Sunday, November 30, 2014

Excuse Me, Your Plumbing is Showing...

They have removed both brick walls from the last power plant building still standing.  I have wondered for a long time now, what was inside the largest of all the buildings.  This is the building with the smokestacks on it.  So I found out from some of the workmen that this was the steam generating building - thus the smokestacks.  Then the steam was sent to the turbine hall where the electricity was generated.  It is kind of cool to see the size of the pipes in the plant and the complexity of it all.  This plant was built about one hundred years ago.  They knew how to do it right!

The Colors of Connecticut

Yikes!  I forgot to post my blog last night!  I was working on making the Christmas cards in the basement this afternoon, and for some reason it came to me: "Did I do a blog post last night?"  And I knew that I hadn't.  So here it is, better late than never.  It is a photograph that I took of my sister Karen's view of her back yard.  I was taken by the colors, and how different they are here on Long Island.  I think the main difference starts with the boulders covered with lichen.  And then it was rather late in the afternoon, so that's why the overall colors are from the "cool" part of the spectrum.  I love how my eye wanders from foreground to background and how there are so many subtle colors that can be found in the photograph.

Friday, November 28, 2014

This Family Photography Thing

You probably thought I was kidding about our family photography gene.  In this picture, my sister Karen was photographing Kathy and I, while behind her, my sister Betsey was using her iPhone to photograph my sister Joan, and her daughter Jennie, and son Jonathan, and his expectant wife, Lauren.  I kid you not, you would find it amazing to come to a family event and witness all of this!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Connor & Grady

We went to Connecticut and had Thanksgiving dinner with my sisters and some of their children.  Then we headed up to visit some of our cousins and their families.  So this is Connor, hanging out on the internet while Grady, the dog, contemplates me taking his picture.  Isn't he an amazing dog?  I love how cute he is, and how he is looking at me. He looks at me suspiciously.  With good reason.  Because I am a photographer, and should be regarded that way by everyone...   :-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Last of the Leaves

I forget how pretty the windows are on the garage doors.  Recently, at a zoning hearing the woman in charge, who had apparently visited our property, commented on the beauty of the windows.  I take these windows for granted, but I saw them anew after her comments.  So the other day, while backing down the driveway, I saw this scene, with the beautiful fall colors and stopped the car to take this photograph of the colors and of the windows.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Live Action

As you all know, I have been watching this plant for months now.  It is extremely rare in spite of all the work going on, to actually see some significant sign of things coming apart.  Well, lucky me - I just happened to be at the plant when this slice of one of the smokestacks was lifted off by the crane.  I have watched as men with cutting torches worked on a piece of the stacks, but as long as I waited,  I never saw this part of the process.  So this was fun to be able to show some action, finally. The stack on the left is the last of the six that existed at the plant.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Single Leaf

It rained last night, and it was windy.  This morning the car hood was covered with so many tiny leaves from the Japanese maple tree that it looked like a galaxy of stars.  I photographed that first, and then I noticed this single leaf which was wet, stuck to the garage door.  For some reason I like this photograph best, but I am not sure why.  It is more interesting in its design, I think.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Scarf

So here's an interesting story.  I was at the International Center of Photography, looking at the Sabastiao Salgado exhibit "Genesis."  I happened to notice this well-dressed, distinguished looking gentleman, and I was taken by his scarf.  I did a quick snapshot so I would have a record of what the scarf looked like, and then I went over to talk to him about the exhibit, and I asked about his scarf.  I told him that I through it was really nice and I asked him if he remembered where he got it. He was very nice but said that he couldn't remember.  I thanked him, and we talked about how spectacular the exhibit was.  He mentioned that he did photography on vacation as an amateur, and that he and his wife had traveled the world.  When I got home, I started searching the web to see if I could find the scarf.  I didn't find it, BUT...   I was stunned to find out how much scarves can cost.  I found some Burberry scarves from four hundred to five hundred dollars!  WHAT?  It gets better - I found one at Nieman Marcus - a Brunello Cucinelli for $810. Are you serious? So then it occurred to me - I am guessing that the gentleman knew exactly where his scarf was from, but rather than embarrass me in some way, he saved an awkward conversation by "forgetting" the details.  Interesting, huh?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

