Saturday, April 30, 2016
Why are these people sitting in the dark, and what are they looking at? Today, our astronomy club had a tour of The Cradle of Aviation. It is an incredible museum and has aircraft that range from a Bleriot monoplane up to an F-14 Tomcat jet fighter. They also have spacecraft. These people are sitting in a darkened room, looking at one of the Grumman Lunar Excursion Modules which were built on Long Island, and took our astronauts to the moon. It beautifully displayed in a room made up like the surface of the Moon.
Friday, April 29, 2016
I received an email from an acquaintance who lives down the street, and he is a member of the Sea Cliff Tree Commission. They write articles for the village bulletin about trees, and he was looking for some photographs of trees in the village to go with the articles. Someone suggested that I might be the person who might have tree photos. So I sent them a few photos, and then today I went for a walk, looking for trees. A perfect time of year for that, certainly. So this is a house down the road that I passed, and the dogwood tree looks stunning against the house!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:30 PM
Thursday, April 28, 2016
This is my friend and colleague from work, Fred. We have worked together for years. We reconnected recently working on the story about the photographer and pilot. He mentioned that he needed a new formal portrait for his job as editor of a union newspaper that he edits. So I drove out to his house, and while talking with him before doing a formal portrait, I saw this informal portrait and got out my toy camera and quickly snapped a photo. It is kind of fun to do a portrait for the blog. I should do this more often.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
This is Tom, an engineer, who has been a professional solar astronomer. He is a member of our club, and gave a terrific talk tonight on how our Sun works. It was an amazing and wonderful talk, with great scientific details and some recent photographs. This is one of the highest resolution images of one sunspot ever captured. It is a stunning image, showing incredibly fine detail. It was taken at Big Bear Solar Observatory in California. Tom didn't produce this image, but he worked on the design of the new telescope at Big Bear some years ago.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
This is Kathy's friend Margo. She and Kathy met when they were both students at Fordham University in the MSW program. They graduated seventeen years ago, and have been fast friends ever since. Tonight was Margo's birthday, so we went into the city (bringing, what else, a Sachertorte) and went to dinner with Margo and her son Erik and two other friends. On the way from the restaurant I saw them walking together, and stopped them and had them face me so the light from a store gave nice light, and the background was pure New York City!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:01 PM
Monday, April 25, 2016
This is a copy of The Joy of Cooking that I bought for Kathy in 1973. 43 years later the pages are faded and yellow, and there are some large stains on some of the more frequently used pages. We got the book down so that Kathy could make a Sachertorte to take to Manhattan tomorrow for a friend's birthday. There is such a richness to having had this cookbook for so many years. My favorite story about this book is that at the end of the recipe for Indian Pudding, it says: "Serve pudding hot with hard sauce. It is barbarous New England custom to serve it with vanilla ice cream." Barbarous New England custom? That is how we have eaten indian pudding all my life!
Sunday, April 24, 2016
When Stan was here the other day, we drove around Sea Cliff for a bit, and ended up down at the water. The tide was out, revealing some of the "rip-rap" which protects the point. I was amazed at the brilliant green color of the rocks. They are coated with seaweed which is covered with water at high tide. The green is far more brilliant in person, than the camera shows.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:42 PM
Saturday, April 23, 2016
We drove up to Connecticut to visit with the cousins - Maureen and Tracy and some of their children. It was a really nice day hanging out with everyone. Brendan, shown at top, mentioned that he and some friends were going to Cherry Springs, Pennsylvania, at the end of the month, to camp and look at the stars. I asked if he had binoculars, and he said he didn't. I went out to the car and found my $99 pair of 15x70 binoculars and said that he should take them with him for stargazing. So we went outside to test them. Then Keera brought her binoculars out. They had an unusual anti-reflection coating on them which made the objective lenses bright yellow-orange. I thought that would make a picture.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Friday, April 22, 2016
Once the addition was finished, we were left with sandy soil and small rocks, and no topsoil, because of the excavation for the foundation. So a landscaper came the other day and took out several yards of the sandy soil, and replaced it with topsoil, and then planted grass seed. So it is my job to keep the seed moist until it germinates. The first day as I was spraying, late in the day, I noticed that the spray was giving me a rainbow. But the rainbow was seen against brown earth - I needed a dark shadow to set the rainbow off from the background. So today I was watering earlier in the day, and the shadow of the house was in the background, and the rainbow was a lot more obvious. What a great project - making rainbows. It was lovely, watching rainbows for an hour.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Ansel Adam's most famous photograph is probably "Moonrise, Hernandez, NM." I was stunned when I saw the beautiful 16x20 inch black and white print at the George Eastman House for the first time, back in 1960. Whenever I see a moonrise, I think of his image. So when I shoot something like a moonrise at Dunkin' Donuts, it is with tongue in cheek. I go to Dunkin' Donuts every Wednesday night to buy coffee and donuts for the meeting. By the way, in 1964 when I graduated from RIT, I could have bought a 16x20 inch print of the Ansel Adams image for $175. I wish I had. I haven't checked the price of that print recently, but ten years ago, those prints were selling for $25,000. That is not a misprint. WHOA! I just did a search, and found that two "Moonrise" prints were sold and you won't believe the prices: One went for $518,500 and the other sold for $362,500. I am stunned!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:41 PM
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Tonight was a great night at our astronomy club! My friend Stan came and spoke to the group about how he plans for and shoots some of his magnificent night sky images. He talked about some software he uses, both online and off, and apps on his cell phone. Then he showed us some of his most recent work - many wonderful images from Chaco Culture Historical Park, where he just spent thirty days in residence. The group was seriously impressed! He is a master of what he does, and has the eye of an artist.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:24 PM
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
I have a few checkpoints all along my bike route where I look at my times and write them down to see how I am doing. I came up the hill on Dog Bite Lane - well, actually, it is called Spruce Street but it is the road where the dog bit me, so I have changed its name! At the top of the hill I stop and write down some of my times. Today while stopped, I looked at this tree, and realized how beautiful it is. It's nice that there is another tree in the background that adds to the composition.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:19 PM
Monday, April 18, 2016
The storm door on our new back door is glass from top to bottom. That's nice because you can see all the detail in the paneled door. Now that it's warmer out, we leave the inside door open, and the kittens love to sit just inside the glass door for hours at a time, looking out at the world. Not sure why this is a better view than that from the front windows, or the dining room window. Who knows, but it is so much fun to see either or both of the kittens looking out.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
You know I must be desperate if I am out shooting emerging buds with my Nikon and Macro lens! Well, that's what I did this afternoon. I happened to notice that the leaves on the Japanese maple tree were emerging from the buds. I don't believe that I have seen this before. It is pretty cool to see how they emerge - as if they had been folded up and put inside the bud. I am guessing that within a couple of days we will see these beautiful, delicate leaves that I love so much, fully spread out. The interesting thing is that the leaf and the bud together resemble a historic drawing that I have seen of a comet that appeared a few hundred years ago.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:21 PM
When raking the lawn as part of spring cleanup, I came across these pine cones, from a neighbor's tree. What was amazing to me is how tightly wrapped the one on the left is. The one on the right had started to open at the top. This is part of the pine tree's reproduction process - when the cones open, seeds for more pine trees drop out. The pine cones need warmth before they will open. After photographing them in the house, I set them on a shelf, and now they are both completely open. When I was in Yellowstone after the fires of 1988, the biologists spoke of how fire is an important part of this process. The heat of the fires causes the cones to open after the fire is over, and the seeds fall on the ash covered ground. Apparently there are nutrients in the ashes which act like fertilizer and help the seeds get a start.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:32 AM
Friday, April 15, 2016
This is my friend Ridgely at her retirement party tonight. She is leaving the work she loves after 37 years. She is a terrific editor, and an even better reporter and writer. She was the articles editor for the sunday magazine and we worked together on some really great projects that she thought up, and that I photographed. Friends tonight spoke of how good she is as a writer, but even more, what a great friend she is to everyone. A real pro, a hard worker and a delight to work with. It was a lovely evening of tributes and of course it was bittersweet.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:13 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2016
