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
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
I was driving to Vermont today, and while going through New Haven, Connecticut, I decided to get off I-95 and take a detour before getting on I-91. I was aware of this power plant located in Fair Haven, which was near where I grew up as a kid, until second grade. So I went in search of it, and found it. It was easy to photograph from a distance, but man oh man, would I love to get inside this plant! English Station is an abandoned thermal power plant. It occupies eight acres of land on Ball Island in the Mill River. It was constructed from 1924 to 1929. The plant operated as a coal and oil-fired power plant for United Illuminating until it stopped electricity-generating operations in 1991. Now it is a "brownfield" site. UI sold the plant so some entity, or more accurately, paid someone to take if off their hands. The problem is the ground and water is reportedly polluted with PCB's and heavy metals from the site. The City of New Haven wants the site cleaned up, because it is near neighborhoods with families and children, and UI says they are no longer responsible. What a mess.
PLEASE NOTE - THE WI-FI WHERE I AM STAYING IS A BIT WONKY. IF YOU DON'T SEE A POST FROM ME FOR A DAY OR TWO, YOU WILL KNOW THAT'S THE REASON. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM DEAD... :-)
PLEASE NOTE - THE WI-FI WHERE I AM STAYING IS A BIT WONKY. IF YOU DON'T SEE A POST FROM ME FOR A DAY OR TWO, YOU WILL KNOW THAT'S THE REASON. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I AM DEAD... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:23 PM
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
This is an amazing story! The doorbell rang today, and this couple was standing at the front door. His name is Grover, and her name is Nina. She explained that they were both from Oberlin, Ohio, and that when she was five years old, she lived in our house! They have come east so that she could visit places where she had lived as a child. We invited them in, and showed them the downstairs and our new back room. She told stories of how there was a wood grate in the front hall floor, because the house was heated by a coal furnace! She remembered the coal truck coming to the house and having a coal chute put through the cellar window! She also remembered that the "ice box" was on the back porch, and the ice man would come up the driveway with a big block of ice held on his back with tongs, and the block of ice would be put into the ice box. I almost remember this when I was a child in New Haven. They are a wonderful couple and it was such a nice visit, and we has such a rich conversation. I am thrilled that they came to visit, and that we were at home at that moment!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:34 PM
Monday, July 17, 2017
This was one of the first things I saw after entering Socrates Sculpture Park. The sculpture of the roller-skater was pretty dramatic, and then if that wasn't enough, the incredible collection of portraits in the background adds even more interest. The unfortunate thing is, that after shooting this, since I was surrounded by so many other interesting sculptures, I moved on to do more photographs, and neglected to try and find out who the artists were who did all this work. Please click on the photo to see more details.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:38 PM
Sunday, July 16, 2017
At today's 11:30 Mass we had the baptism of a young girl, which usually happens at an earlier service. It turned out to be a very special experience, because of the priest who baptized the child. He is Father Martin, who is a friend of ours. He took the time to explain the symbolism of the different parts of Baptism, and he had such warmth with both the family and with the congregation during the process. In this photograph, Father Martin is doing readings that proceed the Baptism with water. What's funny is that the young girl is looking in my direction, and her older brother is also looking in my direction. When the family and relatives gathered around the Baptismal font, there was no way I could photograph the actual Baptism, in case you wondered. Please click on the photograph to see the children in more detail. I love their expressions.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:08 PM
Saturday, July 15, 2017
I was driving on a route that I drive a few times a week, so it was a surprise to see this couch sitting on the side of the road underneath a bridge! It was only a few weeks ago that I photographed a red couch put out for the trash in a residential neighborhood. I love that this couch is olive in color because it makes for a monochromatic color scheme. After I photographed the couch, I thought that maybe I need to start a series called "The Abandoned Couch Project." Only in jest, of course. I haven't seen any abandoned couches before this in my ten years of the blog.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:42 PM
Friday, July 14, 2017
I first visited the Isamu Noguchi Museum in Long Island City around 1985. The museum had opened on a limited basis, and I was sent there to do photographs of the museum and sculptures. I was stunned by what I saw! There is a simplicity, and a brilliance to so many of his pieces. Isamu Noguchi worked in stone and marble and wood and metal, among other things. This particular piece, called "Night Wind" stunned me on that day, and its impact has stayed with me ever since. And it appears to be simplicity itself. It is a long piece of polished basalt with a square cross section, with a slight twist to it. But then both ends are left ragged. I needed to put the center of my palm on one of the sharp corners then, and now. I cannot explain that. It was wonderful to see this piece, and to enjoy the entire museum once again. Please click on each of these photographs to see them in more detail.