(mostly) True Things

We went to a really cool thing tonight.  It is called a "storytelling slam" and it consisted of about fifty people in a small studio, and four storytellers.  What happens is that one by one each stands at the front of the room, and tells a story.  The stories are all true, EXCEPT that three of the four stories have some small lies added to them, and one is the complete truth.  This ups the ante for the listeners, trying to decide while listening, who is lying and who it telling the truth.  And the end, there is a chance to question the story tellers, and then we vote on our choice for the truth teller.  All four stories were wonderful, but I didn't guess correctly.  Kathy did, however, and won a coffee mug!  It was an amazing evening!

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Red Tree

This is why I love Fall - it's my favorite season.  This red tree was glowing so much from the late afternoon sun, it looked as if it was lit by electricity!  Then I saw the American flag, and the white porch.  What more could I ask for in a photograph?

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Every day, less and less.  I go by the demolition site and look for different kinds of photographs.  I need to reming myself to look for wide shots, and medium shots, and close-ups.  It is so easy to forget to look and shoot at different scales.  And what I am really looking for, are photographs which have that "something else" going on in them.  Those that in addition to showing something interesting, have a strong feeling about them.  The "something else."  I think this photograph has a bit of that.  When I saw the building in this condition, the first thing I thought of was that the building had its arms raised.  Maybe pleading not to be demolished?  It's too late, of course.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Sisters Photograph Me

So this a switch - I am on the other end of the camera.  I mean three cameras.  These are my three sisters - lucky me!  Let me tell you how wonderful they are.  They all live in Connecticut, and the other day they decided to drive down to Long Island to visit, and to go over to the Port Washington Public Library to see the portraits I was commissioned to do for an exhibit there.  And of course they are all Spencers, and that means they have the photography gene.  You may not want to come to any kind of Spencer family gathering - you will be seriously photographed there!  But we all have fun photographing each other, as you can see from their expressions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Lure of Black & White_7

This will be my last extended post of the black & white images. I need to get back to my regular blog posts of "A Picture Each Day." I call this one "Ansel Adams on the iPhone." I always bring my iPhone on my bike rides each day, in case I crash or something, and I also use it to take pictures if I find something interesting along my route. When my ride is over, I take a rest on a park bench on the edge of the harbor. That's where I saw these clouds and rocks at the water's edge. I saw this as a black and white image - I guess because of the cumulus clouds. It did remind me of an Ansel Adams photograph, so I used the Hipstamatic app to shoot it only in black & white.  Tomorrow I will be back to my color images.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Lure of Black & White_6

I am coming to the end of my extended black & white postings.  I really do need to get back to my daily blog posts.  This is another photograph shot with a 4x5 camera.  It is the cemetery on the East Hampton green.  There are a lot of early gravestones there, and it is on the edge of a pond, and it is a very picturesque scene.  But I was taken by the fence and steps.  What?  Why are there stairs into a cemetery?  Do you have any idea why?  Think about it for a second.  I am guessing the answer is "cows."  I am guessing that they used to let cows graze on the green, and this is the only way for people to be able to enter the cemetery but not cows.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Lure of Black & White_5

OK, so this photograph is a cliche. Everyone who has ever owned a 4x5 view camera, has set it up on a tripod and photographed moving water with a long exposure. If you shoot a waterfall at 1/125th of a second, it looks like water should look. If you use a long exposure, like 30 seconds or 60 seconds, the water looks like mist or fog. It is a lovely effect and quite beautiful. Maybe there are good cliches, and bad cliches. This is Bash Bish Falls, in southwest Massachusetts. You can do a google search and see other photographs of the falls. I actually like my misty water version of the photograph. I also like that the falls on the right resembles a human figure in some ways.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Lure of Black & White_4