I have been sketching sunspots now for two months, as part of the research project. The last few days there has been a really large sunspot that I have watched as it traverses the face of the sun. This spot is larger than the Earth! Even in my little 1 inch aperture 18th Century replica telescope, I could see that the spot was large and it also was surrounded by a large "penumbra" - the gray area surrounding the black sunspot. So I got out a much larger telescope, set it up, and photographed the sun and the sunspot. Notice that it is not a round spot, and there is white area that is slowly cutting into the spot. It will be interesting to see how this progresses over the next few days. Be sure and click on the image to see more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I love seeing contrails in a brilliant blue sky. It brings thoughts of flying off to new places to experience new things. These "condensation trails" are formed when water vapor from the jet engine exhaust forms ice crystals. The altitudes at which the contrails form are usually between 25,000 to 40,000 feet - the altitudes at which airplanes cruise, as opposed to taking off and landing. There is something about seeing them that is poetic in some way, and which reaches deep inside me. If I see a plane flying overhead, I have to stand and watch until the plane is out of sight.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:06 PM
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
You are not going to believe this one! You saw my April Fool's trick where I stuck a piece of black tape on my shirt pocket to make it look like my fountain pen leaked? Well, today, while sitting at dinner, Kathy said "What is that on your shirt?" I looked down and was horrified... If you can believe this, and I barely can, I put a fountain pen in my pocket with the cap off, and the nib pointed down! I think about 1/3 of the ink was sucked into my shirt! I can't believe it! While putting ink remover on the stain, the ink started to spread, and made an interesting looking abstract "painting." And here is one more amazing thing - after the ink remover, and a soaking in detergent and Clorox and then a trip through the washing machine, this is how the shirt pocket looked!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:31 PM
Monday, April 11, 2016
The new Tappan Zee Bridge has been under construction since 2013, and I notice big changes in the new bridge each time I have crossed on the old bridge which runs alongside. The original Tappan Zee Bridge was built during 1952–1955. The Tappan Zee was built in a period of material shortages during the Korean War. The deteriorating current structure bears substantially more traffic than its designed capacity. Unlike other major bridges in metropolitan New York, the Tappan Zee was designed to last only 50 years. So how comfortable are we driving across this structure, knowing that it is now 11 years beyond it's design life! The new bridge is going to be spectacular thing to see. Just wait!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Another astounding day at the Astronomy Forum! Two more spectacular speakers. The first photo shows Marcia Bartusiak, a brilliant science writer. I have been a fan of her books for years. "The Day We Discovered the Universe" is one of the best books on understanding how we came to learn all that we have about the universe. I bought her new book, about black holes, which she signed, and I even had a conversation with her for several minutes. The second photo is of Alice Bowman, The Mission Operations Manager for the New Horizons mission to Pluto. She was a terrific speaker, and spoke about so many of the challenges of the mechanical aspects of the spacecraft and the mission. We were sitting on the edge of our seats during part of the talk. Another amazing day, seeing people doing wonderful work in science!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:51 PM
Saturday, April 9, 2016
An exciting day today! I spent the first of two days at the Northeast Astronomy Forum. I have been going to this event for about 25 years. The highlight of the day was a talk by Dr. Alan Stern, the "principal investigator" (meaning the guy who ran the whole thing) of the New Horizons Project, which sent a spacecraft to Pluto. The craft was launched in January of 2006. It traveled for nine years and three billion miles. On July 14, 2015, it flew 7,800 miles above the surface of Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet. During the flyby, instruments gathered scientific data and extensive photography was performed. I can't tell you how cool it is to listen to and to see in person, a planetary scientist like this and have him tell us first hand what has been discovered so far from the data and photographs. Want to see something really impressive? THIS is the best photograph that had ever been taken of Pluto, by the Hubble Space Telescope, before the New Horizons mission!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Friday, April 8, 2016
When I visited New York as a teenager, which I did a lot by riding the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad from Milford, Connecticut, I remember someone saying to me "New York is a great city, if they ever get it finished!" I thought of that comment when I saw this tower crane near Times Square. I just love watching construction, and the heavy machinery required. This makes for a more interesting picture because of the light and shadows, and the silhouette of the crane. These are cool machines - the tower itself is inside the steel framework of the building, and as the building gets taller, they add sections on to the tower, and the crane grows with the building.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
