Saturday, December 31, 2016
The weather around here is kind of gray and the light has not been that interesting, so it's hard to go outside and look for a photograph. So instead I went back through some of the aerial photographs I did of the landscape while flying around the Los Angeles basin. I just think these clouds around the mountains are so spectacular and I love how it gets darker and darker as we look into the distance. Happy New Year to everyone, and I will try to keep making interesting photographs for you in 2017.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Friday, December 30, 2016
We had a family reunion of sorts in Redondo Beach, California. We haven't seen our friends Ken & Ronnie and their kids in perhaps four years. They used to live across the street from us in Sea Cliff. Amy found some "family movies" and brought them with her and we all sat down to watch them. These are not ordinary movies - they are family murder movies! Yeah, I know it's strange, but we have been doing them for years and they are hysterical to watch, as you can see from the children sitting on the couch watching. They were laughing, and some were covering their faces, and everyone had a great time.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Thursday, December 29, 2016
I saw some interesting things from the air on my flight, and this scene is a favorite. What we are looking at here in the right side of the photo, is the Griffith Observatory. It is a large white building with a brown dome. At the upper left is the famous Hollywood sign. That iconic sign was originally created in 1923 as an advertisement for a local real estate development, called "Hollywoodland." Eventually the "land" was removed in 1948. In 1978 the sign was completely rebuilt. The letters are 45 feet high, and the sign is 350 feet wide. At the top of the photo is "The Valley" which you have probably heard of - as in "valley girls." This is a larger image, so please click on it to see more details.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:58 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
We made a pilgrimage when we were in California. We drove up to Santa Monica to see a famous restaurant and motel. Well, sort of. We have just finished watching an Amazon Studios series called "Goliath" which is a legal drama starring Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt. It is a stunning series. And it was filmed at the Ocean Lodge, where Billy Bob lived, and at Chez Jay which is a restaurant and a bar where lots of things were going on. So we HAD to make a trip up to Santa Monica to see both locations. And we walked into Chez Jay to take a look around. For me what was really interesting was the lighting at night, especially the neon signs. It was all very cool!
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Liz and Amy and Kathy decided, when we first arrived in California, that they wanted to make a gingerbread house! A lot of planning went in to the design of the building. Here, using paper, they are deciding the size and dimensions of the building.
They have rolled out the gingerbread, and are putting the paper templates on the uncooked dough, which they will then cut out with a knife, before baking.
Here are the cooked, decorated parts of the house, waiting for assembly.
And here is Liz, putting the finishing touches on the completed house. What a brilliant creation!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:07 PM
Monday, December 26, 2016
Liz and Amy have a friend named Lauren, who owns this incredible airplane. It is a Cirrus SR22 Turbo. During last year's party when we met for the first time, we talked flying and airplanes. At this year's party she asked if I wanted to go flying with her the next day. Did I? You bet I did! This airplane looks as if it is going two hundred miles an hour, just sitting on the ramp. It is based at Santa Monica Airport.
We took off heading west toward the Pacific Ocean, and when we crossed the beach, she said "It's your airplane!" Wow! So I got to fly it. Interesting to learn how a new airplane like this flies. It has a side stick, instead of a control wheel, which took a bit of getting used to. We flew for 1.6 hours and went almost all the way to Palm Springs, before turning around and flying back to Santa Monica. I can't begin to tell you what an amazing day that was!
