Thursday, May 31, 2018
I went to the Whitney Museum today to see a major exhibition of the paintings and arts and crafts works of the painter Grant Wood. He is famous, of course, for his work "American Gothic." You know the painting. I was standing back while lots of people moved in to look at the painting closely, and I wanted to get a photograph of the painting surrounded by people. A couple of people stepped away, and this father quickly stepped in, and held up his son so his wife could snap a photo of them with the painting! Completely caught me by surprise, but I managed to get two shots! What an unexpected pleasure, and even the guard was smiling!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:26 PM
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
When I am desperate for a photograph these days, the fern bank always looks promising, especially with the late afternoon sun backlighting them. So that's where I went looking today. When the sun is higher, it illuminates the background which can sometimes be distracting. But as the sun gets lower in the sky much of the background ends up in shadow, giving me this kind of black background, which makes the fronds of the ferns so much more dramatic.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
As I walked through Sea Cliff, on the way to the parade route, I kept my eye open for photographs along the way, because that's what photographers do! I don't know what they sell in this particular store. Maybe some day I will have to go inside. I didn't even notice the name of the store. But I do love these dress forms, along with the arms used for displaying gloves. I do think that the proprietor did a nice job of making a display that attracts attention.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:46 PM
Monday, May 28, 2018
There was not a great turnout for the Memorial Day parade today in Sea Cliff. It was overcast and cold, but that didn't deter the marchers. I wanted to photograph the parade differently this year. So I thought I would think in terms of closeups. When I shot this one, I was thrilled with all the young faces. I think it has more impact than the photograph below, which gives more of a sense of place.
It was hard to choose between the close up and this one, but I think the close up has more interest.
After the parade, they have a ceremony at Memorial Park. One of the things that is celebrated here each year is the reading of the two best student essays "What Memorial Day Means to Me" and here are the winners, reading their essays.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Sunday, May 27, 2018
This is one other photograph I did with my antique camera the other day. It is a branch of an old Dogwood tree that is unfortunately on its last legs. The tree is at the west end of the front porch, and it has been a joy to look at for years, since we first bought the house. Perhaps this photograph is more effective in color, rather than in black and white. But I wanted to see if the black & white would be effective.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Saturday, May 26, 2018
I took my antique 4x5 camera out this afternoon, and photographed the stone angel in our garden. I am enjoying using this beautiful old camera. We bought this angel years ago, and I have taken other photographs of it in the past. I should try a search and see how many other photographs I could find. I hope that this has a sense of being an older photograph. I am not sure. I just checked, and if you want to have some fun, put "Angel" in the search box in the upper left hand corner of the blog, and see all the ways I have photographed the angel in the past!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:00 PM
Friday, May 25, 2018
Another drive-by on my bicycle. These plants are growing in a street side garden two houses down the hill from us. A lot of the details in this are hard to see, unless you click on the image so you can view it in a larger size. I was taken by the "flow" of the green leaves, almost like water coming down a creek toward us.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:58 PM
Thursday, May 24, 2018
We had a wonderful speaker at the astronomy meeting last night. She gave a fascinating, and very technical talk on "Gravitational Lensing." It is a complicated subject and she did such a great job of explaining all the ways distant objects could be "lensed" by objects of high mass located between us and the distant objects. Turns out that star clusters, because of their mass, can do gravitational lensing. So because the speaker has a great sense of humor, she included this slide to explain what makes up the composition of a star cluster! Very clever and it beats a plain old graph!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:21 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
So just around the corner from my first photograph of the plaster sun on the garage wall, I noticed this plant that we bought the other day, sitting in front of one of the garage doors. "A second picture" I thought! And it does seem appropriate as a subject for an old camera. Something about this - it just looks old. What is interesting is that only the blossoms and leaves in the very front of the plant are in sharp focus, which adds to the old feeling. So I am done for the moment, because when I want to take some more photos, I need to set up my darkroom with chemicals again. I no longer own an exposure meter (!) so every exposure is a guess, so I need to process each negative right away.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:24 PM
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
This is the first photograph I have taken with my new hundred year-old camera! When I bought the camera, I just wanted it so that I could look at - it is such a beautiful piece of 1900's technology. Then I started thinking that it might be fun to try and take some photographs with it. Because I haven't used my darkroom for 25 years, I decided not to shoot film, but instead to use enlarging paper and make paper negatives. Then I would scan the negatives, and in Photoshop, reverse the tones and end up with a positive image, as you see above. I also toned the image a sepia color to add to the sense that the photograph is older.
I asked Kathy to take a photograph of me when I was using the camera to take the photograph you see above this one. I have a black cloth draped over my shoulders, because that's what I put over the camera and my head in order to see the image on the ground glass.
