Thursday, March 31, 2016
I was sitting at a red light, and then suddenly noticed that the jeep in front of me had a purple peace sign on the spare tire cover. Then it hit me that I hadn't been aware of seeing any peace signs recently. Then I began to wonder about the origins of the symbol. You might be interested to know the peace sign was originally designed in 1958 for the British nuclear disarmament movement by Gerald Holtom. The symbol is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters "N" and "D," standing for "nuclear disarmament". In semaphore the letter "N" is formed by a person holding two flags in an inverted "V," and the letter "D" is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. Superimposing these two signs forms the shape of the centre of the peace symbol. Amazing, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
For a telescope to work at its best, the optical elements must be precisely aligned. This includes multiple mirrors within the telescopes. This alignment is called "collimation." So tonight one of the experts on collimation in our club gave a talk about how the complicated process works, and then we had two different types of telescopes set up indoors, so people could see what a perfectly aligned telescope's image looks like, and how a badly aligned scope's image appeared. Here one member of the club adjusts the focus knob as he watches the image change.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:53 PM
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
While driving around Geneva with Kathy and Vince and Joanne, we happened to drive by the famous Smith Observatory. I had actually forgotten it was here. It was built in 1888, along with a house for the astronomer, Dr. William R. Brooks, who was mainly noted as being one of the most prolific discoverers of new comets of all time. He was attracted to Geneva by businessman William Smith who built both the house and the observatory for him. Dr. Brooks Brooks went on to become Director of the Smith Observatory at Hobart College, Geneva, New York, where he lectured and undertook his astronomical research. His observations at the Smith Observatory produced 16 new comets.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:02 PM
Monday, March 28, 2016
Today was the day we drove home from Rochester. The forecast was for rain all day, which I was not looking forward to. But, wonder of wonders, we started out on an overcast day with no rain, ran through some light rain for perhaps twenty minutes, and then had only overcast skies and dry roads for the entire rest of the trip. And what skies! There were stunning layers of silver gray overcast clouds from overhead all the way to the horizon. I could have stopped a dozen times to take photographs, but I didn't.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:05 PM
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Saturday, March 26, 2016
I was at the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection the other day and they have, in addition to their spectacular library of books, among other things, some works of art, both paintings and sculptures. This is one of the sculptures that I had not seen before. It is an arrangement of ampersands cast in iron. Not surprisingly t's called "Ampersands" and it's by the sculptor William Tighe. I think that is is a really brilliant sculpture. The Ampersand is probably my favorite character in a typeface. There are some astounding ampersands out there in different typefaces, if you go looking. I think that each one of these pieces is about a foot tall.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:08 PM
Friday, March 25, 2016
We drove an hour southeast today, to Geneva, NY where Kathy and Vince, and their brother Tom and sister Elaine were born and raised. We drove around town, and saw the schools they attended, and the homes where their friends lived, and the changes in the town. We came to see the graves of Eleanor, and Arthur, their mom and dad, and Elaine, their sister. It was a cold, windy and overcast day, and for some reason seemed appropriate for visiting the cemetery, on this Good Friday.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
I was out at the campus of my alma mater today, RIT, and it is a place where I never fail to find interesting subjects. Usually it is about the architecture of the campus. But today I was stopped short by these Birch trees planted next to one of the buildings. They are shedding a layer of their bark at this time of year, and I had never seen this before. Please click on the picture to see it in detail, and to see the shedding bark. I am not sure if that means that these are a very specific type of Birch, or not. Paper Birch comes to mind, but I will rely on you experts out there to set me straight.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
I was at the George Eastman Museum yesterday, which is located on Park Avenue in Rochester - the premier address in the city. When I left I drove around the block and just took a random street to get back to Park Avenue. The street was Portsmouth Terrace and I spotted the tile roof of this house from several houses away. This is a stunning roof, with all the gables, and terra cotta tiles everywhere - not only on the roof, but on the siding of the house as well. It was stunning to see, even though it needs a bit of maintenance. I have never seen anything like this before.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:34 PM
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
On our trip upstate yesterday we left light snow on Long Island, and drove into sunshine and blue skies. For a while at least. Then up around Ithaca, we ran into snow squalls which came and went as we drove. The snow squalls were no big deal to drive through, and it was quite pretty as we looked into the distance and the landscape started to disappear as if in a fog. Kathy wanted to drive around her home town of Geneva, NY when we passed through, and I caught this pedestrian hunched over crossing the street in another snow shower.