The Lure of Black & White_4   I headed off to Rochester Institute of Technology in 1960 after graduating from Milford High School. I thought I was going to learn studio and wedding photography and portraiture. Instead I had the great good fortune to study with Ralph Hattersley who introduced the concept of using photographs to communicate. And then there was Minor White, who continued to develop my sensitivity and sensibilities. Here is one of his quotes: “Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence." Ralph Hattersley and Minor White changed my life forever and I will be eternally grateful. I still hear their voices when I pick up a camera. For my senior thesis, I did a year-long photo essay on Minor and his life as photographer, teacher, writer and editor of Aperture magazine. This is a photograph of him at breakfast at his home and one of my favorite photographs from the whole series.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Lure of Black & White_3

This picture, after an ice storm, was done with my Hasselblad. Confession: I was out shooting "weather pictures" for the newspaper, but since I had only just purchased my Hassy, I brought it along with a tripod. We are talking about "one for me, and one for the company" again! I have no recollection of what I shot for the paper, but this image in permanently burned into my optic nerve.  It took the ice, this amazing tree, and a beautiful stone house here in Sea Cliff to make this image…

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Lure of Black & White - 2

So this is day two of my extended B&W Challenge. This photograph is another one from the series "The Architecture of Despair." This is building 93 at Kings Park Psychiatric Center. I shot this with a 4x5 View Camera. The value of this camera is that it can make corrections for perspective - in this case I am looking up at this really tall building, and yet it doesn't look like it is leaning backwards, because I have adjusted the camera to compensate. The purpose of this photograph is to show the incredible size of this building, and the number of rooms. It is just scary to look at. There were still patients in the building, although it was nearly empty. While I was photographing, I could hear screams from within the building, from some of the patients. Be sure and click on it to see a larger version of the photograph.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Lure of Black & White - 1

Over on Facebook two people asked if I could continue to post some more of my black & white images, now that the Black & White Challenge is over.  A landslide vote!  OK, so I will post another week's worth of some of my old B&W photographs.  I had always wanted to own a Hasselblad, but they were pretty expensive.  In 1980 I finally bought a used one and began looking for square pictures.  The 2 1/4 by 2 1/4 black & white negatives are four times the area of a 35mm frame.  The fine detail that is visible in the finished prints is astounding in comparison.  So this is a photograph of a corner of my grandfather's barn, in Guilford, Connecticut. The photograph is about the beauty of the textures of the weathered wood and stone.  It may be a more subtle photograph than some of my other landscapes.  I would love to know what you think.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day

I was on the way to an appointment this afternoon and was running late, when I spotted this house while at a stop sign.  I thought "I can come back later" and then realized the folly of my thinking.  Shoot it now, or it is gone forever.  So I did.  I love the beauty of this giant flag, displayed in honor of Veterans Day.  When I was a kid, the day was known as "Armistice Day," and I remember that because it was my grandmother's birthday.  Armistice day was declared on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  It commemorated the end of World War I.  In 1954 it was renamed Veterans day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.  So my question is which of these two photographs do you like best.  I like the top photograph best, even though the flag is not as large. Something about the context of showing the whole house seems to make it more interesting.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The B&W Challenge - Bonus Image

The B&W Challenge is all done, but I have one other photograph that I want to post. Think of it as a "Bonus Image." I have always been fascinated by all the abandoned mental hospitals that were on Long Island, so twenty years ago I proposed a photo essay which an editor friend called "The Architecture of Despair." (Thanks Ridgely!) So I shot the whole series with a 4x5 view camera in black & white. I had to fight tooth and nail to be able to shoot B&W. The big deal editor wanted it shot in color, so I ended up shooting both. The cover ran in color, and all the inside photographs, fortunately, ran in black & white.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 5 - The Black & White Challenge

Day 5 of the B&W Challenge. About 10 years ago I got a freelance assignment from SONY to take some beautiful landscape photographs, anywhere in the United States I wanted to go. They sent me two cameras, and a whole box of lenses. Only problem was that it was February! So I chose California. I contacted an astronomer that I knew in California, who I knew was an outdoor guy to ask for suggestions. He said that I HAD to stop at Montana de Oro State Park. He was absolutely right, and this is where I took the best photograph from the whole week-long trip!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 4 - The Black & White Challenge

