The Stages of San Francisco: Muni Streetcar Stops on Market Street

Line 'Em Up -  San Francisco - 2015

When shooting street photography in San Francisco, we try to look for interesting “stages” – places where the background is interesting and we’re just waiting for the “actors” to show up and fill the stage.

Some of my personal favorites along San Francisco’s Market Street are the Muni streetcar stops. The stops are in the middle of the street – so they’re a bit closer – and the “actors” are often focused on what’s coming – looking up the streetcar line.

This is a classic example – with the “actors” sort of evenly space waiting for the Muni streetcar to arrive. Just one of the many street photography stages of San Francisco!

On the Streets of San Francisco with the Fujifilm X100T Rangefinder

Wonderful World - San Francisco - 2015

I recently shared some of my notes on shooting street photography with the delightful Fujifilm X100T rangefinder camera. Here’s a group of images from our latest street adventure in San Francisco – I was walking with Doug Kaye shooting with his Leica M6 also using a 35mm lens (just like the X100T).

We had a great day wandering up from the Ferry Building along Market Street, down Jessie by Golden Gate University and eventually working our way up Maiden Lane to Union Square. Doug had walked many of these streets recently with photographer Swee Oh – and I benefited from their sharing.

These images show the range of what’s possible in street photography with the X100T. I’ve been concentrating my photography on this particular camera – and it’s becoming second nature to me now as I’m able to see a scene developing and deciding quickly how to setup for capturing the moment. Doug mentioned at lunch how he’s gotten much better at walking and adjusting his manual controls on the Leica as he’s examining the light and subject just ahead of composing and taking the picture. Having this become almost second nature really adds to the delight of street photography!

Hope you enjoy these images from the streets of San Francisco!

Light Up - San Francisco - 2015

Corner - San Francisco - 2015

Shuffle - San Francisco - 2015

Deuce - San Francisco - 2015

Crossover - San Francisco - 2015

Wisdom - San Francisco - 2015

Men at Work - San Francisco - 2015

Passersby - San Francisco - 2015

Out of the Dark - San Francisco - 2015

Smoker - San Francisco - 2015

Peaceful - San Francisco - 2015

Breaking All the Rules - San Francisco - 2015

Dark, Spicy and Mysterious - San Francisco - 2015

Selfie - San Francisco - 2015

Breakfast at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Breakfast

Tonight I edited my first image in the new Lightroom CC – also known as Lightroom 6. This image was from April 9, 2015 when I met up with Doug Kaye at San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

I edited the image in Lightroom CC using Kodak Gold 100 from VSCO Film 05 along with a couple of gradient filters to darken the left side. I love to tonality and the color in this image.

January Light in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Deuce - San Francisco - 2015

One of my favorite photo adventures this year was on Friday, January 2, 2015, when I met up with my photo buddy Doug Kaye in San Francisco.

As usual, we met at the Ferry Building and then we headed up to Chinatown. At the time in January in San Francisco, the sun was coming straight down the alleys – making for some beautiful contrasts of lights, shadows and texture.

A beautiful time – in a wonderful place – with such beautiful light!

Glow - San Francisco - 2015

Ross Alley - San Francisco - 2015

Inspiration – What are some of your sources?

Paris - 2014

I’ve had a page titled “Inspiration” here on my blog for a while. I’ve been less than diligent in keeping it current – but tonight I made some major updates to it reflect some recent learnings – as well as filling out some of the actual experiences I’ve learned from those who have inspired me.

In my life, I’ve come to appreciate the power of serendipity in inspiration – how sometimes it seems that random events trigger a new insight, understanding – or just pique my curiosity to explore deeper. Increasingly, I’m finding new sources of serendipity – in my RSS feed reader and in both Twitter and Facebook – enabled by the current state of web technologies.

I wonder what we’ll be doing in five years to be inspired – wearing our VR headsets and exploring further/deeper?

Meanwhile, I’ll try to do better at sharing what I find inspirational – and welcome your comments here sharing what you’ve found inspirational.

A New Photography Workflow – Lightroom and Photos on the Mac

Generations - San Francisco - 2015

I’ve decided to head in the direction that others have been using for a while with iPhoto. After importing images into Lightroom – and processing/editing them there – they use iPhoto as the final repository for their images. In other words, everything that’s been worth processing has been edited in LR (and, perhaps, also in Photoshop) and is then exported to disk and imported into iPhoto – where there’s a series of folders for the portfolio, what has been uploaded, etc.

