Tag Archives: san francisco

NW Corner of SF

20140412_SutroBath_14

A few weeks back, I went to Point Lobos and Sutro Baths with Sabrina for a little photowalk. Originally I was supposed to go down to the Peninsula to meet her, but I got a late start and made her venture up to SF to see me.

As both of us are wearing inappropriate shoes for trekking down a dirt path, she says, “Oh boy. It’s always an adventure with you.” I laugh and say thanks, even though I know that wasn’t a compliment. Realize, the hike down wasn’t treacherous, as we were passed by 7 year olds skipping down. But at least they were wearing sneakers with traction on the soles.

20140412_SutroBath_07

Most of the photos I took were of things I’ve photographed before. This becomes a lesson in creativity, to find a new perspective, a new technique, to convey something different of a place repeatedly visited. And so, this time I experimented with heavy post-processing for an abstract look to where the ocean meets the sky.

20140412_SutroBath_11

Next time I’ll try to manipulate that in-camera, so there will be less processing to do in post.

Sabrina, I look forward to many more adventures with you.

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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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High and dry

We are officially in a drought, and may be the worst one on record in California history. I remember as a kid in the 80’s we did our part in rationing our water when we were heavy into the drought. We collected water in buckets as it turned from cold to hot in the shower, which was then used to water the plants in our yard. We turned off the water during our shower when we soaped/shampooed up. Showering became a game, how quickly we could be in and out of there. And the whole “if it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” mantra. Good times.

Clearer skies have never been seen so often in January.

Complaining will not bring rain, so I’m trying my best to ignore the guilt of this warm, sunny weather and enjoy it while it’s here. Last weekend I managed to catch both a sunrise and a sunset.

I’ve seen many more sunsets than sunrises in my life, simply because I’m almost always awake for a sunset. But last Sunday, I managed to wake up early AND get out of my apartment. I took my bike and rode to the very top of Dolores Park, where there exists a beautiful view of the city’s skyline. My bike enjoyed the view.

sunrise at dolores park and public bikes

As the run rose, everything the rays touched turned warm, golden pink. It created a beautiful juxtaposition with the cool blues of the landscape that still evaded the sun.

San Francisco sunrise

The park for sure was a madhouse later that day, as it was gorgeous outside and people flock to the park under these conditions. But to enjoy the park as it’s waking up, to savor the stillness of an early weekend morning, is perhaps a park that not a lot of hipsters know.

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The fluttering of petals and wings

Butterfly on white

A couple months back, Sabrina and I took our annual excursion to Golden Gate Park to photograph the dahlias in full bloom. However, [ahem] someone’s penchant for sleeping in, along with a surprisingly clear sky in the park, meant that by the time we got to the park, the sun blazed overhead and created some harsh lighting, as you can see in this photo (see? overblown in the center top area).

pink, yellow, white dahlia

My laziness minimalist heart prevented me from bringing a tripod nor diffuser, so I had to be creative with my shots. I used the shade of the dahlias and took some low shots.

orange dahlia

I used my sunglasses to filter out some light here.

Dahlia sunglass filter

Sabrina suggested we retreat to the haven of the Conservatory of Flowers. Although it’s humid in there, at least we would be protected from that hot sun (remember, we’re San Franciscans and can only function in the fog and temps cooler than 72 degrees).

My aunt has so many orchids in her backyard. I have no idea how she keeps them alive. They would rival these beauties.

Violet orchid

Water lily loveliness.

water lily in darkness

Water lily

The main exhibit at the Conservatory showcases hundreds of butterflies. If you’re lucky, one will land on you.

emerge

Also, insects are kind of frightening up close. They look so alien. Check out those eyes.

Butterfly on white 2

Be sure to check out Sabrina’s photos from the day.

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Roaming Around Chinatown


Sabrina was itching to go to Chinatown for a photowalk and asked if I would join her. Of course! Ideally we wanted to capture this vibrant neighborhood during Golden Hour, the time of day everything is bathed in the golden light of the setting sun. But this is San Francisco, where summers require parkas, so unsurprisingly it was cloudy.

Always up for a challenge (i.e., we had no choice in the matter), we ventured on our photowalk.

I stuck with the small nifty-fifty lens. Sabrina shoots with a bigger gun.

The shops sell all sorts of trinkets.

So sparkly!

He waits for the bus.

Is it time to eat yet?

And then fade out with your classic SF “pointy building” shot.

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Fluffy Puppies at Fort Funston


One of my photo-partners-in-crime Sabrina rented a Hasselblad to try her hand at photographing Bianca and Sorcha, her beautiful Samoyeds (a.k.a. the Fluffy Puppies), in medium film format. She invited me along for the shoot. I thought about taking my Yashica to also channel the medium format vibe, but then I realized I needed more film, so I took my trusty digital camera and captured them in 1s and 0s.

We went to Fort Funston during Golden Hour, which bathed everything in beautiful light.

The dogs recently turned 9, but they remain puppies at heart, always playful and rambunctious, not entirely aware of their stature, and quite the showstoppers with their gorgeous, fluffy fur.

Knowing the ocean was near, Bianca and Sorcha ran ahead of us and impatiently demanded we catch up.

Finally at the beach!

