Monday, September 30, 2019
This is our friend Rush, from Albuquerque. Without him, none of these amazing trips would be possible. Why? Because they are all camping trips and Rush loads his pickup with camper top with tents, ground cloths, sleeping pads, and all the cooking supplies that we need to eat! Stan met him at the Grand Canyon about 6 or 7 years ago and they became friends. We have done trips to Chaco Canyon, Big Bend National Park, and now Yellowstone. We all have wonderful conversations, and enjoy telling stories to each other, and there is much laughter when we travel together. Without Rush, none of these amazing trips would ever happen.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:47 PM
The ground is fragile at so many of the geothermal features at Yellowstone, that they have built boardwalks for visitors. The boardwalks are everywhere and make seeing the geysers and steaming pools and other thermal features much easier and safer to see. Sometimes it gets really busy and there seems to be a person every three feet, during busy times. I love the silhouettes of the people with the steam behind them. Notice the very thin terraces formed from minerals in the water coming from the spring, which is on the other side of the boardwalk. Amazing scene, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:40 PM
Sunday, September 29, 2019
All over Yellowstone National Park, there are warnings upon warnings about the dangers of wildlife. When people see wildlife everywhere, like elk, bison, and bears, the animals become too familiar, and people get too close. In Mammoth Hot Springs, you are likely to see a dozen or more elk lounging on the lawns. In more public spaces, the park rangers are nearby, cautioning visitors to keep their distance. As of July 2015, an estimated 4,900 bison lived in Yellowstone National Park, the largest U.S. bison population on public land. During 1983–1985 visitors experienced 33 bison-related injuries, about 12 a year, so the park implemented education campaigns. After years of success, five injuries associated with bison encounters occurred in 2015, because visitors did not maintain the required distance of 75 ft. from bison while hiking or taking pictures. I ran into this scene on one of the boardwalks in a geothermal area. A number of people had stopped on the boardwalk about 100 feet away from this couple. This couple could be in danger because bison are unpredictable. Just because they seem calm, visitors need to keep their distance. I wondered if I should walk forward and tell the people they were too close. I wondered if I should shout out to them, to warn them. I did nothing. I did ask my friend Rush about this, and he said "never place yourself in danger to try and help someone who is acting foolishly."
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:44 PM
We went over to the cafeteria at Old Faithful for lunch one day, and realized after eating that Old Faithful was close to erupting, so I found the perfect position to see the geyser through the window, and I stood inside to wait. I was afraid that just as the geyser erupted, someone would walk between me and the window! Luck was on my side, and no one walked through the scene as I took about 15 photographs. I just loved that this was a different view of the geyser. Kind of a pre-framed photo! Oh, and this isn't the last photo of Old Faithful you will see.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:39 PM
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Let's see where do I begin? Yellowstone National Park is known for Old Faithful geyser, and Bison, so I will show you one of each. But not by any means the last of both of these subjects. I had such a wonderful time, photographing everything in sight! I am glad I was not shooting film! This is a photograph of the Old Faithful Geyser, and it doesn't particularly show the geyser well, because it is late in the eruption cycle, and the stream of hot water shooting straight up has stopped, but it is so dramatic with the steam against the dark sky. I photographed the Geyser a couple of times and will show you a better photograph later. Since you were all deprived of my posts last week, I will be posting two blogs a day to make up for my being away.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:51 PM
When most people think of Yellowstone National Park, they think of either Bison or Old Faithful. So here is my first photograph of Bison. More to come. The bison herd in Yellowstone National Park is probably the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States. . The Yellowstone Park bison herd was estimated in 2015 to be 4,900 bison. The American bison, found only in North America, is commonly known as a buffalo in the United States and Canada, but it is only distantly related to the true buffalo. The animal nearly became extinct in the late nineteenth century. The species' dramatic decline was the result of habitat loss due to the expansion of ranching and farming in western North America, industrial-scale hunting practiced by non-indigenous hunters, and even cases of deliberate policy by settler governments to destroy the food source of the native Indian peoples during times of conflict. Fortunately attempts to revive the American bison have been highly successful; farming has increased their population to nearly 150,000. The American bison is, therefore, no longer considered an endangered species.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:49 PM
Friday, September 20, 2019
I will be off the grid for a week. Here is a map of my flight from my flight planning software. I am leaving tomorrow morning from LaGuardia and Stan and I are flying to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 1639 nautical miles and 4 hours 23 minutes. Then we drive to Yellowstone National Park where we will be camping for a week with three other friends - Rush from Albuquerque, and Preston and his wife from Manhattan. I am excited about returning to Yellowstone. I was there 30 years ago, in the spring of 1989, to photograph the results of the fires of 1988. I can't wait to spend time in Yellowstone again! So we are camping, and I will be off the grid for a week. I will be home by next Saturday. See you all then.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:58 PM
Thursday, September 19, 2019