In my case, I’ve only been using iPhoto for the last couple of years for my photo books. I love the quality of the Apple photo books – and want to keep using them for that service. I’ve used Blurb for a couple of my photo books but I find Apple’s service is higher quality and I prefer it.

So, along comes the new Photos app in Yosemite 10.10.3. I was complaining about it to friends last week – because of how long it was taking to sync my iPhoto library to the new iCloud Photo Library (about 11,000 photos). It took another day or so and it was finished. What’s lovely now is that now that the sync has completed I have those photos on all of my devices.

After exploring Photos further and doing some additional research, I’m embarking on a new workflow for my images. I’ve imported the selects for my 2012-14 Portfolio books into Photos – they’re now syncing to my iCloud Photo Library. For the historical portfolio of my best images – they will be easily available on all of my devices.

Going forward, my edited images will come out of LR and go right into Photos – into a new folder/album structure in Photos for my best portfolio images. From there, I’ll manage the sharing to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc. instead of using the manual upload processes I’ve been using for those.

Seems like the best solution for me. Leaves Lightroom Mobile out of the picture – everything will simply be in the Photos apps on my Apple devices. We’ll try it for a week or two and see how it works.

The King in San Francisco

King - San Francisco - 2015

A few weeks ago Doug Kaye and I did a bit of exploring along Mission Street in San Francisco. This was a quick grab shot taken from inside one of those “construction tunnels” that get erected when they put scaffolding up in front of a building. There’s often a screening material that’s used – and that’s the case here – I was shooting through the material to the sidewalk and street beyond. A fun image with “layers” – the parking meter, that guy with the beard, the car and scooter on the street and then the store – King of Fashions – behind.

The Greatest Days in New York

Central Park West - New York City - 2013

I’ve been continuing viewing Ric Burns’ New York documentary – and am now up to Episode 7 – The City and the World (1945-2000) – on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

A few minutes into this episode, David McCullough comments that if he could pick a time to be in New York, it would be at the end of World War II – in the spring of 1946 when the American troops were coming home from Europe on the great ocean liners like the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary – twice a month ferrying troops back into New York City.

Ray Suarez comments that the thing about New York is that there isn’t just one thing. It’s vibrant. Pete Hamill notes that it was then still a manufacturing town. Proud guys, working guys, but troubles ahead. While New York comes out of the war on top, other forces are at work. LaGuardia ends up dying of pancreatic cancer at 64 years old – after 12 years as mayor. And the changes begin.

The back story about Robert Moses – and his beginnings described in Episode 6 – is fascinating. Robert Caro, author of “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” about Moses provides great commentary during both episodes.

I’ve got an old used book copy of The Power Broker on the bookshelf behind me. Seems like a particularly good time to pick it back up and re-read once again before I head to New York again in June.

I’m only now coming up to the description of building the UN headquarters building in New York. So much more…

Ric Burns “New York”

Glance - New York - 2015

I’ve been enjoying this 1999 documentary recommended by my friend Jamie Smith. It’s available for free streaming on Amazon Instant Video.

I started on episode 5 which began in 1919 and went through the building and opening of the Empire State Building in 1931. I’m now into episode 6 which starts out lamenting the impacts of the automobile on city life.

Filmed before 9/11, many of the images include the World Trade Center twin towers.

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0220924/

Some Notes on Street Photography with the Fujifilm X100T

Fujifilm X100T

[Update: See my new post On the Streets of San Francisco with the Fujifilm X100T Rangefinder with many examples!]

My favorite genre of photography is currently street photography – and the Fujifilm X100T with its fixed 35mm f/2 lens is ideal for my kind of street work. I bought my X100T from Amazon about six months ago – and have mostly been shooting with it ever since – it’s just a great camera for this kind of street work. Here are two Amazon Affiliate links if you happen to be in a buying mood: Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Silver) and Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Black). I bought the silver model – preferring its more classic styling over that of the black one – but they’re both beautiful little cameras!  If you already own an X100T, please share your comments here about your own experiences with this great camera!  

