Saturday, February 28, 2009

ooooh, how embarrassing!!!

I was driving back to get my sister and her grandson who I had dropped off in the Marina earlier. I then drove downtown to a gallery to see an exhibition - afterwards I dashed back to the Marina to get my droppees (iz dat a word?) when after parking, I spotted the glorious view of the crescent moon and a bright planet not too far separated. I thought this is even better than the Jupiter, Moon and Mercury of last summer! So after having everyone in the car, I dashed home and after dropping them off, got the camera, tripod and my newly-acquired remote camera timer (never used) and went downstairs to the street below to capture the rare scene! If you've ever been to my part of North Beach ~ or any part of this City for that matter ~ it's shewn with telephone cables and wires all over the place! I thought Europe was bad at obstructing what would normally be a gorgeous view with those awful ugly useless cables and wires! Well, I discovered after returning here that SF is even much more worst! grrrrr

It's so disgusting to think that while on that sidewalk, many people walked past me, not looking at where my camera pointed, or even a bit interested in the rare performance above their heads! What a sorry state of our society where we think the iPod attachment to our "minds", the texting on the cell.... or even the stress of a workday is much more important that the heavenly and visually beautiful things we avoid/miss in a day, week or during our lives... simply because we don't take a split second to look around us or even take an interest of what's going on around us on the street and look up.

sigh......

After testing out my timer - how cool - I thought what an useless foto to just show the Moon and lovely Venus ~ why not get a picture of both with some City landmark? So I looked around... I could only see Coit Tower as a possible point of interest that I could even possibly think of finding it together with these heavenly stars right now. So jump in the car, dash yet again to the Embarcadero and drive slowly and all the way looking to the right to see whenever I even had a view of the moon and Venus. Eventually finding a spot when I could see the two players, I parked, got the tripod then set about looking for a place where I could SEE Coit Tower and the performers behind the lit tower. At one time, I was on a street - or thought I was on a public street when a car stopped not 10 feet away, and with the window glass lowering, the driver stated that I was on private property and if I could step OUT to the sidewalk.... I pointed I wasn't photographing the buildings but the moon, and he insisted still I move out to the sidewalk to which I obliged..... how stupid... and also the sentiment of several people who saw and heard the exchange of words.Getting off a few snaps but as the moon and planet were sinking lower into the skyline, I moved across the street where there was a uniformed privated security guard standing, hands in pockets. how unprofessional!! I went about setting up the tripod again to snap some shots and when I moved into an adjoining green area which again I thought was public property, this guard jumped up and stated in a clear voice that I should stay on the sidewalk! I looked at him and stated I was leaving the area and walking through the green area to the other sidewalk... and left that stupid area and its guards. How paranoid can a society get as to not even allow a photographer snap pixs of something beyond its property... what a sick society this is beginning to develop into.

On the other side, I could see that I was going to have problems... the moon and its companion were too low, there were too many trees and lamp-posts and other obstructions, so I had to get farther away... so with extended tripod and mounted camera, I cross two major and busy thoroughways to look... and after a few monutes I found a place where I could see not only Coit Tower and its two dancers, but a good portion of all three not blocked by things. Having the long 170-500 Sigma lens, I would get only a very tight closeup view of the scene before my eyes. A lot of people passing by commented on the scene we observed and I replied between snaps - I was happier that here on the Embarcadero the people were much more human and I felt better.... happier that I was again among people who took the time to observe and therefore... to live! sigh..... I just cannot wait till I am back in my spanish apartment to live permanently!

Another photographer showed up eventually, his tripod-mounted camera at the ready. At one point he set up about 30 feet away from me, and though he had nodded his head at me and waved as he passed, later whn I attempted conversing with him, he never replied and within a few minutes, he left in the dark without even a wave.... still many people here spoke to me and even stopped to snap pixs with their own cameras, as if I were their inspiration.

sigh....

Then when I uploaded these pixs to my photo website, I mislabeled the images as being the crescent Moon with Mercury when it was actually Venus! I wasn't going to change the pictures but I hate being wrong, and displaying inaccurate information, so I deleted them and uploaded corrected versions of the images that you enjoy now....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

walking into the misty damp morning....

