Sunday, September 30, 2018
The thing about drones is that they have very sophisticated batteries in them (and the batteries are expensive.) It is important to charge the batteries every few weeks, even if you haven't used the drone. Since we were away, i thought it was time for a charge. Then, because there were beautiful cumulus clouds in the sky, I decided to see how the harbor would look with the clouds. So I just set my drone in the side yard, and then flew it up to a little below 400 feet and took this photograph. Beautiful with the clouds, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:10 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2018
This is a scene that I took on the way to California. It is in the vicinity of Bryce Canyon, but it is not Bryce Canyon itself, I don't believe. It has all the characteristics and colors of Bryce. I should go on Google Earth and see if I can find Bryce itself. The interesting thing is that there appears to be some small fires burning on the tops of one of the ridges in the lower part of the photo. I watched the fire for about 5 minutes or so from our high altitude, but never saw any flames.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Friday, September 28, 2018
Goodbye to LA. We are headed home. At the lower right is the west end of Los Angeles International Airport, and in the middle, left of center is the Marina District - Venice is just beyond that blue strip of water going inland. The trip out to Los Angeles is usually 5 and a half hours, but the trip home is 5 hours which is nice. We arrived safely - wait! You already know that!
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Do you know why I love sunsets, instead of sunrises? Clue: It is not a philosophical reason. It's because I am never up early enough for a sunrise! But I am always up for sunsets. The sunsets in Venice, looking out over the Pacific Ocean are a bit more interesting photographically, because the Santa Monica Mountains in the distance break up the horizontal line of the horizon. This is the sunset on the night before our departure from Los Angeles. It is always nice to be away, and it is also nice to be back home.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:08 PM
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Every time I go to the Getty Center I see some other architectural detail that I hadn't noticed before, or that I had not looked at carefully enough. I love the complexity of this photograph. It has so many surfaces and shapes and parts and contrasting materials. I can't begin to understand how an architect imagines something like this in their mind, and then makes it happen. It boggles my mind.
Just for fun, in the first photograph, I was standing at the head of these stairs, seen from the opposite direction. So I walked down the stairs and turned around and looked up and saw this. I was taken by the brilliant blue California sky contrasted with the warm toned limestone facing of the building.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:08 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
There is an amazing exhibition at The Getty about fashion photography over the last one hundred years. It is called "ICONS OF STYLE: A Century of Fashion Photography." It is a huge exhibition which has more than 150 photographic prints, but there were a handful of mannequins with some of the fashions of the times, and the photographs were displayed in ten-year segments. This classic dress is by Christian Dior from 1948.
Ok, so this is funny, and only readers of my blog will understand the humor. Why was I particularly attracted to this dress? You know the answer - this dress matches my new Vans shoes! I wonder if they have any menswear in this pattern? This dress is by Alexander McQueen, a British designer.
This has to be the strangest fashion photograph I have ever seen. There is a note at the entrance to this gallery warning of a photograph that is a "simulated suicide." The title of this photograph is "Half Prada" and it was produced in 2003. It was based on crime scene photographs found in police archives. I am probably unsophisticated in that I have trouble making sense of this particular photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:29 PM
Monday, September 24, 2018
I always try to get to the Getty Center when we are in Los Angeles, because it is such an amazing museum - it never fails to energize me. There are photographs everywhere, both in the galleries and out on the plazas, with the architecture and all the visitors. I thought of taking one of the tours that the Getty offers, but there wasn't enough time because I ended up spending nearly two hours in one exhibit. More on that later. While walking outside to another gallery I noticed this group of people, some carrying umbrellas, and realized that it was the architecture tour. The Getty is constructed of a light colored stone, and even though it was September it was blinding to walk around outside. So the umbrellas are available to shield everyone from the sun.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Sunday, September 23, 2018
On the way out of the California Science Center, I happened to glance back and see this scene. Wow! The first thing I noticed was the differences in the diameters of each of the trees, partially because some trees were close to me and others were in the distance. This difference in the sizes of the tree trunks is what makes this landscape interesting. Of course the neutral color of the ground is interesting compared to the warm reddish tiles on the building, and for the finishing touch, there are the shiny reflective tiles placed diagonally on the wall of the building.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:53 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2018
This is beginning to look like "Food Week" or something, but it's not. This will be my last food photo from our trip. On our last night there, Liz made this delicious Greek salad, and then we cooked some cubed chicken on skewers on a grill with a yogurt marinade. Wow! Amazing! My mouth still waters when I see this photo - I love salads, and this was a great one!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:50 PM
Friday, September 21, 2018
One of the things I was looking forward to when we went to California, was having a loaf of THIS bread for breakfast! It is from an artisanal bakery in a sprawling, warehouse-like space in Venice, which offers up all kinds of special breads baked on-site. Our favorite is this one - a sourdough bread with a slightly burned top that is just a joy to look at and absolutely delicious to eat. You cannot believe how delicious this is! Sometimes we buy breads at home, and then toast them for breakfast. But not this bread. We just slather it with butter and eat it with a cup of good coffee!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:47 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2018
The main reason we went to the California Science Museum was to see this exhibit: "KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharoah" This is the largest King Tut exhibition ever on tour, with 150 artifacts from the tomb of King Tutankhamun who lived in 1330 BC. There were pieces of furniture on display which I did not photograph because the statuary was more interesting to me. This figure, and some similar ones, are about 18" high, and just beautiful. This statue represents the king throwing a harpoon - images and words were believed to come alive in the afterlife.
