Wednesday, December 31, 2014
This is the annual ceremonial gathering under the harbor tree on the last day of 2014. Or not. I have photographed this tree so many times, under so many different weather conditions, but I don't think I have ever seen it with more than one person near it. On this day, I happened to see four people all in a row. They actually moved around quite a bit, they seemed to be tourists looking at the harbor and at the tree. I waited until they were all separated from each other before shooting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I took my usual walk to the power plant to see what has changed in my absence. After doing some photographs there, I kept walking and then cut through some woods to a vacant piece of property that used to contain a tank farm for fuel oil. I was curious what was there now. I found some broken concrete, and then this rusted sea wall. It is made from steel sheathing that is driven into the floor of the harbor with a pile driver. This wall has been there for a long long time, since it is almost completely rusted out. I spent some time trying to find the best pattern of holes before taking this picture.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:23 PM
Monday, December 29, 2014
It was late in the afternoon after flying more than half way to New York. The sun had set perhaps half an hour before, and of course it set at a very rapid rate, since we were flying away from the sunset at nearly 500 miles an hour. Everything out the window was deep blue, and then I noticed that the JetBlue aircraft have blue lights in the cabin. I looked at the window and realized that everything was blue. So I took a shot out the window, showing the very end of the wing, and the vertical winglet that sticks up at an angle from the wing.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:57 PM
Sunday, December 28, 2014
We had a great time during our Christmas stay in California. We had been there over a week, and eventually it was time to head home. And that is difficult too because we love being with everyone. Twice a year to visit doesn't seem like enough time. So it is a bittersweet moment to board the plane, and then look out the window and watch California recede into the distance.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Saturday, December 27, 2014
On one of our days, we went to the Museum of Tolerance. It is a multimedia museum designed to examine racism and prejudice around the world with a strong focus on the history of the Holocaust. It also features a tolerance section that discusses issues of prejudice in everyday life. It is a very powerful experience to spend time here. This is a photograph of the sculpture "Holocausto" by Mexican sculptor, José Sacal, and from this level a circular ramp rises up to the next level, and all along the walls of the ramp are portraits of Holocaust survivors who are residents of Los Angeles. One of the survivors gave a lecture in person about her experience and her story was riveting. We all agreed that was the most powerful experience of the day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:28 PM
Friday, December 26, 2014
Both Liz and Amy have several of these plants around their houses. This one is planted at Liz' house, and Amy has several in pots on her porch. I was immediately taken by the beauty of the plant - it is just stunning - and asked what kind of plant it was. No one knows, other than it some kind of succulent. Some of the ones Amy has are reddish brown in the center. I am guessing that someone who looks at the blog might possible know what plant this is.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:17 PM
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Yes there is a Santa Claus, and I know this because I found her on the beach in Venice, California! We were walking on the boardwalk, and Liz looked off in the distance and said "Is that someone wearing a Santa hat?" So I headed off across the beach on a slow run to see. And it was! I went up and asked if I could take a photo of her from behind, and she said that was fine. Obviously she was here relaxing as the sun was going down, so she would be fully rested for her long night ahead. Do not ask me about the International Date Line. I like my version of the story better!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:50 PM
I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas! This seems to be the most appropriate photograph for my Christmas post, because it is the baby Jesus in the manger, and the reason for Christmas in the first place. I am thinking that any other information about this photograph is not really that important at this time. Enjoy your family and enjoy your friends on this most important day of the year.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 1:00 AM
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
I drove to the beach late in the afternoon, but arrived just after the sun had set! Arghhhhhhhhh. That was stupid to not have planned better, and I figured that I had missed everything. But it was amazing to stand on the beach and look out at the Pacific ocean, and have a flat horizon for as far as the eye could see. It gave me this sublime feeling of being able to see to the end of the earth. I stood for an hour, just watching the changing afterglow in the sky. The colors were so pure and so brilliant. I wasn't the only one watching. There were people behind me seated on the beach, and this group in front of me that was taking photographs of themselves and the sunset. What made it all magical was the very thin crescent moon above it all.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 1:19 AM
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Fog! In Los Angeles! What? We were at a museum today several miles inland from the ocean and it was blue sky and sunshine. At the end of the day we were driving back toward Venice, and saw towering clouds which gradually obscured the sun as we got nearer to the beach. By the time we got home, it was dense fog everywhere! I was out photographing these trees, the larger one is in front of Amy & Gus' house. A man was walking down the street toward me, and he kept looking behind, apparently wondering what I was photographing. When he got closer, I said I was photographing the fog. He said "Oh. I am from San Francisco and fog is not a big deal there!" I explained that I had never seen fog in Los Angeles before.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:36 AM
Monday, December 22, 2014
We love going to the Santa Monica Promenade during Christmas season. A wonderful place to walk up and down the pedestrian walk, and people watch. They have all kinds of street performers and musicians for entertainment. This drummer is part of a three-man band that was performing, and they have a great sound - worth stopping and listening to. I noticed these three young children who were watching and then it occurred to me that this was not Christmas music that was being performed. In fact, almost all of the music was not holiday music at all, which might seem a bit strange. But because so much of the time the holiday music seems to be about getting people to buy stuff, it almost seemed refreshing not to be hearing it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:46 AM