This is an aerial photograph I took back in the late 1960's. I think I was doing some photographs for the newspaper after a snowstorm, and of course, while flying around I was looking for other, more artful things. You know "One for me, and one for the company!" I really love doing aerial photography because it gives us an entirely different view of the world we live in.  The world can be a magical place from 500 feet.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Day 3 - The Black & White Challenge

This is a photograph of the front door of an abandoned farmhouse in Ovid, New York. I have been driving by this farmhouse since 1966 every time we traveled to and from upstate New York to visit family. I have photographed it over the years about 87 different ways.  When the front porch finally collapsed, though, then the front door and siding were in better light, and resulted in this photograph. I love how monochromatic the tones in this photograph are.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Day 2 - The Black & White Challenge

This is a photograph I did near Yuma, Arizona while on a photographic workshop with the photographer Mark Klett. It was a really cool trip, and we ended up camping on the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range, and exploring the Camino del Diablo! I was working with a 4x5 view camera, and Type 55 P/N Polaroid film. I tried scanning the Polaroid negative with my Epson flatbed scanner, and you can see inconsistencies in the tonalities of the sky. I have a print somewhere, but couldn't find it right away.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 1 - The Black & White Challenge

There is a thing going around on Facebook called "The Black & White Challenge."  It starts with a photographer nominating a friend to post one black & white image a day, for five days.  So my friend Stan Honda nominated me today, and I am off and running.  The project runs on Facebook, but I thought that you would enjoy seeing what I am posting there.  Some of you will see my Facebook posts, but for everyone else, I will be posting each of the five photographs here as well.  This is the famous Japanese Maple tree, photographed with a camera that my friend in Tucson, Dean Ketelsen insisted that I borrow from him.  That camera records infrared light, and thus the green leaves of the tree register as bright white.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Big changes to the plant yesterday!  I drove by in the morning and I could see the north wall of the plant still standing, but they were cutting the I-beams with torches.  When I came by again, late in the day, the whole wall was gone!  I talked to another man who was looking at the wreckage, and he explained how they brought the wall down.  Explosives!  Oh man, I wish I had seen that!  He said there were a number of quick explosions, which cut the bottom of the I-beams supporting the wall, and down it all came.  And I missed it all...  sigh...  Please click on this to enlarge it, and see more detail in the pile of rubble.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Skeleton People

Is this wild, or what!  This was a display in one of the booths at Photo Expo.  There were a bunch of painted women artists, painting other women and men as skeletons. The artwork was incredibly creative, as you can see here.  It must have taken hours to get this far in the body painting.  The result of all this was that a whole mob of photographers at the event were gathered around the booth, shooting like crazy.  Oh wait - I was one of them!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How Does She Do That?

I was at the Photo Expo show in Manhattan where you can see more photographic gear than you can shake a stick at.  While watching one of the speakers, I noticed this woman with this camera take a few photos of the speaker and the crowd.  I was stunned at how creative her hands were!  Knocked my socks off.  But her hands wouldn't show up in a photograph because the background was really busy and confusing.  So after the talk, I went up to her and asked if she would pose for me, and she agreed.  So I placed her in front of a white wall at the exhibit and this is the result!  Isn't this the coolest thing, for Halloween?  She works for the manufacturer of the camera she is holding, by the way.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Rise of the Jack O' Lanterns

We went to this really cool event tonight, even though it was outdoors and raining.  It is called "Rise of the Jack O' Lanterns."  It is a display of five thousand one hundred Jack O' Lanterns at Old Westbury Gardens.  These two photographs don't begin to do justice to all the creativity displayed by the artists who design and carve these wonderful pumpkins.  I could have shot fifty close-ups of individual pumpkins and you would be astounded.  But instead I did two photographs of the landscapes that were created.