Saturday, December 26, 2009

that white night.....

I had planned for several days to take a walk around the downtown area of San Francisco to photograph the homeless. Usually I don't make it a big thing to photograph them, as I do it whenever I am out and about with my camera.... this would be the very first time I would devote time for such a theme.

I have been downtown on previous occasions to photograph the skyscrapers at night in all of their reflective beauty, so I have been in certain areas and seen homeless, so I know "where" they are basically. There are areas of the City I wouldn't venture into though there are a lot of homeless there... I might be crazy but I am not stupid.I ate leftovers from a week ago, made sure my camera battery was charged, then set out an hour before sunset. Walking down from my sister's apartment building in the late afternoon sunlight, I cut across Columbus Avenue and Mason Street toward the Embarcadero. I had no set path in mind, determined to vary my path as the light and search varied. I was at the foot of Telegraph Hill when I cut down some steps to sea level, just a few blocks away from the Embarcadero. I passed by a few stores and a neighborhood shopping center... all closed due to the holiday. People were being turned away by security guys... everything was closed. Crossing the street, I looked down and saw a flash of thin folded green.... it was a rolled-up bit that was a dollar, and I picked it up though I really wanted to leave it - I thought it was rolled up meant it was used most likely for drugs. Disgustedly I reluctantly picked it up using the very tips of my fingers - though I am now in the best financial state in the past seven or more years, I need money too.

I saw several nice views of Coit Tower and the Transamerica Building, so began snapping. I was surprised and shocked to see all the parking meters were flashing "FREE PARKING". Continuing with camera in hand, I crossed over to the wide sidewalk that is the Embarcadero and started walking south toward the Ferry Building. I stopped at the pier at Pacific Avenue, filled with many tourists as always, but amazingly no homeless who normally sit here with their shopping carts full of their lives.... The clouds were gorgeous as I watched the unseen sun set behind the waterfront skyline, backlit by the sunlight, seemingly a brush stroke of light, gray and orange against the darkening sky. Many people with cameras of all types and sizes were snapping away, of the seagulls flying overhead, the clouds toward the west, the boats passing east of the pier, and of the bay bridge. Onward I continued to the Ferry Building where I discovered that area empty.... instead of its usual busy restaurants full of tourists, now empty of chairs and tables, the building itself also closed and doors locked. It was a depressing sight, as if you were in downtown New York City and encountered not one person, nor cars or birds.... everything closed and abandoned. This was a dream out of an eerie movie of decades long past. I crossed the Embarcadero to the wide plaza now filled with people in the temporary ice-skating rink. A long line waiting to buy tickets for shoes and time. This was quite a contrast to the emptiness just across the street.

I passed this all and entered the Embarcadero Center. The lights were lit of the tall buildings and I captured those flashing lines in the black windows of nearby windows of other buildings. I walked across the street to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and saw again the lines of lights hanging from the sky within... I had only seen then entered this place once before since when I was a teen, this all did not exist. Most of what I walked through now was built during my decades-long absence from the City.
Up to this time, I had only seen a few homeless - normally I would see many more, along the Embarcadero, the SOMA area... but saw only enough to count on one hand. On the other hand, I saw my first food shop open.... I moved up Market Street, where many times I had seen lost souls wandering up and down the wide streets, their shopping carts filled high with their bags of clothes..... I watched the people around me. It was a sight to see... mostly tourists lost or headed back to their hotels. Many looked around them as they quickly walked in the dark light, suspicious of anything and anyone near them, regardless of attire.

How utterly depressing.....
have a merry christmas!!! :-(

Friday, December 25, 2009

how utterly depressing

... to be alone on such a day! The shopping malls are closed early, so you can't even window-shop or just have a quiet walk. The theaters are also closed early so you cannot hide inside a cinema. Everything is dark and empty, save for a few tiny restaurants that nobody knows about, so they are completely empty also.

Sat in the parking lot of a closed but lighted Safeway grocery store, and laughed as I saw in just 30mins more than 15 people drive up, park and walk to the closed entrance. There were three cars in the parking lot! Nobody could be seen within the store!! They still tried to open the doors and finally walked across the street to Walgreens - a drugstore!! What will they buy in a drugstore that they wanted to buy originally in a grocery store?

What a sad day if you're not married, or don't have any close friends as is normally the case in this very virtual world. Fake friends who only want you for friendship to go drinking together.... drunk friends aren't real friends, they are people who will try to get you addicted to alcohol are trying to get you killed or worse.... Thank goodness traffic homeward was very very light. I counted the number of cars encountered/seen while driving 20mins to be less than 10 - and not one weaving crazy driver in sight!

Ah christmas: such cheer, such happiness and such sharing. If you have a family or a significant other.......

Now, what about the homeless? Those emergency teams and individuals who work? Soldiers separated from friends and family in places where people want them dead and gone.....

Oooooh, what happiness!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's just 10 to seven in the morning here, woken by the songs of some unseen chirping birds. Looking out the window I see those strange but gorgeous trees backlit by sunlight and clouds, while the ground outside is still wet from rains last night. Went to sleep at 1am but as usual, travel mode doesn't permit me to sleep too much which I do not mind at all. I have the big lens on the camera in the case I DO see a bird but I can hear them, but see not one at all. There are a lot of trees in front of my friend's house and the rustling of the wind is ~ to me ~ similar to the gentle sound of lapping of ocean waves upon the shore.

It's not a completely different life here: people eat, work and go out just like in any other place in the world. I do see a lot more beer-drinking here but of course, I've seen that elsewhere too. The wineries already seen are gorgeous and in all my years in Spain, I haven't really ever had an opportunity to snap pixs of the vines and hanging grapes. I now have quite a few pixs and though I know the vines seem to be the same variety as can be found anywhere else in the world where wines are produced, I know that were are my pixs of aussie vines!

As I type this, my water is boiling for yet another tea with honey for my throat and hopeful bettering of the vocal chords. I have the front door now open and hear the constant chatter of the small black birds that sing once they perch atop a branch somewhere. Again: I can hear them but cannot see them. A few fly overhead now and then but they don't stop anywhere near where I can snap a pix, but these trees are so gorgeous with thin branches that twist and turn each and every way imaginable..... it seems as though out-stretched arms to the sky above.

So far I haven't had problems with the language and the things I do not hear is more due to my lousy hearing than the slang and accent. I have noticed that I've been nearly run over several times by people while walking on the streets and in shopping centers. I am discovering that in these few countries where they drive on the left, they also walk on the left too!

On a very chance sighting from a speeding van on a freeway, I saw some kangaroos the other day while returning to Sydney from Hunter's Valley. Behind all of the brush and trees, a fellow wedding guest saw a kangaroo, which quickly turned into a small group of about six kangaroos, all hopping off to parts unknown. The sighting didn't take even a few seconds, but still was very exciting to see of something so uniquely Australia. I likened this situation to see deer while driving on the Marin hills and backroads.

One thing that was particularly funny and unique was the teen sporting the "O" green hat (University of Oregon) whom I saw and chatted with for a few minutes while waiting for our checked baggage that didn't appear for over an hour. His journey was longer than mine, flying from Boise, Idaho to Salt Lake City, then to LA and continuing to Sydney. We discussed briefly the Ducks vs Beavers game and how it was a fantastic chance for the Ducks.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

so many....

Another cold day in San Francisco but also a colder day elsewhere. There's always someplace warmer o colder than where you are, and if you think of it, you can warm yourself with that thought. Who doesn't dream?

With the news these days attacking and hounding yet another personality with details of a personal life, it just seems so insane. Who is the perfect husband or wife? Who can honestly say that their life is the only life that is without mistakes? There isn't one individual in this world who is perfect... of course, if one thinks this, they are probably living a lie.

For many years I've know people... many people. As a photographer, I meet a lot of people and many become friends. Still others become close friends. In my life young and old, I've had the curse or blessing to just have people come up to me and tell me things. Intimate things.... very personal things a stranger shouldn't be told. Yes, this continues to this day but I am not complaining. I am honored any person would trust me enough that they share tidbits of their past, current or future life with me.

