Monday, February 29, 2016
I saw this photograph when I was leaving the shopping center in Garden City. It is seeing nature in a way that we don't normally see it - the shapes of the trees and their shadows are in stark relief against the painted concrete wall. Usually the forms would be lost against that of other trees and confusing backgrounds of the forest. It's kind of fun to try and see which of these dark lines are the trees, and which are the shadows.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:09 PM
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Back in January, on the blog, I told the story of getting to photograph Russell Munson, the pilot and photographer, whose work I have known of for years. So today the story ran in Newsday, and it was really a kick to see my photos with my byline, in the newspaper again. Here are four of the photographs from my shoot that they used in the paper. This assignment was really a thrill!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:10 PM
Saturday, February 27, 2016
They have recently remodeled the Roosevelt Field Shopping Center in Garden City. When I first came to Long Island in 1966, the offices of Newsday were just across the street from Roosevelt Field. Boy, have things changed! I used to go there a couple of times a week, and now I haven't been there more then once or twice in six months. I went there the other day to see the new Nieman Marcus store, and to see the facelift. One of the surprising things was that I had never heard of half the stores that are there now. I did like this greenhouse roof, though.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM
Friday, February 26, 2016
There isn't another city like New York City. I am reminded of that every time I arrive home by commercial airline. It is more obvious when flying into LaGuardia airport, because some of the approaches to LaGuardia, like this one, involve flying from south to north just east of Manhattan. I am on the right hand side of the airplane and I got to see Brooklyn spread out before me. It is a stunning sight, and never fails to astound me, as many times as I have seen it. If you are curious, the bright spot in the upper right if the photo is John F. Kennedy Airport.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:31 PM
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Our friend Rush told us of an old cemetery in Albuquerque that was quite neglected, and I immediately said that I would like a chance to photograph it. We found badly neglected headstones and other ironwork that surrounded graves. The graves had probably been neglected because they were so old, many from the 1800's. There were also really nicely kept gravesites that had fresh white paint on the fencing, and colored decorations and fresh flowers. I didn't go near those sites because I didn't want to offend any of the families that took care of them.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:09 PM
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Leaving Albuquerque, I was glued to the airplane window, of course, with my camera at the ready. Slowly this scene came into view. It is a mesa that has been eroding for, I am guessing, millions of years. The gray layer on the top of the mesa was the last layer to be added, and as it is eroded over time, it reveals the orange and red layers beneath it. It is such an organic looking thing that it looks unearthly.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
I can't remember exactly how this picture came about. I think that Stan might have said something about the window and the light and how the two benches were silhouetted against the light. Then I think I said "Hey, can you go over and stand there, and turn to your right and look through your camera?" The second he did, I thought I had a really good shot. So this is a group effort, and I really love the result.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:25 PM
Monday, February 22, 2016
This is a wonderful little church in Magdalena, called the Magdalena Community Church. It attracted me immediately because of its simplicity. But looking at the photograph after I took it, I see something that I hadn't noticed - the color pallet of the scene. The colors of of this picture are just grays and blues! I hadn't noticed that when I took the picture. And I like this photo a lot because of these colors.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:35 PM
Sunday, February 21, 2016
The roads in New Mexico are amazing, especially to an easterner. They can be straight as an arrow for miles and miles. And the cool thing is, there are liable to be mountains showing in the distance as well. Another amazing thing for an easterner. It is one of the wonderful things about being out west, that the landscape is so completely different, and so beautiful in its own way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 20, 2016
I'm saving the best for last. Well, if not the best, then the subject that I took the most photographs of. I have described this radio telescope before, but to review the basics - the VLA consists of 27 dishes that are about 80 feet in diameter and stand over a hundred feet tall. The are transported into different configurations by being moved along three sets of railroad tracks, each of which is 13 miles long! What does it do? Well, according to Wikipedia, Astronomers using the VLA have made key observations of black holes and protoplanetary disks around young stars, discovered magnetic filaments and traced complex gas motions at the Milky Way's center, probed the Universe's cosmological parameters, and provided new knowledge about the physical mechanisms that produce radio emission. This is such an amazing place that I couldn't stop taking photographs, and as you can see, I am completely unable to edit my work. Oh, one other very cool thing - since it is a radio telescope, unlike regular telescopes that only capture light, the radio telescopes run night and day, capturing radio emissions.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Friday, February 19, 2016
These are the Spanish Mission ruins at Abo, one of the four sites that make up the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. Originally the Native Americans had trade communities in this remote area. In the early 17th century Spanish Franciscans decided to establish a mission. But by about 1670, the area was devoid of both Indians and Spaniards. There was a mission church built here, and then later on enlarged. But the structure also included a kiva, which is a room used by early Pueblo peoples for religious rituals. It was really unusual for a mission church to have a Kiva in it. The ruins are so photogenic that I had trouble editing the pictures down to just one, so here's a bunch. The last image shows that the construction was stone, with adobe used as a mortar, and then the walls were coated with adobe. The coating in this case has eroded over the years.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Thursday, February 18, 2016
There are so many amazing things you can see in the skies of New Mexico, because the skies are so incredibly clear. Most of them had to be pointed out to me on this trip. We were driving East, after sunset and Stan noticed the colored "V" ahead of us. We pulled over and both took pictures of what we saw, without having any idea of what it was. That night, our friend John said "Oh yeah, that's the anti-solar point." The point in the sky opposite the sun. Usually you would see the orange and yellow colors completely across the picture. But in this case, he explained, the Sun set behind a mountain top and that's why the colors are missing in the center of the picture. Sure enough, the next night we saw the same colors, but they were the same from side to side. And then he said, "Oh, and the darker gray-blue above the horizon is the shadow of the Earth as the Sun sets behind it!" Who would have imagined that! I think I had read of these phenomena in the past, but in the hazy skies of New York who ever gets to see things like this!
