Author Archives: Scott Loftesness

About Scott Loftesness

Fine Art Photographer, Payments Professional. Follow me on Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

San Francisco’s Guardian Fireboat No. 2

Guardian Fireboat No. 2 - San Francisco - 2014

Every few weeks, Doug Kaye and I rendezvous at San Francisco’s Ferry Building on a Friday morning – and head out for a few hours of shooting on the street of San Francisco. For me, it’s just a delight – as my brain flips over from left brain analytical mode – that it’s been in all week while working – into a right brain creative mode. Key to that process, in my experience, is just slowing down. It’s like the inverse of entering hyperspace – I need slow down, slow down again, smell the air, stretch my arms and legs, relax my neck and shoulders – and then just look for the good light.

Sometimes I take BART from Daly City down to San Francisco’s Embarcadero station to meet Doug’s Larkspur ferry at the Ferry Building. Other times, I’ll take Caltrain from Menlo Park – and then either a Muni bus (the 81X or 82X if it’s early enough or the 10-Townsend later in the morning) or the Muni Metro N or T light rail. On this particular morning, I was in Caltrain mode – having caught the 8:37 AM limited. After arriving in San Francisco, I walked across the street to catch the N Muni Metro – and then got off at my favorite station along this section of the Embarcadero – at Folsom Street.

On this particular Friday in early November, the fog had come in – which provided some beautiful light for us later in the morning. I opted to turn right along the Embarcadero and head down to the Fireboat Station where both of San Francisco’s fireboats are docked. This image was shot with my iPhone 6 and post-processed in Lightroom 5 using VSCO Film 06 and the Fuji 400H film.

That Decisive Moment – Street Photography in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Walker - San Francisco - 2014

Lots of credit – deservedly so – has gone to the notion of “the decisive moment” in photography and its origin with Henri Cartier-Bresson. The notion is a precise capture at the moment of most interest.

In late August, Doug Kaye and I went exploring in San Francisco’s Chinatown. We came across this lovely alley way that heading up hill – a perfect “stage” that street photographers love to find. Once you’ve got a stage, you have to wait for something interesting to come by and fill it – patience helps!

I got lucky – this fellow walked into my shot and I was able to capture him in mid-step – holding that coffee cup in his left hand. A decisive moment to be sure!

Exploring Street Photography in San Francisco

Mid-Day - San Francisco - 2014

I just finished a week long masterclass in San Francisco led by Ming Thein. Ming’s an outstanding photographer based in Kuala Lumpur who I’ve been following for the last couple of years. I was originally encouraged to follow Ming by my photographer friend Doug Kaye who was particularly intrigued by Ming’s monochrome photography. Ming’s web site is a treasure trove of valuable content for photographers looking to up their game – and the masterclass was that and more, in person, on steroids!

I primarily shot with my Fujifilm X-T1 using the new Fujifilm XF 18-135mm Zoom Lens. This kit is great – a superb camera and a lens that provides excellent coverage for almost any scene you’ll come across in daylight hours.

The image above was shot in the early afternoon outside the Bank of America building on San Francisco’s California Street. For more of my photos from this week’s masterclass, see this Flickr album.

Less but better.

Less But Better

I’ve been enjoying reading Greg McKeown‘s new book “Essentialism” – and, after listening to the beginning, put together this image suitable for desktop or screen saver use. It’s a shot made in the kitchen at the James Johnston House in Half Moon Bay – and was one that seemed to focus on the essential!

Here’s a link to Greg’s book and perhaps an easier to download version of my image on Flickr.

Back to Fort Point at the Golden Gate

Fort Point - Golden Gate Bridge - 2010

One of my most popular images on Flickr has been this one – shot in January 2010 on the top of Fort Point. I’ve always enjoyed it for the couple getting their picture taken sitting on the wall – while the sign in the lower right reads “DANGER! stay off walls”. The image was shot handheld with a tiny Canon PowerShot S90 – my favorite “on the belt” point and shoot at that time.

Tonight I re-processed this image in Lightroom using a couple of new presets and some recently learned techniques. Here’s the earlier version for comparison.

Playing with Sepia Toning of Highlights in Monochrome Images

Moody #2 - San Francisco - 2014

I recently got reacquainted with the beautiful monochrome work of Michael Kenna. His images have a number of striking qualities – mostly long exposure, his use of grain, and the square (and small 8×8 inch) print size. But for me it’s the light in his images that grab me.

Doing a bit of reading of interviews of Kenna, he has spoken about his he uses a light sepia toning in the highlights of his images – and how, by doing so, the mind’s eye sees the highlights as a bit forward in space while the shadows are pushed back – adding a sense of dimensionality to an image.

This is an image of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge shot from San Francisco’s Embarcadero with my Fujifilm X-E2 on a particularly moody February morning. I used it as an example for applying this kind of technique – sepia toning of the highlights. To do so, it’s an easy process in Photoshop CC. Select the RGB channel to create a selection, then add a gradient map adjustment layer – the selection will automatically be loaded into the adjustment layer’s layer mask. Then select the photographic toning Sepia 1 tone – and you’re done with the highlights.

I took it a bit further, duplicating that process but inverting the layer mask to add a Selenium 2 tone to the shadows – pushing them further back in the mind’s eye.

Below is the original monochrome version of this image – you can see the difference. Click on either to see a larger version.

Moody - San Francisco - 2014

Over 1,000,000 Views on Flickr

Working - Village Pub - 2014

For the last several years, I’ve been working in the kitchen – in the kitchen of taking photos and, more importantly, making images. Photography has become a real source of joy for me over the last few years – a craft that keeps me learning.

Today was a milestone of sorts. I happened to notice that my images on Flickr have now been viewed over 1,000,000 times. I really appreciate how Flickr has served as my sort of master archive – and enjoy the feedback I get from everyone who follows my photostream there.

I put together an album of the top 10 images as measured by Flickr based on “interestingness” – you might enjoy seeing them here.