That Glance

Glance - Paris - 2014

Sometimes you see something and just feel it might get interesting. Part of the fun of street photography.

I saw the cook doing his thing through the window – I liked the framing of the soft drink cans along the bottom – and then this guy walked into the frame from the right – adding a new layer to this already interesting story – at the time of the cook’s glance my way.

Sometimes you get lucky…

Enjoying Life

Happy Hour - Paris - 2014

I think it was James Taylor who penned “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”

I love getting out on the streets with my camera in a beautiful city – like Paris in this case – and just watching, looking for beautiful light and people enjoying life.

Here’s an example – shot with my Fujifilm X100S. Happy hour! Savor every moment!

2014 – My Photography Year in Review

2014 was a busy and exciting year for me photographically – certainly the best of all! Here are some of this year’s highlights.

  • Streets of San Francisco – My photo buddy Doug Kaye and I really got into a groove this year as we practiced new learnings on the streets of San Francisco. Typically using the Ferry Building as our “home base” – and also the home of the Slanted Door, our favorite post-shooting lunch spot – we would walk the nearby streets looking for great light and fascinating shadows – and, of course, some very interesting people!

Sunday Afternoon - San Francisco - 2014

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico – February 2014 – This was a long weekend mini-vacation with my wife – specifically not a photo workshop but just a delightful time to explore Santa Fe! And it was great fun to have dinner at Geronimo!

Candles - Santa Fe - 2014

  • New York Street Photography with Jay Maisel – May 2014 – An amazing week on the streets of New York learning from the critiques of each other and the master, Jay Maisel. Unforgettable experience – brought new intensity to thinking about getting composition right in the camera as the best way to start an image.

Morning Glory - New York - 2014

  • Mystic Forest in California’s Redwoods with Michael Frye – June 2014 – A wonderful few days way up on the northern California coast with Michael Frye and his wife Claudia. Their approach to landscape work in this beautiful area was just a delight – from taking over a B&B for the workshop participants to have as a home base to the explorations into the forests and along the Pacific coastal beaches. Very much not street photography – but a return to nature at mid-year 2014. Michael’s workshops fill up very quickly – join his mailing list to get early notification about them.

The Trees - Trinidad California - 2014

  • James Johnston House in Half Moon Bay with Chris Honeysett – August 2014 – A two day weekend workshop along the coast – beginning at this historic house just south of Half Moon Bay and then visiting one of my old favorites, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, and the harbor area at Princeton. Watching Chris do his collodian prints was pretty amazing – such work those photographers went through back in the day to capture their images. An exhibit of Carlton Watkins prints earlier in the year at Cantor Arts Center at Stanford helped provide an example of beautiful work that he used back in the 1860’s with this process.

Homespun - James Johnston House - 2014

  • San Francisco Street Photography with Ming Thein – September 2014 – This workshop with Ming was the most strenuous workshop all year for me – both physically and mentally. Ming is a superb photographer – and sets very high standards for the kind of work he enjoys. His work with us in the workshop definitely pushed us to evolve and improve – seeing things in some new ways and post-processing them differently.

On Deck - San Francisco - 2014

  • Paris Street Photography with Valérie Jardin – September 2014 – Late September turned out to be a spectacular time to be in Paris for this workshop with Valérie. We had a wonderful time walking, exploring and seeing Paris from many new angles. I especially enjoyed learning how to navigate the city using the buses – with their big windows they provide a panorama of views on the streets. She’s conducting several Paris workshops in 2015.

Derek - Paris - 2014

  • Blue Angels from Alcatraz – October 2014 – We went out to Alcatraz on the Friday “dress rehearsal” day for the Blue Angels’ Fleet Week performance. Unfortunately, the fog was a pest this year and chased them away after only a couple of passes – but it was good fun nonetheless!

Blue Angels - San Francisco - 2014

We also did some coastal exploring as well as a couple of spring visits to Filoli, one of our old favorites.

Aglow - Pigeon Point Light - 2014

Purple Spikes - Filoli - 2014

All in all, quite a year. I’m certainly shifting much more in the direction of street photography and away from my historical interest in more landscape work. As they say, the journey is the reward – and exploring these new approaches, new post-processing techniques, and just experimenting and learning is what photography is all about for me.

That Discussion at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Discussion - San Francisco - 2014

As I was leaving San Francisco’s Ferry Building, I came across this scene – in the bright sunshine and dark shadows I shot this image with my iPhone 6. The advertising posters provide curious backdrops to an intense discussion underway between this couple. And the guy off to the right is clearly wondering what I’m doing – as he’s looking right at me.

Jaime Ibarra told me one time that fingers in an image are all important. His background as a flamenco guitar artist influenced his view – but he’s right. Most of the best gestures in an image include fingers – including this one.

What makes a great image? Not sure I know – but I find the multiple areas of interest in this one capture my eyes. The contrast, the posters, the curves of the shadows – and the people.

A Street Photography Exploration of San Francisco via the 30 Stockton Bus

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 7.34.37 PM

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been enjoying getting more out of San Francisco’s Muni for my work on street photography. I’m enjoying hopping on various Muni buses/streetcars/Metros and taking off in different directions to explore different neighborhoods without the worries to parking, etc.

By the way, there’s a great iPhone app called Pocket MUNI which makes this exploration on San Francisco’s Muni so much easier – displaying route maps, real-time location of Muni’s vehicles, etc. It’s a must have for this kind of Muni-based street touring in San Francisco. And, if you’re using Caltrain to get to San Francisco, be sure to also check out CaltrainMe – it’s ideal for checking schedules without fumbling through the timetables themselves.