Some persons I've known are in such depressing relationships - it's so unfair to both. I have known and still know many others (growing by the year) people who are in "relationships" but it's an unreal situation. I know too many women who are married who sleep alone.... rarely if at all, talk to their husbands. Why is it it's mostly women and not men? Regardless of gender, it seems so unfair. The male of this "couple" does nothing with the woman to whom they are married: not cooking, no traveling together, no nothing. It has caused me to lok at couples I see on the street, wondering if they just met, or even if they know each other. Too often I see a "couple" together but walking so apart from each other... one wouldn't even be able to tell they were together but for the constant distance from each other.... and when one stops, the other might stop too but at a distance. I used to know a couple and when one would stop to talk to a friend met on the street, the other would continue walking. How rude! I asked why is this and she told me "Oh, he doesn't like my friends so he moves on and stays busy till I'm finished". If one is a couple, they should together join in presenting and communicating with this friend.... I think it is rude and inconsiderate to act in such behavior. I would like to see if there is an increasing rate of this happening in couples....

My opinion is that if a couple cannot stay together, they should separate. Why not" it's just a charade that isn't being kept very well. To stay together is an insult to both individuals and to those who know them. If the woman isn't sleeping with her mate, isn't eating with him either, and doing much much less, one should leave. Unfortunately in this day and age, I suspect this happens more than previously thought.

If someone really loves a person but cannot live as a true couple bound in love, then that love is gone. Let that individual go to fly again.

A dear friend of mine lost her mother, a fine lovely lady whom I had the pleasure of meeting, though not under the best of conditions. My friend cared for hermother alone, holding down a fulltime job and still trying to prvide the best care possible to her mother. I wonder how many people are doing this all over the world? It's something that will increase in time as the current population grows older and longer with us.... but the longevity of Life presents another problem to those who are our children: Where is the fine line that defines "Quality of Life" if the person does nothing but rusts away as does a nail with water, a once-loved car that now sits quietly in the corner, or a friend who is forgotten with time?

I am not saying my friend forgot her mother.... oh no! She did quite well, alone and working, still caring for her mother. But Quality of Life to you or me may not be the same for others. Is Life considered that when a person cannot eat or even walk alone? Is Life something that comes or goes when memory fails and not even the person caring for you cannot be remembered by name?

When it is my time to leave this world, I will go running. I will go with a loud noise, I won't be quiet. I want people to SEE me running and active, and with the noise I make, that I am not going of my own accord. I want to see places and people. I want friends, the very few I have... to talk to me and I will remember their names. I want to keep on exercising with that weight I call a camera, to record places and things I've seen and want to remember and share with others. When I sit down and cannot get up, cannot eat without assistance, when someone must bath me everyday.... when I sit forgotten because the world is passing me by.......

then I am ready long ago. Take me because then I am not alive, and Life is no longer in me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lodi Sandhill Crane Reserve

Drove down last weekend to see if I could catch some crane in flight or otherwise. Started late and enroute, detoured slightly to a Vallejo park where there are peacocks. Strangely enough, I was told about this park by an online friend who lives out of California now.

Didn't see any peacocks but I know these birds can hide... but there was a small pond with ducks and enjoyed snapping some pixs, plus the foliage was so colorful, it took my breath away.I will never again be able to see the autumn colors and not think of my time spent in Eugene and in Oregon in general. Oftentimes I think I should have no left Eugene but it was my destiny, and in some strange way fate took me out of Spain for this crazy whirlwind I call my Life.Continuing on toward Lodi, there were lots of gorgeous landscapes - granted, it was along a narrow state highway with a lot of roadwork so you can imagine the mess of equipment and detours and signs, but oooooh, it was a great sight. To make it even more heavenly, the clouds were huge, and almost all gray or a darker - almost black - storm gray. I could see streams of rain pouring down in the distance and this reminded me of watching as a young sailor the thunderstorms at sea, something I will never forget.

I arrived very late at the crane reserve, so late the sun would set soon. There was a huge crowd of people there and realized that's a good sign. If no birds were seen, nobody would be there! :) The closest birds were anywhere from about 70 feet away (the few closest) but the majority were over 200 feet away, and many more hundreds even farther in a marshland area with lots of water inlets.The loud chatter from these birds was amazing, and though I am not a bird-watcher I can imagine now why people go to watch birds. Cranes were mixed in with geese, ducks and the closest bunch consisted actually of a few pelicans. Every few minutes cranes would take off, a small group at first but gradually joining up in the skies with other cranes already in flight. As the sun dipped lower in the sky, flying cranes formed short or long lines in the golden sky, and behind these, I could see even more groups of cranes.... it was all so amazing!! The wind picked up and it got very chilly. Eventually it started to rain but I stayed there - not cold at all and enjoying this fantastic mood and scene.sigh

I returned to that Vallejo park again, and saw about seven peacocks. While they ran to hide, a few others stayed and eventually was so quiet that soon a few of them passed only a few feet from me, so close I couldn't even focus on these beautiful birds so I had to quietly and slowly back away to get a picture.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where's all the autumn colors?

This past weekend I wandered out in search o the fall colors I am so amazed and fascinated with, especially while living in Eugene. The colors then were everywhere, but here, it seems I need to drive elsewhere. So I packed up all my gear and that new camera and went driving north to Stinson Beach, then the long lost route to San Rafael, then cut over to Vallejo in time to see the sun was setting. Being in a low area, I hurriedly went searching for a high spot in order to see and photograph the setting sun. I was finally lucky enough to find a small populated hill......
In the morning I continued my depressing search ~ it seems the few colors seen were in the cities and towns I drove through. In the countryside, everything seems so evergreen! What a surprise!!! I even went down to Alamo where on the freeway I saw color, so turned off but that color was in the backyards of homes!! I accidentally found a park, so parked the car and went walking and after 20mins of seeing just a few reds and yellows, I gave up. Everything - again - was green.In Lafayette I passed by - in another chance encounter - the Crosses of Lafayette, in which a small slope o a hill in front of a BART station is covered with crosses representing each american military death during the long continuing war. It's a sad sight but a part of our american history now.5302 is a lot of crosses, and today four more crosses will be added... :-(

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

San Francisco's Russian Orthodox Church

I've been here before, but wanted to get some better images as the first visit was without a tripod and handheld, I lacked a bit of detail. Priest P. Perekrestov is very kind to allow me to return to snap new images so I try to get in quickly to do what I must, and not interfere with anything. It's a glorious church and though one may not think the interior looks nice by the size outside, it is a mansion of beauty within!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Have a new toy....

I went and purchased the newest Canon toy on the market... the EOS 7D and at the price paid, I am surprised and disappointed it doesn't drive me home and collect the mail. Hold it ~ that's what I do every weekday!!!The camera has a great feel, very sturdy and weighty, which is what I like. I am in the process of testing it with my various lenses of which I have varying from a Tokina 12 ~ 24 to a Sigma 170 ~ 500. In the meanwhile, my new Sigma 28 ~ 300 was being repaired and am retesting this lens too. In less than a few months, already am having problems with this new lens and of course that doesn't make me happy. The 28 ~ 300 focal length makes that lens my primary lens covering almost everything I need a lens for without having to carry a multitude of various lens.

Just a few test pictures, though I really wish I had a model to work with this new camera. Soon I'll be gone on a two-week trip to Sydney, so will be absent.... maybe! :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stanford University

I went with a friend to see this campus, full of so many things. I have been here before - months previous when I discovered the Hoover Tower.

But what was most amazing was the Stanford Memorial Church, hidden away behind arches and with an interior just so beautiful!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I am still copying files - it gets tedious often but I manage to survive. Over the past two and a half days, the computer has been ON 50+ hours and guessimate I've moved 30+ gigs of images during these past few days. At one point I just completed a short move that lasted about two hours (the others took up to 12hrs) and looking through three different screens for more files to move, deleted the 3gigs of images I had just moved! On the image of the move progress above, that number reflecting how much time remains is what I usually see AFTER about four to six hours.... it doesn't show anything during thr initial period, and when it finally displays the remaining time, I then know I am getting "close" to the end! Why is this taking so long? With the majority of my images copied off 200+ CDs now onto my slower than turtle desktop HDs, I am moving them onto external HDs, and one that I had purchased in Spain back in 2006 is slower than my desktop!! That is the reason why it's taking a longer time now.... grrrrr

I have got to get a life!!!!

from Lombard Street the cable cars
are always great to photograph

Even now as I write this, I had accidentally stopped a move in session, so I had to go to the only folder that was recreated, see what was and wasn't moved, then move over the remaining files. Once that is done, I return to the partition and move over 15 folders containing about 12gigs of images.