Here are some of my notes on how I use the X100T for street shooting:

  1. The JPEGs out of the Fujifilm X100T are awesome. While I almost always shoot in RAW+Fine, I typically only need the JPEG version.
  2. I like to shoot street work with the film simulation set to B+W plus Yellow filter – this works well where there isn’t much blue sky in the composition. For a more contrasty sky, I’ll use B+W plus Red filter when sky is an important part of the composition. When choosing one of the B+W film simulation modes, the electronic view finder will switch to B+W as well – I often use the EVF when shooting in this mode.
  3. My other favorite film simulation for street work is Classic Chrome – with is beautiful emulation of the old Kodachrome style colors. When I’m working in color, I will typically use the beautiful optical viewfinder in the X100T along with the little focus insert in the lower right corner. I love this combination of wide rangefinder view with precise center focus (typically manually focusing). The OVF in this mode is deal for watching/waiting for subjects to enter the frame.
  4. For street photography, I frequently turn Face Detection on. I’m typically switching between S and M focus modes while shooting on the street – knowing that when I flip to S that Face Detection will be enabled – while it plays no role when manual focusing.
  5. When in manual focus, the AF-L button provides a wonderfully quick zoom to proper focus – and from there I can make fine adjustments. I rarely move the focus point itself – choosing to leave the focus point in the center and recompose if required.
  6. When I’m in Automatic mode, I’m mostly choosing spot metering for my street work. I attended a street photography workshop a while back with Ming Thein and learned from him how spot metering helped me nail the exposure in my images. Sometimes I’ll need to hold the shutter down halfway and recompose after metering – that’s become almost a second nature instinct for me.
  7. I change the top function button (Fn1) from its default setting to ND Filter. I often want to shoot wide open and there’s usually too much light – I can hit the button and enable the ND filter quickly. The Fn1 button is right up top adjacent to the shutter button – where it’s easy to enable/disable the ND filter (and see the on/off feedback message on the display or in the viewfinder).
  8. In menu 5 of the Shooting Menu, I select MS + ES (Mechanical Shutter plus Electronic Shutter). This works mostly as a backup for me if I’m in bright light shooting almost wide open and have forgotten to enable the ND filter. With the new electronic shutter of the X100T, the camera will automatically switch to using it when it needs to for very bright scenes. I try to be careful enough to work with the ND filter on in such scenes – but if I forget or have to shoot in haste, this can often help save the image.
  9. I set Auto ISO to a range of 400 to 6400 with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 (which the minimum shutter speed go even faster like my X-T1 can – seems like a simple firmware change?). A typical street shot might be taken at f/2 or f/2.8, shutter at 1/500th in manual focus with the ND filter on. I let the camera automatically adjust the ISO to complete the settings. Alternatively, I can set the low ISO to 1600, leave the shutter on A and let the camera pick both the ISO and a shutter speed – since the ISO is already relatively high, the camera will typically pick a faster shutter speed – which is appropriate for freezing gestures in street photography.
  10. I have added the thumb rest from Lensmate to my X100T. I find that it simply makes holding the camera for composition to be steadier for me. Here’s an Amazon Affiliate link to the silver model: Fujifilm X100T Thumb Grip by Lensmate Silver. Along with the thumbrest, I’ve tried to master the technique of holding the camera in a way which is suitable for manual focusing. I put the lower left of the camera in my left hand cradling the camera in such a way that my index finger can easily reach the bottom of the manual focusing ring on the lense – allowing me to hold and focus easily. With the thumbrest used in my right hand helping steady for composition. Took me a while to figure this out – but it’s been working great!
  11. I also have the Fujifilm TCL100 Conversion Lens for the X100T. This converts the camera from a 35mm equivalent lens to a 50mm equivalent – which can be handy in street shooting situations where a bit of extra reach is required. Here’s an Amazon Affiliate link to the silver model: Fujifilm TCL-X100 Tele Conversion Lens (Silver). Installing the TCL100 is a bit of a chore – I haven’t mastered being able to do so “on the run”. I need to find a place to sit down, remove the front hood, filter, etc. and then screw on the TCL100. On minor annoyance is that you need to use a menu item to tell the X100T that you’ve added – or removed – the TELE conversion lens. On multiple occasions I’ve forgotten to set it correctly – not the end of the world in that the images are still good enough – but, as I said, it’s annoying there’s no way for the camera itself to automatically sense the presence of the conversion lens.
  12. I’ve been using a third party wrist strap – rather than the strap that comes with the camera. Sometimes I think I should go back to the strap over my neck – at those times when I’d like both hands free to do something else – but I find the wrist strap makes shooting fast and easy.

Hope you find these notes helpful. I wanted to gather all my thoughts about street photography with the X100T in one place – it was helpful to me just taking the time to jot them all down! You can seem some of my street photography shot with the X100T in this Flickr album.