We headed East from the airport just south of the San Gabriel Mountains. I wanted to see Mt Wilson Observatory from the ground, but the clouds were too low. The mountains were absolutely beautiful in their dusting of fresh snow, with dark clouds overhead. I felt that this photograph looked like the dawn of creation.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:40 PM
Amy has been master of the selfie since selfies started. She does great photos just by extending her arm and guessing whether or not people will be in the photo. Now she has a selfie stick. So we had a gathering of the two families, and we had a friend of Liz and Amy's who has no family in Los Angeles, so he was invited to Christmas Eve dinner of Chinese food as well. It was a grand time of wonderful conversations, and a couple of rounds of "Catchphrase" just for fun. Then Amy said that of course we would need a selfie to mark the event, and she went to work. I thought that this view, as I saw it was really wonderful.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 1:58 AM
Sunday, December 25, 2016
For the last six years, since we have been coming to Los Angeles for Christmas, we have been coming to the Church of St. Mark in Venice for Christmas Eve Mass.. This is the Nativity scene in the church, and as part of the Mass on Christmas Eve the baby Jesus is placed in his manger. The church has a wonderful Children's Choir which sings at this Mass. The Church of St. Mark is a very special place. And the Creche is a reminder of the real meaning of Christmas. Merry Christmas to all!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 1:16 AM
Saturday, December 24, 2016
What an amazing evening! This is Sarah and Amy & Liz doing some Christmas songs together. Then they were in a group of 6, including a woman playing a saxophone for another group of songs. Then there was a duet, and another group of 4 singers. And then some solo singers. It was such a wonderful evening of music and friendship and conversation. The most impressive thing is to see the gathering of this community of friends out here in California that they are a part of.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 2:37 AM
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Liz and Amy and Sarah have a Holiday Salon, where guests come over for the evening, and among the activities at the gathering, they and some of their musician friends sing Christmas music. But this is not ordinary music - they have had several practice sessions to perfect their harmonies. It is something to see and we have been lucky to be there in years past. We heard the rehearsal today. and the music and harmonies are astounding. Oh, and don't tell anyone - their performance is a secret!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:55 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
A writer's life... Amy had been working on a profile of an actress for a national magazine. She finished the piece last night, but something was not sitting quite right with her about the piece. It was due at her editor's in New York at about 11 AM this morning. Here's the thing - she is in Los Angeles so New York time is three hours ahead. So to work on it, she needed to be up well before sunrise in order to have time to work on the piece. She did that, and said that the story was much better after her work. I love that when she thought it was not *quite* right, she kept after it until it was better.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:33 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Rockaway Beach - This was one of those days where I was doing one of my favorite things - taking photographs from an airplane, while flying across the country. We had a different departure route from JFK today, and it took us out over the ocean, and I got to see the Rockaway peninsula, and in particular the town of Rockaway beach
Fellow Travelers - it is pretty unusual to see evidence of another aircraft when flying at the flight levels - up above 30,000 feet. There might be other airplanes nearby, but unless the atmospheric conditions are just right, you won't see the contrails. Today I was able to see the contrail and the actual aircraft. I am guessing that the other aircraft was perhaps 2,000 feet higher.
One Year Later - This is astounding, but we followed the same airways on this trip today, that we followed a year ago. Lo and behold - this is a photograph of the same mountain ranges that I photographed last year, and used on this year's Christmas card, except that the snow cover is less. And now I know exactly where these mountains are located! I was unable to find them on maps, even though I had a rough idea of where they were. But now I know.
An Amazing Landscape - This is the red rock country of northwest New Mexico. I wish I knew more about geology, because then I would understand how these magnificent shapes were formed in the landscape.
Lines of Mesas - At least I think that these are mesas. Maybe because they are not standing alone they are called something else. In any case, it is yet another astounding landscape.
The Cloud Deck - It is unusual for us to arrive in the Los Angeles area and begin our approach to LAX when it is not sunny. It has always been sunny here, as we let down over the mountains and begin our long approach from San Bernadino, nearly all the way to the Pacific Ocean where we land at Los Angeles International airport. There was a deck of clouds overhead, and it made for an unusual view of the mountains, and the sky.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:04 PM
Monday, December 19, 2016
Grace is the most curious of all our three cats. She is always running from one spot in the house to another, to look out a different window or the storm door to get a view of whatever is going on outside. It is fun to see how curious she is. She is always paying attention. Along with some other neighbors, we feed two outdoor cats - Grace's brother and her mother. Today I was pouring some dry food into a dish, and Grace came racing through the kitchen headed for the back door. She had correctly guessed that one of the outdoor cats was about to be fed. So she lies on the floor, looking out through the storm door, the whole time her brother is eating. These cats are endlessly fascinating.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:32 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2016