We went to the city early on the day we were going to the theater, and went down to 14th street to visit a friend of Kathy's who has been in the hospital for a bit. While they were talking I was standing at the window looking south over lower Manhattan and looking for something to photograph, of course. This building is just across the street, and I was taken with how pretty the brick was with the white lintels over the windows. It grabbed my attention right away and so here you go!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:58 PM
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
I apologize for the lame photograph I posted yesterday. My theater photo was no where near good enough. So your reward is that you get two photographs tonight. So here are a couple of photographs from Times Square. The first photo is of two women doing panoramas with their cellphones - you hold your phone up, turn on the video, do a 360 turn, and bring home a panorama of Times Square. The second photo is taken of the red glass steps behind the TKTS booth. It was crowded with people walking up the steps to see the whole scene, taking selfie photos, or just sitting and being photographed. The whole place is a happening and so much fun to hang out in and people watch.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
We went to the city this evening to see Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." Man there were so many scenes in the play that I would have loved to photograph, but of course that is not allowed. So I follow the rules. Instead I did this grab shot of intermission. Not the world's greatest shot but it does give a hint of the beauty of the Walter Kerr theater, which was restored on two occasions - the most recent in 1990. It is a beautiful theater. And the play was stunning as well. Wow!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:43 PM
Monday, April 4, 2016
When April Fool's Day rolls around each year, everyone in our family is on high alert. There is no pulling the wool over anyone's eyes in this house! So there is no sense for me to come running inside and say to Kathy: "A tree just fell on your car!" She would laugh, and say: "Sure it did..." So there is little hope that I would get anywhere with the big lie. Then I was struck by a brilliant idea - I would try something subtle. I cut a black oval from a piece of black gaffer tape, and put it under my pocket - the pocket where I always carry my fountain pen. The funny thing was, I had to walk around for half an hour before Kathy noticed it! It was fun to watch her face change when she first saw it! Mission accomplished!
Sunday, April 3, 2016
...and guess who is working on his taxes! When I was in Rochester, I went to the RIT Photo Store, and asked the young man working in the store if he could tell me about selfie sticks and what I needed to know to buy one. He was very helpful, and he owned an iPhone as I do, and he showed me how Bluetooth in the handle of the selfie stick triggers the iPhone. So I am a happy camper. I first used it in Rochester to take an Easter family photo. But I still needed an impressive photograph to introduce you to my new toy. Today, while working on the income tax returns, I thought of my Selfie stick. So here I am in the midst of my least favorite task of all time seen from an interesting angle!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:56 PM
Saturday, April 2, 2016
This picture came about in a funny way. This is Bebe, the oldest cat and she was sleeping curled up in my chair. I know that if you get close enough to a sleeping cat, they will sense, through their ears, that something has changed in the acoustics of the room, even without a sound being made and they will wake up. I wanted to see how close I could get. When I was about 8 inches over her ear she still hadn't moved, and I became fascinated with her ear, so I withdrew and got my Nikon with close up lens. She didn't wake up, even when I started taking photos. What you are seeing here is her ear, and part of her face near her eye, covered with a paw. Cats sleep with a paw over their eye a lot. Then one of her rear paws, with claws showing, and to the right, her nearly black tail. I guess I am in my abstract phase. Please click on the photo to see a lot more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:20 PM
Friday, April 1, 2016
Today was the best day for a bike ride! With a temperature of 75 degrees, I was finally able to go out with just cycling shorts and a jersey! Oh happy day! Well, until I got to the hill on Spruce Street. A little white dog came running down the driveway barking, and he was way out in front of the owner, a woman who was walking down the driveway. The dog ran into the road, and was running alongside me, barking, when suddenly he bit me! I quickly jumped off my bike, and put my bike between the dog and myself because he was trying to get to me, so I was constantly moving the bike around to protect myself. The woman called out "He's not a vicious dog." She finally was able to call him off, and I hollered out "You should know he just bit me." "You should have gotten off your bike" she said! Oh right, it's my fault! When I got home I called the doctor, and he said that I needed to go back and see evidence that the dog has had its rabies vaccination. After I showered I got dressed and went back, to the house and had the owner show me the rabies tag. The doctor also said that a Tetanus shot was a good idea, and so I went to a urgent care center and got that done as well. So it appears that I will live... :-) OK, so no more whining...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:46 PM