Monday, November 30, 2015
I drove down Laurel Avenue at about three o'clock this afternoon, as the sun was getting lower in the sky. As I drove by this house I saw a flash of bright red. It probably took me 5 seconds before I decided to stop, and then I backed up the street to see what I could make of this scene. I was stunned at how brilliant the leaves were, backlit by the sun. I tried several different compositions and this one was the best. Most of the leaves on our Japanese Maple are gone, but this tree is in full bloom!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:30 PM
Sunday, November 29, 2015
These are two photographs of the famous white deer who inhabit the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, New York, in the Finger Lakes. "Army Depot?" you ask. "What did they store in the depot?" You're going to love this: They stored explosives. Artillery shells, Bombs, and particularly, Atomic Bombs! That seems almost unimaginable that they stored Atomic Bombs in the beautiful upstate landscape of the Finger Lakes. Anyhow, this is a huge facility and it has a 24 mile long fence around it since the facility was built in1941. The white deer - a genetic quirk that developed naturally on the 7,000-acre, fenced-in expanse - have thrived, even as the depot itself has transitioned from one of the most important Cold War storehouses of bombs and ammunition to a decommissioned relic. Now the deer face an uncertain future after living and breeding largely undisturbed since the middle of last century. With protection from the Army and its fence, the Seneca white deer have grown to an estimated 200. Local officials want to put the old Seneca Army Depot up for bids next month, and so there is concern that the sale could also mean the end of the line for the unusual white deer. If buyers take down the fence, the white deer aren't expected to last long. And that would be a tragedy. People have come from all around the country to see these beautiful creatures. There is hope that a group interested in conservation can purchase the land, and allow for some tourism, both for the deer, and for the bunkers where munitions were stored.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:22 PM
Saturday, November 28, 2015
This is Bebe, and she has just taken the ride of her life. The furthest she has ever been from our house is about 5 miles to the vet in Glen Cove. But because she is on some medication that is difficult to get her to eat, we decided to bring her with us on our trip to Rochester. So she rode 700 miles to upstate and back. On the trip up, she stayed in the cat carrier mostly. She did come outside the carrier for a few minutes. On the way home, however, she was much more comfortable and climbed all around the inside of the car at times. The thing that makes my head spin, is, what could she possibly be thinking, looking out the window at farmland at 60 mile an hour! She has never experienced anything in her life like this before.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:03 PM
Friday, November 27, 2015
About two years ago, while in Los Angeles, we went to a theater with big, soft easy chairs, that had raised footrests, and tilting backs. I mean, you could fall asleep in the theater! Oh, there were also waiters and waitresses who circulated around and took orders for food and drinks. It was fun once, if a bit expensive. Cut to today, and the four of us went to the movies in Pittsford. I was stunned to see these plush seats, with raised footrests, and tilt back chairs! Fortunately the movie we saw was stunning, and there was no chance of falling asleep! The movie was "Spotlight" and it is the story of the investigative reporting team at the Boston Globe, and how they uncovered the coverups of the abuse of children by some priests in the Boston Diocese. Stunning movie, be sure to see it!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:16 PM
Thursday, November 26, 2015
When I came out of the Eastman House Museum yesterday it was quite dark but the light was interesting. So I set the ISO of the camera (the "film speed") to 3200, which makes the camera so much more sensitive. Normally it is set at 100 or 400. In any case it allowed me to shoot this photograph of the pergola behind the museum in the near dark. This is a lovely architectural piece, and I have photographed it a number of times before. So after I shot it, and got home, I started messing with converting it to black & white, and then I started changing the color balance to make it sepia,similar to all the other Alvin Langdon Coburn images I had spent time with in the galleries. Oh, by the way, I didn't photograph today - all I did was eat!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:44 PM
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
I have been going to what had been known as the George Eastman House Museum of Photography since 1960, when I first came to RIT. The name of the facility has been changed to the George Eastman Museum. I went there today to see a stunning Alvin Langdon Coburn retrospective. He lived from 1882 to 1966. The photographs knocked my socks off. I thought I knew about his work but I didn't have a clue as to the breadth of his photographs. He did dramatic cityscapes, many of them of New York City from above, and landscapes of the grand Canyon, and Yosemite. And then if that was not enough, he did dramatic portraits of so many famous people. Many of his prints were platinum prints, and the they were overcoated with a second layer of a bichromate emulsion. This resulted in deep, dark images that are a rich reddish brown color. So, since I am easily influenced, I decided to photograph Eastman House from a different angle and try to duplicate the look of Coburn's prints. This gives you a sense of what his pictures look like.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:33 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
I went out to R.I.T. today to have lunch with two friends and to see a couple of exhibits. I am a graduate of the old downtown campus, not this new one. When I was hired by the Rochester Times Union, one of my first assignments was to come out to where this was going to be built, and get photographs of the surveyors at work! The campus and buildings are very modern looking, and it is made from billions of bricks! They actually call it "Brick City." But I always find something to shoot when I am there, having to do with the architecture and the landscape.. I love the way the people look walking through this tunnel, and how they are in silhouette, until they step out of the tunnel on the far end. It is a lot of fun to play with the composition in a photograph like this.
