Saturday, October 11, 2008

+ = more!!!

well, another night but not on my roof this time! I left the flat searching for a place to shoot the fireworks, after spending an hour online looking at maps and ideas for where it might be and how it might look from this location and that. Also difficult when you don't know exactly where the fireworks will be launched from! So, I hoofed it up the steep Jones and Taylor Streets hills, puffing like someone with a breathing deficiency... what a way to exercise!!

I arrived at Green Street where there's a lovely little park but having been there previous times during the day, knew the numerous trees blocked the best views. To a higher park on Vallejo, the same thing: trees and bushes prevented one from a splendid scene of the City's Financial district and the Embarcadero. I stayed long enough to test the scene(s) with some test exposures, then hoofed it over to yet another location: Broadway Street, which is a steep slope also, and from mid-stret offered a decent view, with enough leeway to the left and right for me to quickly move and re-angle the camera once the fireworks started. Now set up, I tested my exposures for Broadway Street... tweak up the aperature, drop the duration, change the angle.....

This time I was ready at 9:30pm, and even changed the angle and location of the camera by a few feet after it started. I could hear people screaming, clapping and of course, the "oooh" and "aaaaahs" were easily heard.

It lasted 13 minutes only but it lit up the night....

Day 3 - Fleet Week

Today was my final day - I don't have to work Monday as it's just a cleanup day and they said I shouldn't do that... so I'll stay home and work on fotos instead, as I have been for months already!

Instead of my usual position greeting people at the ViP boxes, I was at a refreshment stand and helped them with sales. It's not easy as you think, selling soft drinks - it's actually a fine art and anyone who has assisted at an organizational stand selling anything knows that it's actually more work than it seems.

Taking breaks - overmanned - often, I got a chance to use my monster lens to get more pixs but I did see someone with even a bigger lens than mine.... even the case his lens was safely stored inside was bigger than my lens and camera alone! I am amazed how people can find this money! His pixs must be waaay better than mine and he must work with an agency, be a company photographer, or sells a LOT of his fotos; lordy knows nobody buys mine and my image sales for the past decade won't even buy a dinner, let alone such a huge lens!

It was again breezy and biting cold and though the wind died for an hour or so, it was like all the days I've been shooting this year's Fleet Week: windy, cold but with sun. At least there were a few clouds today which added to the background, filling up that empty sky!

The Marina Green was packed with children's amusement rides and of course the ViP and box seating areas, with a lot of food vendor stands and others. I even saw a booth of the eye clinic who did my eye correction there! Because of the people this time I had to drive around for 10 minutes till I luckily saw somebody leave and gave me my place in heaven. All day I have been hearing of how difficult it was to find parking, but event organizers and the City have been encouraging everyone to bus or walk in, which still many did do. Seeing the Marina Green like this was also a flashback to my childhood, when my parents would take us out to the Marina when we would lie down on the grass like everyone else, all eyes up to the dark sky to watch the July 4th fireworks. Then was nothing like today... even the chairs we had then weren't anything like today and not portable at all...

How life has changed so.....

So, enjoy these few unedited pixs of today's Fleet Week scenes!! Tomorrow I'll be shooting from somewhere close to the Golden Gate Bridge - exactly where I don't know yet....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 2 of Fleet Week

Great people, great time and interesting.... I love observing people and since people are so unpredictable, it makes an interesting day.

Took the camera and had time to take pictures... some included here for your viewing pleasure. Today was the first day of the official practice which started late but it's still a great performance!

Tomorrow is the first day of the official Fleet Week.... I'll be taking the monster lens this time; everything was just too far away and I hate jets appearing as tiny as dust-mites in my pictures!! hahahahaa

More pixs are on my flickr site

Oh frig... did anyone see the fireworks? Scheduled for 9pm but after freezing on my roof in North Beach for 24,1 minutes, decided to come back in... oops!! I hear the explosions now.... gotta run!!!

I guess I've finally captured some decent fireworks using my tripod! Have never had luck before but after seeing the results of some other photographers, tried again and this time I was successful!! Usually I'll handhold my camera with a 300mm telephoto and shoot it to get my previous "great" results. I can see my problem in manually focusing the lens is very apparent as I looked through the pictures, but my vision is still appearing to improve everyday. The night vision is coming along slowly though, but I'm still patient. It's been three weeks now since my eyes were corrected ~ my, does time fly when you're recovering!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

would you mourn for me?

