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!
Monday, November 28, 2016
I went to the grocery store for a few things for dinner and as I got out of the car, I looked up and saw this tree against the sunset. What was different about it is the two "headlights" in the midst of the branches! Wow, a tree with eyes! The story is that they have recently built a new parking lot, which is good. What is bad is that they have also installed new lighting all over the place! It looks like a major league baseball park, it is so bright. Not good. But it does make for an interesting photo.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Sunday, November 27, 2016
For the last several weeks I have been stripping paint from about one-third of the front porch floor. The one-third at the other end where the steps are, is already done. This is seriously tedious work, since there must be 8 or 9 coats of paint on the floor here. Many of them I put down since we bought the house in 1971. It finally got so bad, with cracking and peeling paint, that adding one more coat of paint wouldn't fix a thing. So I am using a really good paint stripper, but as good as it is, I have to apply it four different times, scraping after each application, in order to get all the paint off, and to get down to bare wood. Whew! It will be nice when it is done.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:29 PM
Saturday, November 26, 2016
When I take the train home from Manhattan, I have to change trains at Jamaica Station. That's because they use electric trains from Penn Station to Jamaica, but we have to switch to diesel trains to get to Oyster Bay. So I am standing on the platform, and the fading light in the sky attracts my attention first, and then I notice the bright yellow line leading directly toward the headlights of the oncoming train. A picture!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:40 PM
Friday, November 25, 2016
When you get to the top of the hill that we live on, the road intersects this road, and up near the top are these grasses. What's nice is, toward the end of the day, the sun is behind them, and illuminates them until they appear to glow. It is a beautiful scene, and at this time of year, I photograph them a number of times.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:47 PM
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Back in the 1980's I worked on a personal photo essay for the Sunday Magazine, called "The Ruins of War." I had discovered shore batteries where giant guns were installed in concrete fortifications, and these guns were used to protect, for instance the entrance to Long Island Sound, out on the tip of Long Island. I photographed these batteries in the 1980's, in spring and it was a beautiful photograph and was the cover of the magazine. When I was flying around the other day with Russ, I flew over to where these were, and we circled around while I shot them again. They looked completely different - the difference between Fall and Spring. The giant guns were located in the center of the circular parts of the concrete in the foreground. Some of these guns could shoot a projectile 25 miles!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Every year I photograph this "other" Japanese maple. I see it every morning when I look out of the bathroom window. What makes this photo interesting for me - and I photograph it over and over again - is the delicate structure of the black branches as seen through the leaves. I took this photograph about two days ago, before the heavy rain. There are very few leaves left by this evening.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:41 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
When we were on the campus of Cornell University, I spotted this sculpture in the arts quad. We didn't have much time in our visit, so before heading back to the car, I quickly ran over to take this photograph. It was late in the day, and the light was fading. I wish I had half an hour to explore this inventive piece. It is made up of 360 plastic deck chairs, of the kind set up on the lawn for graduation, for spectators. They are tied together with cables and bolts. The piece is called "Urchin" and was built by assistant professor of architecture Caroline O’Donnell and student volunteers. It is an astounding thing to see, and it reminds me of a woolly bear caterpillar!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:58 PM
Monday, November 21, 2016
This is the sculpture called "Stargazer" designed by the artist Linda Scott. It was erected in 1991 on a sod farm in Manorville, next to Route 111 and has been considered to be the gateway to the East end. It is constructed out of structural steel and wood, and then covered in plywood and fabric and stucco. It is fifty feet tall and has been vandalized in the past, and repaired. Now it is deteriorating from the sun and the weather and old age. There are plans afoot to raise funds to repair this. The estimated cost of the work is estimated to be about $100,000.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM
Sunday, November 20, 2016
When I went to the gallery in Manhattan last Friday, I decided to walk from Penn station, rather than take a subway. It was a beautiful day with warm temperatures. The gallery is located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. I haven't really walked through much of that neighborhood, although I have spent a lot of time on the High Line, as you know. Anyhow, I walked down Ninth Avenue, and then West along 25th Street. What a beautiful neighborhood! In the middle of one block, here was this beautiful tree with yellow leaves, in front of these magnificent brick buildings. Fall in Manhattan, indeed!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:49 PM
Saturday, November 19, 2016
When Liz and Amy were here, they really wanted tho take a walk around Sea Cliff, to visit the familiar places. So we all set off on a beautiful fall day, and walked some familiar streets, and some unfamiliar ones. It was interesting to find that there were some streets, not that far from our house, that we had never walked down! I photographed all along the way, of course, and then got this really nice portrait of everyone. Everyone except me, of course. Of course. I am the photographer. I am never in any family photographs. I am, however, in the selfies Liz and Amy take.
