Monday, December 31, 2018
Is this the cutest Santa you have ever seen? We saw it when visiting Amy & Gus last year, and fell in love with it. When we got home, we went to the artist's website but there were none left! This Christmas Amy said "I have a gift for you." That's unusual because we don't exchange gifts. And then she said it was from her friends Nuri & Sharon who we have met before. Turns out, they were the ones who gave Amy her Santa. After we saw Amy's Santa, last year she told them that she loved her Santa, and that her parents (that would be us) were obsessed with it! So last year they went back to the store where they bought it, in Santa Monica, and bought us this one! Oh man, how nice is that! We are overjoyed and we love our new Santa! We hope you all have a Happy New Year!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:18 PM
Sunday, December 30, 2018
This is such an amazing photograph of the land from an airplane. I didn't want to post it in my series "East to West," I wanted to display it all by itself. It was taken from 34,000 feet and it is the desert just a bit north of a town called Twentynine Palms which is about 150 miles east of Los Angeles. Please click on the picture to see it in more detail. If you look carefully, you can see low mountains and the desert, and in the foreground center you can see a dry wash where water has run off at one time. It is a very subtle landscape and the colors are so subtle and so beautiful. It almost seems like an imaginary landscape. I think I need to make a giant print of this to hang on my wall at home.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 4:24 PM
Saturday, December 29, 2018
We went over to Ralph's grocery store for a few items, and I decided to wait in the car. I happened to look over to the right, and saw these two dogs in the car next to me! So I got my camera ready, and then rolled down the passenger side window. The glass was green and the color would be off if I didn't lower the window. The dogs were great and didn't seem to notice I was photographing them. I love this shot! Please click on this to see it in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:51 PM
Friday, December 28, 2018
I was really paying attention to the skateboarders in the park late in the afternoon. I did see that the sun was getting lower in the sky which helped yesterday's pictures. As I turned around to leave, I couldn't believe my eyes! The warm late afternoon sun was illuminating the palm trees against the dark gray clouds which was stunning. And then I noticed the shadows! At the bottom of the picture, you can see the shadows of a line of spectators at the skatepark! Wow!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:42 PM
Thursday, December 27, 2018
At some time during every visit to California, we take a stroll on the Venice Beach Boardwalk to do some people watching. On this trip we went right to the Venice Skatepark. It is an astounding place to watch skateboarders. Some of the best skateboarders in the business work out here. I just read an article that it took 20 years to lobby the city in order to get this build. It opened in 2009. The park was jammed with spectators standing behind a protective rail.
And here is one of the skaters on the wall of "the pool." We must have watched all the skaters for nearly an hour.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
We piled into the car and drove down to Abbot Kinney, to a restaurant called "Lemonade." It is an amazing place with all kinds of healthy salads, like you wouldn't believe. We were talking about driving over to the beach to walk the boardwalk for a bit. Sarah said she had something else to do so she said "I'll take a Bird home." So what is a bird? It is a phenomenon that has been going on for about a year or so now - battery powered scooters!. "Bird" was the first one. The way it works is that these things are just left in various spots around Venice. You have an app on your phone, and it connects with the scooter and it unlocks. It costs $1.50 to turn it on and then $.15 a minute. When you get where you are going, you just leave it wherever you are. At night employees of the company drive around, and find where they are by GPS, pick them up, charge them overnight, and return them to various places for the morning. It is an amazing system! Actually this is a "Lime" rather than a Bird, and there are two others as well - "Jump" and "Lyft." You see them EVERYWHERE around here!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:24 PM
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
This is our Christmas dinner this afternoon. A wonderful gathering of relatives from both families and two friends of Liz and Amy and Sarah and Gus. We had the traditional Turkey dinner with stuffing and Joan's recipe for sweet potato and cranberries and mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie. All the result of hard work in the kitchen starting early this morning by Kathy and Liz.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Monday, December 24, 2018
Light one candle in the night. Light one candle of hope;
hope for the world to calm its fear, hope for the news we long to hear,
hope in a child who will soon appear, Light one candle of hope.
Light one candle in the night. Light one candle of faith;
faith that can heal a world in need, faith that can conquer hate and greed,
faith in a child who come to lead. Light one candle of faith.
--Don Besig & Nancy Price “Candles of Advent”
Photograph: Milky Way rising over Casa Grande, Big Bend National Park, Texas. March 2018
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:54 PM
Sunday, December 23, 2018
This is the fourth year of the Salon that Liz, Sarah, and Amy put on each year, just before Christmas. It all began when they got together to learn some Christmas songs and sing them acapella with harmony. It is astounding to hear them and their beautiful harmonies. So in addition to the three of them, called the "Tree-O," they have other friends perform by singing or doing readings.