Monday, March 21, 2016
What a difference eight years make... None! I first posted a photograph of this leaning silo in Catatonk, NY on Route 96, when there was snow on the ground. Today I drove by it again, and stopped to take a picture of it. I was curious to see what has changed. I can't see any difference, except my point of view. It is astounding to me that this silo is still standing. It seems so well built, I am puzzled why it tilted in the first place.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:30 PM
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Today is Palm Sunday, and the usual order of the Mass changes. The Priest and Deacon and the Eucharistic ministers begin by walking from the rear of the church down to the altar in the front, as parishioners, who have been given palms, wave them as the procession proceeds. The people near us had time to take some of their palms and fold them into crosses before the service began. I thought the picture would be better if everyone was waving the full length palms. Oh well.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:16 PM
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Three friends and I went to a grammar school last night for an astronomy program for some bright young students. We each brought a different kind of telescope and the first part of the evening was about us explaining how our telescopes worked. One member of the group spoke about binoculars. Then, with great luck, the cloudy skies dissipated and we were able to view the moon and Juipter and its moons. The kids were thrilled, and asked lots of great questions. It was a very rewarding evening.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
Friday, March 18, 2016
This is a "deck shot." That means the camera was on the deck, or the ground. A very easy thing to do, by the way, with my little SONY RX100 II camera. The new camera has an articulating LCD screen on the back that can be tilted flat so that I can look down at the top of the camera and see what the lens is seeing. Very cool. Oh, about the "Jonquils." I was on a fashion shoot years ago at Old Westbury Gardens with Edie Smith, my all time favorite fashion producer and writer. She suggested I put one of the models "over by the Jonquils." "Jonquils?" I asked. "Where are they?" She pointed over at the Daffodils! Every time I see Daffodils, I think of Jonquils and think of Edie, which recalls so many wonderful projects that we worked on together.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:50 PM
Thursday, March 17, 2016
I love this photograph! Back in August I mentioned that I had volunteered to do some photographs of the William Cullen Bryant home, Cedarmere, for a brochure that my friend Bob was writing the text for. It was really great to spend a day in this famous house, dragging all my big electronic flash units around to light everything that I wanted to photograph. The secret, of course is to make the photograph look as if it was not lit. I love this picture for its design, but also for the four light sources that can be seen in the image. Can you find them all? They are not accidental.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:20 PM
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
This was a test. By the time I went out looking for a photograph, there were clouds, so the light was very flat - no sparkle from direct sunlight. So I went looking for buds. There were no obvious ones immediately visible. I went over to my favorite tree, and was surprised to see these very tiny red buds on the tips of branches. Each of these buds is only 1/8th of an inch long! I still wish I had some sunlight to make the photograph a bit more interesting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
OK, so I thought that "mano a mano" meant "man to man." How dumb am I! It means "hand to hand" as in combat, as in a fight to the death. Well, that's not what is happening here. Outside the door is Grace's brother, the tabby cat. Inside the door is Sam, who was nursed with her in New Jersey. So this is two guys face to face. The tabby cat is a beautiful cat, and the least afraid of all the feral cats. Part of me wants to bring him in and add him to the collection, but that is out of the question. So we feed him and his mother and sister when they come by which is not that often. What makes my head spin is wondering what's in the minds of these two cats. Sam has never been outside, and the tabby cat has never been indoors. Such different lives.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:36 PM
Monday, March 14, 2016
In May of 2001 they built a ferry terminal in Glen Cove, where commuter ferries would take people to Manhattan.. The building was made out of white plastic, and located on a bulkhead near the harbor. The fast ferry was water jet powered, and it was run by one of the Indian tribes in Connecticut. The ferry suspended service in November 2001, only six months later. The abandoned building was still there in 2009, which is when I took the picture below. So for the last year or so they have been building a modern new ferry terminal that is a real building. They have put in new bulkheads and sidewalks and fences and all kinds of new aluminum gangways and docks. The terminal is almost done, which is why I went over there after reading about it, to see the whole thing. It was mainly funded by the Federal Government, and cost about 15 million dollars. According to the story in the paper, they do not have a ferry operator yet. My question is, if the last ferry service didn't make it, what is there about this new service that will make it successful, where the last one wasn't. I promise one thing, when it starts running, I will make it a point to ride the ferry once to experience it. I wish I had done that before.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
I went into the new back room late in the day yesterday and saw this triangle of light on the wall - the last light of day before sunset. I had to run into the living room to grab my camera, because the sun moves so fast that it could easily move behind the branch of a tree outside and the light would go away, just like that. So I got it!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:27 PM
Saturday, March 12, 2016
About a year ago I bought a new Parker fountain pen from a store in London, England. The problem was that when I used it, it was "scratchy" instead of smooth as silk. So I set it aside. Recently I discovered that pen nibs can be "tuned up" by specialists to make them write properly. Several days ago there was a story in Newsday about the Long Island Pen Show this weekend. So off I went. This is a photograph of a woman about my age, who "tunes up" fountain pen nibs, and she is considered one of the best around. She is working on someone else's pen, using a very fine motorized polishing wheel. Then she uses other extremely fine abrasive cloths to finish the work. Look at her hands! This work is really hard on the hands. They are battered and ink stained, but the mark of a superb craftsman. I had my pen fixed at another booth, (because I just happened to end up there first) and now it writes perfectly!