It's been two long weeks waiting for the season's opening of CSI, and it was worth it. There has been NO other series on the little screen that has moved me as much as this... and the Las Vegas version has been the cornerstone of the spin-offs, which I feel are not as emotional nor as real as CSI on Thursdays.

Tonight at the episode's closing at the funeral, I will not believe it if anyone watching this say they did not shed a single tear.

This series, for the few years I have watched it, has moved me...
** emotionally, for its profound understanding of the human mind, and how it is interpreted for its viewers....
** for its accurate realism in protraying real lives, real people and real and true situations as much as possible
** deeply, for its meaningful manner of invoking situations and emotions that seem so real, that the scene and emotion protrayed could very well be yours, or mine...

I've watched less and less of television since I left the states and lived in Europe, but this is one program I will always watch with deep loyalty.

Though a virtual character has died, I have been moved so much that it could have well been my best friend that had died in reality.... Why can't in this real-world real emotions like this be seen, felt, and/or offered? Where friends are friends and will protect you, support you, and be with you in your good and those bad times? Why do we require a computer to live behind when there is a real world beyond that screen, past our walls and in the non-virtual streets that we walk less and less upon each day?

And why, in these modern times, do we need a television series so profound as CSI to show us HOW we should feel for each other, that WE are human too and not perfect like machines, and FRIENDS should act in such a manner... like the old days... when friends were true to our dying days, and more.....


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Day 1 ~ Fleet Week in San Francisco

...will be a very busy time for me. I'll be offline for a few days while I am a Fleet Week volunteer at the Marina Green greeting people paying to see the Blue Angels and the Canadian Snowbirds flying.... plus two days of personal time to get some ~ hopefully ~ great snaps of flying birds of metal. I've always been fascinated by aircraft of all types even before I entered the military and that passion grows each and every year.

Tomorrow is the unofficial practice day for the flight teams to familiarize themselves with the area. Flight charts and briefs aren't enough; one must get into their element in order to see what is there, and these pilots are no exception to that rule. I'll be out early to get snaps with my brother, then Friday is my first day volunteering, continuing Saturday and the final day being Monday - a holiday - but will assist as I can with cleanup. Sunday I join my brother again to get some snaps of the aircraft again on their last official day of this very popular aerial dance in the skies above San Francisco and the Bay Area in general.

If you've never seen the Blue Angels in flight, then you're really missing out. It's a marvel when you consider they're flying at 100s of miles per hour so close together ~ sort of a ballet of metal and guts. This will be my third performance seen since I started living in the states again, but have seen this team perform at least five other previous occasions. This will be my first complete Fleet Week I've ever experienced, as I've lived outside of the City since I was young and this event started being celebrated during my absence. I've read about it, heard about it, and been very envious when my younger brother showed me his glorious pictures of the Blue Angels flying around town.... last year I was in attendance for a single day but I did get some pics..... now I'm here for everything, including the major traffic jams as crowds of people come to the City to watch and participate, and get out into the Streets of San Francisco while areas are blocked off due to flight safety issues.

Until Tuesday I won't be blogging at all, but I will post pixs here and at my flickr site of a few images from each day's shoot(s) Thursday and Sunday. Though I am taking my camera with me during my working at Fleet Week, photography is not my main goal as I'll be working for this organization and that comes first of course. If given the chance to snap some shots and not interfere with my duties, I'll do so.

If you're in the Bay Area, take care ~ don't forget ear plugs! The jets are noisy and loud; if you're close to the wharf you'll hear the jets all too well! Also think of your children and cover their ears ~ noise can damage young ears and once hearing loss is part of your life, it's pretty depressing. Otherwise: enjoy the show! If you're reading this from far and unable to make it here, enjoy the soon-to-be-posted imagery!

Each time I update this post about my participation in Fleet Week, I'll slightly change the main title of this post... so please visit each day looking for a revised title, meaning there's new content here! :-) Those who know me well realize that I try to display different images when I do post online at all. So just because a few pixs of this or that is at one site, doesn't mean at another site there will be the same. I'll post completely different images ~ I want each site to be unique, so remember this: visit both sites (here and at my flickr) to see the pixs and you won't be disappointed!

Day 1: I was freezing cold in the stiff strong breeze coming off the bay as we waited for the practice runs to begin. They were late over an hour but once they began, the crowd at my Fort Mason pier started to grow. It's amazing when one gets a pic of a jet seemingly slamming into the unfocused head of a bystander!! hahahahaa

I was amazed I could see, with my new eyes and NO eye drops to keep them moist. I'd blink a few times and everything was so pinpoint sharp till my eyes dried again, and that was quick. Still I was soooo amazed by how those jets appeared and I could even SEE them!! Amazing!!!!

Thinking the "show" was over, we all departed about 3:30pm, and I was so cold I even had a tea inside my most hated coffeehouse, a place whose name starts with a S and I think their rude service and gawd-awful lattes and "coffee" {at least they call it that} should be thrown to the lions. 45mins later on the road and passing through the downtown area, I could hear them flying around again, and it's unnerving and crazy trying to drive and not able to see the jets in flight. I was driving south on Van Ness as a formation of four jets fly straight up the street toward me, then over and leaving a screeching loud sonic boom behind them. I laughed as I looked around at the other drivers around me, all with windows down to watch the jets as they passed overhead, then covering their ears as the jets has passed! I wish I had the camera in hand. A few minutes later as I neared City Hall, I missed a fantastic sight to be captured as the same formation returned and flew overhead, with the dome in the foreground!


The pelicans were flying as usual and though I got some great snaps of them flying and gliding, I thought this pix was most appropriate for this first day, and how I felt....

Monday, October 6, 2008

fog horn sounding in the distance

... cable cars rumbling along on their ancient tracks, the gripman dingling the bell as the car nears an intersection. These are the sounds I hear, as I did as a child in my distant past, and amazingly again, as an adult thrown into the events that Life hands us...

The day started overcast but like my little town in southern Spain, the sun burned that off and by noon it was a clear sky and lots of spring-like warmth. Outside for most of the day, it was great for a brisk walk in a thin tee-shirt, if I had my Life alone here. That being not the case, by time I returned in the early afternoon, I was thinking of blinding myself during another sunset.... fog was popping up here and there... Alcatraz was wrapped in fog now, and a few minutes later, it was visible again. I love seeing Alcatraz when the fog lies behind the island, and not in front... it's mysterious that way.... and I enjoy that view.

As the time for the sunset neared, today at 6:43pm, I readied my equipment then drove down busy traffic-filled Lombard Street to the freeway, then up to the bridge where it was smooth sailing up to the fog-encased toll plaza. I cut to the right to get off and to get to the bluffs where I could see the ocean... if that were possible.

I marveled at the sight of the fog as I drove down Lombard.... the fog was as thick as that New England pea soup and perhaps even thicker, and I wished for a looong red light so I could grab the camera and shoot it, but no... the luck of the Irish followed me as usual and it was all green lights all the way....

The sun soon dipped below the level of the fog, and it was a sight to behold: the upper edge of the fog soft but golden by the glorious brightness of the sun... one could watch this, hold a gasp within... then it was gone.

Did anyone else notice this delightful detail of our everyday lives?


I was saddened by that fact, and that I keep myself within a self-constructed cell... unseen but there all the same; a cell that I would love to escape to Spain if I had the means.

Once returned, I saw the thickening fog sweep in strong - it was thick at the bluffs also, with nothing but the beach about 235,2 feet below me could be seen in the silence. The fog came in on quick waves of gray air, and I could actually see the wisps of fog blowing me around me.

Do you see the fog?

from my rooftop, looking toward Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, the golden spray of sunset extended east
and watching the thin low layer of fog roll in toward the East Bay, layered by the golden stretch of sky above...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I saw the lady....

draped in ghostly white... bathed in the warmth and golden glow of the dying day. I was inside my metal wheeled-box, traveling among strangers on a concrete pillared road... seemingly at the speed of sound though it was not.

I often think of this woman, so restful is she that never to awake she - sitting atop a mountain so far...

yet so near to my heart and to my soul.

As a youth I had sketched her and now as an adult, I have photographed her.... there she lies, unchanged throughout my life... I, changed in my many decades of years tossed past me, and she: still there in her glory...

in her peace.

As my transport of cold metal took me across the Bay Bridge, I saw her again, and as the strangers before me slowed, slow must I also transit this same path, and in knowing this, grabbed my camera from behind me.

She is embedded into my mind of centuries past....

But never can I remember her looking so glorious as she did tonight....

So, with my heavy camera in one hand, and my other steering my vehicle, I unseeingly pointed my weapon of choice at her corpse and stole an image of her....

draped in fog....