Thursday, April 30, 2015

Observing the Stars

After our tour of the solar telescope, we had dinner and then we watched the sunset from the top of Kitt Peak, which is at an elevation of about 7,000 feet.  As it got darker, we did some binocular astronomy and then at about 10 PM Dean arranged for us to use an excellent 20 inch telescope in a dome at the visitor center.  This scope gave some of the best views I have ever had of galaxies and star clusters.  This is a view out the slit of the some, with the top half of the scope silhouetted against the stars.  The stars were incredibly bright, because we had less air to look through, and because we are more than a mile high. 

Looking at the Sun

This is the famous McMath-Pierce solar telescope located on Kitt Peak.  It is the largest solar telescope in the world, and was built in 1962.  It is one hundred feet tall, and the diagonal structure is two hundred feet long to the ground, and then it goes underground, for another two hundred feet to the observing room where all the instruments are.

The image of the sun is captured by a device called a Heliostat, which is mounted on the top of the tower.  It is a flat mirror two meters in diameter, and it reflects the image of the sun down the long diagonal tube, to a 1.6 meter primary mirror.  There are also two other smaller, 36 inch heliostats that also reflect an image down the tube, so there can be three instruments in the observing room gathering data.

OK, so this is unreal.  I have visited this telescope before, but never imagined that one day I would be INSIDE the telescope!  Our guide took us inside to show us the other mirrors that capture and reflect the beam in its path.  Here we are underground, and about half way down the tube.

And in case you hadn't figured it out already, the view from the top of the tower was spectacular.  We could see for more than a hundred miles in the clear air of Arizona.  This was one astounding tour!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Five Kittens, One Kitten, No Kittens

This is Grace.  Doesn't she just melt your heart?  Her story is amazing.  So you know that the mother cat had five kittens behind the garage.  I was away after the first day, but Kathy fed the mother cat for about a week, and the cat seemed to trust her.  The night I returned from Tucson, our neighbor, Judy, ran over the minute we pulled into the driveway, and said "They're GONE!"  The mother had taken four of the five kittens, and disappeared!  She left this kitten behind!  We were stunned!  Judy said that it had been more than an hour, and the mother never returned.  So we brought this kitty inside and the next morning bought a kitty nursing bottle and formula and began to feed her.  We went to the local animal shelter and asked if they had a nursing mother.  They did, but the mom already had enough adopted kittens.  Then late this afternoon I got a phone call from Judy, and she said her veterinarian said that her sister in New Jersey knew of a nursing mother with "space."  So I raced to the office on Long Island with Grace, and by now she is in New Jersey.  She will be there probably until the end of May, and then she will be returned to us.  It is much better that she lives with a litter, to learn to socialize better.  But we are missing her already!  Just look at how cute she is!

Gone, gone, gone...

Well, it finally happened, just as I had feared.  The power plant is completely gone!  When I called Kathy from Tucson after my first day there, she said "I hate to tell you this, but it is gone."  I did see a really nice sequence of photographs as the last remaining structure was toppled.  I wouldn't have been concerned about not getting the sequence, but I was really hoping for a photograph of a pile of twisted steel beams on the ground. Oh well.  It is what it is.  A couple of people have asked "What are you going to do, now that the plant is gone?"  I have photographed for the blog for 6 or 7 years, and the power plant was only a very small part of my work.  Stay tuned, I will continue to find photographs everywhere.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Road to Portal

The thing about the western landscape is that you can see forever.  There is a classic view in so many places where the road runs in a straight line and there are mountains at the end.  I thing that perhaps the best version is in Utah.  But I saw this view on the way to Portal, Arizona.  More on Portal in a later post.  I promised Stan that I wouldn't shoot when I was driving, but when I saw this scene, I knew I had to take a few shots.  What makes this one special, is the patch of sunlight in the distance, and the road in shadow in the foreground.

The Little Green Man

I have so many posts to make up for and I was going to try and post the photographs in chronological order, but it gets confusing.  So I have decided to be random in my posts.  I am a random kind of guy, anyway, as you all know.  So this the first day of the trip at LaGuardia, waiting for the flight to Tucson.  It was raining pretty hard, and there were raindrops all over the windows but I was able to get this.  I loved that the ramp worker was wearing the bright yellow-green rain gear.  Everything else in the photograph was a shade of gray.  Oh, and the man is not little - the aircraft is really large.