And this is what the paper negative looks like when I scanned it. It is reversed from left to right, because that's what negatives look like after they come from a camera.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:19 PM
Monday, May 21, 2018
I was coming up hill to home when I went by the ferns on the front bank today. The sun was setting in the west, and illuminating the ferns with flat light. But it caused me to see the ferns in a new light, so to speak. I usually don't like flat lighting, but it did something special for these ferns today. I was stunned to see these patterns within the hill of ferns. It almost makes me want to make a giant print because of all the tiny details in the photograph. Please click on the photo to see more detail. It's really pretty cool!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:27 PM
Sunday, May 20, 2018
We were waiting to cross the street on the way to church today, and I saw this young girl with her first communion dress on, waiting to cross the street with her dad. I had to get the camera out of its pouch on my belt, and try and shoot quickly. I only got three photographs. There were distractions in the image, including two people in the background, and her dad was so much taller than her that I decided to crop some of him out of the photograph so the focus would be on the girl. She is so pretty in her white dress!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2018
I showed you one photograph that I took while on my bike ride the other day - it was the mailbox covered with Wisteria. Thirty minutes later going uphill I saw these Azaleas, and then the white flowers, and then the magenta flowers. OK, so you can see that I only know the name of one of the three flowers. I need help again! Please. But the photograph is really beautiful, isn't it? To see these colors surrounded with green leaves is really something.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:40 PM
Friday, May 18, 2018
You're not going to believe this one! There was a report in the newspaper the other day about a rash of automobile drivers carefully following their GPS directions, BUT... They were listening to the voice prompts that would say "turn left" and then the drivers would make a turn off the road on to the railroad tracks! Obviously they were not paying careful attention. Some of the drivers drove down the tracks for some distance! One woman did that, got stuck, and fortunately got out of her car in time. Her car was demolished by a train a few minutes later! Yikes! So the Long Island Railroad came up with these markers. First they made the white line on the side of the road continue across the tracks, and they added these flexible plastic vertical markers in a line. So the hope is that this will put an end to automobiles driving on the train tracks. One can hope.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:15 PM
Thursday, May 17, 2018
I was hammering along on my bike at about 18 MPH when I saw this scene flash by out of the corner of my eye. I immediately stopped and turned around. This is such a lovely creation to see. Really dresses up the mailbox. Now, I first titled this "Lilac Mailbox" because that was the first name I thought of when I saw these flowers. So then I said: "For my gardener friends, please let me know what flowers these are, and I will change the title." You responded, and I have changed the title to "Wisteria Mailbox" What would I do without friends like you! Thanks!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
When I was working I got to photograph some amazing people! Lucky me! One of them was the author Tom Wolf, who just died the other day. He was an absolute gentlemen, and was an easy subject, and was helpful in my request to go out on the street after I photographed him in his library at home. When I was done with my assignment I knew I had some really special photographs. Then disaster struck! I received a phone call at work the next day, that the photo lab that was processing our film had made a terrible mistake. I had given them color negative film, and they had carelessly processed it as if it was Ektachrome transparency film! The entire shoot was completely ruined! My worst nightmare!
So I called Tom back, and explained what happened and asked if there was any way I could come back and do the shoot all over again. He was a prince, and said "How is this Wednesday?" So I went back and we did it all over again. I have to tell you one thing that happened. I had scouted his immediate neighborhood and found an old rusty newsstand around the corner, and asked if he would walk over there with him, and he agreed. After I did those photos, we were walking back to his home, and I was on the outside edge of the sidewalk. I was looking at him as we walked along talking, and suddenly, there was this white wall with cracked paint behind him! "Wait!" I asked him if I could take a few photographs against the wall, and he said "sure" and this photograph is the result. The whole experience was simply amazing, and he couldn't have been nicer. Not all celebrities are anywhere this nice.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
So does this look like the end of the world, or what! The forecast for today spoke of rain late in the day. When I checked radar in mid afternoon, there was a huge squall line accompanying a cold front, that went from Maryland all the way to Massachusetts. I managed to get my bike ride done before the front arrived. And when it did, the clouds were fantastic. Wonderful to look at these dark gray clouds, churning their way across the sky. It was magical to see.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:41 PM
Monday, May 14, 2018
Kathy seemed to think that maybe the garage needed painting. It looked fine to me, but I thought I would go ahead and start the project so that she would be happy. It has been 20 years since I painted it last, so maybe she is right... :-) I should mention that I am only painting the side of the garage that faces the new addition on the back. The front of the garage, which is just garage doors, was painted a few years ago. What will get really tedious is not painting the shingles and the trim, but rather painting the beautiful little diamond windows. THAT is going to take forever. I will be sure and show you a photograph when I get to that part of the project.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:32 PM
Sunday, May 13, 2018
Since it was Mother's Day, we stopped at a plant store on the way home from church. Of course it is not called a "plant store" - it is called a nursery. Anyhow, while Kathy was shopping I went looking for photographs at the nursery. I wasn't seeing anything interesting until this woman came into view with the pink umbrella, and suddenly I had something interesting to photograph. So I walked around stalking her until I found this photograph. Hope no one saw me!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Saturday, May 12, 2018
My friends and I had lunch at Finnegan's, a landmark bar and restaurant in Huntington. They have had this huge mural on the wall of their building for as long as I remember. It is 15 feet tall and 55 feet long. It was painted in December, 1978 by a local artist, Phillip Charles Jordan, and restored in 2012. The faces in the mural are 140 patrons who were regular customers as they would be seen at the bar. The concept was to feature all the regulars and employees in a caricature fashion.