During the warmer months, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a large art work commissioned for installation on the roof. These pieces are interesting to see, and, there is also this spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline and the trees of Central Park. The first thing that jumps out at you from this vantage point are the new "super tall, super thin" residential dwellings. The first one of these is on the left side of this photo - 432 Park Avenue which opened in 2016. The most expensive unit included three stories, and sold for 91 million dollars! Yikes! Consider New York's Empire State Building, a model of classic skyscraper construction from the early 20th century, and 432 Park Avenue It's not surprising the newer building is more than 100 feet taller. What's arguably more impressive is the relative footprints at ground level; at its widest point, the Empire State building stretches 424 feet across. 432 Park Avenue was constructed on a 90-foot square lot! These soaring towers aren’t always popular—many have actively fought against the buildings sprouting along 57th Street and Central Park South, worried that they’ll cast long shadows over Central Park—but it’s hard to argue against their status as marvels of engineering.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:29 PM
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
I have shown you a photograph of this sculpture before, only I showed you the whole thing. It is a "room" with four outside walls and four inside walls, and the complexity of it is nothing short of astounding. It is a work by the sculptor Louise Nevelson, and it took her thirteen years to complete. It is assembled from found objects. It is impressive when you see the whole "room" but I was taken by all the small details of just this one exterior wall. I cannot begin to explain why I am so moved by this, but the detail and variety of shapes is just mind boggling. And this is just one wall! If you want to see my first post, with a wider view, and a view of the inside, please go go: Mrs N's Palace.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:52 PM
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
As we continued exploring exhibits in the Met, we ended up in a series of galleries for an exhibit titled "Epic Abstrraction." And guess who had a number of paintings in the first gallery? Right! Mark Rothko, who I am slowly coming to understand as I spend more time with his paintings. I was standing looking at just one painting, and looked over to my right, and here was Ginger, almost lost in the darkness between two Rothko works. The yellow and red one to the left is titled "No. 13. (White, Red on Yellow) That is my favorite in this gallery. The other painting, nearly all red-orange it titled "No. 21" What I loved about this photograph is Ginger, seemingly small, surrounded by these huge paintings with brilliant colors.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:25 PM
Monday, September 16, 2019
This is Nikhil Chopra, and he is the artist in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is actually living at the Met for nine continuous days in September. He is also working on a painting which moves around with him as he resides in different galleries. At each site he will transform a large canvas into some form of shelter. On the canvas itself he will draw an imagined landscape - sky, earth, water. - an amalgam of places he has seen, remembered or invented. It seemed weird that all these people were walking by just looking at him, so I decided to ask him a question. I crouched down to ask him a question, and he just stared at me. Then a museum employee came by and nicely explained to me that he would not interact with visitors. so I stood up, and then took this picture. This was our interaction. At least he is looking at me.
This is a wider view of his canvas and objects that he works with or lives on. In addition to the large landscape painting, there was some mention of him performing actions and music, but on this day, when we stopped by, he was just resting.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:05 PM
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Today I went to Fun City to meet my friends from Austin, Texas, Ron and Ginger. We had coffee and spent time catching up. It has been a few years since they were in New York. Then Ginger and I headed off to the Met to see some of the exhibitions. We started with "Apollo's Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography." As part of this exhibition there was an entire gallery filled with these photographs of the moon, taken by Maurice Loewy and Pierre Henri Puiseux through a telescope at the Paris Observatory, in 1910. I was explaining to Ginger, as we walked about the gallery. about the different craters, and how they were formed, and how later, smaller craters were found inside older, larger craters, and lava flows inside craters. A woman came up to me and said "can I ask you a question?" I said "sure." and she wanted to know what the rays were from the crater Plato. So I explained about the impact and how the material in the crater was blown way out of the crater when the huge meteor hit. She was so thankful, and confessed to following us around the gallery, because she heard some of my explanations and wanted to know more about the geology of the moon. She was a bit embarrassed and I said not to worry because I love to tell people about things like this. So we had talked to them in the gallery for perhaps 20 minutes! The husband said that they were from Toronto, and were visiting New York. He said he had a small telescope at home, and that they were going to try and view the moon from their balcony when they got back to Canada. So we parted company and they left the gallery. Five minutes later I thought: "I should have taken their portrait in front of the moon photographs!" I mean, where was my brain! I realized that it was probably impossibly to find them. So I took this photograph of two random people viewing the moon photographs, but this is not the couple from Canada. Stupid me!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:11 PM
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Kathy planted these decorative grasses at the foot of our front stairs. They have grown to be so beautiful, and they are particularly striking later in the day when they are backlit by the sun, as they are here. It's the first thing I see in the garden next to the house when I pull in to the driveway.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:19 PM
Friday, September 13, 2019
Today is our anniversary! Fifty two years! This is the rose I bought Kathy, along with a card, and a box of chocolates for the both of us. And we went out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. So now we are stuffed from eating too much, and back home to watch our favorite British TV show. A pretty exciting anniversary, don't you think?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:39 PM
Thursday, September 12, 2019
These are photographs of our side yard. The lawn here is hopeless... :-( It is a never ending battle to try and keep grass growing here - always has been. So as a fool's errand, I got out a small garden cultivator that I have owned for 30 years, got it started and then attacked some of the bare spots. Not all of them, because there are way too many. Just ones near the driveway. The above photo shows what it looks like after the cultivator chewed down into the soil about 4 or 5 inches.
