Monday, June 30, 2014
It was Vince's birthday! He's holding the phone here, while Skyping with his granddaughter Findlay who is in Massachusetts. Skyping is really so cool when there are family milestones like this, and everyone can see as well as talk to people who can't be there for the celebrations in person. You can tell they are all enjoying the conversation.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:42 PM
Sunday, June 29, 2014
This is the reason for our trip to Connecticut. At right is Connor, who graduated from High School this week. His graduation was pretty much a miracle, given what happened to him back in January. He was hospitalized with ADEM, a rare auto-immune disease that left him comatose and threatened paralysis. His recovery is almost complete, and he recently competed in a doubles tennis match which is astounding because he had to learn to walk all over again. Here he is shown with his sister Keera, on a tire swing at the graduation party today. Back in January his survival was in question. So today was a glorious day in our family.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:16 PM
Saturday, June 28, 2014
This is Brendan, and he is my grand-nephew, or great-nephew, and he is indeed a Great nephew! He is a SERIOUS skateboarder! A master, and he has taken trips around the country with friends just to visit some of the classic skateboard parks. Anyhow, we are in Connecticut visiting family, and he showed up with this shirt! I loved it immediately, and I WANT one! There is something, to me, really funny about it. It is not funny to some Connecticut residents - they are offended by the message. Can you imagine that? The shirt was produced by a friend of his who has a skateboard shop. I think the point of the shirt is that skateboarders have been denied places to use their boards in so many places both in Connecticut and in other states. So that's the point of this. I asked him to put his glasses on - they were perched on top of his hat - and then I asked for a serious expression as well. I thought it went with the message on the shirt. But I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression of Brendan, so the picture below shows the REAL Brendan! Lest you get the wrong idea about him, for several years he has worked with residents of a nursing home, and he has a natural affinity for the elderly and infirm, and loves to help them.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:27 AM
Friday, June 27, 2014
At the end of my bike ride I was sitting on my favorite park bench. I was admiring the beautiful cumulus clouds against the blue sky. This is funny, when I saw this color scene, the first thing I thought of was what it would look like in black & white. It took me back to when I was first learning photography and saw the work of Ansel Adams and his photographs of towering cumulus out west in black & white. I only had my iPhone with me, but I wished I had a real camera because the subtle tones in the clouds would be much better.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:22 PM
Thursday, June 26, 2014
I was thinking of titling this blog "The Penicillin Farm." You probably wonder where I found this petrified (seriously) donut. That's good, because I am going to tell you. I was working on cleaning out the garage today. Not only am I president of my astronomy club, but I also am the guy who buys coffee and donuts to bring to the meeting. When I have clean cups left over, I put them in a bag and put the bag in the trunk. Sometimes I put the bags in the garage. I have no idea why. So today I was throwing out the bags from the garage, and picked up one bag and looked inside, and there was this donut. Hard as a brick. Interesting looking thing, huh? I know it was some kind of jelly donut. I thought you would like to see it. You're welcome!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:25 PM
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I parked behind the planetarium tonight and when I came out, only one spotlight was illuminating the parking lot and the car. It is hard to explain what it is that grabs me sometimes, that makes me want to take a picture. The thing about this picture is the trees - they seem to be a little creepy or foreboding in this light. I shot it in color, but it seemed more strange in black and white.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:04 PM
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I have been looking at a book of photographs by the photographer Alex Webb and his wife. He shoots in countries like Hati and Africa. His photographs always have splashes of brilliant, vibrant color. They are amazing! So I have been reading and thinking about how he sees. Of course I am less likely to see bold color where I live and photograph. Until this day. I came out of the Met, and this food cart jumped out at me with all its brilliant signs. Then I had to wait for a person, and for the proprietor to be in the right spot. I did some shots with people with colored shirts, but I choose this image because this person, without color doesn't distract from the signs. Would I have seen this shot if I was not reading the Webb book?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:38 PM
Monday, June 23, 2014
I went to the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the installation of the curving glass wall which I showed the other day. The artist covered the whole roof with artificial grass which you can see here. Almost everyone who came to the roof, walked to this spot to view the skyline visible in the distance. I stood here and photographed twenty or thirty people who came to look and take pictures. I picked this picture out of all of them because of the green color of blouse of the woman on the right. I think what this photograph is about is the colors of light green and light blue, and her blouse fits into that palette.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:17 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2014
What's going on here? This is interesting. These two photographs are of an installation of a Sol LeWitt "Wall Drawing" titled #370 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The story is complicated, but the short version is that artist and sculptor Sol LeWitt designed over a thousand wall drawings, and left extremely detailed instructions for his "drafters" who paint or draw the artworks on walls. This group of five people started by painting this long wall in the museum white, and then set about masking off the whole wall in patterns of stripes, and then rubbing black paint - ten layers - over everything. They have been working on this for weeks, and tomorrow they pull the masking tape off, revealing the new drawings. Fascinating to watch. I needed to use more than one photograph in order to show what the whole project looked like.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
Saturday, June 21, 2014
I was going through some of the galleries of paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Friday, and entered this room. I saw this scene and stopped in my tracks. I stood there and tried to decide whether or not this was a picture! How stupid is that? Instead of reaching for my camera on my belt, I just stood there trying to decide! Duh! By the time I got my camera out, the woman had walked away! So I chalked it up to a loss of an interesting photo. I continued to look at some other paintings, and then walked back toward this gallery. I was looking for the woman, and found her. So I walked up to her and asked a favor - would she come back and pose where I first saw her. She agreed, and I took this photograph, and showed it to her, of course, and thanked her. That was a lot of work - I should have been quicker on the draw the first time I saw this! What I love about this picture is the shape of the woman's head and her hair. And the fact that it is two portraits in the same frame. I am so thankful that she agreed to come back and pose for me.