Friday, November 18, 2016
I had an astounding day today! I went flying with my friend Russ today. He is the photographer that I shot for a story for the newspaper some months back. He said he wanted to have me fly with him when the weather was good. Well, today the weather was clear, with blue sky, sunshine, and very little wind. A perfect day! Here he is in the front seat of his Aviat Husky aircraft (I am seated behind him)
A view out the window showing the wing, and wing strut, and the landscape of Long Island's east end.
What was really cool, is that I got to do most of the flying today! I haven't flown a tailwheel aircraft in a number of years, so Russ did the takeoff, and then turned the plane over to me and just let me fly around, looking at the landscape. What a thrill to fly this beautiful aircraft!
Here is one of my aerial photographs of the landscape in fall that we flew over.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:34 PM
Thursday, November 17, 2016
This is a long story... A few years ago I was watching a DVD by Simon Schama called "The Power of Art" and one segment is about the painter Mark Rothko. Schama talks about seeing a group of paintings by Rothko at the Tate Modern in London, and he talks of being overwhelmed with emotion when first seeing the paintings. So I may not use the right words, but Rothko is an abstract expressionist, and I have trouble understanding and feeling paintings of that genre. But because of his reaction, I decided I need to work hard at understanding Rothko's works. There is an exhibit in Manhattan at the Pace Gallery that I went to with my friend Stan and his wife Ann. This exhibit is from his "Dark Palette" period, and I find these really dark paintings even harder to understand.
I love the first photograph of the elderly couple seated in front of the large maroon painting. What is particularly nice is the reflection of the painting in the floor. And that painting was one that I connected with. The second photo is interesting to me because the woman is the same color as the painting. There is so little detail visible in that brown painting.
This photo happened in an interesting way. I was looking at this painting from a distance, and I realized the woman in front of me dressed in black was blending into the dark painting! I was about to take the photograph, and she walked away. I thought about it for a couple of minutes, then went over to the woman and asked if she would come back and stand in front of the painting again. She said "yes" which was nice. This is very subtle and very dark, but that is what it looked like in real life.
And this is one of the paintings as it appeared in person. Really dark, and very little detail, except for the band through the center of the painting. I have a lot of work to do before I begin to understand more about these works, and this artist. Please click on each of the images, and you will be able to see some of the subtle detail in each of the paintings.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:23 PM
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
It was two days after the election on our trip up to Rochester. For long stretches of the trip, Liz and Amy, in the back seat, were connected with their cell phones to the outside world. They were looking for reactions to the election, from the twitterverse to the news stories and columnists. We were all in shock (and still are, of course) so it was helpful to hear what people were thinking and saying and writing. What was different was that when Kathy and I are in the car, we are usually shut off from the world, and that's usually just fine.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Here are a couple of photographs from Mount Hope Cemetery, in Rochester, NY. It is an astounding landscape and an absolutely beautiful place. It was founded in 1838, and consists of 196 acres, and is the permanent resting place of over 350,000 people. There are hills and valleys everywhere. The land here was once covered with one or two miles of ice and when the ice melted, the water carved the landscape and left deposits of soil. I worked in Rochester for two years, and I cannot believe I have never been here before!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Monday, November 14, 2016
It was amazing how the party evolved, with aunts and uncles and cousins and children gathering in the different rooms of the house, and how conversations migrated from place to place, and different people moved from one conversation to another. Meanwhile these two cousins were having fun at the piano, and the younger cousin was looking up to the older cousin as she watched her play. It was a wonderful thing to watch.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:35 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2016
On Saturday Liz and Amy wanted to go to the grave of Susan B. Anthony, who is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, in Rochester, NY. She lived in Rochester from the age of 25. Liz and Amy and Kathy were really moved while standing by her grave, realizing that Susan B. Anthony spent her entire life in the service of women's issues.
