Saturday, July 5, 2008

ooooh, the smoke....


...blocked our view of the fireworks, so the trip to Treasure Island was a waste.... or was it?

I had planned on going to Marin County to sit at the headlands for three hours to save myself a good picture spot. Fog was forecast so I thought instead the Marin County bridge lookout point.... but sometimes the fog can be over the water and the northern portion of the bay and not San Francisco. I finally decided driving to Treasure Island... by coincidence, another photography friend was going also, so we planned to meet there.

For those not in the know, Treasure Island is the land added to Yerba Buena Island. It's an man-made island that housed patrol boats during WWII, and most of the facilities on the island was still there, though the housing buildings have been converted and/or renovated and being sold to civilians as condos and townhouses. I must say, for the money, it offers a fantastic view of the bay and the City though the drive is very hectic at times. Most of the still-standing military installation buildings, except for the main administration building at the entrance to the island itself, is now closed off and abandoned. If you ever get a chance to enter the main admin building, it's really beautiful and hosts gorgeous murals on its walls. It's a very spacious building and is great for photography!

So, I fought the traffic through North Beach and the Embarcadero, many areas closed due to the imprending fireworks show, and I couldn't believe the amount of traffic and people on the streets! I can compare it to being within five city blocks of Times Square on New Year's Eve!!

Arriving at the island, I started taking pictures right away... the tip of the Transamerica pyramid was covered in fog, and at times the tip would peek through ~ it was a great image. I then drve onto the island and looked for a parking spot at the very outer end, where I planned to set up. The wind was brisk, and water was being kicked up by the winds forecast to be steady at 15kts, but I thought it gusted at times to about 20 kts. There were already a lot of people walking around, BBQing and with friends and family, and of course along the water's edge were those with tripods and cameras, hoping for that fantastic fireworks picture over the SF skyline.

After some time, I hooked up with my friend and we waited patiently for night to fall. The scene from Treasure Island is a great dream, not only in the lovely skyline but also in the activity upon the bay waters.

Quite a few tankers, cargo and container ships crossed into my line of vision, plus sailboats, tugs, pilot boats and water ferries of every sort. As night fell, the steamboats slipped their moorings and joined the traffic enroute the fireworks site at Pier 39 and the Aquatic Park areas. Yes, I counted at least two Mississippi (I haven't had to spell that since I was in grammar school here decades ago!) steamboats lit like christmas trees... it was a sight to see!

Pelicans flew past many times, always a wonder to see and admire!
The fireworks at Sausalito started at 9pm and I was shocked we could even see it!! The fog had just lifted a little and we could see the lights glittering in the black, as the streams of fire soared upward then exploded. Soon after, the fireworks in San Francisco started and amazingly, the fog was thicker there than in Marin..... I think we saw just one hug red starburst that exploded, its red flares a glimmer of pinpoints of blood-red before it disappeared into the fog below, and that was it. We could hear the fireworks, the thunderous explosions but we couldn't see anything past the light flashes through the thick fog. We didn't know it then, and I didn't think of it either, but the smoke generated from the ground explosions of the fireworks going off created so much smoke on the water's level, that it mixed with the fog to hide everything from us watching from the east ~ and that included my location on Treasure Island. 45 minutes we could actually smell the thick gunpowderly smell that blew from the fireworks barge to the east by the wind. I think the best view would've been from Ft Mason or nearby there. In that spot, the wind would have blown everything away so that one could enjoy the light and color!

During this time, there was a steady stream of slow-moving white lights coming down onto Treasure Island ~ cars and more cars of people wanting to come to the island! That steady slow movement of lights did not stop till after 10pm, then started the slowly-increasing glow of red taillights as everyone tried to leave the island at the same time. So I waited around with my friend and watched the skyline, talked a bit about photography, and waited till the traffic died down.

I arrived in North Beach about 11pm and still North Beach was crowded with a mess of traffic of cars and people! I have never seen my corner so busy at this hour, and even as I was downloading my pictures to hard drive till midnight, I noticed a steady line of cars moving past my windows till past 1am!!!!

Of course, if you want to see my favorite images of the night, see them at my photo page here! Enjoy and hoping your Fourth was quiet and safe!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

They never told me this about MY files on CDs

Modern technology is great ~ I always say ~ when it works! Sometimes we think something might be the greatest thing on the planet since sliced butter, when in reality, it's a nightmare.

The best thing about the always-changing computer technology is that everything is always backward-compatible. This means that if you for example, have a floppy diskette with your data on it, it'll work in 2008 as well as when you originally copied the files onto that diskette back in 1997.... that is, if you can still find a computer with a floppy drive.

Right now I have a box full of CDs. It's a big box. The CDs within were shipped to me from Spain. Amazingly the plastic jewel cases arrived without any scratches and not one broken... as compared to a few other boxes when I arrived in Eugene over a year ago, that contained the same precious contents ~ my image files and music ~ and many of the CDs were broken! Jewel boxes, CDs..... all mixed within a box and the sharp plastic edges sratching the CD surface it's supposedly protecting. Try recovering your irreplaceable images recorded onto a CD that has deep scratches, or broken into many pieces!! NOT easy.....