It is fascinating to stand and look at all the faces on display. The mural is an amazing work of art, and it took six months to paint.
Friday, May 11, 2018
I had lunch to day with Gwen and Paul, two wonderful friends that I have known for a long time. They were both writers at the paper and both became editors before retiring. We have been meaning to get together for the last six months - that's how it goes sometimes when you are trying to get together. You will want to know what I ordered for lunch, no doubt. I had a hamburger and fries. They ordered more sensible food! :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:10 PM
Thursday, May 10, 2018
I came to the Vanderbilt Planetarium for one of our meetings recently, on a foggy night. This scene is at the entrance to the Vanderbilt Mansion with the five columns at a spot that overlooks the harbor, which you can on clear days. I love this misty quality and the feeling that the fog evokes. Yeah, I know that it is not London, but I needed a catchy title.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
I had a complicated procedure in the dentist's office yesterday - the removal of an old crown, and the preparation for a new one. Some parts of the procedure involved having to sit for long periods while one material or another took time to cure. The point of all this is that I had a lot of time to spend looking out the window. I thought you might want to know what I was looking at.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:57 PM
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
I drove by this downed tree and there was something about the appearance of the tree's cross section that immediately grabbed me. When I pulled over and got the camera, a closer inspection of the scene reminded me of a flower, some how. So rather than photographing just one part of the tree, I included both cross-sections in the picture. They just reminded me of flowers.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:46 PM
Monday, May 7, 2018
I was over in Great Neck on an errand, and on the way over, I caught this park out of the corner of my eye as it flashed by. So on the way home, I parked my car and walked around in the park for 45 minutes looking for photographs. It was green everywhere! Which is natural for Spring, of course. This is a photograph of one tree in front of another. This is an intentional arrangement. I tried moving left and right so the Dogwood was completely visible, but I liked this juxtaposition, for some reason.
This is another view in the park. There isn't anything in this picture that is not green!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:38 PM
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Kathy got the kitties a water fountain that they could drink from. I guess the kitties were bored with drinking from bowls! You put a quart of water in this, and there is a tiny pump inside that runs from a 12 volt transformer which is plugged into the wall. A small stream of water comes up in the center of the white flower thing, and six small streams of bubbling water run down to a pool where the green is. So we filled it up, plugged it in and waited for the cats to discover it. Here we can see them carefully checking the fountain out, really unsure of what this is all about. This photograph makes me laugh when I look at it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:45 PM
Saturday, May 5, 2018
With all the trees in bloom, I decided to see what the trees look like from above. I saw an amazing series of two photographs taken by a newspaper photographer for The Daily Herald in Illinois recently. He photographed his backyard with a drone last Spring, and then did the same photograph this year. Last year's trees were in full bloom. This year the trees looked dead, because Spring is so late this year, at least in Illinois. Here is a link to the photographs: Spring Drone Photos This is fun, I was flying the drone over a neighbor's Dogwood tree which is on the property line. I hadn't noticed Kathy walking over to her garden, which I captured without knowing it.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:37 PM
Friday, May 4, 2018
Once again, this is my favorite tree, as you know. Usually it is photographed with the sunlight behind it. This afternoon I walked down the driveway to get the mail, and on the way back up, noticed the direct sunlight on the trunk. This is a different look for the tree than I am accustomed to, so I thought I would take this picture. It has a completely different feel than all my other photographs of the subject.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:44 PM
Thursday, May 3, 2018
I have photographed this bridge, and the old one which it replaces, a number of times in the past. I would love to be able to walk around and compose the best photograph. But as you know, I am left having to shoot through the windshield. :-( . Anyhow, getting a good composition is kind of a hit or miss proposition. But I haven't shot a photograph like this before, showing all the cables in position. This bridge is called a "cable stayed bridge" and you can see that here
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:53 PM
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
This sculpture is called "Umbilic Torus" by sculptor Helamon Ferguson and it is on display in the plaza of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University. It is a stunning thing to come across while walking across the campus. It is 28 feet tall and made of Silicon Bronze with antique patina, and weighs 65 tons. An interesting thing is that carved around the base, and painted in red is the name of the sculpture, the formula for an umbilic torus, and the name of the sculptor.
For the mathematically inclined, this is the formula for the torus, in case you want to make your own.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:22 PM
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
I was invited to be part of a radio broadcast about astronomy, at Stony Brook University's radio station. I was with my friend Dave, who is the Technical and Production Coordinator at Vanderbilt Planetarium, and one of his people who presents shows, and a professor of astronomy at the University. I spent my time talking about the Astronomical Society of Long Island and what we have to offer to people. It was fun to be on the radio for the first time.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:00 PM