Lombard Street spiders are HUGE!!
Today while returning to home after dropping off the sis at her work, I saw lenticular clouds over Mount Diablo in the distance. I rushed home to get my camera with the longer 170-500mm lens as my Sigma 28-300 has been in the shop getting repaired for weeks now, and to get a file move started... but by time I go up to the top of Russian Hill for a shot, the clouds had disappeared.... sigh But I heard those crazee parrots so tried to snap a few of these, but there weren't to be seen, except blocks away.... but there were other things to snap also, and I did get those!

this spider attracted my attention and many
other Lombard Street tourists

Walking back to my car, I spotted a dollar bill wind-blown to my feet! I've found homeless money before, the most being a $5 bill in the rain while jaywalking through a red-light intersection. hahahaaha

today's sunrise could be a changing factor in my life

Could this be a change in my luck? Who knows?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I always think.....

... that someone somewhere is having the last laugh on me.... or is it actually having the last laugh on us?be my wingman,
and I'll be yours
I was told when I first arrived to live permanently in Spain almost two decades ago that I would never make big money with my photography, something I perfected over the previous two decades while in the Navy. Through pushing my photography and working some very long and hard hours, I soon had a lot of business. What's long hours? At that time I still shot my own bulk-loaded film - never had enough money to buy pre-loaded store-front film. I would shoot up to four individuals a day, then spend all night developing the film, drying it and having the contact sheets to show all four. Yes, to show them their contacts the very next day! If I shot in the morning, I'd show them the contacts the next afternoon. If I shot them in the morning, if my schedule wasn't very busy, I could even work my butt off and show them their contacts that very same night!

Granted, I didn't sleep much but I never sleep much. I see sleep as lost time - I never needed more than a few hours even as a kid. Plus I liked doing the processing and printing in my darkroom during the night, so I could leave windows open... the fan is blowing and it was much cooler during those hot spanish summers.

I made quite a few bucks/pesetas in those early days. I later proved the person who told me I'd never make money in photography, then everything started to fall apart. Now I can count the pennies I earn - if that at all - in years.... I sometimes think a homeless person on the street gets more change than I do in a year.

People don't realize that an artist feeds off society. That society now hates me is proof why I am not making any money with my camera. Life hates me so much that even my cameras breaks when I should be broken, and it pains me immensely to have a broken camera and because I have no money, it's hard to think: I need a new lens but how do I get it?

When that passion gets the worst of an artist, soon it turns to self-pity and soon after: suicide. I have gone through all of it, even to be abandoned by people who know me, people who called me their best friend, and by people who wanted me dead. If you want to be truly miserably depressed, be someone alone who lives without friends.... that is one nightmare I wouldn't wish my enemies, and believe me I have a lot of enemies!

But oftentimes, I wonder what my purpose in Life is, if I have any purpose at all. I started typing thinking to put up a few pixs recently captured, but instead it has turned out to be a revelation of worth (or worthlessness), passion and compassion, and dam scared of my future. I know I am moving back to Spain, well-knowing it was STuPiD of me to even leave in the first place. I didn't have the money to support any of these decisions or directions taken, and here I am again in that position of what am I going to do?

Life is endless, but so is misery, death, and doubt. If you know an artist, support that artist or you might be seeing blood sooner than you think. Art needs to be cultured, appreciated and shared, and it seems we all do so little of it in our lives.

Here's a few pixs taken within the last few weeks.... yes, I am copying image files seemingly without end. I've been doing this for over a year now, bit by bit trying to reach my goal of finishing it before I leave San Francisco and am back in my apartment (piso) in Spain.

Everywhere I have gone to live, people told me I would be very successful with my photography and in my life, when in reality it bombed worst than before.... I wish someone would predict I will die, so I can begin living!
sometimes the things we should see,
are the things we don't see throughout
our whole lives

it only takes a second to see
appreciate the wonders we miss each day

don't ask nor hesitate, just take a seat

do it, and do it well and someone will notice

there's always light at the end of the tunnel

forward, always forward through the chaos
what are YOU looking at?