This is Korena, playing her guitar and singing a song that she wrote about the mystery of Santa Claus, and it was really clever and very funny!
The "Tree-O" added another member to their group for one song - so this group pictured is the "Christmas Fourest" which includes their friend Donna.
The room was packed to the rafters, and this photo shows only a small part of the audience in the room. You can see how much they are enjoying the performances.
This is Amy and Liz and Sarah, with Gus in the foreground, really enjoying on of the other performers.
This is Maureen, the mother of one of Liz and Amy and Sarah's friends. She read "The Night Before Christmas" to the assembled, and she was such a wonderful reader, that she held the group in the palm of her hand as she read. She has some acting experience in her background, and it showed in the way she spoke.
These are two members of the group of friends. Lisa at left, has a daughter on each side of her, and her good friend Ellen joins them for a selfie.
This is Jen and she and her partner's 3 week old baby. Lot of love in this photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:08 PM
You may remember a post I did back in September, about buying my first pair of Van's shoes. You can find the photo here: https://greatvisualtruths.blogspot.com/search?q=vans I bought a pair of classic black and white checkerboard Vans, and they are comfortable! Well, on this trip, I decided I wanted another pair of slightly different Vans. So I bought these low-top sneakers, in bright red. I told Liz I was going down to the store, and she thought about joining me, and then had to do something else at the time. But when I stopped back at the house much later in the day, she had a grin on her face, and said "Look What I bought!" A red set of Authentic Vans, just like mind! So we had to pose for the obligatory photograph to record this bit of family history! Cool, huh?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 12:56 AM
Friday, December 21, 2018
We drove up to the Santa Monica Mall to see the movie "Green Book" and it was stunning! One of the best movies of the year! Then we wandered up and down the promenade which this year has this amazing web of lights suspended over the walkway. We looked at all the street performers and wandered in and out of all the shops an everyone bought a little something - well, except for me... :-) But I did take this wonderful portrait of all my girls.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:09 PM
Thursday, December 20, 2018
The Getty Center is my favorite place in Los Angeles. Every time we come to the west coast for a visit, I take a day to come here, because it charges my batteries! There are photographs everywhere! I came to the museum to see an exhibit of the photographs of Sally Mann, and then an exhibit of paintings, sculpture and drawings: "The Renaissance Nude." Both wonderful exhibitions. And then there is the architecture of The Getty. After leaving a gallery, I need to walk around outside and photograph the architecture and the people. These are tables and chairs, and their shadows, on a plaza where people can sit and have lunch, or just relax. This photo wouldn't work at all, if the woman was not seated at the last table!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:56 PM
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
There has been a heavy lift rocket launch scheduled for the last two days, at Vandenberg AFB. The launch site is 120 miles from Venice. But when we were here in September, we just happened to see the end of a launch from the street outside the house and it was amazing. So this time we decided to go to the beach for the best view. Two days ago the launch was scrubbed because of high winds. Today the countdown got to within 5 minutes of launch, and then it was scrubbed because of a Hydrogen leak. Bummer. But I did get this nice view of the mountains in the distance where the launch would appear.
About 15 minutes before the launch time, this streak in the sky appeared - it almost looked as if it was the launch of some smaller rocket. It hung in the sky, until it was distorted by the high level winds. I couldn't find any reference to what this object might be. It was a beautiful sunset, and we were at the beach, so the time wasn't a complete loss.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:51 PM
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
East to West, New York to California, and me shooting out the window with my little Sony RX100 all the way. Leaving JFK we continued in a southwest direction, which gave a nice view of Manhattan in the distance. PLEASE CLICK ON EACH OF THESE TO SEE MORE DETAIL.
A little further along, after passing Brooklyn we got a great view of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. This bridge is 13,700 feet long, 700 feet high, and when it was completed in 1964, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
These are cumulus clouds, in the vicinity of Wheeling, West Virginia. I am amazed at the similarity of the clouds to each other.
This is the Colorado River, which separates the states of Arizona and Nevada - the state line runs right down the center of the river.
And we are now on final approach to Los Angeles International Airport. Man, these houses go on forever. There are sure a lot of people living in Los Angeles!