This is a closer view of the gravestone. Notice that there are some "I Voted"stickers on the stone. On election, there were lines of people who wanted to visit the grave - reportedly 12,000 people stood in line to see the grave! And they completely covered the grave stone with stickers, except where the name was. The staff removed the stickers and now other stickers have been placed there.
Here is a photograph of Amy and Kathy and Liz at the grave.
So I know that the people have good intentions in putting the stickers on the grave stone, and on this brass plaque. But here is the problem as explained to me by one of the staff. The stickers have adhesive on them, and the marble stone absorbs some of the adhesive. The cemetery staff can't use just anything to remove the glue, because the marble will absorb the solvent, and that can damage the marble. So they will have to consult specialists on how to clean the stone without damaging it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:37 PM
Saturday, November 12, 2016
This was a really big day for Jo Anne. It's her birthday, and it is a landmark day - She turned 39, I think it is! Here she is in all her glory with her grand children. It was an amazing day with family visiting from all over, including Liz and Amy who flew in from California. Brett came with his family and he had to drive more than 30 minutes to get there! It was a day of non-stop conversation among all the adults and the cousins. A magical family day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Friday, November 11, 2016
We drove up to Rochester today with Liz and Amy, for Jo Anne's birthday party tomorrow. Along the way we stopped to visit a friend of Liz's who works as an project archivist for the Cornell University Library. She gave us a short tour of the library and I happened to notice this view of the rotunda looking down two floors. I love the light in this, and the interesting colors.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:05 PM
Thursday, November 10, 2016
We had a great program at our astronomy club last night. Stan Honda came and did a talk and slideshow about the work he did covering the launches of the Space Shuttle! He attended 11 launches! He showed photographs of the camera setups he used. The cameras that were closest to the launch had to be mounted in protective boxes on tripods, triggered automatically by sound. Stan could photograph from 2 or 3 miles away, using long lenses on cameras he could trigger himself. His photographs were just spectacular! He always draws a crowd when he speaks.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:48 PM
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Liz and Amy are here! They flew in to New York today and then in a day or so we all drive to Rochester for Jo Anne's birthday party. Anyhow, our back room was finished last fall, and Liz had not seen it until today. She loves the room, of course, and really loved the gas fireplace. So much so, that she wanted a selfie with the fireplace in the picture. So here it is! Cute, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:16 PM
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
I was out on my bike ride today, and slowly working my way up the hill where that dog bit me a while ago. I went by a flaming red Japanese Maple, similar to the one on my front lawn. For some reason I didn't stop right away, but then I caught this view through the tree, and immediately turned around. I only had my iPhone with me, but that was all I needed. I did two different views from different parts of the tree, but this one, where I was able to look through the tree is just spectacular. Best fall color image so far!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:33 PM
Monday, November 7, 2016
Every Fall I wait for our Hickory tree out front, to change color. This change is a bellwether of how the temperatures will be after the color change. When I am painting the house, I have to stop when the temperatures are no longer above 50 degrees. The color change of the tree signals that change. But besides all that, when the Hickory turns yellow, it is simply spectacular! It is a joy to behold, and the upstairs front rooms, are bathed in a golden light!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
Sunday, November 6, 2016
I haven't been out to the North Fork of Long Island in the daylight in a long time. I usually drive out to go observing, and it is dark when I arrive at Custer Institute, and it is dark when I leave at 1 AM to drive home. So it was a treat to be driving in the daylight, in the morning, on the way to the Astronomy Jamboree. I drove by this scene and it grabbed me, so I turned around and came back and spent some time photographing it. Lovely light, and such an interesting landscape. I particularly like the stalks of the grape vines, and their squiggly dark shapes coming out of the ground. Please click on the image to see it larger.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Saturday, November 5, 2016