I decided to show you a photograph I did a day later, in about the same place. Notice that the pinkish colors go completely across the width of the image, with no mountain to block the sun.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:15 PM
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Stan and I were leaving the VLA on our first visit. The facility is closed to visitors at sunset. So we left before sunset, and were driving out the access road, with Stan at the wheel, when I noticed the shadow of the car on the landscape. What was funny is that the shadow doesn't look much like a car at all - it looks more like a turtle, I thought. It made me laugh to see this funny-looking shadow scurrying along in the landscape.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:07 PM
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
On our second night in Magdalena, we headed up to our friend John's observatory, located on a ridge up behind his house. Socorro, NM is 80 miles south of Albuquerque, and then Magdalena is 30 miles west of Socorro. It is dark there, because there are no large towns nearby. So it was a thrill to be observing under some of the darkest skies we have seen. This is a shot of John's observatory, and it is illuminated by the red headlamp that Stan was wearing as he was doing some night sky photography. The constellation up near the top of the picture is Orion, the Hunter, which you might recognize from the three stars in his belt, and the three bright stars of his sword.
Monday, February 15, 2016
An abandoned mine! Oh happy day! We were told about this mine by Rush Dudley, who was the moving force in putting together our photo exhibit, and John Briggs, who lives in Magdalena told us how to get to it. You all know how I LOVE ruins! This mine was the foremost mine in the 19th century in New Mexico. Prospecting for this mine began in 1886, and the black steelwork, called the "headframe" was built in 1906. The mine closed in 1947. The headframe stands over a vertical shaft that descends nearly 1000 feet, and that is connected to a maze of more than 30 miles of tunnels. The headframe has pulleys on it, and cables ran over them and they were used for lowering workers down the shaft, and for bringing the ore to the surface. I have not been able to determine what the two chimney-like structures are. I did climb up on the wooden structure to the left of the headframe because I was really curious what was inside. This structure was where the ore was deposited after coming up the mineshaft. You can see how battered these heavy timbers are. By the way, the mineshaft is open and surrounded by some incomplete fencing, so you can walk right to the edge and look in. I dropped half a dozen stones down the shaft, one by one, counting the seconds until I heard the rocks hit. It took about 5 seconds and by my calculations, that meant the shaft at present is 500 feet deep. Yikes!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:57 PM
Sunday, February 14, 2016
We left Albuquerque and headed down to Socorro and Magdalena, to do some astronomy. On the way down, we got off the interstate and we took a two lane road to the Salinas Ruins to do some photography. Once we got on the two lane road, the landscape of New Mexico presented itself to us. The almost monochromatic colors of the vegetation, and the brilliant blue sky, and the mountains in the distance let us know we certainly were in New Mexico. Beautiful, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:00 PM
Saturday, February 13, 2016
We were staying in an old cowboy hotel built in about 1917, and completely restored about 15 years ago. They do have wireless, but I was having trouble getting more than one or two bars, and it took forever to upload a photograph for the blog post. Finally, when it was too frustraging, I thought I would wander down the hall to see if I got a better signal. I only had to go ten feet, and I had a full strength signal! All I had to do was sit on the stairs, and life was good. (Photograph by Stan Honda)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
Friday, February 12, 2016
San Felipe de Neri Church is a historic Catholic church located on the north side of Old Town Plaza in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city. This church has continuously served as a House of Prayer for nearly two hundred years, starting in 1706. It is a beautiful church, and is particularly striking with its adobe colored exterior against the brilliant blue sky of New Mexico
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Thursday, February 11, 2016
On the flight back from Albuquerque to New York, we ended up flying at sunset. I just happened to look out my window and was stunned to see the golden glow on the wing from the light of the setting sun. So I took a few pictures. I went back to my book, and then happened to glance out again, and the colors had changed completely, and both the sky and the the wing were illuminated by the sky glow! I was stunned at the complete change in color. What a sublime thing this was to see.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:52 PM
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
We drove out to Pie Town - that's really the name of a town in New Mexico. There are about four restaurants that serve pies, but only one seemed open. What luck for us! This is Janine and Lori, two delightful women who run "The Gatherin' Place" where they serve the most amazing pies. I had blueberry with vanilla ice cream. After they served us, the women came by to chat with us, as they did with all the customers in the small restaurant. I am not sure what was more fun - the pie, or the conversations with the owners! It was a magical day meeting them. Outside the restaurant they have this 1940's truck which tends to attract visitors.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
