Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dangerous Hills of North Beach

I live on the outskirts of North Beach, bordering Fisherman's Wharf on one side, and Russian Hill on the other. Only a few blocks away is Chinatown and Telegraph Hill also.... all within a "toss" of a loaf of sourdough bread. All areas complete with hills and very steep hills... I remember screams of pain when I was a kid living in this area, when cars zoomed down the hills and hit people and/or cars. At the corner of Lombard and Taylor, there were so many seriously fatal accidents they finally put up a stop sign.... but these little branchless trees with a single word on it does not stop the pain and misery caused by speed and drivers.So imagine my lack of surprise when I walk out and start up Taylor Street - yes, the same street where just weeks prior they filmed a speeding car down the same stretch of cement - and saw this sobering sight......
I didn't even bother to ask details of what happened or how many injured... I just starting snapping with my cell camera so that I could blog this to warn anyone else, no matter the location, that speeding and running stop signs doesn't accomplish anything.

Eventually one day you won't be able to stop in time due to your routine of sliding through the intersection. Just last week there was a very serious accident I saw on Van Ness Avenue where a smaller car speeding through an intersection on Van Ness hit a crossing huge black SUV, and slammed it off the street and on its side on the corner of the SW pavement. The car was still there, like two wild animals in a clearing still engaged in the kill......If you see a STOP sign, do as it directs you. I see so many cars zipping through the intersections and wonder why I haven't yet witnessed a death or worst... yes, what can be worst than a death?
Let's all take care out there. WE are our own worst enemy and unfortunately, many times it's the innocent who suffer more in these situations

Monday, April 27, 2009

flames, the cold or the cars?

Fire and flames is something I've always been fascinated by. I can watch a bonfire for days... entranced by the jumping crackling flames... colors so inviting and seemingly drawing you into their deadly hot embrace. Even more exciting are those creative people who dance with fire, and after leaving Spain and living in Eugene, I had found some individuals who fire-dance.... we talked of taking some pictures but it never happened. The Northwest's rainy season started and the rain was a big negative for those who work with fire, plus I started to work.

So imagine my excitement when an East Bay friend tells me there's a FREE fire-dance performance in downtown San Francisco? I had already known about this, but forgot.... and am so happy I went!The chilly wind had been blowing strong all day, but as the sun dipped lower in the sky, it seemed to get even gustier. Of course this could and did affect the fire-spinning but even then it was still an awesome display!!
The chilly wind had been blowing strong all day, but as the sun dipped lower in the sky, it seemed to get even gustier. Of course this could and did affect the fire-spinning but even then it was still an awesome display!!
At six they were setting up in Union Square for the 4th Annual Temple of Poi Fire Dancing Expo! I didn't even hear about this last year but will be sure to search the web next year to be sure of the event dates! Featured on the stage would be internationally renowned fire dancing performers, some who had traveled from three continents and at their own expense. In all, the show had a total of 25 separate acts consisting of over 47 different fire dancers and troupes, which also included GlitterGirl of San Francisco fame and founder of the Temple of Poi, Manda Lights from France, and Mireneye from far-away Sweden.

There was a good amount of people present for this show, many not knowing what was going on but decided to stay... considering the wind and cold, I was eventually surprised at the amount of people who watched - I know they were not disappointed!I was there very early to claim my spot, and other photographers soon arrived like clockwork; I did see a few flickr friends, plus even some fellow-Yelpers! Knowing it was to be cold, I actually walked from home carrying my little-used tripod, thinking I was to freeze so much tonight that I wouldn't get any good snaps with shaking-cold fingers, and it was probably the best decision I've made in a long time!

It is not easy to use a camera in low-light situations. It is made more difficult when the fingers and soon the mind is frozen over.... add to that a subject that has in their hands a very bright flame, and their performance routine takes them from one side of the stage to another, plus stepping toward the camera a few steps, then back again. Add to this equation a wind that exhausted the fuel used for the flame sooner than expected.... all very difficult but not impossible, but with just an inkling of estimating the peak of any movement can one perhaps capture the mood of the event and even better: of its performer(s).

I really enjoyed the accompanying music and in one case, there was a solo guitar player strumming a flamenco bit which I loved immensely!

I'm a lousy dancer but it was so cold I was soon dancing in place! I could look around and see people wrapped in blankets and wondered if they would be angry if I stole/borrowed their blankets? Soon the performances started and the tripod saved my life and images!! I was able to focus well and quickly, and got some decent pictures which you see here. Many more as usual are posted at my foto site.EnJoy!! On the way home, walking up and down the steep SF hills with cold frozen stiff legs, I passed the Fairmont Hotel, where I saw within its garage a classic antique car... I walked inside and saw a whole garage filled with antiques as an antique car convention would start in the City the very next day!! I snapped away with the cell fone till I got frustrated, then eventually got my frozen camera out of the bag.... ;-) more pixs are posted at the website!!!