Monday, November 23, 2015
OK, this is cool! I have been driving by this site for 40 years, and never seemed to have the time to stop and photograph it. On Sunday I finally stopped and made this photograph. It is a strange looking facility, with a building that looks like a dormitory, and it is unusual to see a water tower as well. So I searched the internet with no luck, and finally looked up the Tompkins County historian and found an email address and wrote to him asking what he knew about this facility. I was thrilled that he replied right away! Here is what he wrote: "You are referring to the remnants of the Tompkins County Farm...the Poor House, if you will. Off the top of my head...the older wood frame building... 1847 and the later brick building... 1892.....Went out of use in the 1980's. Is currently owned by the "Twelve Tribes". They have cleaned up the exteriors but the interiors are a shambles and very unsafe in places." Wow, how cool is that! Good that I didn't try to go inside, as is my usual custom. The Twelve Tribes are a Christian fundamentalist movement that has been in existence since 1972. Who knows what is coming next.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:27 PM
Sunday, November 22, 2015
We drove to Rochester today, to spend Thanksgiving week with Vince and Jo Anne. The further north we got, the colder it got. About half way there, we did have a tiny bit of sleet. After we had dinner and were sitting around visiting, someone said "It's snowing out!" And it was. Not a lot, but this much! This photo is evidence! And this weather is so typical of what we expect each year at this time when we are upstate.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:17 PM
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Why wouldn't I take this photograph? Because I have shot this scene before? That would be a good reason. I have shot this many times. I have posted it more than once on the blog. But when I drove into the driveway this morning after buying bagels, I saw this. I was stunned once again, and decided I needed to photograph it yet again. I guess it never gets old, photographing these things of beauty.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Friday, November 20, 2015
When I first saw this scene, I thought Whaaaaat? I had just walked into Joe's office at a nonprofit that I have just taken photographs for, and I was dropping off the pictures. I stopped in my tracks when I saw this. I asked Joe what it was. He said that he sits at his desk all day long, and he needs some other way to sit to change his posture. So this is a yoga ball, and he spends time sitting on it while he works. It is completely different from sitting in a chair because you need to use your balance all the time. I did try it out, of course. But I love this scene because it seems like such a strange thing to see this yellow ball in this setting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:49 PM
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Every year I photograph the leaves of the Japanese maple tree, usually when they have fallen off the tree and are laying in the driveway. Today I went out to look at the leaves when they were still on the tree. The difference is that I have a lighter background of the sky, instead of the ground. And there is an interesting composition here with some dark leaves that have curled up, making different shapes within the frame. It is hard to get a sense of how small these leaves are, unfortunately.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I can't remember how long I have been doing this, but each night while sitting in front of the TV, I get a Granny Smith apple from the fridge, and cut it into quarters, and eat it while I work on email and the blog. I like the Granny Smith apples because they are crisp, and a bit tart. Even during apple season, I continue to eat Granny Smith. About two weeks ago, I thought I would try something new, and bought a Jonagold apple at the grocery store. Wow, what a difference! The Jonagold tasted like an APPLE! What was I thinking, only eating Granny Smith? Now I am hooked. Once apple season passes, I will have to go back to Granny, because I hate "mealy" apples. I do love apples like McIntosh, and Gravenstein, but for them to taste really good, you need to get them early in the season, and get them at an orchard.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Today I visited a school for the third year in a row, as part of Project Astro, where I work with a science teacher and teach a couple of classes having to do with astronomy. I have put together a talk about the different kinds of telescopes, and how they work. I bring lenses and telescope mirrors, and shaving mirrors and a bunch of different kinds of telescopes, and, just for fun, an old 4x5 Speed Graphic camera. The camera is interesting because when you look through the back of it, you can see what the lens sees, and you also see that the image is upside down. All lenses make images that are upside down, by the way, which is fun for the children to see. I love this photograph, because it looks as if the camera is the one wearing the tie!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:19 PM
Monday, November 16, 2015
Rather than take the subway downtown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, even though it was raining gently, I decided to walk down Fifth avenue. There were low clouds, in addition to the rain which gave a lovely atmospheric feeling. I noticed a woman walking some distance in front of me, and I saw her stop and take out her cellphone to take a picture looking into Central Park. I wondered what she saw, so when I got to where she had stopped I looked to the right, and look what I saw! Nice photo! I am not proud - I will steal another's ideas if necessary. I wonder if her photograph looked anything like this.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Sunday, November 15, 2015