Let’s dig for buried treasure!

Time to test out the waters!

Then the sun set, and it was time to go.

Fort Funston is always a good time. Many thanks to Sabrina for letting me join her (and treating me to a delicious dinner afterwards!). I can’t wait to see her photos!

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a shuttle!

The sky has been filled with all sorts of interesting things lately. The cloud formations today were dizzying.

Crazy cool cloud patterns

Today the Blue Angels were back in town for the annual Fleet Week show.

Blue Angels SF Fleet Week

And a couple weeks ago, the space shuttle Endeavour took a scenic farewell tour, piggy-back style. I’ve only seen space shuttles on tv, so it was incredibly thrilling to see it with my very own eyes.

Endeavour shuttle by Sutro Tower in SF

I can’t even get a paper airplane to fly well. How is it possible to build and fly machines of precision that inspire such imagination and hope? It blows my mind.

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Castro Photoshoot

san francisco skyline downtown
Monday I found myself at a photoshoot doing some last-minute assisting for one of my photo partners, Mike Wang. He was updating some corporate portraits for a local SF biz and asked if I could come over for some last minute help. The shoot location was at a luxuriously beautiful Spanish-style home in the Castro, with a stunning view of the city.

This home has been used as a filming location in the past, and rumor has it that it’ll be featured in a reality TV-show, premiering in the fall on Bravo. Craziness!

I only had time to snap a couple photos with my iPhone since I was busy holding up reflectors overhead in the wind, getting a great workout for my arms, as well as figuring out lighting and some photo troubleshooting.

Two types of shots were taken of each person, one with the amazing city backdrop, the other with a plain blue backdrop (to compliment the company’s website colors). Here’s Mike in action:

Mike Wang

I haven’t seen the images yet, but I know Mike did an excellent job!

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Sunday Streets in Film

I love Sunday Streets, which is when SF temporarily shuts down neighborhood streets to cars and opens them up to pedestrians, cyclists, tricyclists, rollerskaters, with a bunch of activities to promote fun, health, and the outdoors. And it’s free!

Local businesses pop up shops on the streets or sidewalks to offer their services and goods. Yoga and Zumba studios will have open classes you can stop by in. Musicians perform. Thousands of people come out. A real good time for adults and kids alike.

For the July 22nd Sunday Streets, Rickshaw Bags in the Dogpatch district had their doors open and I used my Pentax Spotmatic to snap this photo of an employee servicing a bike.

Izze sparkling juices gave out their refreshing drinks to passers by.

Sparkling Juice

At the end of this Sunday Streets route, there was a performance by Circus Bella. I admit I was absolutely delighted by the quality of this little circus. The audience was captivated, adults and children alike. Here are the “Russian Bar Hoppers” performing their incredible feats.

circus bella

Sunday Streets – always a good time!

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Photography treasure hunt!

André Hermann, a.k.a. @shutter_se7en on instagram is hiding 20 photobooks around SF, one each day, which I found out through @igerssf posted on instagram. According to his blog:

I have produced (20) 20-page photo books featuring my iPhone street photography. Each book will be signed and numbered. These are 20 unique books. The pdf will be destroyed and this format of book will never be printed again. Yes, you will have a special limited edition. Now here’s the trick. You’re wondering how do I get one of these books, right? You have to go out and find them. Every few days I will post a visual clue here on my blog with a hint as to where each book can be found. All 20 will be hid within the city of San Francisco.

Here’s the photo he first posted:

I’ve been in a funk lately, so I decided that going on a treasure hunt would be the perfectly silly, fun thing to do to help make me feel better. After sleuthing around on google maps, I realized that the photo was taken somewhere at the construction site for the new Transbay Terminal in SOMA.

I hopped on my bike and ventured downtown and enjoyed the beautiful day while going down Market Street. I turned onto Beale and started looking all around. I couldn’t find it. I pulled out my phone and brought up this Instagram image that André posted:

Hmm… where exactly is that? Some people who know me may not realize that I’m a shy person, especially when it comes to approaching strangers, but I’m trying to do some personal growth, so I went out of my confort zone and asked some construction workers if they recognized this man, or where this shot could have been taken. They were really friendly and took time out of their busy day to help me. We realized that I was not in the right spot, that I need to be further over, maybe on First Street. I snapped a pic of one of the workers (I rudely forgot to get his name!). Super nice guy. He enjoys riding his bicycle when he gets the chance.

I thanked the workers for their time, and jumped back on my bike and headed towards First Street. After sleuthing around several blocks, talking to another stranger or two (!), I finally found where the shot was taken on Natoma Street.

Now I had to find where the photobook was hidden, if it was still even there.  There was a sign leaning against the blockade, so I peeked behind it, but it wasn’t there. I looked in various spots, behind fences, even under a comforter, I finally found it. Wedged behind a sign posted to the fence that read “Danger Deep Excavation,” I found a manila envelope. And inside…

I was so stoked to find it! The photos in there are great: thought-provoking, interesting, nice composition. And of course it’s nice to see it all within the familiar confines of SF.

Yet another reason why I love instagram!

If you’re in SF, you can play too!

A new clue is posted each day on his blog: www.transmissionsfromthewastelands.wordpress.com

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