Seeing the Future: Amazon Go

On Friday, while walking up California Street in San Francisco enjoying a morning of street photography, my friend Doug and I happened across the new Amazon Go store at 300 California Street. Neither of us had been in a Go Store before so we went in to check it out.

Turns out I had months ago downloaded the Amazon Go app to my iPhone – so I was enabled for the Store. I needed to login to the app to complete my setup. Once logged in, the app displays a diamond-shaped bar code which is scanned by the gate turnstiles to let you into the store – a process just like using a boarding pass to get on the airplane. 

I had a guest with me – so the helpful Amazon person by the door explained how I could take my guest with me into the store: let him walk in first, scan using my code, followed by me and a second scan of my code.

Once inside, we were surprised by the range of items available in a space that seemed a bit larger than most 7-Eleven convenience stores but smaller than the usual supermarket (Whole Foods?) store. There were lots of prepared food items – but many other things as well. Very nice assortment!

While in the store, I noticed one guy come in who must be a local regular – as he breezed through the turnstile, went to pickup his item (lunch) and then walked out.

One of the sections in the store has Amazon Go “merchandise” where I found a dark chocolate bar that would be my sole item purchased on this initial visit. I picked up the bar, turned around, browsed another aisle, and then headed for and walked through the exit gate. That was it – I was done.

My friend was curious about the technology being used – wondering if RFID on the items was involved. He asked and was told that basically a combination of overhead cameras along with weight sensitive shelves were used to identify the items we picked up to purchase.

All in all a very cool shopping experience! Having had to tolerate checkout lines many times at a 7-Eleven near my former office, I can see how this new future would quickly win me over!

Note that this Go Store at 300 California Street is open Mon–Fri, 7AM–9PM. Closed Sat–Sun. Amazon says it stocks: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Grocery Essentials

A favorite spot: San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Whenever I meet up with my photo buddy Doug Kaye for a few hours of San Francisco street photography, we almost always meet at San Francisco’s Ferry Building. I find it convenient to drive to BART and then take it to the Embarcadero station which is just across from the Ferry Building – a quick 5 minute walk and I’m there. 

This time of year, the sun angle (both low in the sky and the direction it is casting shadows) make for interesting photos outside the Ferry Building. Here are three examples – two were taken out the window on the Bay side of the building adjacent to Peet’s Coffee. The third was taken outside in front of the Ferry Building shooting directly into the sun.

There are a couple of other great photography locations here – especially the indoor marketplace area with its superb indirect overhead light – I’ll share a few examples of images taken there in a future post.

All three of these images were taken with an iPhone Xs Max and it’s superb camera! All of these images were also shared previously on my Instagram account.

Revival

It’s been a while since I have done any posting here – like five months! It’s time to get things rocking again. Lots of recent street photography – mostly shared on my Instagram page. I’ll share some of those images here along with some of the back stories behind them.

Let’s get started with this image from today: the magical staircase at the Mechanics Institute on Post Street in downtown San Francisco. I was walking from the Montgomery Street BART station to Apple Union Square when I walked by the Institute and was reminded by a friend’s post from this location that he shared on Facebook. A quick duck inside the front door, past the elevators into the staircase – and then simply look up! I used the Halide camera app shooting in RAW and post processed in the Darkroom and Snapseed apps.

Exploring San Francisco’s Embarcadero with my iPhone 7 Plus 

I often meet up with my friend Doug Kaye for a couple of hours of street photography in San Francisco. We often meet  at San Francisco’s Ferry Building and head out from there along San Francisco’s Embarcadero towards Pier 24 (which is directly under where the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge heads out over the Bay).

Pier 24 — a beautiful space dedicated to photographic exhibitions — (one reviewer calls it “the quietly spectacular waterfront cathedral for photography“) has a new exhibition that recently opened titled “The Grain of the Present.” Pier 24 requires advance reservations which we had made a couple of weeks prior.

This particular exhibition “examines the work of 10 photographers at the core of the Pilara Foundation collection — Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lee Friedlander, Nicholas Nixon, Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel, and Garry Winogrand — whose works share a commitment to looking at everyday life as it is.” It also features additional photography by Eamonn Doyle, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ed Panar, Alec Soth, Awoiska van der Molen, and Vanessa Winshi.

It’s quite a collection of beautiful work,  and the opportunity to see it displayed in the beautiful space of Pier 24 makes for a great experience. If you enjoy great photography, do try to see this new exhibition at Pier 24, just remember that it requires you make a reservation a few weeks in advance. Pier 24’s reservation system helps pace visitor entry further enhancing the experience.

Along the way, both back and forth from the Ferry Building to Pier 24, we walked slowly — cameras in hand — and had fun capturing some moments of street photography. I had my favorite street photography camera long (a Fujifilm X100F) but I never pulled it out of the bag.  I was only shooting using the camera in my iPhone 7 Plus. Sometimes I enjoy going very minimalist, and using just my iPhone puts me in that frame of mind!

Below are some example images shot on the iPhone 7 Plus, post-processed using the Photos app on the iPhone, and tweaked using Google’s Snapseed application — also on the iPhone. This was a totally iPhone photography day! Follow more of my street photography on Instagram.

Four Corners

Bay Glow

Smile

Just Resting

Easy Rider

Little Man

Chasing Light on San Francisco’s Streets

Black and White - San Francisco - 2016

Yesterday, I met up with my photo buddy Doug Kaye at San Francisco’s Ferry Building for a couple of hours of San Francisco street photography. I was just back from 10 days in India – and, frankly, in a bit of a time warp still recovering from a bit of jet lag. In spite of my handicap, we had a wonderful time!

