This is a large chandelier in the Cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco. Without a doubt it is the first think you notice when you walk in. It’s positioned above the alter and reflects the light from the windows of four corners. When I walked in it was all I could do to stand there and look up. I imagine that’s the intended effect; to give pause and a feeling that this is an extraordinary space.
My Sony A7rII camera has a silent shooting mode. I turn that on whenever I enter a house of worship or any place where the sound of a shutter might break the mood. I try to respect places like this even though I want to take photos. My desire to get a good photo does not trump my manners or sense of reverence. As much as I love to get a good photo, I’ll walk away if I feel I’b be crossing some line.
That’s not to say that happens a lot. In the vast majority of cases its cool. Even if I have to take a few chances, sometimes it’s better to get forgiveness than permission. But invading someone’s space when taking photos is not cool. If I find someone in contemplation when I walk up with my camera, I’ll walk away if I cannot capture the scene without disrupting it.
Here is an image of the city across the bay in California. If I recall I took this from a spot just below the Golden Gate Bridge. But I could be mistaken, it could have been from Sausalito, I’m not sure. Normally I use an app on my iPhone to geotag images so that I won’t forget when writing about it later. In this case I forgot to do that or was just lazy. It doesn’t matter that much, it’s a picture, not a survey.
Speaking of surveys, I met a retired surveyor a few years back who now lives on a sailboat in Florida. He used to do arial surveying with a medium format camera. That’s because back in the day’s of film, the highest resolution images came from medium format cameras. Today that’s still the case except everything is digital and hundreds of times more resolution. Anyway, the guy was selling his old Hasselblad cameras and lenses. The only problem was, nobody wanted to buy them. I think he ended up donating them to a film school.
So while I was here in San Francisco I was walking near Union Square and a photographer was setup in a mini street fair selling his prints. He still took all his pictures with a film Hasselblad camera. I told him the story of the surveyor in Florida and he understood exactly. Film photography is a dying art and the equipment, if you can find it, is dirt cheap. Of course, you still need to develop the film and process it in a dark room. And that, is something of a lost art these days.
Having said that it seems there is a small renaissance in film photography. I’m curious to see where that goes.
This is a symmetrical image of a skyline reimagined. It’s an abstract treatment of a nighttime urban scene. There is careful work lining things up and I made several mistakes on an earlier attempt. On a cell phone you’d never notice but blown up on the wall everything needs to be exact.
Making kaleidoscopic images out of everyday scenes is like a meditation for me. It’s taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. It makes me think of the mesmerizing power of patterns. Why is it that are we drawn to symmetrical patterns in art, nature and religious iconography?
I think they resonate with something deep inside of us. Archetypical patterns represent something sublime and beyond the everyday experiences. I wonder if this is one way to communicate on a higher level, in patterns and symmetric complexity. Is it possible that an alien race communicates in symmetric patterns of light and color?
Given the size of the universe is not out of the question. The universe is so big that our galaxy is but a grain of sand. And so perhaps another civilization does communicate in patterns of light, sound, color, …the possibilities are endless.
A photographic angle of a modern building caught my eye while walking through a big city. It’s at the foot of Telus Gardens which is a new building with innovative architecture and is supposedly one of the most energy efficient in the world. The image is a little confusing. The translucency and reflections of the elevator on the left create a little perplexity.
I took several identical frames hand held using a high ISO setting. Normally I would use a tripod but this time I was trying a different technique. I used Photoshop to combine the identical images and eliminate the noise. I learned the technique from this tutorial by Serge Ramelli.
Because I live in a small town walking around a big city is an experience for me. Sometimes I think I’d like to live in a large city. I love the energy, especially the creative inspiration I get for photography. I get a lot of that when I’m in a place like Vancouver.
Later when I get home I’m happy for the quiet and relative calm of a small town. It’s not a contradiction, just a matter of being happy where I am. No matter where I end up, I’ll always be looking for a photographic angle.
This reminds me of the saying that we are more alike than unalike. While in Amsterdam I took a ride on a boat through the city canals. It’s a perspective that had me looking up at the houses, streets and people above the water level. It was a covered boat but sat outside the whole time taking photos. Being a foreigner I find it particularly interesting to watch people. I think that’s a natural reaction to a new place, maybe because we relate to people more than surroundings.
I think people in most places around the world have a lot in common. Where we live is part of the equation, but not the most important part, at least that’s my theory.
People here seem to be happy. There is a sensibility that’s rarely found in North America, we have it but in isolated cases. What is it? It’s hard to put my finger on it. Folks are content to ride bikes instead of cars. People spend quality time together rather than work all the time. It’s a sense of identity of a small country that is sometimes lost in a large country. And then of course there are the laws, they are very different.
All that aside, at our core we are more alike than unalike. We think about many of the same things, we feel the same, we react to the same things. By experiencing and learning from each other we become wiser. When we look closely at people we realize we are not so different.
Photography is sometimes an opportunity to meditate on these ideas, to cut through the exterior and make a connection. That may sound counter-intuitive, but I think there’s something to it, at least for me. But then, if we’re not all that different maybe it is for you too.
Looking out over San Francisco from the top of Coit Tower there is a lot to take in. It’s a good good I was here in the morning because this is popular and at other times there are be lines to get up. But on this morning there were only a few people on top and the view in all directions was unobstructed.
San Francisco is hilly enough, but when standing up here on a tower everything is accentuated. I used a wide angle lens to pack in as much as possible, but of course this is only looking in one direction; it was like this all around.
I think living up on this hill and then taking a walk everyday would ensure you are in pretty good shape. And that’s exactly what you see, people walking up and down the hills. I get a little winded on just one hill but if I did it everyday maybe it would be different.
I was born and raised in California but I have never been up here. I’ve seen the Coit Tower countless times, I’ve been to the base of it, I recognize it as part of the skyline, but I’ve never been to the top of it until now. In my opinion its well worth the visit if you’ve not done that yet.
San Francisco is full of architectural landmarks but this ranks in the top two or three.
These are the Saturday night fireworks we had here in my hometown for the annual regatta. It’s the third year and each year it gets bigger and bigger. They shut down one of the main bridge so people can stand on it to watch the Formula One races. Those boats are pushing the limits of the laws of physics, it really is crazy to watch. The day is filled with food, acrobatic displays and concerts and ends with a firework display.
I took this from across the river near my home in Palmetto. Palmetto is a small town compared to Bradenton, but they share the river and during the regatta each city joins together to put on the show.
When I arrived at the little beachhead along the river to watch the fireworks there was a couple already sitting in their lawn chairs waiting for the fireworks. I asked how it was going and the guy replied it was a little cold. We laughed but basically called him on it. He was from upstate New York and his son just sent him a picture of the snow up there. Here we all were in shorts and sandals watching fireworks. Maybe he was just being facetious so I told him to send back a picture and see if he gets any sympathy from the folks up north.
I’m fortunate to live here in Florida especially at this time of year. I just returned from a couple of weeks in Canada and I can say with certainty that it is not cold here. The only cold thing is the ice in the fridge that we use to keep our drinks cold.
It seems that I’ve started a tradition of going to Lands End for a sunset on the last night of a visit to San Francisco. Not that planned it, it just seemed to work out that way. So far I’ve been rewarded with great sunsets, what are the odds of that each time? I’m just knocking on a piece of wood right now to persevere whatever good luck the photography gods have bestowed upon me. I can go a long way with a little luck.
This time I ate dinner at the Cliff House Bistro, it’s right on the water. In fact I took this during dinner from the restaurant which is perched upon a cliff overlooking the pacific. The best part about it is enjoying a meal while watching the sunset. I took a few minutes to step out with my camera. It is an iconic location.
If you are looking at this on a large monitor you might be able to see a small island way out on the horizon just right of center. That is part of the Farallon Islands located about 20 miles offshore. I never noticed it before but while sitting in the restaurant looking out at sea it became apparent. I grew up in California and never knew these islands existed. There is a wildlife refuge there and it’s been called the “Galapagos of the North”.
I’m not sure why it is but I enjoy images of random people in night scenes. This is similar to a shot I did a year ago in the same location. It too was monochromatic with red. Anyway, I’m deliberately repeating myself. What I’m trying to capture is the combination of the lights of the shopping district, the hustle and bustle of people and the interplay of light and shadow. They combine to create a scene and the red color adds an extra dimension of depth.
Looking at this you could be forgiven for thinking it was somewhere in the United States but in fact it’s Vancouver, British Columbia. On the surface, many things about Canada seem similar to the United States. But beyond the surface there are differences.
I could name a lot of things but I think that strong sense of national Identity is one of the most prominent. That sounds very general, but it’s palpable, something you pickup on right away.
Just as the USA influences Canada, the same is true in the other direction. Most people don’t notice, but Canada has a big influence south of the border. Television personalities, sports, medicine, manufacturing, banking…, the list goes on. I see the signs of all over Florida but maybe that’s because I know what to look for.