in several pieces in my photograph.
This is a closer view of the same statue. It was left in place in the residential neighborhood, and also deteriorated. The Landmark Society raised $100,000 for the restoration of this statue, and for its base. Please click on it to see it in a larger size. Now knowing it's heritage, I know why it is such a stunning piece of sculpture. The father left the estate to the son, who died in 1938, and the magnificent mansion fell into disrepair and was dynamited in 1947, and the land sold to a developer, who build residential homes. At lease the statues survive.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:28 PM
Saturday, May 3, 2014
This is Marla and Elvi and we went to their wedding late this afternoon - what an amazing event! We met them because they were one of the couples in our marriage preparation group and we thought they were pretty special. He is in the Marine Corps and leads a group of recruiters. We had no idea that there would be an honor guard, complete with swords. A very impressive Marine Corps tradition.
Before the wedding began, I was wandering around outside the church, and saw this happening. The woman on the right is one of the two wedding photographers, and I was taken by the formality of his uniform, and the informality of her outfit. I thought that this would be the blog post, until I saw the ceremony leaving the church.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:21 PM
Friday, May 2, 2014
I am the boss of my blog, so if I want to do a "do-over" then I can, because I say so. :-) I was sitting at the dining room table, and glanced up to see the Easter Lilly again and I realized that the angle that I was viewing it at was different, and the light was different. The best part was that I could see inside the blossom, and see both the Stigma, and the Stamens. (I sure hope I have these terms identified correctly...) Anyhow, it is a much more interesting photograph than the first one I posted.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:22 PM
Thursday, May 1, 2014
The village of Roslyn is three miles south of Sea Cliff, and it is a showcase of historic American architecture. Back in the 1960's a doctor and his wife began buying and restoring homes in the village, and then began working with the Board of Supervisors and others to designate Roslyn as a village worthy of preservation. Over the years I photographed them, and many of the restored houses. Because of my love of architecture, I always enjoy wandering around Roslyn looking for photographs. I was driving through there today and saw this magnificent fence. I was blown away by the pickets - they are all dowels, and they are all sharpened to a point on the top! I wouldn't want to fall on this fence!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM