Tuesday, May 31, 2016
We went to the city this afternoon, to see a Broadway show, "Blackbird" with Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams. Our usual routine is to pick up the tickets at the box office, then get something to eat, and then go to Times Square and the pedestrian mall that used to be Broadway. We found a place to sit and then just spent half an hour just looking around. What better place to people watch than Times Square. I loved seeing this family - the young boy was dancing around in front of his parents, but I missed that shot. But I like this one, and I have no idea what everyone is looking at.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:20 PM
Monday, May 30, 2016
We had heavy rain all night long, and it was still raining until about 7:30 this morning. I was up at 8 and the rain had stopped, so I grabbed my camera and headed up to town for the Memorial Day Parade. It was cancelled, unfortunately. No one wants to march in a downpour. I have been to every Memorial Day Parade since 1988, I think it was. I didn't used to go, but that year a colleague at work wrote a piece about growing up a small town in Maine, and how he loved the parade. He want back 30 years later, only to find that the parade was no longer taking place. I thought "If we are so fortunate in having this wonderful parade in Sea Cliff, the least I can do is attend, to remember all those who have lost their lives." So it was a disappointment to miss it this year.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:31 PM
Sunday, May 29, 2016
I showed a whole bunch of photographs of airplanes the other day, but while the airplanes were flying overhead, I was also looking around for photographs of spectators watching the airshow. I got a couple of photographs of several people with their arms extended in the air over their heads. You know this is because of the airshow, but for someone who doesn't know better, the picture can seem puzzling. I really love the subtle tonalities of this image in black & white.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:13 PM
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Every year on the Memorial Day weekend, there is a fireworks display put on by the town of North Hempstead, across the harbor from Sea Cliff. So we walk down to the shoreline and find a place to sit on the rocks, and wait for the show! It was great this year because the wind was light and the smoke had a chance so accumulate. Many time fireworks are just bright bursts against a black sky. This photo has a lot more subtlety with the smoke from the explosions everywhere. Makes the scene appear a bit mystical, I think.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:03 PM
Friday, May 27, 2016
Someone told me that there was going to be a rehearsal for the Jones Beach Air Show, which is performed on Memorial Day Weekend. It gets crazy crowded down at the beach on Saturday and Sunday. So I took a chance and went to the rehearsal. It was a wonderful performance from all types of aircraft, from the Navy's Blue Angels to small single engine monoplanes, and a jet powered biplane! These first two photographs are the Blue Angels.
This is a single engine monoplane tumbling through its own smoke trail, appearing to be out of control, but actually being masterfully flown.
This is crazy! It is a big radial engine biplane, to which has been added a jet engine! I kid you not! The pilot flies in with a familiar sound, and then pulls up, advances the power on the jet engine and shoots straight up in the air!
These are two AT-6 "Texan" aircraft flown by the Geico Sky Typers. I think these aircraft were my favorites, because they were easier to see compared to the F-16's flown by the Blue Angels.
And here are two photographs of the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. They are unusual in that they are flying nine aircraft in some of their formations.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Thursday, May 26, 2016
In addition to walking the High Line, there are places to relax and sit along the way. There are all kinds of benches, usually for 3 or 4 people, and then there is this area that is laid out as steps where there is room for people to sit and eat lunch and relax, and of course to take photographs of each other! There are so many well-thought out ideas everywhere on the High Line
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:32 PM
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
I hope you will be patient with my obsession of the High Line. After showing you some overall photographs of the High Line, in this post, I want to pay attention to some of the details. The plantings here are just stunning. I have read that many of the plantings are based on native plants that had taken root during the time that the High Line was abandoned. In any case the garden designers are brilliant in what they have created here. The first image shows trees planted in amongst some track crossovers that already existed. The other photographs show the plantings in and around the tracks. The last photograph shows the material that the walkways are constructed of - at the ends, the surface narrows like this leaving spaces between for more plantings. Please click on these images to see all the wonderful detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
The High Line is an elevated park. It feels as if the areas of the plantings are much larger than the walking and sitting areas. There are plants and bushes and trees everywhere! I was able to look down onto part of the high line from The Whitney Museum, and it is a long line mostly of green. I had only been to the High Line in Fall before. I was hoping on this trip to see a lot more blooming flowers. There was a lot of green everywhere, but blossoms were few and far between. I found this group of flowers in the midst of a work of art in between a set of railroad tracks. The stainless steel rings, which go on for some distance, are part of an art work by Rayon Tabet, called "Steel Rings, 2013," and they go on for quite a distance.
Monday, May 23, 2016
I was stunned to come upon a crowd of people at one point on the High Line, and when the group parted I saw this man, wearing only underwear, apparently sleepwalking in broad daylight! Only the man did not move! One of the cool things about the High Line is that there are art installations all along the length of the park in the sky, and this is one of them. It is called "Sleepwalker" by Tony Matelli, and is a painted bronze statue. It is so lifelike, it is just unbelievable! And it is fun to watch everyone looking at it.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
This is the High Line, an mile and a half long elevated park, that was built on an abandoned elevated railway line, in downtown Manhattan. The first section opened in 2009, and it took me three years to finally get to see it, in the fall of 2012. I decided that it was time to go back, and see it in the spring. It is an absolutely spectacular park! It is about 25 feet above the street. And it was really busy, there were people walking along it from both directions. It wasn't too crowded, just busy. I found it really difficult to take one photograph that that showed the nature of the place. So here are three images. What's cool is that they have reinstalled the railroad tracks, and the gardens are planted in and around the tracks. I will show you some more details in subsequent posts. What's really interesting is that Mayor Guiliani wanted to tear it down, but so many people got behind the project, including Mayor Bloomberg and Diane von Furstenberg that the line was saved.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Saturday, May 21, 2016
The elevators are the quick way to get to the 8th floor of the Whitney. But coming down, it is more interesting to take the stairs. These stairs are in a stairwell with windows that look out on the Hudson River, so the view is worth it. I love the graphics of this image, and I particularly love the fact that the pipe at the bottom of the stairs is painted bright red. A nice touch.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:56 PM
Friday, May 20, 2016
This is such a fun picture. These sculptures are part of an exhibit on the top floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The way they suggest you visit the museum, is to take the elevator to the eighth floor, and work your way down, gallery by gallery. There are several of these astounding female sculptures in one area, and they are all named "Spider Woman" followed with by a roman numeral. The artist is Liz Craft. I was in close, working on the composition when a woman appeared behind the sculpture, then another and another! They were having their picture taken by a friend. I thought that the contrast between the sculptures and the women made the picture much more interesting.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
I went to the city today to visit the new Whitney Museum of American Art. They have built a new building downtown, on Gansevoort Street designed by Renzo Piano, and their iconic Marcel Breuer building uptown has been taken over by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There was a huge exhibit covering two floors, called "Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney Collection." It was an amazing collection of paintings and photographs, and sculptures. I was looking at paper sculptures of a number of buildings, when I realized that the plexiglass cover reflected people walking by. So I positioned myself in one spot and waited. In the background, by the way, is another artwork showing raised fists, which adds complexity, and some mystery to the image.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:16 PM
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
These Hostas live in the garden just under our dining room window. I guess I photograph them every year. I am attracted to the large leaves all crowded together, and the beautiful design that they make, with the combination of large and small leaves.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
It's funny, isn't it, how the books we read as young children stay with us. The one book I remember is called "Little Toot." I believe it began "Little Toot was just a tug, a happy harbor tug..." Then he decided to go exploring and headed down a river. Anyhow, I hadn't really thought of that book for years, until I saw this small tugboat in Hempstead Harbor, coming back from somewhere, and the story in the book came back to me in an instant. There are a lot of larger tugboats in the harbor all the time, moving big barges carrying fuel around, but I have never seen such a small tug before.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:35 PM
Monday, May 16, 2016
This is a photograph of the tail end of my 18th century telescope reproduction, that I am using for observing and drawing sunspots. I have been working on this project since the beginning of March, drawing sunspots every clear day. Some days there are scattered clouds, and so I have to wait for open spots between clouds before making my observations. Yesterday was such a day. Here is a photograph of the sun's image projected by the telescope on to a piece of white paper, and you can see darker gray areas which are clouds blowing across the face of the sun. Please click on the image to enlarge it, and then you can see the two sunspots on the face of the sun.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
It was overcast most of today, with beautiful gray clouds overhead. Toward the end of the day, the clouds started breaking up. It was as the sun was getting low to the horizon, and light on everything - trees, houses, and clouds, was a beautiful deep orange. It was a spectacular moment of the day, and this is what I recorded in those moments.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
Saturday, May 14, 2016
On the way to and from the Met, I walk about 15 blocks up and down the east side of Central Park. I am always looking for photographs, of course. I have seen some nice views of the city through the trees of central park. I like the contrast between the softness of the trees and the glass and metallic buildings. A nice contrast.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:09 PM
Friday, May 13, 2016
I went to the Long Island Macintosh Users Group tonight. They had a special speaker as the program, Bob "Dr. Mac" Levitus. He has published 75 books on the Mac operating systems, and on iPhones, and iPads. I *thought* that the speaker was going to be there in person, but unfortunately, it was a Skype session from Anchorage, Alaska. I needn't have worried, however. It was a terrific presentation of how to be more efficient while using Macs, and an introduction to some particular applications that would be helpful. He was very helpful and funny as well. His knowledge of the Mac operating system is just astounding! It was a great evening.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:12 PM
Thursday, May 12, 2016
When our astronomy club visited the Cradle of Aviation Museum, I stopped to try out a full-size model of a 1911 Curtiss Pusher. The model is only of the center section of the airplane. I think that this is for kids, but hey, I am a kid, so I tried it out. What's interesting about the controls for this machine, is that only some of them are similar to a modern airplane. The "steering wheel" turns the rudder which is in the front, the stick moves the foreplane, for pitch control. There are no rudder pedals for the feet. But the most unusual control is that for the ailerons, out on the wings, and you move those by pressing your back into the "shoulder cradle" and tilting your body from side to side. Man oh man, would I ever think that I could fly an airplane with such unusual controls!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
This is Kathy and Grace, the kitty. Grace is a very affectionate cat, and at times during the day, she needs to be held, not just in your lap, but draped over your shoulder. She will not take "no" for an answer! Can you tell? So Kathy types with one hand until Grace has been held long enough to climb back down and go about her normal kitty life.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
There is an exhibit at the Met called "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology," an exploration of technology's impact on fashion. This particular piece is a train for a wedding dress, designed by Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel (In case you want to buy one of these.) I am not sure how practical it is - I think that the train is more than 25 feet long! I was more interested in the women photographing the dress with their phones. I only spent about 15 minutes in the exhibit - I guess I fail the fashion test!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:23 PM
Monday, May 9, 2016
Today was the day of the Transit of Mercury. I went to the beach in Bayville and set up my telescope. Just like the Transit of Venus in 2004, the sky was cloudy for almost an hour after Mercury started to cross the Sun. Mercury is the lower black dot, by the way. The upper gray area on the sun is a sunspot. I did get some photographs through breaks in the cloud, just at the beginning. The transit lasted over seven hours. These transits don't happen very often - only about 13 or 14 per century. The last three transits occurred in 1999, 2003, and 2006. The next will occur on November 11, 2019, and then the one after that will be on November 13, 2032. It is an amazing thing to see a planet cross the face of the sun - it is, in fact, mind boggling. It is surprising how small Mercury is, compared to the Sun. The lyrics to Sting's song, in the title of the blog, came to mind almost immediately when I saw Mercury on the face of the Sun. Please click on the image to see it much larger.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:00 PM
Sunday, May 8, 2016
We drove to my sister Betsey's home in Connecticut for a Mother's Day luncheon. It was a wonderful day for all of us to be gathered together - something that doesn't happen all that often. So here is a portrait of both mothers and daughters. From left to right, for those of you have read about some of these people: my sisters Betsey and Joan, Kathy, my sister Karen, Jonathan's wife Lauren, and Joan's daughter Jenny. While sitting on the couch Lauren sat next to me with her daughter Evelyn and began feeding her. Her husband Jonathan is in the background. This photo seems to be the essence of Mother's Day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM
Saturday, May 7, 2016
This a sculpture in an amazing exhibit at the Met called "Pergamon" - an exhibition about the wealth, artistry, and technical achievements of the Hellenistic period—the three centuries between Alexander's death, in 323 B.C., and the establishment of the Roman Empire, in the first century B.C. The sculpture is titled "Fragmentary colossal marble head of a youth." It is from Greece, 2nd century B.C. Anyhow, I was looking at this enormous head, and near me was a distinguished looking older gentleman and his wife. He was explaining that a curator had explained to him that this statue was not intentionally damaged - apparently there was an unseen fault in the marble, and after the sculpture was finished, it just broke! Can you imagine the sculptor's reaction! Oh man! So it is always good to eavesdrop at these exhibitions. I like the first photograph a lot. I got in position to photograph the head, and just then this woman stepped into the frame, and I clicked the shutter when I saw her reaction! This is an absolutely stunning object to be in the presence of, by the way.