Friday, June 20, 2014
I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today to see some specific exhibits - more on that in the next couple of days. This is "The Roof Garden Commission" by Dan Graham. It is a garden that has been built on the roof of the museum. It is hard to show what it looks like, exactly, but it involves hedges, and artificial grass, and huge curved panes of glass that have been partially coated with a reflective material, like the facades of office buildings. So depending on where you stand, you can see yourself, and the city, and at other places you see no reflections at all, as in a part of this view. So this is fun picture to look at. The photographer can be seen in the reflection - can you find him? Be sure and click on this to see it in a larger size - there are a lot of interesting details.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Last night and tonight there were passes of the International Space Station, nearly overhead. The ISS is a beautiful thing to see. It looks like one of the brightest stars in the sky, moving ever so slowly from horizon to horizon. There is a website where they post the passes, telling us what time, and what direction it comes from, and which direction it is moving across the sky. So I went out and set up my camera at the appointed time. This is a 90 second time exposure of the sky with the ISS seen as a streak in the sky. I closed the shutter too soon, so the trail stops before the edge of the picture, as it was going through the bowl of the big dipper. Kind of cool, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:58 PM
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
OK, so here's the strange thing. I was turning my car around at this spot and this scene grabbed me. I have no idea why, but I think it has to do with the colors - the blue of the sky at dusk, and the light of the headlights of the car. I immediately stopped and made this photograph, and I am still not sure why it holds me. I just think there is something going on here that is interesting. Wish I knew what.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Speaking of the Sand Miner's Monument, I was on this side of the harbor today, so decided to stop and see the monument again. I had completely forgotten about the second part of the monument. You have seen the three men, but there is this other part down low, in the foreground. It is two hands pouring sand into a model of Manhattan. It is stunning, and I had completely forgotten about it. The three statues of the men are standing on a concrete tunnel from the original operation, inside of which is one of the conveyor belts that took the sand to the barges in the harbor.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:08 PM
Monday, June 16, 2014
This is a small model, or a maquette, of a sculpture of three men who represent the sand miners who worked in the sand pits of Port Washington for one hundred and twenty years. The sand mines supplied, believe it or not, eighty percent of the sand used in making concrete for the buildings of the New York City Skyline! This model is about 12 inches tall, and the actual sculpture is life-size, both done by Edward Jonas. It is a stunning sculpture to see in person, located outdoors on Shore road on the western side of Hempstead Harbor. This model is in the Port Washington Public Library.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Sunday, June 15, 2014
I was goofing around with my iPhone and accidentally took this blurry image of the cat asleep in the rocking chair. There was something about the blur and the blown out highlights in the image, and the other chair legs in the top of the image. The dark diagonal on the left is my pant leg in blue jeans. So yes, it was accidental. However...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Saturday, June 14, 2014
When I went to get the mail in the rain yesterday, I noticed the ferns, because the light was soft and without shadows. It is easier to see details in objects when the light is soft. I love having this fern bank in front of the house. I have photographed these ferns so many times because they are so beautiful. I used a longer focal length lens for this shot, so that just one fern is in sharp focus, and all the other ferns are just soft shapes in the background.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Friday, June 13, 2014
This is a Hosta plant next to the house. I have photographed it before, but without water drops on it. After the rain this morning, I passed by the plant, and it grabbed me because of all the water drops covering all the leaves. The picture above was not what caught my eye. It was this one:
It was the number of leaves with water on them, and the pattern that they made that stopped me. So I started shooting the plant and after a minute or two, I thought of my friend Dean, in Tucson, who always says "Get close!" So I thought "O.K., I will." So that is the picture at the top of the page and I think it is the better choice. I am a bit disappointed that some of the leaves appear bruised - I think they are just water soaked. But I wish they weren't, because I want a "perfect" picture of the plant.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:31 PM
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Those beautiful Peonies that I showed you the other day are devastated today. I don't really know the first thing about Peonies, but these flowers seem to be susceptible to even the smallest amounts of rain. I can't believe how battered they are after the rain we had the other day. It is a shame, because these are beautiful flowers, and they have this lovely aroma. But there is not much to put in a vase and bring in the house after this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:18 PM
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Tonight three people did presentations on how to use different types of telescope mounts. I bet you wish you could have been there! :-) Standing and smiling is my friend Dave, who is a first class astrophotographer. He is a master of doing these complicated photographs of faint galaxies that take hours of making multiple exposures and then combining them in photo software. So Dave talked about the complicated process of polar alignment of some these tracking mounts. I like his smile here. And I am sorry for being so technical, two days in a row :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:44 PM