Friday, March 11, 2016
This is a landscape I did right after we had some rain, and when it was still a bit colder. I was trying to do a different kind of landscape. I think the only thing that made this picture worth taking was the puddle of water in the foreground, that was reflecting the sunset sky in the background. It is a large part industrial, and I am still not sure this is one of the great ones, but I did find it interesting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:17 PM
Thursday, March 10, 2016
This is Grace, inside the house, the kitten who was abandoned by her mother. The mother cat had five kittens all together. So we saved Grace, and of the other four kittens, there are two survivors, as far as we know. Perhaps one or two of them were taken in by neighbors - that's our hope. In this photograph, Grace is looking out at her two surviving siblings, who we feed from time to time, and her mother comes by as well. So the really big question for us is, when she looks out at the other cats, is there any imprinting in her brain, that tells her that those cats are her mother, and brother and sister? Really interesting question, don't you think?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
When I went to the planetarium tonight for our meeting, I was surprised to find some other people there. Recently, one of the meeting rooms in the building has been completely repainted, and then a big semicircle and other circles appeared on the walls. And then one evening the semicircle was painted as the surface of the Sun. Tonight these two women had completed the planet Saturn and have just about finished the planet Jupiter. I asked if I could do a photo of them, and they were fine with that, even when I suggested using their arms to pretend to hold the planet. Where I failed, was that I didn't ask their names. Duh! And I am not sure if they worked at the planetarium, or are volunteers. Not a good reporting job!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:43 PM
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
The Walt Whitman Mall is a couple of miles up the road from where I used to work, and I would visit it for shopping, back in the day. I haven't been there in almost a year. They have been refurbishing the mall, and particularly the exterior, for perhaps the last five years. I stopped by the mall today to look at something in the Apple store. I was stunned when I came around the corner after parking my car, and found this beautiful bronze statue of Walt Whitman. The home where Whitman was born, in 1819 is about half a mile down the road, thus the name of the mall. It is a beautiful statue and it was wonderful to see that they have installed it at the mall. The problem of photographing it, is that if I photograph him from the front, then there is the confusing background of windows on one of the buildings. Thus, I chose to make this a silhouette.
Monday, March 7, 2016
On my harbor walk I went by a few boatyards along the way, and all I saw were wall-to-wall masts. The boatyards really pack the boats in for the off season. The masts look like picket fences! I experimented at several different locations, trying to find the most dramatic photo. I think that this one is it. Oh, The title "Two Years Before the Masts" makes no sense at all, by the way. I was just desperate for a title.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Sunday, March 6, 2016
I went walking with my camera down along the Glen Cove waterfront. They are building a brand new ferry terminal (more on that later) to replace the inflatable ferry terminal that was there for a few years, along with a high-speed ferry operated by a group from Connecticut, but that ultimately went out of business. Anyhow, this view from the Glen Cove side is looking across the channel to the Sea Cliff side where this is all that remains of steel bulkheading that has been like this for years. I was composing the picture and realized that it looked as if three pairs of eyes were looking at me. I thought it made a picture.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:29 PM
Saturday, March 5, 2016
So I am working on a really interesting project. There was a fascinating presentation at the Antique Telescope Society Convention in San Jose about an amateur astronomer in Germany in the mid-18th century who did drawings of sunspots for nearly fifty years! The short version of the story is that a professor at Stanford University is trying to "calibrate" the amateur's drawings to more modern observations. He had hoped that ATS members with antique telescopes could do observations. No one with an antique volunteered, so my friend John in Magdalena came up with the idea for two of us to build modern versions of an antique telescope and make the observations. John has been doing drawings for two months now. This is my brand new "antique" - an octagonal tube telescope made from Philippine Mahogany. It only has a one inch lens in the front, however, which is really small for a telescope. Today I made my first sunspot drawing! It is really exciting to be part of of such an interesting project.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:00 PM
Friday, March 4, 2016
This stunning model railroad layout has been constructed by my friend and former work colleague Michael. He left the paper about 9 months after I did, and this has been his project during retirement. It is absolutely astounding to see in person! The incredible detail is beyond imagining. When showing me details of individual buildings, Michael would refer to neon signs on specific buildings that he knew of in Brooklyn and Queens, and that he reproduced in his new city. And the cool thing is that he can change the lighting so that it goes from day to night.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Here is a conclusion which I just reached - if I had taken ONE good photograph last night, then I would only have posted one photograph here. Instead, I am posting five photographs, to make up for the fact that I don't have one great shot. Oh well. So we had a program last night where members brought their favorite telescopes and gave a brief presentation about why they loved their particular instruments. We had telescopes wall-to-wall, and it was a terrific evening.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:52 PM
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Because it was a beautiful day with blue sky and sunshine, I decided to go out and look for photographs. I was successful. The wind was howling down by the water, and there were whitecaps everywhere. Fortunately it was not below freezing. I spent some time at this point trying different locations, and different kinds of waves depending on where I was shooting from. Be sure and click on this to see all the whitecaps in the distance.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:15 PM
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
I finally had a chance to try reading in the new back room. It was chilly, so I started a fire - that involves all of pushing one button on the remote control of the gas fireplace! The room is cozy and the couch is really comfortable, and it is nice to read in a quiet room. The book, by the way, is "On The Beach" by Nevil Shute, published in 1957. It is the story of the end of life on Earth after a nuclear war. It is a riveting book. The New York Times called On the Beach "the most haunting evocation we have of a world dying of radiation after an atomic war." The Economist has called it "still incredibly moving after nearly half a century."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:18 PM