Today was the Custer Institute Astronomy Jamboree, and the keynote speaker was my good friend and mentor in astronomy, Sam. Here is he setting up his computer for the talk. He first talked about the history of the Hayden Planetarium and how he first visited it with his dad as a young boy. On that visit he first realized that astronomy was to be his calling. He would later teach at the Hayden. It was a very moving talk. Then he talked about the upcoming total eclipse of the sun this coming August. He talked with such enthusiasm about the beauty and the magic of the eclipse, that I doubt that anyone who heard the talk would consider not seeing the eclipse!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:37 PM
Friday, November 4, 2016
This is a landscape photograph taken from the site of the Discovery Channel Telescope. It is at an altitude of 7,740 feet, so the landscape is quite different from what we expect at sea level. I just think that the colors are beautiful. I really love the subtlety of the colors of the plants in the red soil. And the view to the horizon is just amazing.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Thursday, November 3, 2016
So my friends and I drove to the Grand Canyon. I have been here once before. Twenty years ago my sister Joan, and Kathy and I brought my mom here, because she had always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. So it was fun to see it again, even for a couple of hours.
We got there in the middle of the day, which doesn't make for very interesting light, unfortunately. But it is a spectacular place in any light.
We ended up parking near the El Tovar hotel, one of the classic grand old National Park hotels. We mainly stayed within a short walk of the hotel, and walked along the rim. I had to stop and photograph the canyon every 25 feet!
Some people really seemed to enjoy the canyon, and some people appeared not to be paying attention.
And of course everyone wanted their picture taken with the canyon in the background. So I set up the self timer on my camera and we posed for a picture. Whoops! I never made it in time!
I saw this old timer sitting on the edge of the canyon, and after quietly taking his picture, went up to him and asked if he was part of a performance or something. He asked what I meant. So I said, "Well, you are not dressed like the rest of us!" Then he said: "Well, I am a train robber!" "When the train comes to the Grand Canyon, we stop the train, and board it and rob people." Or pretend to. He looks as if he is left over from years ago. He said it does it because it is nice to get out of the house from time to time.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:57 PM
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
I still have some photographs from my Flagstaff trip that I will post eventually. I arrived on Thursday night, late, and we had most of Friday before the convention started on Friday evening. Two friends asked what I was going to do Friday, and I had no ideas. They said they were driving to the Grand Canyon, which one of them had never seen. It is only an hour and a half away from Flagstaff, which surprised me. I didn't know it was that close. We stopped for lunch in Tusayan, just short of the Canyon to have pizza. This car was parked outside, and I just had to take a picture of it. I thought it was cute. I assumed that the design was vinyl or something, that could eventually be removed. Instead, I discovered it was spray painted on the hood! And the masking was not well done - paint had ended up under the masking tape! So it's there for good!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
We were a bit late this year with making our Jack-O-Lantern. We bought it on Sunday, the last day the pumpkin patch was open, at a nearby church. How cool is this - for years the church has partnered with the Navajo Nation and a trailer truck travels from Arizona full of pumpkins which the Methodist church sells, and splits the money with the people who grew the pumpkins. I love Halloween and I would never miss the chance to carve a punkin'. I think you can search for the word "pumpkin" and see how different my Jack-O-Lanterns are from year to year. Not much, I think. But they are such wonderful things, aren't they, and they never fail to make me smile.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:51 PM