Monday, August 21, 2017
Today was an astounding day, and richly rewarding. Another member of our astronomy club and I went to a college research station out in Sayville, and we set up four telescopes between us. We had about 200 visitors, both adults and children and everyone was amazed to watch the sequence of the moon moving across the sun. Everyone had such a great time, and they were so thankful that we were there with our telescopes for them. I also photographed the eclipse for the newspaper I used to work for, and they will be publishing some of the photos that look like this tomorrow. What a day!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:27 PM
Sunday, August 20, 2017
I have been testing my telescopes, my telescope mount, and my cameras in preparation of the eclipse. I will be going to a college marine research station with another member of our club, where we will be setting up four telescopes to show visitors the partial solar eclipse. Someone called from the paper, and wants me to shoot the eclipse for them as well! I am going to be a busy bee. We are expecting more than 200 visitors for the four hour event. What surprised me when I was shooting the sun, was that the sun has been nearly blank for nearly a month now. and all of a sudden there are a whole bunch of spots that developed over several days. I count about eight spots in this image! I wonder how many will be left for the eclipse tomorrow.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Saturday, August 19, 2017
When I am desperate for a blog photo, I usually head to the harbor. I can usually find some kind of picture down there. In this case, I was not disappointed. I saw some swans swimming and put a long lens on the camera and started shooting. What finally made the photo was when a boat went by and the wake, from some distance across the harbor, made these waves, which reflected the sky, or didn't, resulting in black and white stripes.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:34 PM
Friday, August 18, 2017
You will have to forgive me for always photographing the cats all the time. But they are so cute, especially when they sleep upside down, which they do a lot. This is Grace and I have photographed her so many times with her paw over her eyes. She does that a lot. What makes this picture fun is the little hook in her tail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:18 PM
Thursday, August 17, 2017
I received an email request on our club website from a Rabbi looking for someone to talk about the eclipse and what causes it. My talk would go along with a talk that the Rabbi was putting together about references to eclipses in the Torah and in Jewish Scriptures. I agreed to do a talk because I wanted to hear her talk! I was not disappointed, and I found a really enthusiastic audience for my talk and demonstration. I brought a golf ball, and a ball bearing painted white to represent the moon. Here the Rabbi is taking questions from the audience.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:16 PM
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
We had an observing session tonight. Four of us set up our telescopes and we had a new visitor as well. For some observing sessions we have had as many as twenty or more visitors. It was such a surprise to have one new person tonight. Here one of our members is showing her a Planisphere, which is a map of the skies showing the stars and constellations. The skies were not all that dark because of light pollution and moisture in the air. So she got to see Jupiter, and Saturn and one globular cluster in our telescopes, but most of the galaxies were obscured. She was absolutely blown away by the idea of seeing the planets with her own eyes. It is fun to have such an enthusiastic visitor.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:10 PM
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
On the way back from the hardware store (where I bought some more paint) it started to rain lightly. As I drove along the harbor I could see this yacht in the distance, and through the rain it looked like a ghost ship. So I parked the car, grabbed my camera with a long lens, and got down to the waterline. The ship was there, but not so ghostly anymore, because the rain had stopped. I took the picture anyway because it still looks a little bit ghostly, right?
Monday, August 14, 2017
I am working on preparation for painting the kitchen walls, sparkling and sanding the walls, and priming them. While standing around cooking some meat on the barbecue I happened to look over at the garage window and the shingles. Yikes! The garage is beginning to look like one of those abandoned farm houses that I am so fond of photographing! More work in store for me!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:07 PM
Sunday, August 13, 2017
For those of you who have been following my photographs of the new countertops which have been installed our kitchen, we have now had new white tile installed. The result is just stunning! The work is so beautifully done! It was funny, after the new quartz countertops were installed, the kitchen didn't look all that different. It took the installation of the tile to make it look like a new kitchen! Now to paint the walls.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Guess where we went for an ice cream cone after dinner. As I got out of the car I first saw the colors in the sky and then I noticed the McDonald's sign and at the same time I saw the utility pole with the power lines. I just liked the combination of all those elements. Then I started trying to think of a title for the shot. The words "post-industrial" came to me for no reason, which is strange because I have no idea what that term means. So I come home and look the term up, and get this: "In sociology, the post-industrial society is the stage of society's development when the service sector generates more wealth than the manufacturing sector of the economy." So it's about hamburgers instead of heavy machinery! I mean, where did that idea come to me? The human brain is magic!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:20 PM
Friday, August 11, 2017
When I took the buyout in March of 2008, the photo department had a going away party for me and one other staffer who was leaving at the same time. We had dinner at a hamburger joint with a great turnout of people, which was really nice. They took up a collection, and the other staffer and I each were presented with a card and $168. That amount was just enough for me to buy these bicycle shoes and I thought they were a good choice as I would be reminded each day that I rode, that I was no longer working. They are getting pretty beat up these days, but they still work. I have an odometer on my bike, and I passed a milestone of 7000 miles of cycling with these shoes the other day! Wow!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:05 PM
Thursday, August 10, 2017
I went to Manhattan today because I was invited by Stan and Ann to accompany them on a Subway Art Tour. Most of the people in the group were the same people who attended the Noguchi Museum, and they are a group of some docents at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I rode the new Second Avenue Subway for the first time, and our tour included four of the new stations on the new line. This first photograph of the group is taken in front of a self-portrait of artist Chuck Close, done as a mosaic.