OK, so this is really cool! We received permission to be on the grounds of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array Radio Telescope tonight. This is an astounding telescope! It consists of 27 individual radio dishes arranged in a "Y" shape that are moved on railroad tracks. The tracks of each leg are 13 miles long and the arrangement of the antennae are changed several times a year. Sometimes the dishes are close, and sometimes they stretch out for their full length. I will show you some more photographs in another post, but to say these devices are impressive is an understatement. We wanted to photograph one dish against the Zodiacal light and we were successful. But I will show you some images of the dishes in daylight. It was frosting on the cake to arrive and be setting up, and then seeing the thin crescent moon setting in the distance. A magical evening!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:25 PM
We are under some of the darkest skies that I have ever seen, here in Magdalena, NM. Our friend John Briggs, who I have known for years now, lives here on 80 acres some distance from town. He was determined that we would get to see the Zodiacal Light, which is caused by sunlight scattered by particles of space dust, and can only be seen about an hour and a half after the sun has set, IF you are in pristine dark skies. The slightest amount of light pollution will make this invisible. It is a stunning thing to see, perched on top of a hill, with the entire sky filled with brilliant stars overhead.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:22 AM
Sunday, February 7, 2016
OK, here's the deal. I have found a wireless connection which I think I can continue to use, I hope... But if a post is missing, please don't worry, it will be that I can't access wireless to post. Yesterday Stan gave a Night Sky Photography lecture to about 25 people from an astronomy club in Albuquerque. After the lecture was over we drove to a dark sky site outside of town, and practiced some of the things that he talked about. I was going around helping people with their first efforts with their own cameras. But I did stop to take a picture or two before it got too dark. Here are people with red lights - both flashlights and headlamps - working on taking pictures, with help from both Stan and I, and from other experienced club members. We use red lamps so that we don't loose our night vision. I think this is a really cool photo, and something different, for me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:51 PM
Saturday, February 6, 2016
What an astounding start to our day today! We woke a bit after 4 AM, then drove over to pick up Rush, our friend who put together the photo exhibit, then drove about 8 miles out of town, up route 66 to a hill overlooking Albuquerque. It was dark and we were looking to view the five planets that are visible all at once, about an hour before sunrise. What I forgot about was that there was a crescent moon, and that, along with two planets was the star of the show! What a spectacular dawn, to see the moon rise, and Mercury shortly after. But man, were we COLD! The temperature was in the low 20's and we were outside for over an hour. It took several hours to warm up. But it was all worth it, because seeing this all in person was just sublime!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:27 PM
Friday, February 5, 2016
The Duke is in town, and he's packing heat - what looks like a Colt .45 revolver - and he's not asking any questions! Fortunately, the gentleman eating lunch has no idea that the Duke is behind him. We had lunch in this famous restaurant in Albuquerque, and the owner is a collector of all kinds of Western paintings, including a number of John Wayne. This is a really cool place to visit, the food is really delicious, and the art collection is wonderful.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:56 PM
Thursday, February 4, 2016
The opening of the photo exhibit of the work of five photographers, including me, was this evening. We had about thirty or forty people visit, I guess. It was fun to meet the two photographers that I didn't know and to see their work. It is a strong show with a lot of really nice images. And as in any museum, it was fun to walk around and try to get interesting photographs of both the prints on the wall and the people viewing them. This is Charles, one of the photographers with his photographs on the wall behind him, talking to one of the visitors.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:53 PM
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
We went out to the car this morning, and it was cold. I was surprised to find frost on all the windows. Enterprise, the rental company, was a champ - they included a windshield scraper in the car! I started to scrape off the windshield, and Stan said: "Wait, that could be a blog post!" I thought for one second, then grabbed the camera and sat in the drivers seat to take some images like this, through the front window. He was right! They are little frost flakes as seen against the beautiful New Mexico Sky. So while I was in the car shooting, he was outside in the cold scraping the other windows! So thanks, Stan, for the idea, and the window cleaning! I keep thinking that this looks like a flock of butterflies taking off.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:06 PM
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
I used to fly out of LaGuardia airport all the time, but for the last 10 years or so, that's been a rarity. We fly Jet Blue mainly, and they are based at Kennedy airport. Today I left LaGuardia headed to Albuquerque for the opening of the photo exhibit I am in with 5 other photographers. I had my camera ready, and wasn't disappointed. We departed on runway 4, which is mainly headed north, and suddenly there was the Bronx Whitestone Bridge in the foreground, and the Throgs Neck Bridge in the distance. I really had to scramble to get the composition right, and the plane was moving quickly, so I only got one good frame, and this is it. Lucky me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:56 PM
Monday, February 1, 2016
This is Sam, on his favorite new place to take his naps, on the new couch in the new back room. I went in there today just to look at him, and for the first time - he sleeps there all the time - I noticed that he was almost exactly the same color as the couch! Now here's the tricky part - slowly leaving the room to go get my camera, and then walking back in without Sam jumping up and running away. Whew! Got it! I do love the completely monochromatic color scheme. If you doubt that this is a color photo, click on it and notice the faint pink in his ears.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:06 PM