Too numerous to count… I have so many pictures that have and hold significance to me. Some, held very pleasant surprises for me when I finally developed the slide. I tended to shoot the roll of film and store it in the freezer accumulating about 64 rolls to develop in a gallon kit of developer. Since I shot about a hundred rolls a year, this meant a massive developing session about once a year. Yes, there was no instant review of your work; duplicates occurred infrequently as well. And with that preamble, I did indeed get the occasional “keeper!” Que? Well, you know it when you see it. Each picture a story, I apologize for leaving you hanging. I strive for succinct posts… not enough time. By contrast, one hundred rolls of slides (before 2004) is about 3600 slides/year, and digital images last year exceeded 100,000 using at least four different cameras.
It seems the beginning of my catalog has some highlights – shots over the years that were “keepers.” At least that is my opinion. They were pretty much unplanned shots that turned out surprisingly well. You may readily disagree. I like them. A very early effort was the child at a street market in London. The shot in the pool was a blurred image – wrong exposure, nice shot. Moonrise? It ain’t easy without adjusting the exposure. Motion blur (waves), moon detail, not bad. Wedding? I was a guest. It was a “grab” shot. The couple enlarged and kept it as a highlight. Panning – I learned with a San Francisco cable car. Reading about it is one thing; I gotta do it in order for the lesson to stick. Candid family? There are shots, and, there are shots that make you laugh out loud. Exhausted? Or, no turkey, please! Jules did not cook the meal… What else to say? I simply stuck the camera out the window and pressed the shutter once. Surprise!
They were called radio DJ’s shock jocks. We had Howard Stern. Whatever was gross and inappropriate was fair game. It was a very rapidly tiresome schtick. I guess SF had their own version. There’s a fine line between taste and tasteless. If you are Republican stop reading here. Otherwise, I don’t get in many pictures. Don, the guy by the car, took the pic. He’s not very good (photographer). But who cares? There, that’s me in a rare true to life photo in front of a monument to man’s constructive ability. “Look, ma. Wish you were here.”
I love it when something endures. This building has stood the test of time since I first remember coming to San Francisco. It’s an art installation in an abandoned building. Someday the building will go or it will be renovated. Meanwhile if one looks around you see the greatest things. Who thinks of this stuff?
A Good Idea
Public restrooms are a problem in big cities. The answer is not always obvious. Many restaurants post signs: “Restrooms for patrons only.” Starbucks employees have complained about cleaning the restrooms. In San Francisco there was a public restroom. I happened to hang around long enough to find out that this turned out to be a good idea gone bad. It didn’t seem amiss when I noticed a woman pounding on the door. In an instance I noted she was probably homeless. The door swung open and inside I could see several people one of whom had a shopping cart. I realized that this room was probably in use as a homeless shelter. I idly wondered what a single woman … lest you wonder why I was idling, it turned out there was a fountain and I was resting my weary feet. Across the street was a street graphic which provided a convenient backdrop for my camera.
I watched as people came up and pressed the buttons to use the restroom. The door never opened. City workers were around and about but never entered nor attempted to clean the facility. A crazy homeless man appeared and persistently banged on the door. Finally the door swung open again to admit him. The single woman emerged and the homeless crazy entered. I confirmed that there were at least three other occupants in the shadows inside. Life goes on. My advice: McD or Burger King is an easy one. Any large hotel will never be able to distinguish if you are a guest or an itinerant passerby. Either way there is some assurance that you will be successful and not harassed.
San Francisco Cable Car
Motion blur and tilted shot, this was an iconic image for me. I shot, tilting the camera to make the cable car horizontal. But the perspective says that we’re on the uphill side. And the motion blur makes you feel like you’re moving right along. I’ve done this shot since. But this was the first. And tilting the camera is a technique that I use frequently now. After all the years I spent telling Lisa to keep her horizon straight, I feel guilty breaking the rule so much these days. But since the advent of cell phone photography, it’s pretty common to see tilted horizons. The trick is in making it work for the image. Lately I especially like the technique for food photography.
In case you missed yesterday, the billboard is politically incorrect and certainly has me wondering what its impact would be if it were advertising today. But that was then and this is now. Recently the NYC police allowed topless body painting in Times Square and bottomless after dark. It’s a freedom of speech right. I won’t comment on the politics. It’s a great country. To paraphrase one Supreme Court Justice’s comment on the topic of pornography, “I know it when I see it.”
San Fran Diner
That’s Don my able-bodied assistant and guy who always has my back. We’re in San Fran on the same trip to the AANS meeting. That’s the rental car. This is the diner we parked in front of. The menu is Californian confused and appeals to about every food preference and ethnic group. Oh, the billboard, I suppose, deserves some comment…
I shot this slide in a gallery window in San Francisco, 2000. I keep a database and could look it up. Somehow I remember Chicago or Seattle. That’s why I keep a database (more accurate than memory). Luckily I started this record many years ago on index cards and later transferred to computer. Now it takes only a few moments to look up information. As to the image and the art, my only interest is because of my profession. As to why only the artist can say why he chose this subject and its meaning. My curiosity is also in wondering why all the teeth appear to be well.
Internet: Today of all days, suddenly a lot of random hits from all over started coming to my blog. I don’t know why. A casual search on the ‘net and I have this picture front and center. You can get/swipe the shot so easily. I’m amazed at how fast the ‘net can work. It appears the visits are wordpress traffic. I’m not ‘freshly pressed.’ So, it’s a mystery to me. Thank you all for reading/looking.
San Francisco Cable Car
When I was in San Francisco many years ago, I shot this image of the iconic cable car. The Powell Mason line runs from Market over Nob Hill to Fisherman’s Wharf. The hill is steep! I have taken many photos of the cable cars all along the route. I shot this on slide film. There is no record of the camera settings. This image shows two techniques. The first is panning. The car is moving and I am moving the camera and keeping the car in focus. The effect will blur the background. The shutter speed has to be just slow enough in order to get the blur. The second technique is tilting the horizon. It adds a dynamic feel of motion. This goes against the rule that you should always keep the horizon straight. Tilting is a street photography technique that gives an edge to the image. Depending on your choice tilting right or left will give the image a different feel. Often one of them doesn’t work as an effect. You can take a straight shot a bit wide angled and then crop/tilt in post processing. Or, with digital simply experiment and shoot three images – straight, right tilt and left tilt. In addition, I have kept the area of interest in the lower third following the rule of thirds. With slide film everything has to be perfect in the frame – exposure, shutter, f-stop, blur, framing and rule of thirds. That’s a lot to juggle.