Monday, April 27, 2015


This is the Large Binocular Telescope on the top of Mount Graham, at an elevation of 10,700 feet.  It has two 8.4 meter diameter mirrors that work together.  Either of it's mirrors would be the second largest optical telescope in North America.  It is currently one of the world's most advanced optical telescopes.  It was astounding that our friend Dean arranged a visit here.  We arrived in the afternoon and got a wonderful tour of the facility by members of the technical staff.  Then we had dinner, and were down on the floor of the observatory as it began its night's work.  We had a chance to talk with the astronomers as well.  The building is 130 feet, but it is impossible to show you the enormous size of this instrument - photographs do not do it justice.  We stayed until about 11 PM, and then drove down the mountain road in the dark and arrived home four hours later. This was day one of our sleep deprivation.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mount Graham

After our stop at "the Thing" we continued on toward our destination, which was the top of Mount Graham.  This mountain is 10,700 feet tall, and there are three observatories located on the top.  There was a terrible fire here in 2004, and the evidence of the damage is visible along the winding road to the top.  I think that in their desolation, these are quite beautiful landscapes.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Roadside Attractions

I am back.  Thank you all for your patience.  I apologize for being gone for so long.  The first part of the week, with visits to two observatories, and observing to late into the night, we were completely sleep deprived.  More on this later.  On the first day's trip to Mount Graham to see the observatory there, we were driving East on I-10 when we started seeing signs that in 50 miles we could see "The Thing."  Naturally we were curious, and so we stopped at the gas station, trinket shop, and one of the strangest "museums" I have ever seen!  Dean said that it was worth seeing, so we each payed a dollar to see the attraction. "The Thing" was under heavy, scratched glass and couldn't be photographed.  But there were so many other things on display.  I have no idea what the first photograph represents, with this mannequin displayed in this strange collection of furniture.  The next photograph shows Stan taking a photograph of another part of the display, with the yellow footprints sneaking up on him.  And lastly, this is me, obviously terrified, at the entrance of the museum.  Just your normal roadside attraction! 

Monday, April 20, 2015


"Impressionism" - in this case, that's a euphemism for "out of focus!"  I was sitting in the back of an MD-80 aircraft and in my row there was no window!  So I shot at an extreme angle past the seat back of the person ahead of me, and through their window at such an extreme angle, there is no way the photograph could be in focus!  And it's not.  But it is an amazing scene, with clouds and virga (those are rain showers which never reach the ground) over the mountains east of Tucson.  Stan and I flew out of New York today to meet Dean and Mikeetee for stargazing and photography, and visiting some professional observatories.  A week of astronomy and photography, wall to wall!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2 Kitties, 1 Kitty, 6 Kitties!

So we are still cleaning up the gardens and lawn, mainly by raking all the leaves.  I went behind the garage this afternoon to get another garbage can, and was stunned to see this scene!  It is 5 newly born kittens, less than a week old, I think.  They are lying on polyester fill that was torn out of an old cushion that was back there.  I could not believe my eyes!  How strange for a mother cat to have her kittens out in the open like that!  I showed Kathy, and she was stunned - yesterday, it seems, she went behind the garage, and grabbed an upside down garbage can and walked away.  It is apparent that THAT can was covering the kittens!  She never noticed.  So they were out in the open all of last night!    Well, with their mother covering them up as much as she could.  And the forecast for tomorrow is heavy rain!  Yikes, how would they survive that?  The mother was nowhere in sight - we think she was out hunting for food.  So I used some bricks for spacing and put the garbage can back over them.  Then we put some food and water out for the mother, and I covered that with a small sheet of plywood, to protect the food from rain.  At about suppertime, I saw the mother cat - she looks just like the little white and gray babies - sitting on the patio, looking around to see if it was safe, I think, before going behind the garage to sneak under her empty trash can home, and feed her babies.  Wow, they sure are cute...   It's a slippery slope, isn't it!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How to Photograph Jupiter

I went to the Northeast Astronomy Forum today, in Rockland County.  It is a two-day yearly gathering with every piece of astronomy hardware you could possible imagine, and wonderful speakers on all kinds of astronomy topics.  This is Christopher Go, who flew here all the way from the Philippines.  He is one of the very best amateur planetary imagers on the planet!  He gave a great talk explaining how he does it, in case any of us want to try it.  Look at that magnificent image of Jupiter just over his shoulder!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Presbyterian Church