I came to this visit yesterday at the invitation of my friends Stan and his wife Ann. She is a docent at the Met and a small group of Met docents was able to arrange a tour of the museum and they invited me to join them. Here is the group with our guide, in the sculpture garden outside the buildings which make up the galleries.
This is another favorite piece, titled "Planet in Transit 1." It seems simple enough, but I cannot begin to explain its power over me. It just seems like brilliant idea.
This piece, which a visitor is carefully examining is titled "Yellow Landscape." It is made out of Magnesite, wood, string, and metal fishing weight. How does he think of these things?
A number of his pieces are made from stone that have been machined in various ways. I was taken by the "eyes" in this piece, called "Break Through Capastrano." I think it's the human likeness because of the eyes that resonates in some way with me. So much of our emotional response to art is a mystery, at least for me.
When I first saw this fountain I was again stunned by its simplicity, and its beauty. It is just magical the way the water flows over this almost invisibly. This large piece of stone is perfectly flat on top, with a carved recess in the center, out of which water flows, then runs to the edge and down the sides of the piece. It is so calming to watch this over time, and to be aware of the reflections of the trees and sky. The day visiting the museum was just magical.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:19 PM
Thursday, July 13, 2017
I drove into Long Island City today for a tour at a museum there - more on that in another post. The museum was near Socrates Park which has a large display of sculpture on display. I was walking around the park, and met this delightful young artist. Her name is Tanda Francis and she is making a piece of sculpture on site, where it will be displayed. In the background of this photo, over the artist's shoulder, is a a maquette (a small model) of a head. She will be making a sculpture of the head, in clay, which will cover the wooden structure in the photo, which makes the finished piece about ten feet tall! We had a nice conversation about some of the technical steps she will go through to produce this giant sculpture.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:11 PM
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
We had another astounding talk this evening at the astronomy club. Dan Davis, a professor from Stony Brook University, and chair of the Geology department came to talk about plate tectonics on both the Earth, and on other planets and moons in the solar system. "Plate Tectonics" are large-scale motion of large plates and the movements of the Earth's crust, over the last hundreds of millions of years. He is demonstrating with his hands the process where one part of the crust rises up over another part of the crust, which is forced downwards. It is called "Subduction." Aren't you glad at all that you can learn by reading the blog?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:28 PM
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
I went down by the harbor again to see what was going on. If you live in the NY Metro area, you know that the commuter railroads of Long Island and New Jersey have to cancel some trains because of track work in the tunnels leading to Penn Station, in Manhattan. So the Long Island Railroad is trying to find other ways of commuting to New York City. They are offering two ferries from the new Glen Cove Terminal, to Manhattan. The interesting thing is that although the two ferries combined can carry something like 400 people, the parking lot today had less than 50 cars in it. Anyhow, after checking out the parking lot, I came down to the beach just to look around, and found these rocks covered in seaweed with this wonderful green color. I also love the brilliant orange color of the rust on the bulkhead.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:16 PM
Monday, July 10, 2017
I did a post back on May 9, titled "A New Park? Well..." The post was about how they were building a new bank building, when we had heard rumors that the property was going to be made into a small public park. Well, since that post, they have poured a foundation, and the basement walls, and they started erecting steel a week or so ago. So I knew I needed to photograph this to keep you all up to date. This is not the world's greatest photograph, but I tried to make an interesting abstract composition. Oh, and I included the moon as well.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:03 PM
Sunday, July 9, 2017
I had to get up really early on Saturday morning because MacArthur Airport is more than an hour away, and the program there started at 8:30 AM. Unaccustomed as I am to getting up early, I was a bit groggy as I got in the car and headed up our street to get coffee. When I saw this scene, I quickly pulled over, jumped out of the car and started shooting! By now I was wide awake! It was just a bit foggy which I think was caused by water on the leaves of the trees from overnight rain. Whatever the cause, it made for a spectacular photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:31 PM
Saturday, July 8, 2017
This is Al Cerullo, he is a helicopter pilot and a legend in aviation! I went to another FAA safety seminar out at MacArthur airport today because I wanted to hear him talk about his career, and I wanted to meet him. He began flying helicopters for the U.S. Army in Vietnam, where he spent 13 months and flew 1,600 hours in combat! He was shot down and received a purple heart. After he returned home, he eventually started his own company, flying helicopters for Hollywood movies, television shows, commercials and music videos! He has more than 25,000 hours in helicopters! I always watch the credits after movies are over, and I always looked for the helicopter pilot's name in movies that have had extensive aerial footage. Al Cerullo was the name I have seen the most often, so when I saw he was speaking today, I just had to go to the talk. I was not disappointed!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:13 PM
Friday, July 7, 2017
We finally decided to get new countertops for our small kitchen. We decided on "Engineered Quartz" because you don't have to worry about staining and some other issues with marble and granite. So the counter tops have now been installed. Aren't the counters beautiful! Oh, but look at the walls. They still need a bit of work, I guess. :-) Parts of the walls will be covered with white subway tile, as a backsplash. Then the kitchen will look beautiful!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:20 PM
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Yes it is a nice drill To bad it doesn't work any more! Well, actually it WOULD work, if I could get a battery for it. I have had this drill about five years, and when the battery died after two years, I bought another. Then two years later I bought another battery. Finally, I bought this battery just a year ago, and now it has died, after one year. No problem, I will buy another. Except you can't! There are a few for sale on eBay for ridiculous sums. Then I figured out how to beat the system - I would buy just the cells and replace them. Great idea! The cells only are $38.00. Guess how much a new drill with battery is. You're right - It's $59.00. How much of a waste is that, to have to discard a perfectly good tool, for lack of a battery. Oh, it is a Ryobi. Shame on them!
This shot shows the disassembled battery pack, and the individual cells are under that silver cover made up of attached circles.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:05 PM
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
We had a wonderful speaker at our astronomy meeting tonight. This is Dr. Kirsten Siebach, a post-doctoral research associate at Stony Brook University, and a member of the Science and Operations team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover "Curiosity." She explained how the spacecraft did its research - it has been driving around Mars for five years - and showed us detailed photographs of some of the geological features and what they implied about the geological processes in Mars' history. But the main thing was, everyone was thrilled at what an amazing presenter she is! She has so much knowledge and so much enthusiasm when speaking. One friend of mine said: "I have heard a lot of presentations before, but nothing like this." It was a very special evening!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Every Fourth of July for I don't remember how many years, we are invited over to our friends the Gordons for a dinner party and a chance to watch the fireworks in Glen Cover from their deck, overlooking the harbor. It is a spectacular view and particularly nice among a small group of friends with great food and wonderful conversations. This year the fireworks started a bit early, and that made some of the photographs more interesting, with a blue sky and some clouds, instead of just a black sky. What is also interesting is that we could see in the distance, two other fireworks shows on the other side of Long Island Sound. At the left, I think is the New Rochelle show, and under the pink burst I am guessing is the Playland Park show.
As I was going out to my car when it was getting dark, I saw this American flag hanging on the front porch of the Gordon's home. Something about the deep blue sky in the background and the way the flag is illuminated by a spotlight behind it made me stop and photograph this scene.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:45 PM
Monday, July 3, 2017
We went out to dinner tonight and for fun afterwards, we went to Home Depot. Needed to get some plumbing parts for a project that is going on at home. We took the back way home, which takes us by tree shaded roads and a mansion or two. I saw this scene flash by in an instant, and was dumb enough to drive on for another tenth of a mile before turning around. I mean, come ON! But I did turn around and go back to photograph. Here is this lovely moment with trees, and grasses and the sun
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:04 PM
Sunday, July 2, 2017
I too this photograph in Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan when I was there recently. I was waiting for my sisters, so was spending time just looking around with my camera. I saw these two women right away. They were entranced by the astronomical ceiling in the terminal. It is a very famous ceiling and quite beautiful, now that it has been restored. The restoration took 12 years and was completed in 1996. The ceiling consists of a number of constellations painted on a blue background, however it is astronomically inaccurate in a complicated way. While the stars within some constellations appear correctly as they would from earth, other constellations are reversed left-to-right, as is the overall arrangement of the constellations on the ceiling. It is still a beautiful thing to contemplate, as these women demonstrate. The terminal is one of the world's most visited tourist attractions, by the way.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:12 PM
Saturday, July 1, 2017
We had our annual July Birthdays party today. It is amazing how many of us are born in July. Amy was born July 1, I was born July 4, my mom was born July 9, my father was born July 24, Kelsey was born July 25, and my sister Betsey was born July 31. Is that amazing, or what! The pictures show Grayson and Evelyn in their pool, and then a blueberry pie by Kathy and a chocolate cake with blueberries and strawberries by Betsey. And last but not least, our family portrait, with a few people missing who are living in other parts of the country.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:06 PM