Then I spread some peat moss on all the cultivated areas. Then I bought some compost, and spread a thin layer of that on top of the peat moss. Then I raked all that together. I added some starter fertilizer, and some grass seed, and lightly raked the seed into the soil, and watered it. So these two photographs show the finished work. Now we wait for the beautiful lawn to appear... As if!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:31 PM
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
On our last night in Port Jefferson, we went to a restaurant that is part of a marina complex. It was wonderful to sit by the water with all the boats and watch the sun go down. And, of course, to be eating a nice meal. It is fascinating that the sky got more interesting as it got later and later after sunset. You are probably bored with my sunsets by now, so I will stop posting them... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
This was an exciting day - we got the Impala back from the auto body shop! And man, does it look great! It is a 2013 car, so the finish was getting a bit tired. I had even thought of taking the car to a "detailing shop" where they go over the car and give new life to the finish. We did it to Kathy's 2005 Toyota, and it looked like a new car! Well, I guess the body shop rejuvenated the finish to this car after they did all the body work from the crash, and then repainted the replacement parts. So it's fun to have a shiny new car. But now I'm afraid to drive it down the road, for fear that someone will crash into me. That's how I feel whenever we get a new car!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:50 PM
Monday, September 9, 2019
Before reading this, please click on the image to enlarge it so you can read the text on the door. After parking our car in the metered lot, we walked toward the ferry terminal just to watch the boats coming and going. As we were leaving the lot, I think it was Dick who said something like "Look at that." I read the text on the door and loved it immediately - it seems so cosmic and I couldn't figure what it meant exactly. Then it occurred to me that someone had removed some letters from the beginning, and a word from the ending. I am guessing that originally the text said "Entrance on the other side." A simple puzzle and just about the right speed for me!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:07 PM
Sunday, September 8, 2019
During Mass today, we were listening to the Homily (Sermon) and I happened to look over to my right and saw this scene. This is Marie, and her two boys, who are our friends. You may remember that I took them to the Cradle of Aviation Museum some time ago. We usually sit near to them each week, and get to chat for a bit before the service starts. When I saw this, I didn't dare use my small camera on my belt, so I used my iPhone instead, and quietly took this photograph. It reminds me of some of those Norman Rockwell paintings of a number of people shown in profile. I really love this photo.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:50 PM
Saturday, September 7, 2019
One of the fun things of visiting Port Jefferson, is to watch the coming and goings of the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry. These are BIG boats, and it is fascinating to see how carefully and gently they are docked when they arrive. The first time I traveled on one of these boats was when I was a boy with my father. We drove to Bridgeport, parked our car, and traveled as pedestrians. That would have been back around 1952. I remember looking over the side up in the bow and seeing dolphins diving and following alongside the ship. I don't believe there are any dolphins in the sound any more.
The MV Grand Republic is huge. It is 300 feet long and 52 feet wide, and was built in Panama City, Florida in 2003. There are three ferries all together. The ferry company was founded in 1883, and it is one of the oldest operating ferry companies in America. The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry carries approximately 1.3 million passengers and 500,000 vehicles annually.
It almost takes several photographs to show how long the ship is. I wished this one had docked on my side of the pier, and I would be able to show the entire ship without the dock and pilings in the way. Oh, the "MV" in front of the ship's name? It stands for "Motor Vessel" and is only used for commercial ships.
Friday, September 6, 2019
In our touring around Port Jefferson and Stony Brook, Dick said we should drive up to St. James, where he and Trauti lived when they were living here. I had heard of the St. James General Store, but believe it or not, in all my years living and working here, I had never been to this place. This store was built in 1857, and much of the community was centered around this store at that time. The majority of customers consisted of local farmers and sailors who depended on the general store for their goods and services. The store was owned by a number of individuals and couples over the years, and then in 1990 it was purchased by the Suffolk County Department of Parks where it is one of the buildings in the St James District. That is a national historic district located at St. James in Smithtown Town, which includes 21 contributing buildings, and two contributing sites.
This is Pat who was the storekeeper when we visited, and she was a delight to talk with. Today, as it has done during the second half of the 20th century, the store has sold various late-Victorian-era artifacts. The second floor contains old books and children's toys related to Long Island history. So I did have to buy one book - about the barns of the North Fork. Oh, and some licorice!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:01 PM
Thursday, September 5, 2019
We had another lovely day with our friends Trauti and Dick. We travel first class - lunch was at McDonalds today! I realized that we always do a group photo but had not done one so far, and what is a more perfect background than McDonalds! So here it is. And what can be more American than the McDonald's arches, and the American flag. American vernacular indeed! It is hard to put into words, the richness of a friendship that began in 1966 and which has lasted all these years.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 6:28 PM
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
We have driven out to Stonybrook today, to meet our friends, Dick and Trauti who live in Masachusetts. They took the ferry from New London and drove from Orient Point to meet us. I worked with Dick starting in Rochester in 1966 and then at Newsday, and we have been friends all these years. They wanted to come back to Long Island and drive around and see where they had lived when they were working here and see the changes. Then we had dinner at a restaurant in Stony Brook, and afterward walked down to where we could see the harbor, and this gorgeous sunset. Dick and I tried to outdo each other in getting the best picture of the scene... :-) That's what friends do! We both won!
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
I drive or ride my bike past this pond nearly every day. Recently, the whole surface of the pond was covered with an algae bloom. That has to do with warm weather. I thought that this was bad for a pond, but then I went to the Penn State website and learned something about these algae:
"Pond Algae: It's Not All Bad! While long strands of filamentous algae are unappealing and have little value to the pond ecosystem, some other types of algae can actually provide important benefits to the pond. Planktonic algae are microscopic algae living throughout the water. While plankton algae blooms occur in response to warm and sunny conditions in the summer, the algae growth is supported by high levels of nutrients in the water (most often phosphorus and nitrogen) that may come from fertilizers, manures, septic systems, urban runoff or animal waste entering the pond. These blooms usually disappear in early fall around the first frost, causing the pond to clear up very quickly - often overnight."
In any case, the algae makes for interesting photographs. The first photograph reminded me of how some galaxies in the night sky look through my telescope. And the lovely swirls in the photograph above are quite beautiful.
This is how much of the pond is covered by the bloom - nearly the whole thing! What a surprise to see how quickly the algae covered the whole pond. Perhaps I hadn't noticed, but it seemed to happen overnight.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:18 PM
Monday, September 2, 2019
We went down to Home Depot and Lowes to look for a new faucet for the bathroom vanity. It was Labor Day so we figured traffic would be heavy, so we took the back roads to get there. We take this road each Sunday to get to church. It was raining, and as went by this small pond that we pass each week, this tree stood out in the rain and mist. Being the intrepid photographer that I am - afraid of nothing, I pulled over to the left, and stopped, and rolled down my window just enough to stick the lens out, to shoot this! And you thought that the life of a photographer was easy... :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:20 PM
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Fun with my drone today! There has been a lot of construction down the road for the last few months. There are piles of sand all along the roadway, so it is impossible to see what's going on behind the sand. So I went down there with my drone, so that I could fly up and get an aerial view of the property to see what was going on. Holy cow! That is some big project! Look at the extent of these concrete walls! They have been talking about building condominiums here for years, and now they are finally doing it. I cannot imagine what these buildings are going to look like when they are done.
This property once contained large oil storage tanks, which were demolished years ago, and the property has been empty since. One thing I have decided to do, is to go there and photograph the site from the ground, from all different directions, to record the scene for history. And then, of course, I will document the buildings that get built here, because I know you all will want to see what happens. By the way, up beyond those white tanks in the upper right hand corner of the photo, is where the old power plant was located, before it was demolished.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:00 PM