Monthly Archives: February 2014

New York in film

City streets

I recently came back from a fantastic 9-day vacation in New York. I’m usually fairly minimalist when I travel, but this time, not so much. The fact that I’m a California girl packing for a New York winter was an added challenge. How do I stay warm, dry and fashionable (because I’m vain like that) for over a week? It’s all about good shoes, a warm coat (or three in my case), and the appropriate accessories (hat, gloves, scarves). I need to go back so they don’t collect too much dust. I haven’t had to be immersed in cold like that since I lived in Portland, and even then it wasn’t that severe.

But enough about clothes. We’re here to talk about photography. Still not being minimalist here, I brought two cameras. I’ve been on somewhat of a film kick lately, so I decided to bring my uncle’s old Pentax Spotmatic. It’s a wonderful camera. I kept the 28mm lens on that baby the entire time, but I also brought a 50mm, just in case. I should have kept it at home though because the wide angle was perfect for my needs.

I experimented a bit. I used color negative film. Kodak Portra 800. It creates a deep saturation that’s really fun. The colors really pop.

My cousin and his wife scored a sweet 5th floor walkup for a steal in Chelsea, which they let me use as home base and let me come and go as I pleased. They live a skip away from the High Line, which is a mile-long, elevated park built on an old rail line.

Snow along the High Line. No one wanted to sit here.

Walking along the High Line provides a great vantage point of the neighborhoods.

View from the High Line.

The architecture is a great mix of old and new.

Love the old and new architecture.

Flat Iron Building, Hotel on Rivington

I wish that SF had some more variety and creativity with their buildings. I mean, come on, the shape of this condo building is so refreshing! You gotta love it.

The Blue Condos

In addition to walking everywhere, I spent a good amount of time learning about the subway, taking the train multiple times daily. It makes me realize how truly lacking in accessibility and connectivity the Bay Area’s public transit system is.

NYC's subway system is so much better than what we have here in SF.


I rarely had to wait more than 5 minutes for any train. And while the underground wasn’t as encompassing as say, Japan’s underground, they still offer more than what SF’s MUNI offers.

I wonder how much business he gets in the subway.

My favorite thing about visiting a new place, is the chance to get immersed in everyday life. It provides an alternate perspective of how to live. I liked figuring out how to adjust my needs to a new locale – where to get coffee, where to get food, which park to visit, how to spend my free time.

Typical old apartment building. Love.

I popped off a button on my coat (the disadvantages of wearing vintage, the thread had gotten quite weak), and usually I would have fixed it myself, but here I just took it to a tailor to have it fixed on the spot. The seamstress was really friendly. It’s nice to patron local businesses, the frameworks of a neighborhood.

Popped off my button, she's fixing it!

The night life is truly great. Dinner at midnight, dancing until 4am, there are a plentitude of options for late night entertainment. And so many people out in the wee hours of night. I never felt unsafe because of the sheer amount of people walking about. I understand why this city never sleeps.

Snapped this while crossing the street, managed not to get run over.

I met up with many friends, shopped the sample sales, hit the bars, ate so much delicious food, enjoyed museums, sights, a comedy show. It was nonstop. And to make this a true hedonistic trip, I had a vacation from my vacation. I retreated for a couple days in a sleek, minimalist hotel. It was difficult to leave when it was time.

Lobby entrance at the Hotel on Rivington

When it was the day to return back to San Francisco, it started snowing (again). I finally found the motivation to use my digital SLR (the only time I used the camera). I brought out my Canon 5DM2 with my 24-105mm lens, and went on my cousin’s roof to capture the huge clumps of snow falling from the sky. This is still completely novel to me – soft, frozen water falling from the sky, especially in an urban setting.

I wished that I would have been snowed in, delaying my flight back to SF. But, I suppose, it’s good to get back to reality, lest I get trapped in this dream of a vacation and never want to climb back out.

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San Francisco in film

Last month I spent a day riding my bike around SF, enjoying the gorgeous weather. I brought along my dad’s old Canon SLR. The camera’s metering system runs on a battery that’s no longer made, so I either have to use a separate light meter (I use an app on my phone) or guesstimate and hope for the best (which I do more often than not).

I used 400 speed film, which was probably too much for the full sun that shone brightly that day. Oh, the limitations of film. Luckily, unlike digital, it’s more forgiving.

When looking at my black and white film prints, I sometimes pretend that the photo was taken a long time ago, and try to imagine what it would be like if I were around in that day and age.

Here’s the Conservatory of Flowers, originally built in the late 1800’s. When I rode by it again that night, it was lit up green.

golden gate park

I ended my bike tour at the Sutro Baths. I sipped on a cappuccino from the new cafe and enjoyed the view before trekking down to explore the ruins. This was my view. Not bad.

sf landscape

It was as crowded as I’d ever seen that place. Everyone lingered for a beautiful sunset. I used those moments to breathe deeply and savor this incredible life I’m lucky enough to find myself experiencing.

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