I stayed until closing time at the Met, and left with the crowd. There were so many people on the stairs out front that we were moving really slow. I happened to glance up to the right and saw this view of the front of the building and the columns and all the architectural detailing. I was amazed because I have been to the Met a billion times, at least, and I have never seen this view before. Please click on this to see it in more detail.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
I was coming back from recycling when I turned the corner heading west, and I saw these grasses backlit by the sun! I was blown away! They were stunning to see. I parked the car, grabbed my camera and started shooting. The wind was blowing the grasses around so I took a lot of pictures, because the grasses only looked best when the wind was just right. I tried several compositions, and ended up with three. These are the best two and I will let you tell me which you like the best.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:04 PM
Friday, November 13, 2015
These are all stone sculptures of heads that were carved and polished nearly four thousand years ago! They are absolutely stunning when seen in person. As I went through the exhibit I was taken by the fact that almost all of the sculptures of heads had smashed noses! I began to think there was some kind of reason for this, but there was nothing written about this in any of the descriptions. I stopped to look at another sculpture on the way out of the museum, and it was a fragment of a face. Another visitor was looking at it as well, and we remarked at how moved we both were about the piece. He seemed so knowledgeable, so I decided to ask him about the missing noses. He said that that the damage was done intentionally by newer rulers, to sculptures of older rulers. He said that disfiguring the faces took the "magic" away from them, and made them less powerful. Amazing story, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Thursday, November 12, 2015
As I was leaving the Egyptian Middle Kingdom exhibit, I passed through the Sackler Wing on the way out of the museum. And this is the centerpiece of that wing - the Temple of Dendur. The Egyptians built the Aswan High Dam between 1960 and 1970. As the dam filled, it affected 22 archaeological sites. Many of them were moved up to higher ground, like the huge Abu Simbel Temples. Some smaller monuments were moved as well, but some others were donated to countries that helped with the work. The Temple of Dendur was given to the United States. There were several suggestions for which cities this could be installed in, but it is made of sandstone and needs to be out of the weather, so it ended up indoors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I got this shot at the perfect time of day, with the blue, late afternoon light of dusk in contrast to the indoor light on the temple.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:36 PM
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
I have always loved the expression "It All Looks Like Hieroglyphics to Me." What is astounding to me is to see actual hieroglyphics. They are so detailed and so delicate. One of the exhibits I saw at the Met yesterday was called "Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom." It is an amazing exhibit, with hundreds of objects, from large stone sculptures, to delicate pieces of jewelry. These photographs are details from a "Stele" made of limestone, with the figures carefully carved into the stone, and then polished. Each of the rows of hieroglyphics in the top photographs is about one and one-half inches tall. These carvings are absolutely stunning. More pictures in another blog post.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:51 PM
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
I am always trying to come up with new ways of seeing. I never get very far along with this most times. Today I was standing on the railroad station platform waiting for a train in the rain. The circular pattern in the top of this picture is an umbrella that Kathy had, and which I had taken for the day. So I was standing there with the umbrella over my head, and suddenly I saw the strange juxtapositon of the umbrella and the scene of the railroad station. So I played with the composition for a bit and this is the result. I love that the picture is kind of puzzling at first.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:57 PM
Monday, November 9, 2015
Kathy was making a presentation to a group of therapists who work with "The Soldier's Project" helping veterans. The meeting was held on what was once one of the great estates on Long Island and is now a church. The main house is all stone and is beautiful. After helping with the setup of the computer Kathy used for her Powerpoint presentation, I wandered around just a bit, and saw this view from the porch on the back of the house. They sure don't make houses like this any more.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:26 PM
Sunday, November 8, 2015
So this is the back room, now that it is finished! It is really exciting for us, after all this time, to have a finished room! So we need to find a couch, and a rug. We put a couple of chairs from the old back room into the new room, just to see what it looks like. What's crazy is that we are still waiting for the bathroom fixtures - the pedestal sink, the toilet, and the "trims" - trims are the chrome levers for the valves, and the fittings and shower head. The sink has been on order for several months now - the stand came in but not the bowl! Yikes, this is taking forever. But we LOVE the look of the finished room!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:19 PM
Saturday, November 7, 2015