I opted to shoot with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 with the 35mm f/2.0 lens (50 mm equivalent). I setup the film simulation for Acros with the yellow filter – my favorite for street photography with people – and also tweaked the highlights to +1 and shadows to +3 to add more contrast to the JPEGs coming right out of the camera. I was shooting in RAW+JPEG but, as it often turns out, the JPEGs were just perfect coming out of the camera so they were the only images I imported into Lightroom.

We spent the morning chasing light – over the last couple of years our eyes have become pretty finely tuned to seeing the light – and looking for opportunities to exploit it in interesting ways. We walked from the Ferry Building up California Street to Kearny and then to Sutter before settling for lunch at one of our favorite spots: E&O at 314 Sutter.

Looking at these images from yesterday, I’m struck by the light/shadow captures. We took our time, shooting slowly along the way. Just a great way to spend a Friday morning on the streets of San Francisco!

Rays - San Francisco - 2016

Take Out - San Francisco - 2016

Stripes - San Francisco - 2016

Waiting - San Francisco - 2016

Confident - San Francisco - 2016

My Visit to SFMOMA

One Way - SFMOMA - 2016

Yesterday I headed to San Francisco for my first visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) since its recent re-opening. It was a perfect day to do so – with light commute travel given the start of the Memorial Day weekend. I bought my ticket online for a 10:15 AM entry and was able to join as soon as it opened.

I’m a quick museum go’er – preferring to move quickly between rooms to get a sense and then circling back to look more closely at certain items that interest me. Definitely best done as a solitary pursuit as I’d frustrate a companion with my quick movements and subsequent zigging and zagging!

I spent about two hours exploring – and then stopped for an early lunch at Cafe 5 – which was lovely by the way!

I packed my Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X70 cameras in my shoulder bag – but, as it turned out, I only took pictures with my iPhone 6s. I enjoyed shooting light – and “light” – with just my iPhone.

Here are some examples. I’m looking forward to making another pass later this year!

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In the moment at 101 California

Scott Loftesness
Scott Loftesness

My photo buddy Doug Kaye caught me in the moment while we were both shooting in the bright Friday morning light in the plaza at 101 California in downtown San Francisco.

This plaza is a place we return to frequently – it’s just a delight – and the light is constantly shifting and moving across a tapestry of interesting people either traversing or taking a break and pausing for a few minutes. It’s one of those “life is good” kind of places.

Obviously, as Doug’s image shows, I was having a great time! One of these days I might get around to washing my jacket – it’s been all over the world with me and I’ve resisted “cleaning things up”!

Fujifilm X-Pro2 on the Streets of San Francisco

Flood - San Francisco - 2016

On Friday, Doug Kaye and I met up in San Francisco for one of our Friday Fotowalks (!) – a pretty steady ritual when we’re both in town at the same time.

I took the occasion to shot exclusively with my new Fujifilm X-Pro2 – this time with the Fujinon 18-55mm zoom lens installed on the X-Pro2 body.

For the last year or more, I’ve been shooting with fixed prime lenses – mostly the 35mm equivalent lens on my Fujifilm X-100T. More recently, I’ve added a Fujifilm X70 to the mix – with its 28 mm equivalent lens. But I decided to try the 18-55mm “kit” zoom on the X-Pro2 after seeing images from another X-Pro2 shooter on Facebook.

I was very happy with the results! The 18-55mm zoom has always been highly regarded – and it was a lot of fun to shoot with it again.

Some of the resulting images follow.

In the Light - San Francisco - 2016

Gliding By - San Francisco - 2016

Friends - San Francisco - 2016

New and Old - San Francisco - 2016

Here comes the Sun - San Francisco - 2016

Prep - San Francisco - 2016

Moment - San Francisco - 2016

Street Portraits – San Francisco Streets

Pals - San Francisco - 2016

Shooting street photography roughly splits into shooting with a fixed lens or shooting with a zoom lens. There are many other genres of course – but I like to think of heading out with my gear setup for one or the other.

For most of the last 18 months, my camera of choice has been the Fujifilm X100T – a rangefinder style camera that’s idea for the fixed lens genre of street photography. I’ve had a lot of fun with my X100T on the streets of San Francisco and other cities. Can’t recommend it highly enough for very enjoyable street photography.

But, there’s another style – I like to think of this as the Jay Maisel style of street photography. In this style, you want to go out with a long zoom lens – one that will enable candid captures from across the street. Today I went back to that long zoom style – shooting with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 using the Fujinon 18-135mm zoom. It’s a very different approach – but can also be a lot of fun. As I looked at my images from today, I was struck by the tighter portrait-like shots I captured.

Below are a few more images from today’s session on the streets of San Francisco.

Pals - San Francisco - 2016

Solo - San Francisco - 2016

Parasol - San Francisco - 2016

Life is a Mystery

Life is a Mystery - San Francisco - 2016

Yesterday Doug Kaye and I met up for one of our Friday photowalks in San Francisco. Along the way, we stopped by the Bank of America Building – at least that’s what it used to be called – at Kearny and California Streets.

The sun is still reasonably low in the sky – and it casts these dramatic light and dark shadows on the south side of the building. It’s a perfect stage – just takes patience to wait for a subject to walk into the frame. It was Good Friday – so there wasn’t a lot of pedestrian traffic into/out of this building in San Francisco’s financial district. But, we’ve learned to be patient – and I was rewarded when this woman walked out the door and into the frame.

The mystery part of the image for me is her quiet reflection in the column across from her on the right. I love her hair and hands in that reflection – balancing off her walking into the light. Sometimes we get lucky!

This image was shot with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 using the Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens and processed with the Acros film simulation.

Here’s another edit of this image – suggested to me on Facebook by Theo Streibel.

Life is a Mystery #2- San Francisco - 2016