Here is another Chuck Close portrait of a woman, done in mosaic.
And this is a portrait of Lou Reed, done with ceramic tiles that have been created from a photograph.
And this is our guide, Phil, and one of the artworks in a different subway station.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:55 PM
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
We have had our new countertops for several weeks now, and today the tile guys showed up to begin installing the tiles on the wall behind the counters. I liked this shot because the workman brought his own cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee with him to the job. In the shot below, Ken, the other workman is using a sponge to clean up some of the tile adhesive. What's interesting is that this is Italian tile, and it doesn't come with the little nubbins along the edges to create the correct spacing, which American made tile does. So they install the tile, doing the spacing by eye, and then use these little tiny wedges to keep the tiles in place after they have been pressed into the adhesive.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:58 PM
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
This story started out as a picture I took of a hole in the ground over in the next town, and I explained that there had been talk of building a park on the spot, but it was not to be. Then I showed you a photograph of steel being erected on the site after they poured a foundation. As I passed by the other day, they were erecting trusses for the roof of the building. I snapped a quick photo at a red light, because I loved all the angles present in the photograph. The title, by the way, is the title of a novella by J. D. Salinger.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:36 PM
Monday, August 7, 2017
This is Sam, the upside-down kitty. I swear he spends half his life on his back. If you come near him, he rolls over so you can pet his tummy. He sometimes even sleeps upside down. He is a n absolutely a beautiful cat, with his fine, gray fur, and cute as a button and endlessly fascinating, as are all our cats!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:44 PM
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Kathy has a friend who is a musician, and she and her two sons were involved in a production of "The Addams Family Musical" at a church in Glen Cove. So we went to see the show this afternoon. It was an amazing show with great production values, and some amazing student actors and singers. We were astounded at how good the show was! I decided to take some photographs, but only from my seat - I didn't get up and move around as I would have done if I was shooting a job for someone. So my photographs aren't that great, but I think this in an interesting shot. Oh, and we had never seen this musical comedy, and it is really funny!
Saturday, August 5, 2017
I bought two bottles of shampoo and when I came home, I set them on the kitchen counter. Sunlight was shining in the window, and suddenly there was this bright yellow flash as I moved one of the bottles. So I started experimenting. The bottles in cross section are in the shape of lenses, and this is what the shampoo lenses do to the sunlight. Cool, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:21 PM
Friday, August 4, 2017
"The Lamp" you say? Clearly that is a dress form. Well, actually it is not. I thought so too when I first saw it, but then when I stopped to photograph it, I saw the white cord coming out of the bottom and realized that it is made out of translucent blue plastic. It stopped me cold, seeing it out at the curb like this. It just seems incongruous photographed against the background of the lawn and the plants in the garden. It's in perfect condition, so I don't know why it was thrown out. The good news is that it apparently was picked up by someone before the garbage men came!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:09 PM
Thursday, August 3, 2017
This is an astounding installation in one of the largest galleries at Mass MoCA. What we are seeing are twelve thousand eye-dazzling spinners hanging on 1,500 thin cables from floor to ceiling! Each of the spinners create constantly changing patterns - and some are quite dizzying. As you look more closely, you start to notice spinners surrounding images of handguns. The name of the installation is "UNTIL" as in "Innocent Until Proven Guilty." The artist's work began as a protective response to violence, particularly within the black community, and the recent deaths of African Americans in the United States.
As you wander the internal pathways of the "forest" you see the spinners in different light, and they appear quite different when they are back lit as they are here. The installation is by the artist Nick Cave. Please click on the images so you can see all of this in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:01 PM
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
So a woman who lives in Maine, and who has 626 Facebook friends decided to go around the world and photograph them all! The results are on display at Mass MoCA and they are amazing. She has done an enormous number of wonderful portraits of individuals, children and adults, and families. She was able to actually photograph 420 of them and each of the portraits is on the wall. On sheer material hanging from the ceiling are images of Post It notes where people were asked to talk about what a real friend is..
This is a close-up of some of the portraits that were on the huge wall display that stretched the length of the gallery. The idea is really amazing, and the variety of the photographs such a joy to see.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:04 PM
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Yesterday when we were all walking around Port Jefferson, I saw this motorcycle parked at the curb. I saw all the chrome and realized it would make an interesting photograph. While I was taking the pictures, I heard Jenny behind me say to someone: "Is that your motorcycle?" So after I finished with the picture, I went over to talk to the owner. He was such a nice guy and really interesting to talk to. We talked about motorcycles, and riding across the United States, which he has done a few times, and sailing and cycling. All this talking was going while the women were in the cutsie shops on the street, so I stayed out of the shops and had a great conversation!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Monday, July 31, 2017
This is Betsey and Joan, and Joan's daughter Jenny. Betsey and Joan are my sisters, and you always see their comments on the blog. They took the ferry over from Connecticut to spend the day in Port Jefferson, and so I went out to see them and have lunch. We had a nice time hanging out, and met some interesting people that we stopped to talk with. This is a portrait I did outside of this yoga store because it looked as if they were in the jungle.
And this is the Grand Republic, one of the ferries that travels between Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Port Jefferson. I always like to photograph the ferries coming and going when I am around them. The boat is docking, and it is being controlled by the captain, out on the platform to the left, where he has controls for both the engine and the rudder and the underwater thrusters. This is a big boat, as the photograph below shows.
I really love the "jungle" picture above, but thought I would post this photograph below, of all of us together. I saw a family trying to take a picture, and asked if I could do it for them, so that everyone could be included. Then when I was done, I asked if one of them could do this photo of us. Turnabout is fair play!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:29 PM
Sunday, July 30, 2017
I went down to the harbor this evening at sunset. I wanted to find the planet Mercury. You have to wait until the sky darkens perhaps a half hour after sunset. The problem is that the longer you wait for darker skies, the lower Mercury gets to the horizon, and to the haze which can begin to obscure it. I was using big binoculars - 16x70 Fujinons, and I looked for 40 minutes, but never found the planet. But the afterglow of sunset was pretty nice, so I made this photograph of the sky and the water in-between looking for Mercury, so it wasn't a total loss.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:37 PM
Saturday, July 29, 2017
I saw this amazing work of art in one of the large galleries at Mass MoCA. It is a passageway slightly longer than one hundred feet. You can get some idea of its size from the person at the far end. It is a tunnel, lined with canvas and fabric, and then painted with vinyl. And you walk right on the vinyl paint which covers the floor. I was reluctant to enter the tunnel because I would be stepping on the paint, but I watched others walk right in. At the opening end, the colors are shades of blue, almost as if you are underwater.
As you get past the half way mark, the colors start to change to green and brown. The feeling becomes creepy - it is amazing how color can affect our emotions. I kept coming back to this as I spent time in the museum. I would go away, see some other exhibits, and then come back. It is a really unusual work of art, in my experience and it was more powerful than I first expected. The last photograph is a view from the second floor at the end of the gallery looking toward the front of the piece. The artist is Rodney McMillian, and the piece is titled ""a beckoning: we are not who we think we are."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:24 PM
Friday, July 28, 2017
I stay at a wonderful bed and breakfast in Vermont, called the Henry Farm Inn. It is a wonderful old farmhouse with an addition that was added to the back of it a long time ago. All the rooms have wide pine planks for floorboards, and wonderful old doors everywhere. I was sitting alone at breakfast the first day I was there and my plate of eggs and sausage had just been put in front of me, when I noticed the sunlight on this door and this beautiful doorknob. I jumped up, got my camera off my belt and started photographing. Pat, who had just served me breakfast could not imagine what I was doing, instead of eating my breakfast. Of course all of you could explain to her that I am a crazy person when it comes to photographing the world around me!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Thursday, July 27, 2017
So after I photographed the railroad tracks with weeds growing, I continued on to this bridge over the Connecticut River. It is a beautiful piece of engineering, known as a "Pennsylvania Truss Bridge." It was built in 1920 by the American Bridge Company. One source I read said that bridges here have "been carried away, by floods and ice, on the average of once in every ten years." Wow, that is amazing, but of course this bridge has lasted almost a hundred years. Here's the thing, these bridges are expensive to maintain. Way back in my blog you can find a photograph of a bridge, in a post on Sunday, August 17, 2008, near Owego, NY. That truss bridge has been torn down and replaced by a concrete bridge and that is the fate of so many of these engineering marvels. I love the delicate appearance of the truss work as seen from a distance.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:24 PM
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Yeaaaaaa! Amy came to visit! She took the red-eye out of Los Angeles last night, and then when she got to JFK she got on the air train and took it to Jamaica, and then a LIRR train to Glen Head. That means I only had to drive for ten minutes to pick her up. Beats a 90 minute round trip to JFK and back! And it is fun to just hang out and catch up.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:35 PM
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
I stopped in Brattleboro, Vermont on the way up to the convention. I stop there because there is this amazing outdoor store called "Sam's." It is in a huge, multi-story building, and it is so much fun to wander around just to see what's there. After wandering in the store, I decided to wander down to the Connecticut river to see what I could see. On the way I crossed over these railroad tracks, and was taken by how tall the weeds were. And then my next thought was that there haven't been any trains through here in a long time.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Monday, July 24, 2017
So many of you are liable to think that because I am a photographer, I notice a lot of things. I tend to believe that, but this weekend I learned a lesson - sometimes I don't notice stuff. This is the interior of the Vermont Welcome Center, in Guilford. It is just a few miles north of the Vermont State line. I have been stopping here for years now. This particular center was built in 1999 and is designed as a post and beam barn, which pays tribute to Vermont’s agricultural roots. On this particular day I suddenly noticed the huge beams that support the building. I must have seen them in all my other stops but I just don't remember noticing enough to take a photograph of the construction. Most of these beams have the adz marks on them, which is cool. This construction reminds me of my grandfather's barns, which I got to play in as a kid, in Guilford, Connecticut.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:20 PM
Sunday, July 23, 2017
When I am away on a trip I find photographs everywhere. So many that I could post two or three a day. So what you will be seeing for a few days are the"leftovers" from my trip to Vermont. This is a photograph from the Vermont Welcome Center, where I stop every year. They have a new painting on the outside of the building, and when I was there I saw all these people shooting selfies in front of the cow and the horse and the sheep. It is a brilliant idea that someone thought of putting this on the outside of the building, since selfies are all the rage.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:10 PM
Saturday, July 22, 2017
This is one of the reasons we all go to the Stellafane Convention each year. At the right is Alan Ward, of Sudbury, Ontario and his magnificent home made telescope. It is a 6" refractor, made up of three lenses which he fashioned by his own hands, and then he machined the parts for the rest of his telescope. This telescope won two prizes this year, one for optical excellence, and one for the mechanical construction. It is an amazing thing to see, all this polished aluminum! At the left is Al Nagler, founder of Televue, a company which for years has been manufacturing both the absolute best eyepieces, and telescopes, for us in the amateur community. Al is truly a legend in the field of optics.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:26 PM
Friday, July 21, 2017
I made my annual pilgrimage to Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts today, and was once again was inspired and enriched! Mass MoCA and the Getty Center in Los Angeles share a quality, although you would not know it by looking at photographs of the buildings. That quality is that the architecture of the museum is almost as interesting as the artwork it contains! And that is certainly the case here. The first photograph is of a woman looking at some abstract art, and I love the white-on-white chairs and wall, and her being in black was perfect. She walked into the picture and was standing straight, and I shot one frame, and then she shifter her weight to one foot, and there was my photograph. It is as if she was a dancer.
Mass MoCA recently opened an entirely new building which has been refurbished, and their gallery space has increased a huge amount. So much so, that I was exhausted when I stumbled out of there at the end of the day. I did a number of architectural photos, but this is my favorite - a view of windows and sunlight on the floor of the new building.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:22 PM
Thursday, July 20, 2017
I had an amazing day today, for a couple of different reasons. I was at the Hartness House Workshop in Springfield, Mass, for a series of lectures on exoplanets. This is a workshop that takes place a day before the Stellafane Convention starts. So most of the people in this photograph are PhD's doing their post doctoral work. One is from Yale, one from MIT, one from Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. And they are way younger than I am and much smarter! Each of them delivered a lecture on the science and discovery methods of finding exoplanets, to an enthusiastic audience of amateur astronomers. (OK so I will explain here, that these are planets that orbit stars outside our solar system.) The cool thing for me was that I felt I was getting smarter just by being in the same room with all of them! It is wonderful to meet and listen to the next generation of up and coming astronomers. The co-chair of the event thought it would be important to do a group photo. The huge white cement thing in the background is a telescope that was built in 1915, and it is designed to keep the observer warm in the middle of the Vermont winters!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:06 PM