I left my North Beach apartment building and headed downtown, walking towards and up Jones Street. If you know anything about Jones Street, you'll know that it gets very steep in North Beach.... to lay credence to my claims of not exercising enough, I hiked up the 100+ steps between Filbert and Vallejo Streets and at the top, I was panting, sweating and tired as a worn old dawg. When I reached the top of Jones and Union, a woman was before me and she turned around and looked at me, expression of "who's this behind me panting and gasping like an old man". I passed her but we played leader and follower for many minutes when I stopped to snap a pix with my lens wet as the drizzle got thicker.... at one point she even asked if she could see the results, and I happily did. I love the interest of others in photography and do a lot to encourage it. In my slow walk and stopping every few minutes to snap details of the wonder San Franciscan architecture, I reached my targeted destination of Market and Van Ness in about 36 mins. I wore a turtleneck sweater and a thin jacket and the heat was really building up, my forehead wet after walking up the steep hills.
I wandered aimlessly around the City Hall civic center area, taking many pictures of the lovely details and when possible, also of the clouds that blanketed the area. The last few days has brought rain showers but the clouds that gave us that rain also gave us some gorgeous clouds!!! In time, I wandered toward Franklin Street when I photographed reflections off shiny silver-colored bases of windows in modern buildings, while still snapping away at the details of the older buildings. It's really a shame that most people do not even realize the beauty and history above their heads as they wait at the bus stops, or walk along, unknowingly of the gorgeous architecture that this City is so famous for.

I returned home soon after, stopping often along the way... and on Larkin Street I spied a sign jutting out from the walls of a building, simply labeled with "GG". Quickly I thought "Golden Gate" but as I neared, it was a tiny window-front gallery with true traditional black and white prints in the windows! An "open" sign beckoned to me and I pressed a bell, and a man came to the door. There I spent about 20 mins there, unable to stay longer.... but the gorgeous images seen!! Displayed were many framed prints by Dorothea Lange, and I was impressed by the fact I was unfamiliar with her lesser-known work. The Gendell Gallery is worth a visit if you're a collector of fine photography or just enjoy seeing beautiful tradition period photographs.

On the street again, I passed many walkers wearing headsets or texting on their cell phones, or even talking on the phone. It was amazing to see these people completely unaware of their environment! I could have been beeping my car horn st them and they wouldn't even look up! I wonder how many people die this way while crossing the streets? In Eugene before I departed in late 2007, there were quite a few accidents in which persons crossing the streets "occupied" were struck and killed simply because they walked unknowingly into the path of a car.

How little we value our own lives when a phone call, a text message or music is more important than our lives.

Even closer to home now, I saw a lot of work being done in the basement or ground floor(s) of single- and multiple-dwelling buildings, all construction for one purpose: installing a garage. In my neighbor alone, there are more than five buildings having a garage installed due to the immense problem of trying to find a parking spot.

If you're interested in seeing the fotos from today, you can visit my website but only a few are posted. Email me and I can share with you others that are not displayed anywhere.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Santa Cruz in the gray rain....

I followed the freeway south on HWY 101 till Los Gatos, then took a road out to the coast... I still didn't know where I would head, but I've been to Pigeon Point to see the lighthouse, and Half Moon Bay a few times for model shoots and to see the area.
I drove through the mountains toward the coast and at one point, it seemed as if everyone was also headed to the water. It was getting late plus a forecast of rain for the weekend told me this wasn't normal. To avoid the lines of cars steadily increasing, I took a turn toward Boulder Creek, thinking a creek full of boulders would be great material for images. I never got to see the "creek" but saw other things instead. Seeing a sign for a covered bridge, I took that detour and ended up at a train-ride park with a very nice covered bridge, though I had to move a few trash bins in order to remove the "nice" sight from my images. I don't believe in PS or retouching my images - I believe a scene should be captured the way it is and without effects or editing. Afterwards, I got lost on the return trip, and eventually as the scenery looked increasingly familar as I realized I had just made a 20-mile circle to where I originally started my escape from the car lines!

Santa Cruz reminded me of a very lively summer Eugene, with streets filled with people, street artists and lots of hippy-style persons everywhere! I arrived late in the afternoon just an hour before the sun was to set, and went soon to the beach where I was amazed to see a boardwalk filled with Playland-style businesses. I've never even been to any Coney Island-type locations in my life, though I've been to a few amusement parks. I just don't go because it's not fun when you're alone. The Santa Cruz boardwalk did look great in the gray and darkening distance with increasingly more stands and lights starting to light up the soon-approaching night. I love to capture night lights and the motion associated.... Soon the rain started, and it shifted from pouring to a soft drizzle, but it rained for most of the night.In the morning it still rained and as I put my bags into the car to head back to the City, I wondered about returning on the coastal highway or the inland HWY 101. I headed out of town and decided to see what the Pigeon Point Lighthouse looked like in the rain. So I headed there, stopping along the way to snap away in the rain. After Pigeon Point, I headed inland toward HWY 101, then shot up to the City, the rain steadily falling. Using my GPS, I could see advisories all over the Bay Area and as I neared the City, the advisories and traffic accidents increased. I decided to stay on the streets and drove through the delightfully wet and reflective slick San Franciscan streets. As much as I do not want to be in the City, and cannot afford to be in the City, I do LOVE seeing my City. It's a delightful place and very photogenic but on the other hand, I cannot wait to leave permanently. These small trips to practice my passion for photography helps to keep me sane and content.