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
I think this looks like a modern sculpture. But it's not. I am on the deck of the sailboat I was on last Saturday, looking up at the mast and boom. The mast is the straight tapered piece that is bright white. It is unstayed. The boom is called a "wishbone" boom, and the sail does not attach to it along the foot of the sail. The sail is attached to the mast, and the clew is attached only to the end of the boom. The rig looks kind of strange, but it is really easy to use when single-handling this boat. If you want to see more, go look up "Nonesuch" yachts. Sorry for all the technical stuff - I know a couple of sailors who check the blog.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:55 PM
Monday, June 9, 2014
These are some grasses in a beautiful cobalt blue bottle on the windowsill in the kitchen window. The other day the late afternoon sun was lighting them from behind and there is a wonderful hazy feeling that grabbed me. So if the bottle is a beautiful blue, you might ask why not shoot this in color. Well, I did, but the variety of colors were more distracting than this black & white rendition.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:26 PM
Sunday, June 8, 2014
The is Barbara, one of the officers of the Astronomy Club, and I don't think she has ever been on a sailboat before. Oliver, in the white shirt is the owner of the sailboat, and he gave Barbara a chance at the helm, and as you can see, Barbara was thrilled!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:40 PM
Saturday, June 7, 2014
I got to go for a sail today. We had our astronomy club picnic, and one of the members owns a 36 foot sailboat (more on that in a later post.) As we sailed out of Huntington Harbor, we passed this lighthouse, and it made a nice photograph, given the background of the cumulus clouds. This lighthouse was at risk in 1983 because it was falling into disrepair and the Coast guard wanted to demolish it. In 1985, a group called Save Huntington’s Lighthouse was formed by local citizens to save the lighthouse from demolition. It became the first private group in the country to successfully take over and restore an offshore lighthouse. Isn't it wonderful they saved this classic!
Friday, June 6, 2014
After my bike ride today, I sat on the bench down by the water, like I usually do. I noticed these stalks on the other side of the fence, and decided to move in very close to them for a picture. When I moved in close it made the stalks the subject of the photograph, instead of just something that happened to be in the frame. It is funny about how my sense of composition changes. Sometimes I will realize that I haven't taken any really close pictures recently, and the way I look for photographs changes. That's what happened here.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:06 PM
Thursday, June 5, 2014
I pulled into the driveway this afternoon, and there was very soft light on the trunk of the Japanese maple tree. It is one of those things, where I see this tree everyday, and then one day I see it differently. I shot this in both color and in black & white, and have chosen the black & white. It is amazing to me to see how gnarled the roots and trunk and branches are. The tree almost has human form to it. Please click on this to see it in more detail. OK, so I am having second thoughts, about whether or not the black & white is the best rendition. So I went back and found the color version. Maybe I like the color version best. I dunno... Anyhow, here it is. You decide
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
So this is the project I am working that I can't tell you about, until September. I was doing another shoot, and needed to do a test photo to check my lighting. The woman who is producing the exhibition was a stand in for the test. I took one or two frames, then for some reason she looked down at the painting while standing behind it, and instantly I saw this and took one frame! I can't explain what made me do it, but it was done intuitively, with no thought involved. And I have no idea why I like this so much. I guess because it makes no sense to look at a painting this way? Never ask a photographer what they are up to, because they haven't the slightest idea.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
So three days ago I showed you the Peony with all the buds as perfect spheres. I was stunned to look outside the dining room window this morning and see the bush in full bloom. It is just stunning, and the aroma of the blooms is just heavenly! So I went out to take a nice photograph of the bush in its new state of bloom. Only thing is, I can't decide which picture I like the best. Does anyone care to vote, and help me out? Thanks.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:33 PM
Monday, June 2, 2014
Walking back to Penn Station for the trip home, I came to 34th street, and the building between me and the Empire State Building was blindingly brilliant, because it was reflecting the afternoon sun. I love the contrast of this, and the reflection was so bright that I could under-expose the picture which gives me the brilliant blue sky as well. I like the feeling that this is just a little bit unreal.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
We were in the city today to see an off-broadway show, and that involved walking through Times Square, which is always interesting. This is one of my favorite places to people watch, and photograph. Only thing was, I was not alone, so I couldn't spend any time with any particular subject. So this is a bit of a quick grab shot, rather than stopping to shoot for any length of time. Here is the thing I don't get. There were three people like this in the space of three blocks. I wonder if they think they will actually change the minds of passers by with their signs, and in some cases, their broadcasts with a megaphone. What is their motive? What do they hope to accomplish? If I was alone, I probably would have spent some time talking to one of them, to see what I could find out. You know me, I love to talk to strangers!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM