Monday, April 30, 2018
I couldn't help myself! This camera called to me, over and over again, each time I passed the table where it was on display. You must admit it is a beautiful instrument, and it is in great shape. After I bought it, I went on eBay to see what cameras like this cost, and they were all much more expensive than this one, and they were not in as good shape. It is a 4x5 camera and I have used modern 4x5 cameras in my work and for photographing landscapes over the years. I did get a film holder for this particular camera, and I actually have plans to try and take some pictures with it. I think I will start with shooting landscapes with paper negatives, instead of film negatives. We will see... Please click on this image to see the camera in more detail.
And if anyone is curious what it takes to do a nice photograph of my new camera, here is a photograph of the studio I set up on the dining room table. The camera is sitting on a roll of light gray background, and that is a light bank suspended on a pole over the camera. It takes a while to set all this up, but the results are worth it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Sunday, April 29, 2018
The third day of the convention was a camera show. Oh boy, antique cameras for sale! That's Ok, I am not really interested in antique cameras. At least I don't THINK I am interested in these cameras.
They are beautiful I will say that. When I go to Eastman House, they have cameras like this in display cases. So it was nice to see these cameras which we could pick up and look at closely. These cameras are about 100 years old, more or less.
Some of these cameras are expensive. There were prices on these well over $1,000, and I saw some cameras worth over $2,000. Many cameras were much less than this. I kept looking and looking, and one of the cameras was beginning to grow on me. Gee, I wonder if I NEED one of these...
There were also lots of old photographs and postcards for sale, and lots of old books as well. It was actually overwhelming to see all these things. I was exhausted by the end of the day. But it was fun to have seen all the people looking at cameras and books and photographs. But what about that camera that seemed to be calling to me? Hmmm...
Saturday, April 28, 2018
The George Eastman House is a magnificent work of architecture. I love walking around in the gardens looking at the building, and I am interested in the idea of "layering" a photograph - with objects seen in the foreground and the house in the background, one layered on top of the other. I am not so sure that this photograph is all that successful, but it is interesting to try and see things in different ways.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Friday, April 27, 2018
They get a lot more snow in Rochester. Want proof? Look at this snow pile which I came across in a parking lot. I mean, come on, it is the third week of April and all the snow hasn't melted yet! Yikes! I used to live there, and lived with the snow, but I like living where there is less snow in the winter!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:25 PM
Thursday, April 26, 2018
I need to make a correction - it is no longer called "George Eastman House" it is the "George Eastman Museum." It will always be the original name for me. So I mentioned in the post of the elephant head that I had not spent time in the house in perhaps 20 years. So I took my time and wandered around the once familiar rooms, but they have changed. Back in 1960 they displayed photographs in most of the rooms. Turns out that was a bad idea because many of the rooms are flooded with sunlight, which causes the historic photographs to fade. So the rooms have been decorated as they would have been back in George Eastman's time. The nice thing is that in this sitting room, we are allowed to sit on the furniture and contemplate the portrait of him.
It is a stunning mansion! This the magnificent staircase - be sure to click on the image to see the details of the balusters - there are four or five different styles that alternate. What a stunning staircase! Note on the bottom the long square boxes. They are paper player piano rolls which are actually for the pipe organ in the conservatory. Most are classical music pieces. Every day at breakfast an organist would come to the house and play the organ while George Eastman had breakfast.
This is George Eastman's desk in the formal living room, with fresh flowers on it. Spending time in this home made me realize that I really should read the George Eastman biography which I own, but have not read yet.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
One evening there were tours of one of the facilities at RIT. It is called the Image Permanence Institute and they provide cultural institutions, preservation scientists, and consumer preservation industries with significant research, publications, and tools to enable the preservation of image collections and materials. In this room there is an experiment which involves the changes in objects that absorb moisture, and how they change with temperature. So this is really cool - there are two small video cameras photographing these book binding from the left and right, so that the resulting stereo movie shows the bindings over time as they move around with the temperature. Please click on the photo below to see all the white spots that have been painted on the bindings which the movies record.
This is another part of the tour in one of the laboratories. It was fascinating to hear all about the experiments the institute is conducting, all to make sure that our books and photographs, and movie films will last for generations.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:02 PM
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
I spent three days at a conference in Rochester called "Photo History/Photo Future," and it was amazing. It was mainly for photographic historians, researchers and archivists. There were an amazing number of presentations and we had to pick one room or another - there were speakers I wanted to hear but instead picked the other room. There were speakers from Switzerland, New Zealand, and Italy. There were even speakers from New York! So here are a couple of scenes of the speakers.
At the end of each day, there were tours of RIT and of the George Eastman Museum. More on that in subsequent posts. Stay tuned.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Monday, April 23, 2018
I have been photographing this abandoned farmhouse for years and years. I stopped again today on the way home from Rochester. I stopped because the house is looking worse every time I pass it. A year or so ago the roof of the rear extension of the house had caved in. This time I noticed that the roof of the main house has caved in as well. I keep expecting to see the entire house collapsed one of these days, but this old building soldiers on.
This is a different view of the house from what I have shot before. My eye caught sight of the open window as seen through the front door. If you want to have some fun, go to the search box in the upper left hand corner of the web page, and put in "Ovid" and then click on the magnifying glass, and it will retrieve other posts, going back to 2007.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Vince hollered down from upstairs, and said "You have to come see this! Quick!" We raced up the stairs and looked out the window, and there was a Bald Eagle sitting on a branch in a tall pine tree! Wow! We had binoculars and a spotting scope, but the bird was still really hard to see. I moved to the back yard, and everyone else was in the front yard, and fortunately I was focused on the eagle when it took flight! Don't kid yourself, this was just plain luck, not skill. But I got the shot!
This view of the eagle on the branch is much clearer, and easier to see, cropped from a telephoto lens shot, than it was when we looked with the naked eye or binoculars. What a thrill to see this magnificent creature in the back yard!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:36 PM
Saturday, April 21, 2018
I have been at a conference at RIT for two days, with one more to go. As part of the conference we had a reception at the George Eastman Museum tonight. I have been here many times, to see exhibits, but it has been YEARS since I toured the house - probably 20 or more, and so I did that tonight. When I first went to Eastman House in 1960 there were photographs from the collection displayed in each room. Now they have furnished the rooms as they were when George Eastman lived here. This is a view from a balcony on the second floor of the solarium, with an elephant's head that George Eastman shot as a trophy and had mounted.
Friday, April 20, 2018
There is a really interesting exhibit, (actually, several interesting exhibits) involving movie film, at the George Eastman Museum. For the first 50 years or so, the movie film base was made of nitrocellulose, which is the same chemistry involved in gunpowder! The problem with this film is that because it is organic, it can decompose in storage, with sometime terrible effects. In 1978 there was a fire at a storage facility at the museum, and a vault containing the original negatives of 327 early feature films, short subjects and cartoons was destroyed. There is a slower way that this material decomposes in storage, and as part of the exhibit, they showed a number of clips of two frames from each film, showing the beautiful decay at work. It feels as if each of these could be enlarge and hung on a wall as abstract art.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
I love driving through the town of Owego, NY. I have been driving through there since 1966. I have posted photographs from here before. If you are curious there is a little magnifying glass icon in the upper left of the blog page. Type in "Owego" and you will see the buildings that hang out over the river and the steel truss bridges. There is wonderful architecture in Owego. This is one of those interesting buildings, and it is sad that it appears empty. I almost think this could be titled "American Landscape IV."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:50 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
We drove from Sea Cliff to Rochester today. It was a long ride - we were stuck in traffic for nearly an hour while they put down patches of asphalt on the Cross Island Parkway. It's a killer to lose an hour's travel time right at the beginning! The rest of the trip was fine, with good weather and overcast skies, but no rain. The clouds looked threatening but they were beautiful with their silvery gray shades. So typical of upstate New York.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:28 PM
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
This a small part of a huge project in the next town over. It has been a contentious project for a lot of people. It is a giant condo development, located in three different locations within a stones throw of each other. The crazy thing is that it will be six stories tall, and completely out of scale for the area. The mayor of the village where I live thought he had a letter of understanding with the mayor of this town, limiting the height of the structures. But he was told that the letter didn't matter. Everyone in our village is really upset. I will continue to document the construction here. Stay tuned
Monday, April 16, 2018
I was riding this really long escalator in Manhattan, and noticed all these black picture frames on both the "Up" escalator, and the "Down" escalator. Apparently at one time there were some kind of images in these frames. But not any more. It occurred to me that what we have is something that looks like brown abstract paintings! Or not. In any case, it is an interesting pattern.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Sunday, April 15, 2018
When we arrived at church we discovered these beautiful spring wreaths on the front doors of the church. We were away for Easter so we are not sure when they were put on the doors. Perhaps they were placed there for Easter services, in celebration. The bright wreaths are in contrast to the old, dark wooden doors and the wreaths brightened our day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Just another Central Park scene. When I get off the subway from Penn Station at 59th street, I always look over the wall. I am looking generally north and there is always something of interesting to photograph. I was taken by the man with a backpack standing on the top of the rock. I mean he was not really mountain climbing. So I take poetic license sometimes. When I am shooting a scene like this, I take note of where the figures are within the frame, and shoot the picture when there is an interesting arrangement.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Friday, April 13, 2018
This is the latest piece of sculpture located on the edge of Central Park at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Grand Army Plaza. I have photographed other works of art installed here in the past. This piece is by the London artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE and will be on display until October 2018. This is an enormous fiberglass sculpture that appears to be a blowing piece of West African fabric. It is amazing to see this in person, because it really does appear to be blowing in the wind.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
I went to "Fun City" today to see a couple of photographic exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Stan and Ann. It was wonderful to do my walk from 59th Street to 82nd Street. It's great exercise, and the temperatures are slowly getting warmer. As I walk up Fifth Avenue, I study Central park and I stop and photograph things that look interesting. It was nice to find all these Daffodils. Signs of Spring in the city.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:24 PM
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
I was cranking my way up Laurel Avenue at the end of my bike ride today. As I passed a house two houses away, where Deb is the gardener, I spied this burst of color right at the edge of the road. I love the contrast of the colors of the blossoms, with the brown leaves and brown rocks at the edge of her garden. And you will want to know if I know the names of the flowers. They are Crocus. (I had to ask somone...) :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:59 PM
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
I was on my to get bagels on Saturday morning and as I passed by Scudder's Pond, the surface was mirror smooth. The reflection of the trees in the water was a perfect mirror image. But I was going the other way, so I didn't stop. I just figured that I would take the picture on the way home. Well, turns out that only 15 minutes later, a very slight breeze had come up and you can see the blue sky reflected in the waves in the distance. Bummer. Should have stopped when I first saw the picture.
After breakfast I decided to go back down to the pond, because it didn't seem that the wind was blowing. Sure enough, the pond was nearly mirror-like and I had a second chance to get my picture. When will I learn!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:20 PM
Monday, April 9, 2018
OK, I have reached the end of the line with my blot posts from New Mexico and Texas. It has been a great run, and I hope you have enjoyed the photographs. This sculpture is just beautiful. After you land at El Paso airport, as you walk from the main terminal to the car rental facility, you walk past this. The whole sculpture includes the letters "E" and "P" and then a star. It is stunning to see these large letters painted with a cloudscape. I have searched the web, but can find no information on this piece. It is such a beautiful object, and it made me feel good just to see it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:14 PM
Sunday, April 8, 2018
So here is our entire group, posed for a portrait in the Chisos Campground in Big Bend National Park as the sun was going down. You know that I never use full names on the blog, just because. If someone is on the blog, they can't be found by bot searches. Paranoid? Yeah, but I feel I owe it to my subjects and their privacy. So, from left to right: Me, Stan, Gowri, Rush, Preston and his wife Linda, Chirag, and Antoine. What a group! What great conversations! What wonderful traveling companions!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:21 PM
At the end of our ten days camping in New Mexico, and in Big Bend National Park, we drove back to El Paso for our flight home the next day. This is a view out the window of our hotel. I call it an "American Landscape" because it includes the hotel, pool, lounge chairs, a gas station, parked tractor-trailers, and dirt covered lots in the distance. An interesting combination of things in one landscape photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:09 PM
Saturday, April 7, 2018
This is the Presidio County Courthouse, in Marfa Texas. It was built in 1887 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1964. The courthouse is a gorgeous architectural gem and can be seen from almost any location in Marfa. It is made of brick and stone quarried in Marfa, and the exterior is covered in pink stucco and Lady Justice sits atop the dome.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
I have never seen a pink cactus before. Ever. And I have spent a fair amount of time photographing deserts and plants. I believe it is a Purple Prickly pear cactus. It is an amazing thing to see while hiking. I passed all kinds of green cacti before seeing one like this. It was such a surprise to see this color in the desert. Please click on the photo to see all the blossoms.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:41 PM
Friday, April 6, 2018
This is the gorgeous bloom of an Ocotillo. Ocotillo is not a true cactus. For much of the year, the plant appears to be an arrangement of large spiny dead sticks, although closer examination reveals that the stems are partly green. With rainfall, the plant quickly becomes lush with small leaves, which may remain for weeks or even months. The bright crimson flowers appear especially after rainfall in spring, summer, and occasionally fall. Look how delicate the parts of the blossom are. When you see one of these plants from a distance, even when it is in bloom, you don't see the blossoms right away. But the burst of color is welcome in such a subtle landscape.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Here are four Ocotillo in in bloom in the desert. They look dead. Deader than a doornail! However you can just about see the small, bright, orange flowers at the ends of the stalks that I showed you in the post above! You sure are not aware of the blossoms at all when you first see the plant. It is only when you get close that you see that flash of orange.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:12 PM
Thursday, April 5, 2018
The park is just across the river from Mexico. Before 9/11 there was never a problem for citizens of both countries to casually cross the river to visit family and friends for the day. Now everything is different, not in a good way. At certain spots in the park, people from Mexico come across the river and bring things they have made, for sale. Much of it is on the honor system. I first encountered a collection of painted walking sticks, and little scorpions made out of copper wire and other hand made trinkets. There was no one there but there was a jar with some money in it. I bought a walking stick for $10. Further on I came across this gentleman, and bought a stitched cactus on fabric. We had a nice conversation, and he asked if I had any granola bars with me. I had none. But I said I was coming back the next day, so I brought a bag of trail mix, two granola bars, and some sugar cookies when I returned. Life is not easy for a lot of people.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:01 PM
When you drive the roads in Texas you will see power poles alongside the road for miles and miles. I know I called them telephone poles, but they are not. I liked the alliteration... :-) We were driving, so we didn't stop for the shot. I would have found it interesting to be stopped and to look at this view with a long telephoto lens, just to see if by compressing the poles with a long lens, the image would have been better.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:40 PM
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
We were waiting for the subway yesterday after the conference we attended, and I saw these three people on the subway platform. The man was taking a selfie of both of the women and himself. They were all laughing and having such a good time, that I just had to go up to them. I told them it brightened my day to see them all laughing, and I asked them if I could a picture of them doing a selfie. They said "yes," I shot the picture, and the man asked me to email a photo to him, which I did. It was a lovely moment, in a lovely day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:15 PM
This is the rock formation called Casa Grand. That translates to "big house" which is not very poetic. I like "Casa Grande" better. The top of the formation is 2000 feet above the ground I am standing on. This kind of rock formation is called a "volcanic plug." Eons ago this land was covered with earth, and there were vents - openings - on active volcanoes. Molten lava forced its way up unto the vents, and then it cooled. Over time the softer ground was eroded by weathering, and now the volcanic plug is exposed. Cool, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:04 PM
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
I haven't given up on posting photographs from Big Bend. But a number of interesting things are happening here in the northeast, like the snow storm, and the conference today, so I have decided to post things from here, alternated with photos from Big Bend. As a reminder, I am doing two posts a day to make up for all the days I was not posting. This view is from a spot called Sotol Point, an overlook from a high elevation, and as you can see it offers a spectacular view of one portion of the park, and the view seems to go on to infinity.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:15 PM
We went to a presentation in Manhattan today called "Kindness Unedited," presented by the people who take care of our retirement funds. The explanation of the presentation said "In a world with so much uncertainty, can something as simple as kindness be the answer? We are wired to be kind and can learn to use even more kindness to improve our health, happiness and well-being by helping those around us." There were speakers who were involved in the movie "Wonder" and the Broadway musical "Come From Away" written about the aircraft on 9/11 who had to land in Gander, Nova Scotia, and the townspeople who only numbered 8,000 people, who took care of the 7,000 stranded passengers on 26 aircraft who had to land there, and who had to stay there for a week. It was an amazing presentation and an amazing day. Oh, "Bekindr" is the name of a book, whose author was one of the presenters. The book is a collection of stories of people being kind, and the effect it had on the people who were helped.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:51 PM
Monday, April 2, 2018
OK, call me dumb. I fired up my monster snowblower and headed down the driveway blowing the snow into the side yard. Suddenly I heard "Braaaaaapppppp" and saw pieces of today's newspaper shooting out of the snowblower! Oh man! What a dolt! Every other time, I have walked to the end of the driveway and found the buried newspaper with my feet before clearing the driveway. But not today! Sigh... Fortunately our neighbor subscribes to Newsday and loaned us her copy. Boy that snowblower throws the newspaper a long way!
Because of the snowfall last night and this morning, I am temporarily suspending my posts from the Big Bend National Park trip. I have more photographs from the trip to post in future days. Anyhow, I am BORED with this snow. Supposed to be 1" to 3" and we got at least 6" of snow. I guess the good part is that I got to use my snowblower again! I know this snow on the tree is quite beautiful, and I am mindful of that. But no more snow, OK?
When I get to the walkway that goes to the BBQ, it runs parallel to the garage, only a short distance away. So when I blow the snow, it goes directly to the garage wall and windows. I love the effect.
These Daffodis appear to have really taken a beating from the snow. I will be curious to see if they recover from the snow, particularly the blooms that have opened. We will see.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:28 PM