So, here I am with a box of more than 60+ CDs. I'm going through the whole box and burning them all eventually onto my external hard drive I brought with me from Spain. Months ago in Eugene, when I had the first broken CDs, I decided to start using the external hard drive for my images exclusively. Why?

External hard drives are much faster than a CD or DVD drive. The bottleneck is less with an external HD, allowing the huge image files to be read and displayed much faster. NO matter how fast your CPU is or how much/many fast RAM you have, if you use a CD/DVD drive, it's going to be slow.

One also must consider the security of a HD. It's more durable than thin plastic. It has a smaller footprint as a single CD jewel case, but imagine putting up a shelf of 50 CDs (I have) and compare that with an external HD that has 300+ gigs capability and holding so many gigs of images, the footprint is actually much smaller than you can imagine.

Organization is good, if you follow the following rules:
a. Put all new files into a folder classified by subject matter and date. When I am finished with a calendar year of new image files, I move all those files created within that period into a main folder marked with that year, then everything within separated into its own folder titled by its individual category: flora, events, landscapes, sunsets, etc. Furthermore, I separate those into folders by date. You get the picture. Easy to organize, easy to find, easy to store. The better you create your filing system, the easier it will be to find those files weeks, month and years later.

The earliest CDs in discussion were burned in the early 2000s; still the number of errors in attempting to read just the folder is amazing! Can you imagine trying to read just one folder ~ not to mention the contents, I'm talking about just opening the stupid folder ~ encountering errors, and after 30 mins just ejecting the CD, waiting a few minutes and just trying it all over again? To date with this CD in my DVD drive burned in 2002, I am TRYing to copy less than 130 image files. After four hours of uncontinuous attempts, so many read errors, so many ejecting the CD, etc... I am still not finished!!!

So, be forewarned!! And yes, I have a very fast CPU, almost 2 gigs of RAM, and a PC that is about to go flying out the window!!! And there's more than 60 other CDs waiting for the same treatment!!!

Also remember: each year cameras are coming out with better resolution than the last digital cameras. That means each individual image file will be bigger than last year's little files, and with that in mind, can make for a bigger nightmare!!

UPDATE: WoW!! I just discovered that if I copy one image file at a time, I don't get the read/write errors!!! grrrrrr Actually, still a lot of errors but.....

Monday, June 30, 2008

gliding on a breeze....

Standing there on the cliffs of the golden gate
I turned my head to the ocean

I saw them coming toward me
in the quickly darkening gray sky
They winged their way toward me together
against the strong golden gate breeze

Wanted to fly with them
to glide with them
to lift my arms with theirs

The sun was setting behind the approaching fog
The sky was painted in sky blue and light orange

But I stood there
in awe of the beauty before my eyes

I stood there
camera in hand

Recorded their beauty
recorded their group
their movement
their freedom

For a second within in a daze
I was gliding with the pelicans.....

Then I heard the sound of the wind
heard the sound of my pulsing blood
and looked to the bridge
As they disappeared into the bay

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Gay Pride

I've been gone from the Bay Area for over 37 years, traveling around the world on a naval vessel, so I'm like a tourist here..... many things are the same but all-too-many things are different or simply don't exist any longer.

When I departed the City, the word "gay" still meant someone who is happy, very content..... I see the definition has changed since I've been gone... slightly. It seems that I've been gone too long from the area and from the states.

Last Thursday SF Mayor Gavin Newsom participated in official ceremonies at City Hall, unveiling a rainbow-colored flag in support of gay pride, which was in company of several gay banners hung from the second floor of the city hall, visible from the sidewalk below.

This year, the SF Gay Pride celebrations - otherwise known as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Pride Parade would be celebrated during a time when same-sex marriages was legal, and due to this new law, was to add many more people to join in these festivities than in previous years. More than a million visitors to the City were expected, and a huge portion of the downtown area and the Civic Center area were closed for this event, plus the parade to be held Sunday.

Photos are posted at my foto site, and more will be added after my Sunday attendance.

I forsaken my watching the Spain vs Germany UEFA final, but guess I'll have to watch a rerun somewhere afterwards... grrrrrr!!!

Sunday UPDATE: Now I discover the soccer match won't be re-aired any day soon, except for tonight at 11:30PM and I wake each weekday at 6:30AM!! grrrrr I wasn't able to see it due to my attending the Gay Pride events downtown. There weren't any bars or restaurants close enough to the Civic Center area so I stayed on the street snapping fotos.

Well, the organizers predicted over a million to attend, and by all unofficial sources, I think - personally - it was surpassed. Ask me how many times I had my toes stepped on!

I arrived at 11am, late enough to miss the parade as I walked from my North Beach location, and upon seeing the masses, realized I'd have to go the mile to the Ferry Building in order to slide through the crowds in order to get on the streets.

This type of event ~ as you can imagine ~ can and does bring out the wildest of people and in fashion, and it did! The streets were so packed but it seemed even more people crowded later as the sun started to break through the overcast skies. It was wall-to-wall people in the area all wanting to see, hear, and experience the Gay Pride San Francisco-style.