I decided to take a closer view of the houses as we got closer to the ground while approaching the airport. So there you go, a coast-to-coast view of our trip.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:20 PM
Monday, December 17, 2018
Tonight I did my second Christmas ritual of the season, making gingerbread cookies! My first ritual, of course, is the making and sending of Christmas cards. These are really amazing cookies. The recipe for these came from Mertie Loomis, my grandmother's friend. She passed the recipe down to my mom, and she passed the recipe down to my sisters and I. You make the dough, then put it in the refrigerator for an hour to chill, then roll the dough out, and use a cookie cutter to make each cookie.
What's funny about these is how distorted some of the cookies are! The dough was soft, so getting it on and off the cookie sheet distorts the cookies. You might be interested in the design of the gingerbread woman. I decided to make a cookie cutter years ago, and I think I worked from a picture in a magazine. To look at these now, it seems as if they are Dutch girls! I cut the shape out of a piece of galvanized sheet metal, and then added a narrow strip of metal around the edge which cut the dough.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:19 PM
Sunday, December 16, 2018
On one of my recent walks down to the water I went by this tree a couple of blocks down the street. I think they put these giant ornaments on this tree every year. A nice touch and a different kind of Christmas decoration. And, the tree is green! Well a little bit, at least... I photographed this a couple of times, but the light wasn't right. But today, in the light rain, the light was perfect. So here you go!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:18 PM
Saturday, December 15, 2018
We drove up to Connecticut today for Maureen's birthday party! It was a wonderful gathering with friends and family and colleagues from work. It was a complete surprise to her as well, which was fun.
Here's a family photo with children, sister, father, husband, and even an aunt!
And the cake, with Maureen's picture on it, so everyone would know who's birthday it was!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:07 PM
Friday, December 14, 2018
Kathy invited our neighbor Judy over so they could decorate Christmas cookies together. It was fun to see all the preparation beforehand. She had to make a number of different colored frostings, and then load them into the pastry bags. I was amazed at how small some of the nozzles were - which resulted in some very delicate designs.
I have never seen frosting decorations done with such a delicate stream of frosting!
Here is a collection of some of the designs. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:30 PM
Thursday, December 13, 2018
I photographed the outside of the house that is being rehabbed at dusk, because I loved the light. But I have been curious about what's inside the house. Months ago, before the house was put up for sale, there was a sale, and people were going in and out of the house to buy furnishings. I wish I had gone in just to see what the house looked like then. Anyhow, the other day, when the sun was shining, I decided to walk up on the front porch and take a photograph through the large glass window in the front door. You can see that they are stripping everything out - lathe and plaster walls, and ceiling plaster, and even some of the flooring. So this rehab is going to be a big job! Notice that there is a beautiful chandelier hanging in the top of the picture.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:44 PM
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
When I went for my walk with my new camera the other day, it was really dark by the time I got back to our street. The light on this house was perfect. This has been here forever, and it always looked a bit rundown. It apparently had rooms to rent for individuals - maybe three rooms. It went on the market a year ago, and was for sale for a whole year, probably. Then it was bought and the picket fence in the front was torn down, and bushes and trees around the house and property were removed. Then you could see what bad shape the house war really in. There was an open house sale - I should have gone to that to see the inside, but I didn't. The light was really low, and so I was able to hand-hold the camera, using a high ISO (film) speed and still get a good picture. The house is going to be rehabbed. More on this tomorrow.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:52 PM
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
This is wild! When I posted the daylight photograph of this scene, some of you suggested that it might be a Christmas tree. Well, the other day I drove by in the afternoon, and saw lights on the bikes! I had some other things to do, so didn't get back until this afternoon at dusk, and took this photograph. This is so amazing! And I love that Joan and Betsey saw this coming!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 2:17 PM
Monday, December 10, 2018
Yesterday, after photographing the fishermen in the middle of the day, I decided to go for a 2 1/2 mile walk along the harbor, back to where I did the earlier shot. It was much later in the day, and the light was fading. I came upon this bouquet of flowers tied to this bench overlooking the harbor! What's funny is that when I passed a previous bench, there were some evergreen branches and a red bow. Usually there are some kind of Christmas decorations on each bench, but this was unusual. These may have been left here by a member of a bridal party - there is a restaurant across the street when bridal receptions are held. I love the feeling of these abandoned flowers at dusk, at the end of the day.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2018
This is the first blog post with my new camera! I neglected to mention that when I bought the new camera, I also bought a telephoto zoom lens, which I also had for the other camera. So I used the telephoto to reach out to get a closer view of these men fishing across the harbor. You will note the term "Fishers" which I used as the title. I remember a number of years ago, the government needed to come up with "gender neutral" names for various occupations - "fishermen" wouldn't work for everyone, thus, in this case "fishers." Just an interesting bit of history. I love this photograph because of the dark sky above the fishermen.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:07 PM
Saturday, December 8, 2018
So this is my new camera. It is the Canon EOS T7i. What is interesting is that it looks pretty much like the old camera! It's mainly plastic, as the SONY was, and it is lightweight which makes it a nice vacation camera. It cost $750 which is about $200 more than the SONY did but it is 11 years later. Now for the technical details: The SONY had a maximum ISO (film speed) of 3200. The Canon's max ISO is 25,600 which means it is great in low light and night. The SONY's file size was 28 MB and the T7i has a file size of 69 MB! That is a huge increase in quality! So now you can watch the blog and see if my photographs look better!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:14 PM
Friday, December 7, 2018
I bought this camera when I retired, in 2008. It cost $527 with a lens. I had also purchased a professional camera - A Nikon D300 which cost $2500. But I also decided I needed a less expensive camera to keep in the trunk of the car all the time - I didn't want to risk losing the Nikon. I chose this SONY camera because I had done a freelance job for SONY Japan, and they sent me a couple of these to take pictures with. I loved that this camera was so lightweight that I decided to buy one for myself after the assignment was done. I have probably shot half the images in my blog with this camera over almost 11 years. It has really gotten a workout, and it has been so reliable. Because I have used this nonstop, I am getting worried that it might fail unexpectedly when I might be away from home. So I decided to replace it with a more modern camera. This will not be the end of the line for this camera, though. I am going to have it converted to do infrared photographs. You might remember that my friend Dean loaned me a camera of his that would do infrared and I did that magnificent photo of the Japanese Maple where the leaves are brilliant white. So you have not seen the last photographs from this camera. I will tell you about the new camera tomorrow.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:17 PM
Thursday, December 6, 2018
It was so amazing to be in Manhattan as twilight faded into night last night. There seemed to be a photograph on every corner. I took the twilight photo first, at Fifth Avenue, then went to the gallery to see the two exhibits, then came back across Fifth Avenue and saw this photograph! It is hard not to notice that beautiful illuminated snowflake!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:11 PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
I arrived in Manhattan late in the day yesterday, because I wasn't there to visit a museum as I usually do. I did go over to a gallery to see two small exhibitions of photographs. I came out of the underground at 5th avenue and Central Park South at twilight. As I looked up, as I always do, I was taken by the lovely soft light and all the illuminated windows in these buildings. And this particular frame has a flock of birds as well. The building in the center of the photograph used to be the General Motors building. The tall thin building to the right is called 432 Park Avenue, and at 1,396 feet is the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:27 PM
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
About a month ago, Kathy mentioned that she was going to go to the city with three of her friends to see Bryan Cranston in "Network" on Broadway. We are huge Bryan Cranston fans, after first seeing him in all the seasons of "Breaking Bad." We also saw him on Broadway in "All The Way With LBJ" which was spectacular. So I was disappointed that I wouldn't be seeing this show. Then Kathy said "why don't you get a ticket and see it?" which is what I did tonight. It is a wonderful show, and Bryan Cranston was spectacular as Howard Beale, a disenchanted TV anchor. Maybe you have seen the movie of this story, from 1976.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:48 PM
Monday, December 3, 2018
In addition to my photograph of the trees in fog, late in the day I noticed these water drops on the branches of the Japanese Maple. It was interesting how bright these drops were - they got my attention when I was standing fifteen feet away from the tree. For the technically inclined (all three of you!) I used a telephoto zoom lens of almost 400 mm. What that does is bring me close to the tree branch and water drops, and at the same time, it blurs the background. I love the gray and the dark sense of this photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:11 PM
Sunday, December 2, 2018
It was raining lightly this morning, and foggy everywhere. We were off to church, but on the way home we were on the back roads that go through a very upscale area. It is a two-lane road, and there is no where to pull over. It was so frustrating to drive by golf courses in the fog, and giant fields with trees disappearing into the fog. So we kept on driving until I got to this area which I know, an which has room to pull over. But I cannot tell you of the frustration of not being able to stop at the other scenes. I shot this in color, but then looked at it in black & white and I like this better.
This is the original color image. Do you like this better in color? We did come up with a plan to use later for the sites where we couldn't stop. Next time, Kathy will drive, stop quickly, I will get out, and she would drive off. I would photograph and then she would come back and pick me up! Brilliant, right?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:49 PM