There is going to be an exhibit of photographs, drawings, paintings, and performance art, all having to do with the power plant demolition.  I went to the venue the other day, because I will not be around for the exhibit.  I did get to hang three of my photographs, and then I looked around this parish hall where the exhibit will be held.  I spotted this scene in one corner of the hall, and thought it was a lovely tableau.  Is this perfect, or what?  The tiny chair hanging from the wall is what makes this a photograph.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Detail in Nature

We were cleaning out the gardens, because we didn't clean them last fall.  I saw this plant with delicate silver branches sticking up from it.  All the dead branches needed to be trimmed.  I was taken by the beautiful silver gray color.  Then I was aware of the delicacy of their branches.  I clipped a branch, and did a little studio set up outdoors.  I fastened the brach to a light stand to hold it, and got a black background to better show the overall shape of the plant.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Skeleton

There are almost no bricks at all left on the remaining steel structure of the power plant.  I was up on the hill looking down, and it is an interesting view of what remains.  Here is my dilemma:  I will be leaving for Tucson at the start of next week, and I am so afraid that the last of the structure will come down while I am gone!  Oh No!  Nothing I can do about it - it would just be nice to be here as the last remains of the plant are removed

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Kitty Contemplates Her Day

When morning comes, kitty is there in the bedroom.  Then she follows us into the bathroom.  Then she sits at the top of the stairs, I am guessing while she is contemplating what her day will be like.  Of course I have no idea what she is thinking.  Or maybe she is just waiting for us to go downstairs, where she will be fed.  Yeah, that's probably it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The End of the Line

It is near the end of the line for Radio Shack, sad to say.  The company had about 4,300 stores in the United States, and about 1,800 are slated to close.  This is confusing but they have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and there is some deal where Sprint will be involved with a number of the stores where they will be co-branded with the Sprint name.  At least for a while.  I am sad to see them go, even though I didn't shop there all that much.  But I have bought so many electronic components for building things for my amateur radio hobby over the years.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jupiter and the Beehive

With all this blue sky and sunshine, and a waning moon, I decided to drive an hour and a half out to Southold to Custer Institute to do some observing.  It was a beautiful night, but it was a bit cold, and there was a wind blowing.  I looked at some galaxies, and star clusters, and the planets Venus and Jupiter.  Then I decided to do some photography of the stars.  I tried a few things, but this picture was the most interesting.  It is a photograph of the planet Jupiter, and down and to the right is the huge open cluster of stars, called The Beehive cluster.  It is so bright that it has been known of since ancient times.  It is a beautiful thing to see.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Men at Work

I have been photographing the demolition for about two years now, and I have realized that I have almost no photographs with workers in them.  That changed this morning when I stopped to photograph.  There are two sets of construction workers on these really tall lifts, and they are flame cutting pieces of the old steel out of the structure.  In the close up, you can see the sparks from the oxy-acetylene cutting torches they are using.  In the lower photo, you can get a sense of the scale of things, seeing the two workers, dwarfed by the structure.  Finally, some workmen in my photographs!

Friday, April 10, 2015

But is it Close Enough for Dean?

So I saw that some Crocus had finally come up in the garden next to the driveway.  I decided to use my Macro lens to do a closeup picture.  Of course when I do a closeup, I have a problem - will I be CLOSE enough?  My friend Dean, in Tucson, is an amazing photographer and he does wonderful photographs of the night skies, and the Moon and Sun and planets.  He also does amazing closeups of birds and insects and plants.  I mean, REALLY close.  So whenever I post a closeup, Dean, in good humor, usually says to me "Not close enough!"  So I think these are close enough, finally. Dean will let us know, of course.  There is a difference between the two photographs.  It was such a gray and rainy day,  that I decided to illuminate the Crocus with a small portable flash unit.  The second photo is just natural light.  I though there would be more of a difference.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

This HAS to be cold!

