Sunday, April 30, 2017
Now that the weather has become so warm, I am once again eating my lunch in my rocking chair on the front porch. After a winter that seemed tedious it is just delightful to enjoy the warmth of spring. It is not a fancy lunch - one slice of bread, cut in half, and then some slices of Monterrey Jack Jalapeno cheese! That's it. Oh, and a glass of what I call "Antifreeze." I can no longer abide diet Coke, so I drink diet Mountain Dew, which is exactly the color of automobile antifreeze. Oh, about the picture - for me it is all about light and shadows. Noticed this when I stood up to carry my plate and glass back to the kitchen.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:25 PM
Saturday, April 29, 2017
There is this amazing thing in the lobby of Newhouse 3, which is part of the journalism school at Syracuse University. There are all these displays on the wall with LED's that create scrolling phrases that are quotations from professors and students and who knows who else. When you stop to read them it can be interesting for a minute or so, but then it seems a bit dizzying. There are some wonderful quotes, however. Its just that you need to take them in small doses. If you click on the photo it will enlarge and you can read some of the quotations.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:07 PM
Friday, April 28, 2017
We were at the grocery store just before dinner, and while Kathy was looking at the shrimp, I was paying attention to the whole fish on ice. These bright Red Snapper jumped out at me, because all the other fish are gray, and the way they are arranged made an interesting pattern. The only fish I know how to cook is Salmon, and mostly I grill it, but you have seen the results of my baked Mediterranean Salmon. This fish was so good looking that I have decided I have to buy one, after I have found a recipe for it, of course.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:19 PM
Thursday, April 27, 2017
We were sitting down to dinner at Vince and Jo Anne's in Rochester and I looked out into their backyard. I was first taken by the shadows of the tree branches on the lawn, and then I noticed the blossoms on the tree itself. I was good, and since we just sat down, I took my time eating dinner, and then jumped up and grabbed my camera. Fortunately, it was not too late - the sun was still high enough so that the shadows were still where I could make a good photo. It feels as if Spring has finally arrived!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
I have lost track of how often I have photographed this farmhouse. If you want to have some fun, go to the upper left hand corner of the blog page, and there is a search function. Put "Ovid" in the window and click the magnifying glass. On the way home from Rochester we passed this place once again and I stopped. The house looks worse every time we see it. This time I was attracted by the open door. The front door has always been closed, and I thought that I would go inside if I could.
This is the first room I photographed. I love all that is going on, with the walls going from having wallpaper to spots with no plaster on the lath. I do like the soft light in the room which reveals so much detail. I didn't feel I had much time here, because we were still at the beginning of an eight hour drive, so I worked quickly. I was working intuitively, and didn't spend more than a few seconds composing each photograph. I probably did all these pictures in less than ten minutes. Under other conditions I could have spent a couple of hours, and I would have explored more of the house.
The house is in much worse condition than it appears from the street. Looking up the stairs to the second floor you can see that the roof is mostly gone. I wasn't ready to see if the stairs were safe to climb.
Another interior room in even worse condition. I have no idea why the tires are stored indoors. The lath is coming down from the ceiling.
I thought I would include an overall shot. If you compare this photograph to earlier images (if you do the search) you probably won't see much difference. I thought I would include this for newer readers who may not have seen this site before
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
I took this photograph one night in Syracuse, but the photograph seems appropriate after the rain we had all day today. It was raining there and I wanted to do some night landscapes of the city from my hotel room. Only thing was, the windows in the hotel don't open very far - I was unable to shoot without the window glass in the way. So I decided to just shoot through the window. I experimented with the focus, and found this abstract pattern more interesting than when I focused on the buildings in the distance.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Monday, April 24, 2017
OK, last post for "Drone Week." I just wanted to finish up with a few things. In the photo above, the director of the seminar is photographing a "mini drone." These things are amazing, and you can fly them around indoors, AND they are shooting video as well. Just unbelievable technology!
THIS guy is the man! His name is Matt, and he did the largest amount of teaching over the three days. He really knows his stuff, and has an incredible amount of energy, and has a wonderful sense of humor. After coaching us several times on the answer to one of the questions he said: "If you get this question wrong, I will take your graduation certificate and set fire to it to punish you!" Hysterical stuff that made the learning so much more enjoyable.
There were some unexpected pleasures during the three days of our seminar. The woman touching the drone is a chemistry professor at Syracuse University, and she is working with three students on a project to sample water quality by using a drone. The students have built the drone, and are doing the coding for the sampling and the navigation software! It was inspiring to see the brilliance of all of them working on this project!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:15 PM
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Wow, the drone school is all done! I am exhausted in a wonderful way. As Lilly Tomlin was fond of saying, "It was jam packed and fun-filled!" There was so much information to learn but it was taught by really wonderful instructors. From the left is Matt, the main instructor, and then three drone pilots, and then the seminar director, and then the woman who kept it all organized. What a great group! What a seminar! It was such a rewarding experience.
And this is another drone portrait - it is the entire class, photographed on the astroturf in the Manley Field House, gathered around the giant orange "S" which stands for "Syracuse."
I have just realized that I have been remiss... All these posts during "Drone Week" and I haven't once showed you a drone! Duh! This is the DJI Phantom 4 which was one of the drones I got to fly. You can see underneath the machine the camera that it comes equipped with. The camera does both still and video images, and with the ability to move across the ground and climb to one or two hundred, the images are astounding when this is used well.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:52 PM
Saturday, April 22, 2017
I got to fly the drones today! After nearly a whole day of classroom work, we headed over to the Manley Field House at 4 PM and learned to fly drones! We had to fly indoors because most of the campus of Syracuse University is underneath the controlled airspace for Hancock International Airport. But the field house is really large, and so we had no problems with six drones flying at once! In the photo above, Al Tompkins, the seminar director and a member of the senior faculty at the Poynter Institute gives me some hands-on help with the controller. (Photo by Jane Tyska, of Oakland, California, one of the participants in the program)
This photo shows one of the six groups of participants on the flight line, with the man in the center flying the drone as the rest of us watch. Get this, the photo of all of us was taken by the camera in the drone!
Friday, April 21, 2017
At last, the secret of my trip can be revealed! I am at a three day conference at Syracuse University called The Drone Journalism Workshop! It is put on by a coalition of journalism organizations. There are about 80 of us, from all over the country, and everyone from students, to photographers, filmmakers and editors at some of the major news organizations. And the presentations and the presenters are just stunning! They warned us - "It is going to be like trying to drink water from a fire hose!" Subjects included FAA regulations, and ethics, and proper operating procedures, and airspace and weather. And we had a presentation from a Google representative who explained all the cool things you can do with Google maps and other Google applications. This was day one and it was astounding. Tomorrow more classroom work, and THEN... Off to the field house and we get to fly drones!
These people are working on an airspace quiz about what class of airspace surrounds a theoretical target down in Atlanta, Georgia.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:28 PM
Thursday, April 20, 2017
So you have noticed that this post is labeled "Drone Week, Part 2." We are getting closer to answering the question you are no doubt asking in your head. I am at Syracuse University, and when I arrived late this afternoon, I went for a walk in the rain to look for a blog post. I saw this building from about half a mile away - it sits on the top of a hill at the south end of University Avenue. The building is called "Hall of Languages" and was the first building built for the university, constructed in 1871. It is stunning to see in person. In the foreground is a sad piece of history - it is the memorial for the 35 Syracuse University students who died in the bombing of PanAm 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. They had spent a semester studying in London.
This is a photograph to celebrate the beauty of rain, and of the cloudy skies that are so much a part of the upstate New York weather. This is looking in the opposite direction of the photograph above.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:12 PM
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Wait! You said this was "Drone Week." Why the tree and the stairway? Stay tuned... GEH - Those letters used to stand for "George Eastman House" but then they changed the name. But I still go there, as I did today. I first went to the GEH in 1960 and so I have been going there for 57 years. Today I saw three exhibits of photographs and a display of historical cameras. Then I went out and walked the grounds and gardens. The grounds never disappoint, in terms of subjects for photographs, and this is one of my favorites from today. I removed the color and gave it a sepia tint, because I thought the forms and shapes are more obvious with the color removed.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:22 PM
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Wait. One picture of a drone, and you are calling this "Drone Week?" I don't get it. Well, stay tuned, and you will... My friends Herm and Mary Jane who I have known since I worked at the Democrat & Chronicle right after college came by to visit. Then we all went off to see their son Ian who works at an advertising agency where he is involved in motion graphics and other things including flying drones for photography. Herm thought I might enjoy talking to Ian and seeing one of the drones. So Ian was wonderful and put the drone together and we took it outside and Ian flew it around. What an amazing machine. First time I was around one of these when they were flying, and it was VERY cool!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:57 PM
Monday, April 17, 2017
This wonderful building is the Danby Town Hall. Danby is a small town about six miles south of Ithaca, NY, located on Route 96. I have driven through this town hundreds of times since 1966. And I have stopped to photograph the building several times over the years. When we came by the other day it was overcast and raining, and the light was soft and perfect for seeing all the architectural details of the building. The marble monument in front of the building is for soldiers who died in the Civil War! Danby was first settled around 1797, and the town was formed in 1811. I have not been able to find out when the town hall was built, however.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:10 PM
Sunday, April 16, 2017
We had a wonderful Easter, and I hope you did too. It started by getting up at 6:30 AM, which was not the most fun, but then we went to 7:30 Mass with Vince and Jo Anne. The service was lovely, and the most striking thing was the stained glass window in the east transept which the sun was shining on, making it a brilliant rainbow of colors. We have visited this church many times before, but have always sat in the nave, so we had never seen the window. It added so much to the Easter service. Afterwards we went to a restaurant for a real breakfast, and back to the house to await the arrival of Chris and Becky for Easter dinner. Then an afternoon of sitting around and enjoying each other's company. A lovely day indeed!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:50 PM
Saturday, April 15, 2017
The landscape of upstate New York can be beautiful in many seasons, and in so many different kinds of weather. We drove up to Rochester today to be with Vince and Joanne for Easter, and then to hang out with them for a week. We had good weather for travel for most of the way, and then ran into some rain showers in Binghamton. The light rain brought with it silver gray clouds which were quite beautiful.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:34 PM
Friday, April 14, 2017
I had a wonderful day yesterday. My sisters Betsey and Joan took the train from Milford, Connecticut to spend the day in Manhattan with their brother. The first thing they wanted to see was the High Line. They had read about it and seen my photographs on my blog and couldn't wait to see it. We took a few hours to walk the entire length of the High Line and stopped for lunch along the way. Then they wanted to see the memorial plaza and the waterfall pools at the 9/11 Memorial. It was a great day of hanging out and exploring Manhattan.
While I was waiting for Betsey and Joan to arrive at Grand Central Station, I decided to walk around looking for blog photographs. I was focusing on the woman with the cellphone photographing the ceiling of the terminal, and was surprised to see how many others in the photograph were looking up as well. They are looking at the spectacular ceiling, which is painted sky blue and has a number of constellations painted on it, and there are light bulbs that show the stars as well. It is worth looking up!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:24 PM
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Today has been a terrible day. I was in the city all day. Kathy was at home and a couple showed up to meet with her. They came in the house and said "Oh you have cats." "There is a white cat lying in the street." Kathy raced out to see, fearing the worst, and it was Momma Kitty, and she was gone - she was apparently hit by a car. She has always been a careful cat, but she did wander into other yards on the block. We think she may have been in the yard across the street, and then the dogs in that house were let out, and she probably panicked and ran into the street. We are sick about her loss. She is a feral cat, of course, so we fed her but worried about her. She got through winter OK, so we were relieved. But we never expected this.
Momma kitty was Grace's mother. Mom abandoned Grace and we saved her. These cute little buggers are Grace's brother and sisters. What is also sad is that they are all gone as well. Until about two months ago, the tiger kitty, second from right, was also coming to our house for food, but he stopped coming. We were unable to capture and neuter the cat to the right of Tiger, and she had a litter of kittens, but they eventually disappeared. We have no idea what happened to the other one.
Here is Momma and two of her longest living kittens, eating on our front door. She always let the kittens eat first when they all came to our door. What a terribly difficult life for all these cats.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
We had a wonderful talk tonight by a professor from Stony Brook University on the history of the geology of Mars. She talked about the different periods of Martian geology and how those periods differed from the geological history of Earth. On the screen behind her are detailed photographs of some Martian surface features that she described in detail. I kid you not, this was really fascinating stuff!
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
One more photo from the astronomy convention. They set up this background and proclaimed it a "Selfie Spot." I can't quite figure out why someone would want this as a background. This convention takes place in a giant field house at a college, and the really interesting background was the convention itself. That's where I did MY selfie... :-) What makes this, in my mind, is the expression on his face.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:50 PM
Monday, April 10, 2017
You might think that at an astronomy convention there would be a lot of geeks. That is absolutely not the case. Just because there are telescopes and cameras and technical discussions of exoplanets, doesn't mean that geeky people go there. Nosireee... Not at this convention! I was wandering the aisles looking at everything and saw these three people posing for a portrait by one of their friends from their astronomy club. Of course I needed to take this picture to prove my point! See, not a geek in sight!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:11 PM
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Yesterday I drove up to the Northeast Astronomy Forum in Rockland County. It is one of the great astronomy gatherings in the world! There is every piece of astronomical hardware on display, and lectures all day from some of the top astronomers in the country. This talk was about something called Dragonfly. Two brilliant astronomer friends came up with an idea to use some off the shelf Canon telephoto lenses for a multi-lens array that functions as a telescope in order to do ultra-low surface brightness astronomy at visible wavelengths.. For you photo fans, they are 400mm f/2.8 lenses at a cost of $10,000 each. They started with a few lenses and then built an array of 24 of these! Now they are up to 48 lenses. The observatory is in New Mexico and they are doing breakthrough work in astronomy with this instrument. You can see the array of 24 lenses in the slide behind the speaker, who is Bob Abraham, of the University of Toronto one of the two principal investigators..
Saturday, April 8, 2017
This is the "New NY Bridge Project to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge." It has been underway for a while. It is a conventional bridge for most of its span, but there is an elevated section for ships to pass under in the center. The section with the tall concrete towers is called a cable-stayed span. They have started adding some of the cables which you can see if you enlarge this photo. This is an amazing project which costs 3.9 billion dollars. Do you think our taxes will be going up?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:34 PM
Friday, April 7, 2017
When Liz was here we took a drive to Bailey Arboretum, in Locust Valley which is nearby. We wandered around the grounds and visited the collection of rescued owls and raptors at the Volunteers for Wildlife center. After we had been there for a while, I happened to discover this tree which is just magnificent. Turns out that it is a "Dawn redwood." The story of this tree is amazing! This species was thought to be extinct for 200 million years, until a small stand was discovered in China during World War II. In 1948 Harvard University sent an expedition to bring back seedlings and gave several to Mr. Bailey, who had a reputation for being able to grow anything. This tree is one of the more than 20 magnificent Dawn Redwoods that can be found at Bailey Arboretum. At 90 feet, it is one of the tallest of it's kind. I photographed this trunk for about 20 minutes and didn't feel that I had quite gotten the shot. Then the sun went behind a cloud, and the diffuse light was perfect! This is far more striking in black & white than it was in color.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:00 PM
Thursday, April 6, 2017
So yesterday's landscape photos were a bit bleak, and maybe even creepy, so here is a more beautiful landscape. I was headed down a back road on the way to a meeting, and saw the long shadows from the setting sun on the grass first. I thought of stopping and then the flooded field flashed by and I jammed on the brakes! We had rain for several days and then today we had some thunderstorms come through with heavy rain, that flooded this cornfield. It was the reflection of the white fence that really grabbed me. I like that this is both beautiful and unusual.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
I mentioned that I was on the way to Sunken Meadow State Park on the north shore of Long Island last week. It was raining off and on, with beautiful gray skies. After I got my stargazing permit, I grabbed my camera and an umbrella and headed over to the wetlands. With no leaves on the trees it felt as if the dramatic silhouettes of the tree trunks were what the picture is all about. The picture below is interesting to me in a different way, and it is hard to explain it's attraction for me. Perhaps it looks like a tree root, rather than a branch. Sometimes these things just feel right.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:17 PM
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
When it was raining cats and dogs all day last Friday, I had to drive out to Sunken Meadow State Park because it was the last day I could buy a Stargazer's permit for 2017. I should have made the trip on a nice day, but I only remembered at the last minute. Driving on the LIE - the Long Island Expressway - reminded me of flying IFR - by "instrument flight rules" when you can't see where you are going while flying in the clouds, and have to rely on instruments.
Monday, April 3, 2017
This is Liz and Pam and Amelia in the kitchen. They are having a FaceTime session with Sarah, who is in Los Angeles. Pam has never met Sarah, so they got to meet on FaceTime for the first time. They were having such a good time, and laughing as they talked. I also shot this photo of Sarah as seen on Liz' phone. This was really fun for us to watch!
Sunday, April 2, 2017
I mentioned in yesterday's post that Liz' friend Pam, and her daughter Amelia came to visit for the day and for dinner. At one point Amelia decided to go exploring and I saw her doing some climbing in the Japanese maple tree so I went out to take a photo. So here she is sitting in my favorite tree. Time for a portrait!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Yesterday, March 31 was Liz' birthday! The three of us went out to dinner to celebrate. Today her long time friend Pam came to visit with her daughter Amelia - more on that in another post. We had a wonderful dinner, and an amazing dessert. The dessert is in the foreground. Kathy made a jelly roll made up of a thin vanilla cake rolled around a layer of mascarpone, and then covered with European chocolate icing. Then a bit of white frosting was drizzled on the top! Man oh man! A wonderful celebration and an astounding feast!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM