Category Archives: San Francisco/California

San Francisco Streets 2015

For the last few years, I’ve done an annual photography portfolio book for friends and family. In prior years, the range of my work was quite varied – as my photography interest evolved from landscape to street photography.

This year I took a different approach to just share the last year of my photography mostly shot with Doug Kaye on the streets of San Francisco.

Here are the images from this year’s book – San Francisco Streets 2015 – hope you enjoy!

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In the Shadows

In the Shadows - San Francisco - 2015

The plaza at 101 California Street in San Francisco is one of our favorite venues for street photography. The light in this space can be magnificent – and on the morning in late August is was shining right down the edge of the building.

With my Fujifilm X100T, I capture this shot of the guy walking into the foreground – with the shadowy figure in the background. Thus the title “In the Shadows”.

San Francisco Streets 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 6.10.21 PM

Each year I do a portfolio book of the images I’ve taken during the year. This year, I modified the plan a bit – here’s what I wrote in the book:

For the last four years, I’ve been publishing a portfolio book of the best images I made during each year. The annual process of reviewing my year’s work is both rewarding and somewhat daunting – but it is a delight when the book is finally finished and I’m holding it in my hands!

This year I’m taking a new approach – focusing on doing more “thematic” books based on my travels, events, etc. during the year. For 2015, I’ve already completed separate photo books on my travels to India, Australia/New Zealand and my New York City street photography workshop with Peter Turnley. They’re beautiful mini-portfolios of those events.

This book has a singular focus on the images I made during 2015 on the streets of San Francisco. For the last couple of years, my photo buddy Doug Kaye and I have been regularly meeting at the Ferry Building in San Francisco on Fridays when our schedules permit. We head out from there – sometimes just walking the streets adjacent to the Ferry Building and other times hopping on a Muni bus or streetcar and traveling to one of San Francisco’s neighborhoods. We have a wonderful time – going out “empty” and looking for the good light. We’ve had great fun along the way – and some great lunches! Putting this year’s book together has brought back many good memories of our wandering on San Francisco’s streets!

Almost all of these 2015 images were shot using Fujifilm cameras – primarily the wonderful X100T.

On the Streets of San Francisco with the Leica Q

52 - San Francisco - 2015

My photo buddy Doug Kaye let me borrow his new Leica Q to shoot with during one of our regular Friday photo walks on the streets of San Francisco.

The Q is conceptually similar to my favorite camera: the Fujifilm X100T. I’ve been shooting almost exclusively using the X100T for street photography for over a year. It’s a beautiful camera for street work – and has been a joy for me to learn and enjoy.

What struck me about the Q was just how similar it is to the X100T. Both cameras are very easy to shoot with in full automatic everything mode – but both cameras also give you great control over all of the settings you might want to manage manually.

Looking at this initial set of images, I am struck by the tonality of the images – there’s something called the “Leica look” – and the images have just that touch of a special look to them – that’s hard to describe but very much there.

Here are a few more images from today’s exploration with the wonderful Leica Q.

On the Wall - San Francisco - 2015

Waiting for Uber - San Francisco - 2015

Reader - Chinatown San Francisco - 2015

Into the Light - San Francisco - 2015

In the Bag - San Francisco - 2015

Dandelion Chocolate - San Francisco - 2015

Blue Bottle Morning - San Francisco - 2015

Harvest Time - San Francisco - 2015

Walk My Way

Walk My Way - San Francisco - 2015

One of my techniques involves shooting multiple shots against a common background. I call it “multiples”.

Here’s an example I just processed that was shot in San Francisco’s financial district a year ago. I loved the light we had that day – and this blonde with her high boots pulling her suitcase across this “stage” was just a perfect case where multiple shots might pay off.

Shot with my Fujifilm X100T.

The Bottle

The Bottle - San Francisco - 2015

San Francisco’s AT&T Park is known for many things – among them is the Coca-Cola bottle in the outfield.

Last Sunday I was heading out sailing with my friend Rob Theis who keeps his boat at the South Beach Harbor which is just adjacent to AT&T Park. After parking my car, I noticed the glove and the bottle sculptures – from behind. I took this shot – and processed it in the white seamless tradition!

The Blue Angels on White Seamless

Blue Angels - San Francisco - 2015

A while back, Scott Kelby posted a series of architectural shots styled with a “white seamless” background look. As I was looking back at a few of my Blue Angels images from yesterday, I wondered how that “white seamless” look might work for one of them.

As it turns out, we had a lot of white seamless background during their performance as San Francisco’s Karl the Fog kept intruding into the Bay – forcing the Blue Angels to mostly do a “high program”.

This shot of Blue Angels 5 and 6 doing their slow flight demonstration seemed like a great candidate for the technique – even though the original of this image has a normal blue sky in the background and not Karl the Fog! A started out using Kelby’s white seamless technique and then added a few tricks of my own.

What do you think?

Shot with my Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon 55-200mm lens.

Blue Angels 2015 over San Francisco Bay

Blue Angels - San Francisco - 2015

There’s a certain rush to watching the Blue Angels perform. They fly noisy jets (F-18A’s with twin engines) – and their routines combine a smooth rush with a loud punctuated hit of thrust. So they make a wonderful noise – a powerful sound – something special.

And then there’s how they fly – oh so close. Nobody does it better. The aerial ballet of the Blue Angels is quite something – each time I’ve seen them fly, I come away in awe of their precision work – and an appreciation for the work they put into being so perfect.

Today I was out on the Bay in a sailboat of a good friend of mine – Rob Theis – and, although the fog was dancing with the Blue Angels stars, we still came away with that special feeling about these guys – and a few great photos of the Blue Angels in action over San Francisco Bay – 2015 edition. This image was shot with my Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon 55-200mm lens.

More Multiples in San Francisco Street Photography

Clay Street Shooter - San Francisco - 2015

Last week I did a post about multiples in San Francisco street photography. It’s a fun – and, frankly, a pretty lazy technique. Why do I say lazy? Because you simply plant yourself at an interesting location (a carefully chosen interesting location!) and shoot away. The goal is to capture a series of images of the same area over a period of several seconds. Depending on your gear, you can fire away in single shot mode – or you can set your camera on burst mode – and just hold down the shutter button.

On my Fujifilm X100T, I typically set the Drive setting to Low burst and it works great. But you can just do this with your iPhone – simply hold down the shutter button and the iPhone will fire off a burst of images. The iPhone 6 fires at about 10 frames per second – so you’ll get quite a few images in just a few seconds of holding down the shutter button.

Doug recommends putting your camera in manual for these kinds of shots – so that the camera isn’t choosing different settings in between the shots. He’s more of a perfectionist in this regard than I am. I mostly just don’t worry about it.

The fun comes after importing the images into Lightroom and then editing them as layers in Photoshop. Photoshop’s auto-align will correct for any hand-held movement between the images. You’ll end up with a layer stack of images – all aligned. Now you need to look through the layers and decide how to blend them – to bring in details from various images/layers. That’s the fun part – and it can take a while to get it right.

The image above was shot by me standing behind Doug Kaye as he was using this technique on Clay Street in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The image below is one that I constructed using these techniques while just standing along Stockton Street and capturing individual shots as people moved through my frame. One of the characteristics of these images that you’ll notice in this one is that people look just too close together. That’s because they weren’t – actually!

Busy Morning - San Francisco - 2015