A Year in Photos

Photography, fiction, and personal essays form my three primary creative outlets. For this blog's first 18 months, I used it primarily for photography. As I've returned to creative writing, I'll use this blog for fiction, too. Sometimes, when reality needs to be discussed more than truth, I write personal essays.

This blog will continue to showcase as many above-average photos as I can muster. Hopefully my written work will be as good or better than the visual. Whichever drew you here -- photographs or fiction, I hope you enjoy both.

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Actual HDR

HDR photography has been my digital bugbear since I picked up digital photography a year ago. This post's photo represents the first 'successful' HDR photo I've captured. It's not a great photo, but it's an HDR. And what's better -- I set out to make this an HDR.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Gnome or Monk from Two Angles

A Year in Photos -- Week Eighteen

This week the blog will be largely on vacation. We'll still have five posts, but because I've been travelling I haven't developed any of last week's film. Also, in exciting news, I picked up what appears to be a fully functional Pentax 67 in Milwaukee. It has a nice set of lenses, too, so the week after this will be all Pentax 67. This week's cameras will be TBD as they come and we'll get back to our normal routine next week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Tourist Thing

After work Friday I decided to do the tourist thing and walk from the Levi Strauss Plaza up the Filbert Stairs to Coit Tower and back. While up Telegraph Hill, I also went up Coit Tower. In sum, a nice walk and gorgeous day for some nice views.

1/8th, f22. Capturing water flow over a few seconds can make water look fantastic in photographs. Water with slight ripples become smooth. Waterfalls become curtains. Fountains, well, they just don't become more interesting.

1/250th, f5.6. Lying in the fountain looking up at a tree branch.

1/60th, f16. I admit I don't get the block nor what it has to do with jeans, unless the rock and water represent stone washing. Who knows. It's nifty, though.

1/125th, f29. Arches adorning the top of Coit Tower.

1/125th, f32. Slightly grainy because the window was dirty.

1/60th, f16. Oops. The negative was touching the negative in front of it. I could repair that in Photoshop and, someday, I may. But this is why it's important to be careful when loading film onto reels.

1/125h, f11. Downtown San Francisco.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Park Reopened

For the past few months I've periodically walked past 303 Plaza on Second Street. The plaza has been remodeled with a new fountain and new sculpture (newer than the Google Earth image, anyway.) Thursday was the first time I saw it open, so I jumped at the chance to photograph it. The main lesson learned is I need to go back with a wider lens.

One nice thing about abstract sculptures is that, on film, they become different from their shapes. Their three-dimensional nature, compressed into two dimensions, becomes a perspective and depth trick that makes the shapes something other than they appear to be in person. Monochrome amplifies that by removing color and convering shadows to tones and contrasts.

Here, certainly, one can tell that the sculpture moves away from the camera at quite a steep angle. But the perspective, depth, and lack of color serve to confuse the sculpture's actual height, be it a few feet or more than 20 feet.

Simply shape and form. Three-dimensional objects made flat become abstractions of the actual subject. Certainly this is a photograph of the subject but it is not the subject any more than thinking about eating a doughnut is actually eating a doughnut.

Monochrome can make anything an abstraction. Robbed of color, this polished-flat surface takes on a craggy, textured appearance as though it had fractured instead of having been cut.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spanish-American War Memorial

Wednesday sent me down the F line toward Castro and while I was there I decided to stroll into a pre-demolition building to photograph it before it's pulled down. The interior shots were painfully boring, so I'll spare you. However, at that intersection -- Dolores and Market -- is the San Francisco Spanish-American War Memorial. So I took a few shots of it.

On an unrealted side note, the F line toward Castro goes through some seedy areas. So now, when something is heading in a bad direction (such as a mad dog at a child), I refer to it as 'taking the F line toward Castro.)

1/125th, f8. It may not look it here, but this statue is 26 feet tall. It's a 16-foot-tall bronze masterpiece on top of a 10-foot-tall granite slab. Here we see Roman Goddess of War Bellona and one of the two American soldiers depicted in the statue. Bellona rides Pegasus. I read on Wikipedia that it was hard to get Bellona and Pegasus to model for the sculptor since they're both very busy, despite the fact that no one worships the Roman gods anymore.

1/500th, f2.8. OH MY GOODNESS IT'S GOING TO TRAMPLE ME! Not really. It's bronze.

1/125th, f8. Oh, hey someone actually got trampled. Maybe that joke above wasn't so funny.

1.359th, f4. To end on a light note, seeing as how someone got stomped by a horse in the last two photos, let's ponder this establishment, and muse on what they sell. More importantly, let's ask who they sell to. I picture their patrons walking down the street and seeing the sign.
'Liquor and groceries,' the patron may think. 'What was the first one? Well, I don't need groceries, so I'll keep walking.'
Now imagine the same scenario with the above signage:
'Liquor, groceries, and liquor,' the patron may think. 'Hot diggity! I could go for some liquor. What were the first and second ones? Oh well, I should go buy liquor.'
This sign is ridiculous! But at least we know what they really want to sell.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Capital Building and Statues

I feel like I'm gypping you not breaking this into three posts. After work on Tuesday I sent to the Civic Center neighborhood. Why? To see how long I could be there without being stabbed. Answer: Six minutes. While there, I decided to grab some photos and, conveniently, the newest soon-to-be LEED Platinum building in San Francisco, the Public Utilities Commission building, was there to be photographed. It finished construction recently or is about to finish, so I decided to grab some shots of this pretty nifty building.

1/80, f8. Here you can see this building's most prominent feature -- the side-mounted windmills. The building's shape directs wind into the turbines, amplifying the natural air movement's effect. Pretty nifty, but I imagine those must make the view out of those windows somewhat limiting.

1/50th, f8. The windmills close-up.

1/125th, f5.6. An artsy-type shot from down below.

In addition to the new SFPUC building, I decided to grab some shots of the city hall and a couple nearby statues.

1/100th, f22. San Francisco's City Hall. Sunset. Lovely building.

1/125th, f16. Some city building. I saw the name of it and decided to remember it instead of writing it down. Then I forgot the name of it.

1/160th, f4.5. As you've probably guessed, I love photographing buildings. And the SF Public Library at Civic Center is a great building. This was shot almost wide-open (at 120mm, wide-open is f4.6). And on 400 ISO film. Nikon makes great gear. The N70 matches the 24-120 very well. This is helped by the fact that this is a fantastic lens. Of my Nikon lenses, it's probably the best.

We'll wrap up today with some shots of the statues around City Hall.

1/80, f11.

1/100th, f4.5

1/125th, f5.6

1/125th, f5. Ashurbanipal upskirt. Actually, this is a well thought and place statue.
Here, Ashurbanipal faces the library (he founded one, but not the San Francisco library, obviously) and stands out front of the Asian Art Museum.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

San Francisco Giants Opening Day

So last Monday I did not get out to take infrared shots with my K-7. In fact, I didn't get out of the office for more than 12 hours at all. So, today's post will be some late shots from the Voigtlander Perkeo outing on April 13th. I didn't finish that roll then, but did last week. Here are some shots, most of which were taken on opening day around AT&T Park.

Willie Mays Statue, but just the foot.

Waiting for a homerun in a hand-made wooden canoe.

A slightly more comfortable way to wait for a homerun.

Two of San Francisco's finest keeping the stadium safe from photographers.

A few days later, a building reflecting off the Infinity Complex.

A Year In Photos -- Week Seventeen

This past week I managed to get a number of photos in that, I hope, you will enjoy. Also, let me apologize for the missing posts last week. Blogger switched over to a new interface and when that happened, even though it never published any of my posts. I had to revert to the previous blogger interface and re-publish all my posts.

This new Blogger interface is, and I apologize for the side trip down vitriol alley, as bad a product change as I've ever seen. It's as though someone at Google -- across the board lately -- has hatched a master plan to make their products impossibly unusable by most people with interfaces only extremely tech-savvy people can robots can understand.

That said, this next week will likely have a legitimate interruption as I'll be travelling next weekend. So I may be late on some of the posts next week. For this week, let's see what's coming:

As for cameras, I'll be in town Monday through Thursday. After that, I'll be on my K-7 with two -- maybe three -- lenses and a TBD film body. For Monday through Wednesday, here's what I'll be using:

Monday: Minolta SRT 102 (2042109) with a Celtic 50mm 1:1.1 (2084540), Foma 400 ISO, and a yellow filter.

Tuesday: Canon RT (2463369)with a Canon EF 28-80 (2611388), Ilford P4 400 ISO surveillance film, and a UV filter. Also, there's an 18-55 EF-S lens sitting in my drawer at work (which is exactly where that thing belongs, in my opinion), so I may give it a shot on this body instead of the 28-80.

Wednesday: Nikon F3 (1635441), Nikkor-P 105mm (165576), Foma 400 ISO, and no filter because the filter ring is dented.

Thursday and Friday: Pentax K-7 (9788270) with a TBD lens.

Friday, April 20, 2012

K-7 Experimentation

When my K-7 returned from the repair shop the other week the repair team had installed the latest firmware version. At first I was unhappy because it reset all my settings -- which took me about two hours to undo -- but also included a new mode I don't recall my camera having before -- reversal film. It's a setting on the color mode menu. So I gave it a shot and it's cut my editing time by 50%. The colors are deeper, the contrasts improved. In short, this is how I edit my images to be. So I'm pleased. Here are some color results. All shot with my Takumar 50mm 1:1.4 (the other lens given to me for scanning slides.)

Both of these were shot wide-open to test this lens' capabilities at f1.4 Not shabby.

A frog outside of Rainforest Cafe at Fisherman's Wharf. To me it looks like the frog is going to eat children as though they were large flies.

That fence is still locked up tightly.

A sculpture at Foundry Square.

That same sculpture only just its reflection.

A sculpture at MacArthur BART. Looks to me like a pregnant chick about to pop one out.

Few things are lonelier than an abandoned bike.

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