I am giving you a plain old sunset, down at the harbor. I took this a few days back on one of my late day walks. I thought that what made this interesting was the small stream of water, curving down to the edge of the harbor. And of course some clouds. Kind of a plain vanilla shot, but certainly better than yesterday's Christmas lights in snow, don't you think?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2016
It was still snowing, but changing to rain when I happened to notice these Christmas lights by the front steps. I love that the bulbs had melted little hollows in the snow. So I grabbed my toy camera and starting looking for a good photo. But it was raining, and I hadn't put my coat on, so I wasn't concentrating as much as I should have. So I am calling this an epic fail, sad to say. Even if conditions are not great, I still need to concentrate.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:44 PM
Friday, December 16, 2016
This is a photograph I did in 2004, of a mansion I have come to know as the Nathaniel Rogers House, in Bridgehampton, NY. I have driven by this building all the years I have been on Long Island. I had seen it slowly deteriorate over time. If you look closely, you will see dark pieces of wood keeping the wooden columns on the sides from falling over. I remember reading in an architectural book, that this building has the finest proportions of any Greek Revival building in New York State. When I first saw this building 40 years ago, there was a small gas station standing on the dirt in the foreground of this photograph. What a mess. So since I retired, I had not driven by this building in a number of years. Last year, on a trip to East Hampton, I came to drive by it again, and was thrilled to see that it was being restored! I went to East Hampton a month ago, to go flying with my friend Russ. On the way back, I stopped to photograph the restored building. It is, as you can see, stunning! What a joy to see that such a beautiful building escaped the wrecking ball!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:36 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2016
While eating breakfast today, I looked out the window and saw that it was snowing. I knew that snow showers were forecast for this morning, but I was surprised how much snow was falling. It was absolutely beautiful - the snow acted like fog, making the landscape in the distance much fainter. I love those kinds of atmospheric effects. So, no, there was no blizzard today. I panicked because it just felt that way for half an hour... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:10 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
In the old days, we would rake all the leaves from our yard down to the street, and the village had a leaf vacuum truck that drove around during November and December. Not any more. We were required to put our leaves in clear plastic bags. OK. So I went out and bought a box of a hundred bags, because that's how they come, and I have a lot of years ahead of me. Two years later, the village said no more plastic bags. Instead, we have to buy paper bags, because they are biodegradable. So we bought a bunch of these bags, and raked for two days. Man, that's a lot of leaves. Now if only they will come and pick the bags up...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:51 PM
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
So this post is a month late, but there were still leaves on the trees in November when I thought of this poem by Robert Frost. It's a favorite of mine.
My November Guest
My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.,
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
the love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:33 PM
Monday, December 12, 2016
As it got darker on my walk the other day I kept looking for photographs, even though it was getting pretty dark. The beauty of the camera I was carrying, my Canon 6D, is that I can crank the "film speed" up as the light fades. I can actually shoot at 6400 and even 12,800. For this picture, I only needed 1,600. I was attracted to this scene by the tail lights of the car. Then I noticed the streetlight on the pole, and finally I noticed the sunset. One more photograph that is all about light.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Stan and his wife Ann came out to Long Island this afternoon, and we went to three photographic exhibits at the Nassau County Museum of Art. We all enjoyed the photographs - a survey of photographers from 1873 to 2000. Afterwards Kathy prepared a wonderful dinner at home. So we had good art, great food, and great conversation. What's better than that? Stan and I got talking about the days of film cameras, and I got out my Leica M6 film camera. This beautiful machine was manufactured from 1984 to 1998. I bought this one used in about 1990, and used it for 13 years or so, and by then the digital cameras were good enough to replace it. It is such a joy to hold on to this - it is a solid piece of equipment and Leicas have been used and abused by photojournalists for years!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:42 PM
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Went for a three mile walk late today, for some exercise, and of course I brought my camera. These are two gas turbine generators just up the road from the huge power plant that was demolished. These generators are only used for generating power during peak times. But the photograph is not really about the turbines - it's all about the light in the scene. At least it was the light which attracted me to the scene.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:00 PM
Friday, December 9, 2016
Here is another example of me parking my car, and then noticing something nearby that makes a photograph. Obviously I took this photograph a month or so ago. I parked at the bank and looked out my side window and saw these grasses. It was hard to get a picture out of the scene. I needed to use a wide aperture on the lens, or everything would be sharp, both background and foreground, and then the fuzzy tops of the grasses would disappear into the background.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:02 PM
Thursday, December 8, 2016