This is a wood cane, covered in gold leaf and when the king holds it, he is seizing a prisoner (carved in the handle) by the neck, thus showing his dominion over his empire
These figures are absolutely stunning and represent the king doing heroic things. Please click on each of these images to see them in more detail.
This is a guardian statue of the Ka of the King, made from wood. His sandals and the uraeus on his head are made from bronze. This statue is nearly the actual size of a person.
This is a a detail of a colossal quartzite statue of Tutankhamun which is about ten feet tall, and which has been damaged.
This is a mirror case, in the form of an Ankh. Mirrors were symbolic of resurection and eternal life. The Ankh is the symbol of life - just the thing a king would want for his trip to the netherworld.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:32 PM
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I have decided to change my look entirely, so I have gone L.A. Style! So I began by buying a pair of classic Vans "Checkerboard Slip-Ons." Found a tiny Vans store on Washington Blvd near Venice so I drove over there. It was a tiny place, with really friendly people and all the different styles hanging on the wall. I tried this pair, and they were perfect. Brand new shoes, and they felt like bedroom slippers! Oh, and I told no one where I was going! So you can't imagine how excited everyone was when they came back to the house and saw me sitting there with my new Vans! Oh, and so that I would look as if I deserved these shoes, I wore my gray and black and white Hawaiian shirt when I went to the store. I could tell that the young guy who helped me, thought I was cool! Oh, and I wrote my friend Skipper who knows of these things and told him, and he said I now need a "Thrasher" T-Shirt! Thrasher is a magazine for skateboarders!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:09 PM
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
In Santa Monica some years ago they converted Third Street into a promenade, and it is a wonderful place to shop, have something to eat, and to people watch. What's nice is they have various performers who come to various places along the promenade for an hour at a time. There are lots of performers - all kinds of different musicians, and acrobats, and dancers. This is Art, and he is a blues guitarist. When the ladies were shopping I decided to go lean on a lamp post and listen to him play for a while. He is really good on the guitar, and I spent a while just enjoying the music. And yes, I did put some money in his tip jar - and then asked it it would be OK to take his picture.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:48 PM
Monday, September 17, 2018
The real reason we went to the beach at sunset yesterday was to do a family portrait. I always like to take a family portrait in September so that I can include a small print in the Christmas Card each year. It is not easy to get everyone together at the end of the day because of everyone's work schedules, so some years we don't to do a picture. But we did yesterday, and I am thrilled with the results, which I present to you for your viewing pleasure!
Sunday, September 16, 2018
We went down to the ocean at the end of the day, just to watch the Sun go down. And we did watch that, and we photographed different people on the beach and the sunset. And then this Cormorant walked down the beach very slowly. He seemed to be OK, but he was moving so slowly. We wondered if the bird was not well. A number of people saw the bird walking and moved closer so they could photograph it. They kept a respectable distance, and the Cormorant did not seem frightened by the people. Eventually he continued to walk away from us and down the beach. Hope the bird is OK
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:22 PM
Saturday, September 15, 2018
One of the exhibits we saw at the California Science Center yesterday was the Space Shuttle "Endeavour" which was recently added to the collection at the Center. The shuttle is a spectacular flying machine, and it is huge beyond belief! You can see that it dwarfs the people underneath. Officially the "shuttle" consists of the orbiter, which this is, and the main fuel tank, and the solid rocket boosters.