The painters are here! I decided to paint the outside of the house, but we decided to have professional painters do the interior painting. Because there was a lot of raw wood trim in the new room, and new wood needs three coats of paint, I decided that it would take me forever to do the room. Three painters and their boss showed up and did the entire room in two and one-half days! And they did an absolutely beautiful job! I couldn't believe the care they took. And it really is a relief to have it all done! Oh, I suppose you want to see how the finished room looks? Stay tuned.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:44 PM
Friday, November 6, 2015
Remember when I said I was done showing you any more white paint? I lied. I mean, not intentionally, but still... I was up on the ladder, finishing up the second coat of paint on the outside of the new room. I went to dip my brush into the paint can and couldn't believe my eyes - there was a single yellow leaf floating on the top of the wet paint! It was so amazing to see, but additionally, there is something kind of cosmic about this - the contrast between the natural and the man made. I had been seeing leaves fall from the trees all the time I was painting, but what is the chance one leaf would fall right into the can!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Thursday, November 5, 2015
This is the Hickory tree in our front yard. It is green all year long, and then late in the Fall season it suddenly turns bright, brilliant yellow. And I have learned over all the years I have painted the house, once the Hickory turns yellow, the temperatures will never get higher than fifty degrees, which means that I can no longer paint. Fortunately, I just finished painting the new addition yesterday, and I am done! Just as the tree tells me I am done. What a joy it is to see this brilliant tree against a clear blue sky!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:38 PM
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
I am still in a state of disbelief that Jim is gone. I mean, it is not as if he was not at risk of dying at an early age! Jim did love risk. I only listed about half of his professions yesterday. Back in 2009 Jim was the building engineer for a 22 story luxury condo building in Koreatown in Los Angeles. I went to visit him and he proudly showed me all the things that he was in charge of, including fire systems, alarm systems and emergency diesel generators for electricity, and security systems. And then he said: "You have to see the helipad on the roof!" So up we went to the roof, and we then climbed 30 feet more to the mesh landing pad which is used for emergency fire rescue. So we are standing there in the center of the helipad, and Jim says: "Let's have a contest to see who can walk backwards and get closest to the edge of the helipad." So since I am always so easily influenced by Jim's great ideas, I took him up on the challenge. Here is the photo I took of him at the edge. Keep in mind, that if we fell off, we would only fall 30 feet to the roof, not 22 stories to the street. So then it was my turn. I will let you readers judge who got the closest to the edge! Man, WHAT was I thinking!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
I am sitting here in shock and disbelief. I received a call this afternoon from Jim's wife Barb, and she said that last night Jim died of cardiac arrest. They have just returned from a three month tour around the United States, in their RV, stopping to visit friends in a number of states, including New York and Pennsylvania and Florida. In a number of places that they stopped Jim helped people with projects because that's the kind of guy that he was. By the time they returned home, he was not feeling well. I don't know any more details but I am in shock because Jim has always been in excellent physical condition. I loved it when we got together and he reminded me he could crush me with his thumb! He always loved projects involving dragging concrete blocks around, or in our case, ripping out all the lath and plaster in our bathroom years ago, when he and Barb came for a weekend visit. I first met Jim when we roomed together one summer after I had graduated from RIT. He was a business major, and we and our families have been dear friends ever since. You could not find a more generous guy anywhere. This photograph is from around 1970 when I was doing a cross country flight for my private pilot's license, and landed at a small airport in Binghamton. Jim, who worked for IBM at the time, came out to meet me at the airport, all suited up. But do not be misled - he soon left IBM to become a dairy farmer, and then after a number of years, began buying and refurbing homes and selling them, before becoming a building inspector in Fresno, California. And that's only the half of it. This all seems so unbelievable, that it has not sunk in yet.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:57 PM
Monday, November 2, 2015
I know, I know, if you see one more photograph with white paint, you are going to quit coming back to the blog. I have titled this post "evidence" because you can see the evidence of all my hard work, painting the building. I love how the addition looks along with the house, now that it is almost completely painted, where white goes into white. I am still painting the back, but it looks like I will get it done before winter sets in.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Sunday, November 1, 2015
We really haven't seen much Fall color around here so far. But driving by this pond in Old Westbury on the way to church today, I saw these trees with good color. Well, good color for Long Island, maybe, but not good color for Vermont! The trees do look a bit motheaten, but I will accept anything with this much color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:14 PM