This is what I was photographing at the church the other day. It is one part of the Presepio at St Brigid's Church. It consists of three sections in an alcove where the choir sits. In total it is perhaps forty feet long and includes this nativity scene and angel tree, a model of the church, and several buildings along a street, and is made up of three thousand pieces! This is the 25th year it has been set up. Presepio translates as "crib" but refers to nativity scenes. The detail of the figures is just astounding. These figures have been hand made in Italy, out of terra cotta and papier mache, and cloth. It is a sight to see!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:48 PM
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Kathy and a friend of hers found this restaurant in the next town over which is a bakery and serves organic salads and wraps and juices. So she and I went over there for lunch on a rainy day. We sat on high stools at a long plank table in the front window and ate a delicious lunch - she had a salad and I had a wrap. I was looking out at the tables out front which were not in use because of the rain, and I saw these slightly tired flowers. What was interesting for me was the aluminum tables, with the water drops on the surface that made such an interesting background.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:07 PM
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Vince and I went over to the Nassau County Museum of Art to see a photographic exhibit that included some Ansel Adams original black & white prints. We wandered around and saw two other shows while there. We looked at a lot of photographs in the second floor galleries. On the way back downstairs, I noticed this amazing staircase! I can't imagine how they carved this curving and twisting handrail! This building was the former home of Childs Frick, who was the son of Henry Clay Frick, the founder of U.S Steel, so he had a few bucks to spend on building this place back in 1919.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:37 PM
Monday, December 5, 2016
I had to drive down to Westbury today to our church. I was doing a favor for a friend who needed some photographs of some Christmas decorations inside. More on that in another post. As I was leaving late in the afternoon, I noticed the light on the side of the church. I have never seen this before, because we are always there at mid-day on Sunday. St. Brigid's Church is beautiful architecturally. It is of Norman design, with the walls laid up of stone, and it is beautiful in this late afternoon light. Please click on this to see more detail.
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Kathy was out to dinner with her cousin, so I was left at home alone, starving. I decided to go to a nearby hamburger restaurant for my dinner. I parked the car, and then looked out the front windshield more carefully and saw this! Then I had to move the car so I could take this photograph! I just love the subtle combination of colors and textures. Please be sure and click on the photo in order to see more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:04 PM
Saturday, December 3, 2016
It is beginning to feel like "Tree Week." One more trip to the grocery store and one more view of this tree. First it appeared to have spotlights in its branches, but that was not true - the spotlights are on a light pole. I moved to one side, and photographed the tree which was illuminated by the spotlight. Amazing how different the same object can seem in different lighting situations!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM
Friday, December 2, 2016
It seems lately that all my blog posts result from a trip to the grocery store! Not to disappoint you, but here we go again. I first noticed a thin crescent moon when I went to the store before supper. So I did this photograph with the moon, some tree branches, and a cloud which was about to cover the Moon.
Then I moved away from the tree to see what it would look like with just the Moon and clouds.
I think that this is my favorite. When I got home, I walked out into the street in order to see the moon above the trees. Just as I did that, some dark clouds moved in, and it felt as if I was witnessing the end of the world! What's your favorite?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Thursday, December 1, 2016
I'm getting too lazy. I went out to the car last night to get something out of the trunk, and I saw this scene. I turned around and went back in the house. Then I thought about it and grabbed my toy camera and went back outside. The scene was really dark, and I didn't have my tripod, so I decided to hand-hold the camera, but I needed a high "film speed" so I set the camera at 12,800! The normal is about 400. So this is really grainy looking. What I SHOULD have done, was to go back into the house, get the Canon 6D and a freaking TRIPOD and do the shot as a long exposure at 400. Yeah, I am getting way too lazy! Bad Ken.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:46 PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
What you are seeing in the foreground is the last part of a MacDonald's Egg McMuffin. I had not had an Egg McMuffin for perhaps 30 years, no kidding. (Egg McMuffins started in 1972.) A couple of years ago I was in Northfield, Minnesota, and needed a breakfast I could take with me while driving (!) to Minneapolis. So I grabbed a McMuffin and it was really delicious. So cut to Tuesday, here on Long Island. We have a Tuesday morning ritual which started when I retired. We go out for coffee and a donut every Tuesday. So we did that, and then while at Dunkin' Donuts, I said "I want to go to McDonalds and get an Egg McMuffin!" So that's what we did this morning. It is still delicious!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The Birds! The Birds! I swear it sure looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's movie. I was looking out the dining room window and suddenly what seems like a hundred grackles landed in the side yard. And then in an instant another hundred or so landed. It was astounding to see. They would lift off the lawn as a flock and then set back down in ten seconds and then lift off again. I grabbed my toy camera and was only able to get three frames. I cannot believe I got the four birds in flight just outside the window!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:36 PM