This is one of the three engines on the back of the shuttle. It was made by Rocketdyne. The shuttle was made by North American Aviation, with some components made by other manufacturers like Boeing.
This is a view looking up from under the front of the shuttle. What you can see are a whole bunch of black high-temperature reusable surface insulation tiles, used on the orbiter underside, to protect the orbiter from the heat of reentry. These are made of coated Silica ceramics. Interesting that each tile has a number marked on it to keep track of where the tiles belong on the fuselage. The tiles are fastened onto the aluminum skin of the orbiter with, believe it or not, silicone adhesive, like you caulk your bathroom tub with!
Ok so here is what was REALLY interesting about our visit to the shuttle. This guy! His name is "Art" and he is a volunteer at the Endeavour exhibit. He formerly worked as an engineer for Rocketdyne and worked on the engines for the shuttle. When we walked in he asked if we had any questions, and we started asking, and he knew ALL the answers about everything. And here is one other really cool thing - I was asking a lot of questions, and he turned to Kathy and Liz and Amy and asked if THEY had any questions, which they did! I loved that he was sensitive to women wanting to know about this machine. I have to say, I have seen other orbiters in other museums, but this was the absolutely best experience because of Art's encyclopedic knowledge of the Shuttle. He made our day! Please be sure to click on each photo, especially the first one, to see everything in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:55 PM
Friday, September 14, 2018
How is it that I never had heard about the California Science Center? All the years we have come here visiting, and I always go to The Getty Center, or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And not the Science Center? What is WRONG with me! So today we came here for two specific exhibits that Liz and Amy had heard about, and an IMAX film. What a day. What great exhibits. More on them tomorrow. The architecture here is pretty amazing as well. This is the giant atrium that you pass through to get to two parts of the museum. There are these gold balls hanging under an occulus with a magenta filter over it - there are patches of magenta light all over the floor of the atrium, which changes with time throughout the day. There is a raised stone panel under the atrium with some amazing quotes carved into the stone. Here is a favorite: "What is life? Is it the flash of a firefly in the night. Is it the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” -- Crowfoot, 1930
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:15 PM
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Today was our 51st Anniversary, and we had a wonderful time! We decided to have lunch at Chez Jay, on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. It is a legendary dive bar that has been around since 1959, but what makes it a big deal for us, is that it has been featured in two seasons of the Amazon series "Goliath" starring Billy Bob Thornton. Thornton plays a down and out lawyer who lives in a nearby motel and hangs out in this bar! It was really fun for us to have lunch here, and the food was absolutely delicious!
You can see that a poster for the show "Goliath" has been posted on the outside of the bar in the photo above. Over the years, Chez Jay has been a notorious hangout for Hollywood celebrities. This is not the greatest photo of the bar, but a car was parked directly in front of the restaurant which got in the way of having a better composition, and of a sense of place of the restaurant.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:40 PM
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
After the rain and clouds of New York, it wasn't too long before we were flying under clear skies. But what was particularly nice was that it was clear over the deserts of Colorado and Arizona. We flew right over four corners, where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet. When I started to see these magnificent views of red rock country, I should have taken note of where I was, but I was shooting non-stop for at least half an hour. So these photographs are most likely in Arizona, but perhaps one of them is in Colorado. In any case, what magnificent landscapes these are, especially for a easterner, who is used to green trees and grasses. But these lands are no less beautiful, and sometimes seem more beautiful because they are less familiar. Please be sure to click on each of these to see them in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:41 PM
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
We headed to JFK this morning for our flight to Los Angeles. It was a gray and rainy day, but that's OK, because we are getting out of town - on our favorite airline - Jet Blue.
"Wait, what airline are you traveling on?" you might ask. "Jet Blue."
Taxiing out for takeoff we went by the distinctive tower where the controllers work, and between our aircraft and the tower was this Etihad Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Man, that is a BIG airplane!
I should have timed the climb, but I am guessing that we were on top of the cloud deck within five minutes or so. So good, after all the cloudy and rainy days we have had, to see blue sky and sunshine!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:32 PM
Monday, September 10, 2018
This is the historic Sea Cliff Long Island Railroad station. I photographed it the other day for an unusual reason. "Wiki Loves Monuments" is an annual international photographic competition held during the month of September, organised worldwide by Wikipedia community members. Participants take pictures of local historical monuments and heritage sites in their region, and upload them to Wikimedia Commons. The aim of event is to highlight the heritage sites of the participating countries with the goal to encourage people to capture pictures of these monuments, and to put them under a free licence which can then be re-used not only in Wikipedia but everywhere by everyone.
This is the second year I have photographed historic buildings in and around Sea Cliff. During Wiki Loves Monuments 2012, more than 350,000 photographs of historic monuments were uploaded by more than 15,000 participants. It is such a cool idea, and when I first heard of it, I jumped at the chance. So here's the thing... I am not all that happy with this photograph. I am going to rephotograph this station later in the year, in hopes I can shoot at sunrise and it will make a more interesting photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:24 PM
Sunday, September 9, 2018
So this was really cool. After the safety seminar indoors about loss of control of an aircraft, the instructor had us all come outside and stand on the ramp. They closed the airport for about 15 minutes and he took off in his high performance acrobatic aircraft and demonstrated all the things about aircraft control that he had spoken of in the sky, right over our heads! We had our own private airshow! In this first shot, you can see from the smoke coming from the aircraft that the airplane is not flying forward, toward the propeller. It is falling sideways toward the ground! Just one of the out-of-control situations the instructor had spoken of. Then the pilot added power, regained control and flew on.
This is the airplane the pilot flew. It is relative small, but very powerful, with a 340 HP engine! Normally and aircraft of this size might have a 100 HP or a 160 HP engine.
Here the pilot is finishing up a loop, where the airplane climbs up, makes a complete circle up and over, and comes down the back side.
Some of the spectators viewing the aerobatic performance from the edge of the airfield.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:01 PM
Saturday, September 8, 2018
I went to an amazing FAA Safety Seminar today out at Islip MacArthur Airport. It was by this pilot, David Windmiller, an acrobatic pilot and instructor, speaking about accidents involving Loss of Control while flying an airplane. I will tell you this - if you are in a small aircraft (or in an airliner!) and it is in this position in the sky while flying, you are in a really bad place! So David's talk was how to recognize the signs of an incipient stall, and how to recover and return to normal flight. An absolutely brilliant presentation that included a lot of information about aerodynamics as well.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:43 PM
Friday, September 7, 2018
I went into town to pick up a pizza for dinner. I noticed two new fence posts in the ground made out of pressure treated wood, near the pizza shop. I wondered what the fence was going to look like. On the way back to the car I saw this brand new fence which was about 30 feet from the new fence posts! Wow, it is gorgeous, with all the wonderful architectural detailing! I love that they took so much care to make this special. So appropriate for Sea Cliff. Isn't this just beautiful?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Thursday, September 6, 2018
I was getting cabin fever - it has been so hot I haven't done a bike ride in days. So today was only 89 and I thought I would be careful and give it a try. After I was all suited up, and just as I was about to leave the driveway I heard a crash of thunder! Oh man, I forgot to check radar. When I did check I decided that the cell was going to pass just to the north of us. So off I went, hoping. During my ride which goes to the south of Sea Cliff, I kept hearing the boom of thunder behind me and the crack of lightning. Was this a good idea? Yeah, it was. The cell stayed north and I had a great ride - I rode really S L O W so that I wouldn't get overheated, and the rain stayed away. Beautiful sky and clouds, don't you think?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:10 PM
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Whenever I am desperate for a photo for my blog post, the kitties never fail to come through for me! Witness this. Sam was napping, as he does several times a day, and one of his favorite things is to put one paw over his eyes, which is really cute. I thought it would make a cute picture so I got my camera and went over to him and took one shot. Then he moved his paw to this position so he could see what I was up to! I took this shot, then everything changed! Whew, glad I got the shot! Cute, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:27 PM
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
After I photographed the ornamental grasses in the garden next to the house, I walked across the side yard to look at the Zinnias. I looked at a number of them, but some of the little yellow parts were missing in most of the blossoms. I started by photographing the entire blossom, but then I thought of my friend Dean, and thought "Not close enough!" So this is closer, but probably not close enough for Dean. He is really a master of close-up photography.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:13 PM
Monday, September 3, 2018
Desperate for a photograph for the blog at the end of the day, I grabbed my Nikon with its close-up lens and headed out to the garden to see what I could find. And what luck - these grasses have grown fairly tall this summer. I love the fan pattern of the individual stems as they radiate out from the center of the picture - that's what caught my eye.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:45 PM