Sunday, December 21, 2014
This being Christmastime, Sarah and Liz and Amy have been spending a lot of time working on new Christmas songs. Some of the songs are three-part harmony, and they have been practicing them for a while now. Tonight just Sarah and Liz were practicing some songs on their Ukeleles, and it was a lot of fun to hear them. I haven't heard ukeleles in years. Notice Liz' dog Wesley on the couch, checking out their performance.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 1:05 AM
Saturday, December 20, 2014
There is a stunning photographic exhibit at the Getty Center. It is called "Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful." He has been a photographer since the late 1950's, shooting only black and white film. He first covered the invasion of Prague by the Russians, then he did a photo essay on Gypsies, and later on panoramic photographs of the devastation of coal mining, and of the wall dividing Israel and Palestine. The richness of his prints is just amazing, and I left wanting to see if I could recreate in a digital image, the sense of black and white film shot in a camera. So this is one of the plazas at the Getty, and this image started out as a color photograph, and then I worked on it some, to get to this image. It is not exactly the same, but it has some sense of what I felt in the exhibit.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:11 AM
Thursday, December 18, 2014
OK, so I know there is no such word as "squiggledy." But I like the sound of it. It came to me at 33,000 feet when I looked down on this meandering river on our flight out to Los Angeles. This is, I believe, the Big Sioux River, which makes up the border of Iowa and South Dakota. I love that I can find so many beautiful abstractions when flying at the flight levels, which is why I always choose the window seat. Although I hate to have to disturb people when I want to get up and stretch on a long flight. These days, six hours is a long flight!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:59 PM
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Today we flew from JFK to Los Angeles. When we were at the gate in New York, I looked out the window and saw this scene, once I zoomed in with my camera. There are some interesting things going on in this photograph. At the top left, we see an Airbus 320 tail, then in the middle of the photo, an Airbus 321 winglet, and to the right, an Airbus 320 winglet. The winglets are mounted on the tips of the wings to make the wings more efficient. Basically, they prevent the air rushing over the top of the wing, from taking a shortcut and sliding off the tip of the wing, instead of flowing over the full chord. The 320 winglet is an older version, and the new 321 winglets are the newer version - much larger, and much more efficient.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:58 PM
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I was on the way to the grocery store in the next town over, and I caught a flash of a white statue in the window of an antique store. I was in a hurry, so didn't stop. I came back later in the day. The original statue that I had seen was not promising looking, but a window away were these two statues, and they came together nicely in a composition for me. It was nice that I caught something in the first trip past, and that it turned into a reasonable photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:07 PM
Monday, December 15, 2014
So they are in the next to last stage of finishing off this building. Once they get the last of the brick off, then they will start cutting the structural steel which has been holding everything up. So here is my big fear - we are headed to California for Christmas, and I am afraid that they will make great strides in the demolition, and I will miss documenting an important part of the process. Man, how many people do you know would even CARE about tearing down a building? It is pretty interesting when you enlarge the photograph, to see all the details of this structure.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:15 PM
Sunday, December 14, 2014
We had our astronomy club holiday dinner last night, and for a change of pace, instead of eating at a conventional restaurant, we ate at a fondue restaurant. Fondue? Are you serious? Man, that is so 1960's! Who remembers fondue? We had two pots around here somewhere, but I think they got tossed 30 years ago! So it was interesting, and it took a long time to eat. We started with cheese fondue and bread, the original concept. Then there was a bowl of delicious hot broth and we had vegetables cooked in that, and then we cooked chicken and shrimp and filet mignon and teriaki beef in the broth as well. Then they brought the chocolate fondue, put some liquor on the top and lit it. We dipped strawberries in that. Everyone including me photographed it, and I had my blog post!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM
Saturday, December 13, 2014
The usual thing. I see one of the kitties doing something, and then I need to try and get a photo without disturbing the kitty. This kitty is on the radiator in the dining room, and one of my cameras is in the living room. That involves S-L-O-W-L-Y getting up from my chair and moving in slow motion. Obviously I managed to get the photograph. What I find so cute is that the kitty wrapped her tail around the curtain. She stayed that way for a long time, and I haven't the faintest idea why she is doing that. One more of life's mysteries...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Friday, December 12, 2014
This is a Sun Pillar. I have taken late afternoon walks for two days in a row now. I walk to the power plant and back which is a distance of 3.2 miles. It takes me fifty-three minutes, if I don't stop to take pictures. I ALWAYS stop to take pictures. Like today. I have realized in the last two days that I really should get outdoors more. It is a rewarding experience to watch the sky before and after sunset. Perhaps it's this season of the year that gives us such interesting clouds. The Sun Pillar is a special treat that you won't see that often. It is a column of light that typically occurs during sunrise or sunset. This one is not that tall - I have seen them tall enough that they would rise out of the frame of this picture. You will love how they are created. They are formed when sunlight reflects off the surfaces of falling ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds. The ice crystals are hexagonal plate-like ice crystals that fall with a horizontal orientation, gently rocking from side to side as they fall, and reflecting the sunlight. I LOVE knowing that!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Every once in a while I see something that stops me in my tracks, and I realize that I am looking at something that is extraordinary, a recognition that I am looking at something I have never seen before. That was the case today. First I noticed the mirror-smooth water and then the dark black rocks and then the smooth black curve of the sandbar. Something in me responded to that and I realized that I had something very special to work with. This photograph is the result. For me, this is a very unusual landscape.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:57 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
This is my friend Jessica. She is a senior at Stonybrook, majoring in engineering and physics, with a minor in astronomy. I guess it was about five years ago she and a friend came to the astronomy club and said they wanted to build a telescope and grind and polish a mirror as well. I said I would mentor them, and we have been friends ever since. She is busy beyond imagining but from time to time we meet for coffee at a Dunkin' Donuts, and talk about astronomy and engineering and life. I always have my small camera with me, and when she glanced down, and her hair fell forward, I quickly said "Don't move!" I think this is a portrait unlike any I have ever taken.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:29 PM
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
So now the power plant is a see-through building. It is amazing how much daylight comes through now. After the south wall came down, and then the north wall, you still couldn't see through the building because of all the piping and sheet metal work in this, the boiler section. I have stood at both ends, and yet have been unable to see any of demolition work within the building. It's just that one day there is a little more daylight coming through.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Monday, December 8, 2014
I took a walk by the water the other day, and the sky from horizon to horizon was stunning. The bottoms of the stratus clouds were perfectly smooth everywhere and the color of silver. It was remarkable and I took a lot of pictures in every direction because it was so beautiful. I chose this as my favorite because I love the reflection of the darker cloud in the water.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:38 PM
Sunday, December 7, 2014
This is a photograph of Scudder's Pond, which was recently restored. Most of the Phragmites were excavated and removed because they are considered an "invasive species." And the pond was dredged, and replanted around the edges with native plants. The pond has been looking pretty bare for the last six months. But wildlife is starting to return, and these trees have changed color with the coming of Fall. I love how subtle this scene is, with the leaves only adding a faint red haze to the scene.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:55 PM
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Arthur Leipzig, a legendary photographer and revered teacher died here at his home in Sea Cliff on Friday. I have always known of his work, but if you can believe this, I had never had a chance to meet him, until I had an assignment to photograph him at his home in 2004. It does seem strange that since we both live in Sea Cliff our paths had never crossed before this day. He greeted me warmly, and he knew about my work as a photographer. I was so glad to meet him and we spent a fair amount of the afternoon spending time talking shop. He was very generous and gave me some calendars and other items with reproductions of some of his photographs. I did try and make him smile, but he said he would rather not be photographed smiling. After the photo ran, If I recall correctly, I got a call from his wife, and they really enjoyed the portrait and asked for a print. The original photograph was in color, by the way, but it seems more appropriate to run it in black & white because much of Arthur's work was in B&W.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:53 PM
Friday, December 5, 2014
They have finally taken down all the smokestacks from the last building left standing. The building looks forlorn without them. I will have to run a photograph of the whole site with all the buildings, and smokestacks and other structures, before demolition began. You have probably forgotten, as have I, how much has disappeared from the site.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:52 PM
Thursday, December 4, 2014
I was on my way over to Starbucks to get coffee before driving over to the gas station to get an oil change. But you will say: "I thought you were boycotting Starbucks." I am. Mostly. Out of the corner of my eye I saw these beautifully painted shingles on a house that I pass a couple of times a day, and that I had never noticed. I thought it was really nice that someone cared enough to do such a complicated paint job on the shingles. Then I thought about how much work it would be to do this paint job myself. I like to think I would take the time, however, to go the extra distance and paint the shingles this way if our house had this architectural detail. Please click on this to see it in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:38 PM
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
I walked by the Hosta again today on the way to the car. The colors were more brilliant because of the gentle rain falling, and so I grabbed my camera to try the shot again. I think this is the kind of stronger graphic sense that I was looking for yesterday. Sorry for boring you silly with my struggles to make a photograph that I am happy with of this garden detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:00 PM
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
This is either a very subtle photograph, or no photograph at all. I was raking leaves in the driveway today, and noticed all the leaves surrounding this faded Hosta in the garden. I spent quite a while trying to compose a photograph. I started with this photograph, which is the widest view, and then experimented by moving in tighter. I was hoping to get something more "graphic" in terms of lines and composition, or shapes that would stand out and be more dramatic in some way. Perhaps I need to think of this more as if it were a delicate tapestry. I do love all the subtle, warm colors.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Monday, December 1, 2014
Today I went to a school and worked with a science teacher as part of Project Astro to teach some astronomy related material to two classes of fifth graders. Great kids to work with - really curious and smart as a whip. They had all kinds of really good questions. I talked about how telescopes worked - those with lenses, and those with mirrors. They got to handle lenses and mirrors, and to look through one of my telescopes at a photograph of Saturn taped to the wall down the hall. Then they had to write about what they saw. It was such a rewarding day to be around such bright and interested children.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:43 PM