I was really surprised to see this eight man shell out on the harbor in this weather.  It was about 38 degrees today, and I bet the water was cooler than that.  It wasn't that long ago that there was ice all over the harbor.  Man, this HAS to be cold!  When they get going, they will get warm enough from their exertion.  But when they are just sitting there, listening to instructions from their coach...  whew!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Technicolor Dyes

I am back home, but I have one more post from Rochester.  As part of the exhibit about Technicolor movies there was this wall of small, old, colorful bottles.  Making Technicolor prints for distribution to movie theaters involved putting down three different dyes on film - cyan, magenta and yellow.  The trick was to find the RIGHT dyes.  So the company that invented Technicolor was constantly examining different dyes from different manufacturers.  This wall is a display of these little bottles with dye samples, going back to 1916.  It was amazing to see this many tiny bottles!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Route 96 in the Rain

We drove home from Rochester today.  We both love rural upstate New York, and so we don't take the Thruway for these trips - instead we take Route 17 to Owego, and then take Route 96 up through Ithaca and on to Geneva.  It was raining today as we retraced our route on our trip home, and there was fog on the road and clinging to the hills.  It was a wonderful, atmospheric landscape and I wished I could have stopped about half a dozen times to photograph along the road, but I didn't.  This is part of the road south of Ithaca.  I think I have captured a sense of the landscape.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Sentinel

This is a sculpture by Albert Paley, on the campus of RIT, called "The Sentinel".  I went to RIT today to visit.  I have photographed this sculpture before, but it looks different on an overcast day, against a gray sky.  I had framed the image in the viewfinder, and then realized that a man was about to walk in to the picture!  I thought "Oh no! He is going to get in the way of my picture!"  But instead, he sat on the end of the bench, and made the picture more striking because having him in the photograph, you get a sense of how large the sculpture really is.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter in Antartica!

We are in Rochester still, and bought Easter Lilies today at church.  When we came out of church it was snowing!  OK, so it was only flurries, but still...  So to document this insanity, I took one of the Lily plants out to the back yard at Vince and Jo Ann's to photograph it showing the snow that had  fallen on the pine branches in the background.  OK, so it's not Antartica.  So sometimes I exaggerate.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

100 Years of Technicolor

Do you remember as a kid when most of the movies included a label that said "Filmed in Technicolor?"  This is the 100th year since Technicolor was invented, and The George Eastman House has a wonderful exhibit celebrating the achievement.  The Technicolor process was one of the first methods used to shoot movies in color.  This "Two-Color camera" in production between 1921 and 1930 used the first process which involved filtering the light from a subject and capturing it in orange light and green light on the same piece of black and white film.  The color was not very saturated, and the process did not register blue colors at all.  Later the three-color camera came into being and the color was stunning.  The Three-Color cameras were amazing because they used three separate rolls of black and white film, one for recording red, one for green and one for recording blue in the scene.  The exhibit included a number of these huge cameras, as well as film clips, film stills, and all kinds of explanatory material about how the process works.  To the left of the image of the camera is a huge enlargement of a strip of the finished film, used for projection.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The White Church

I spotted this church across the open farm fields in Romulus, NY on the way to Rochester.  Something about the way it stood up higher than anything around it, and the fact that the steeple was different from any that I had seen before.  So I took a detour to go down the road and photograph it. I spent some time photographing it from different angles and this view is my favorite.  Then I moved in closer to see the sign, to find out what church it is.  So here is your puzzle - what church IS it?  I am guessing Presbyterian.  Then the next question is, is this church still active?  Things don't look good given the condition of the sigh, I am afraid.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Iron Horse

The long time owner of the greeting card company that we toured has collected western paintings and sculptures for years now.  There is a whole sculpture garden with bronze figures of both animals and people.  Then there is this!  The title of this sculpture is "Ironfire" by the sculptor Dixie Jewett.  The placque also said that before she was a sculptor, she was a bush pilot in Alaska!  That got my attention.  Anyhow, the light was not quite right for photographs of this magnificent assemblage, so I did two photographs.  Please click on each of the images to see more detail, and to see the incredible creativity she used in making a beautiful horse out of collected pieces of repurposed metal.  This is just brilliant!  Please take the time to look for familiar objects within the sculpture.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Clyfford Still's Books & Me

In the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver the paintings are in galleries on the second floor.  On the first floor there are storage facilities, and a number of displays of letters and art materials and books.  I was looking at this display, and decided to photograph it because I loved the light on the books.  While I was shooting I realized that my fingers and camera and head were reflected in the glass of the storage case.  But instead of trying to eliminate it, I decided that having me in the photograph made the whole image more interesting.