Friday, May 6, 2016
At the south end of the rooftop garden at the Met, there were people lined up, almost shoulder to shoulder, doing selfies! What a hoot! I have been to the rooftop garden a lot, but don't ever remember so many people doing self portraits. I saw this woman with her phone, and I loved her hat, and her concentration. It was so easy to take a candid photograph of her, because she was so caught up in doing her own portrait.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:27 PM
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Every year the Metropolitan Museum of Art has some kind of sculpture installation in their roof garden. They are always fascinating constructs, and I have photographed two others in the past for the blog. This is called "Transitional Object (Psycho Barn), " It is by the British artist Cornelia Parker. This house first brings to mind the house in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" and then the Edward Hopper painting "House by the Railroad." I found my reaction to this was immediate - it must be that both of those images are deeply within our psyche. Everyone on the roof loved this piece and everyone was photographing it. The brilliant thing about this is the contrast between this iconic house, and the background of the Manhattan buildings. So here is the other brilliant thing about this construction - it only exists on two sides! This second photograph shows that the walls of the house are all supported by piping! The other thing that I learned was that the house in "Psycho" was also built just like this - it only had two sides, and piping held it up!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:09 PM
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
We were upstate for a week, and when we got back we saw this on Shore Road. The bicycle painted white is usually called a "Ghost Bike," and traditionally is displayed at a location where a cyclist has died in an accident. I was worried and did some searching for a couple of weeks before I heard the story. A troubled young man, who was accused of murdering his roommate with a hammer, was awaiting trial. He apparently was driving late at night with a female passenger, and he was driving crazy fast. His car smashed into this giant high voltage power pole, and cut it completely off at the base! He died instantly, and amazingly, his female passenger had non-life threatening injuries. Wow! So this crash was not about cycling at all.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
I went down to the water again the other day, and saw these fishermen enjoying themselves. I am so accustomed to doing wide angle landscape photographs, that it's harder to think "closer" when the wider view is more dramatic. So when I saw these fishermen, I used a longer lens, and did think to move a bit closer. But it is still not that close. Oh well, at least I am thinking a bit different. Maybe I will put a wide angle lens on and see how close I can get to someone.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:39 PM
Monday, May 2, 2016
When we went to the city for Margo's birthday, I got to look out her living room window again. The last time I did that, I looked down on a brick building with interesting decoration on the front. This time, I was looking further downtown and spotted One World Trade Center in the rain. It was almost a faint apparition. It's interesting that when I shot this, I loved that the distant buildings were very faint. While adjusting the photograph, I didn't like the light version - this darker version felt like a better representation of how the scene felt to me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:00 PM
Sunday, May 1, 2016
I went for a walk along the harbor, to look for photographs. It is so scenic, and the weather is always different, so I always come home with something. I was walking in this direction, and the gentle curve of of the railing against the blue background caught my eye. So I framed the picture, and waited. I had passed a woman walking her dog, and I waited until she caught up to me, and then photographed as the two of them walked by me and continued into the distance. This first photograph, with the woman in the distance, emphasizes the curve of the railing. But this is the expected photo, I think - a small figure in the distance. This second photo is the first one I took, and with the woman and dog being so prominent, the fence seems less significant. But the woman and dog are more important, and shown in an unexpected way, it seems to me.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:43 PM