So far, I’ve explored the J Church streetcar line from the Embarcadero Station on Market St. – finding it almost a Disneyland “E” ticket ride and it rides up hills by Delores Park and rounds curves on its way out to the Balboa Park station – where it connects with BART if you want to take a fast return trip back into the City. The Muni’s car barn is located there at Balboa Park – but there’s nothing for the public to see – it’s pretty tightly locked down.

From the Caltrain Station, the 10 Townsend bus will take you into the Financial District, past the Transamerica Pyramid and then head west out Jackson St. in Pacific Heights. The 47 Van Ness bus heads over to Van Ness, past San Francisco’s Civic Center and ends up on North Point near Ghirardelli Square and Fishermans’ Wharf. But read on for my new discovery – the 30 Stockton!

Recently I took Caltrain up to San Francisco from Menlo Park for a day of solo street photography. On the train, I decided to try exploring on the 30 Stockton bus from the San Francisco Caltrain station at Fourth and Townsend. The bus stop for the 30 is actually about a 1/2 block up Townsend St from 4th – it’s a bit tricky to find at first. It’s the start of the line – so drivers are taking a break there – when I arrived there were two buses with drivers taking a brief break before heading out. Here’s a PDF of the 30 Stockton route map.

The 30 heads up Townsend, turns left at Third St., crosses Market St., the onto Kearny for a couple blocks until it turns left onto Sutter St. to jog up to actually join its namesake Stockton Street. It heads through the Stockton Tunnel and, out the other side, into the busiest part of Chinatown! It then continues into North Beach, bears left onto Columbus Avenue, passes Washington Square Park and then makes a turn west at North Point – before heading through the Marina and out to Broderick St. a block or two from the Palace of Fine Arts.

That’s a pretty remarkable crosstown route that navigates through some great neighborhoods for San Francisco street photography. If you have a couple of hours, you might only stop at one or two of these neighborhoods. If you have more time, you could almost make a day of it.

Here are some ideas:

  • 3rd St and Market area – A classic San Francisco scene for street photography – this area includes a rooftop opportunity at 1 Kearny. Market Street is always churning – and the angle of the streets here can provide some nice long shadows during the wintertime if the sun is cooperating.
  • Kearny Street – the east side of Kearny is remarkable for several blocks as it has no parking on that side. In the spring/summer, the light will shine on that side providing some great shooting from the west side of the street. In the winter, the light isn’t quite as helpful – but this is still a remarkable couple of blocks. It’s busiest at lunchtime – go then if you can.
  • Bank of America Building Plaza – as you follow Kearny further north – after where the 30 Stockton turns on Sutter, you’ll find the plaza of the Bank of America building as it fronts California Street. This is a beautiful place – especially over toward the east side. A combination of people and powerful architecture can be found here.
  • Chinatown – the blocks in Chinatown along Stockton are often very crowded with people. Lots of produce markets, poultry shops with ducks hanging in the windows, etc. This is the real working neighborhood of Chinatown along Stockton – with relatively few of the touristy souvenir shops that are found along Grant Avenue.
  • North Beach – the park at Washington Square, the Church of St. Peter and Paul, and the residential blocks east of the Square are great areas to explore. Generally less crowded in terms of people and more architectural subjects here – including the alleyways. Be sure to look up in this neighborhood and not just at street level. The cafes along Columbus along with the Italian deli’s also make interesting places to people watch.
  • Cable Car turnaround at Taylor and Bay St. – I got off the 30 at the corner of Columbus and Chestnut/Taylor Streets. Walking two blocks north on Taylor takes you to the cable car turnaround at Bay St. This line isn’t always running – but, when it is, it’s much less crowded than the other cable car turnaround near Ghirardelli Square.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf – it’s a a short walk up Taylor to Jefferson St. where a quick left takes you to the boat lagoon at Fisherman’s Wharf. Lots of touristy stuff here – but some authentic shots of seafood can be found in the cookers along the sidewalks in this area.
  • Hyde Street Pier – walking further down Jefferson takes you to the Hyde Street Pier – a National Park property with some great nautical scenes. If you’re a senior like me (defined as 62 or above) be sure to get you lifetime pass good for all US National Parks. It costs $10 – one of the best bargains around. I use it for Yosemite, etc. – any US National Park.
  • Rejoin the 30 at Hyde and and Beach – the 30 bus runs along North Point – on the other side of Ghirardelli Square. If you’ve got the energy to walk up the hill, you can hop back on and continue westbound through the Marina. Depending on your timing, you may not need to pay again – using either a transfer or Clipper Card within 90 minutes of first payment is at no additional charge.
  • Palace of Fine Arts – stay on the 30 through the Marina area to Broderick Street and get off either at Bay or North Point. Walk 1 block west and you’ll come upon the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. The architecture is wonderful and there’s usually a lot of interesting people watching here as well.
  • Return to Caltrain Station – to catch the return route of the 30 bus, you’ll need to walk to Divisadero and Chestnut St. Divisadero is one block east of Broderick (where you got off earlier) – so from the Palace of Fine Arts walk two blocks east and then 2-3 blocks south to Chestnut. Not a lot of people in this area – but lots of interesting architecture, so keep you eyes open and periodically look above street level for interesting angles, opportunities, etc.

In summary, the 30 Stockton can be a great way to see lots of wonderful San Francisco neighborhoods as it criss-crosses the City. It’s a new discovery for me – one I suspect I’ll be going back to regularly. A reminder – these are public transit lines – and you’ll “meet all kinds”. Just enjoy yourself, keep smiling – it’s all part of the San Francisco experience!

If you go, I’d love to hear your stories about exploring San Francisco on the 30 Stockton – please share by posting a comment below!

For Sale: Fujifilm X-E2 with 18-55 mm lens

Fujifilm X-E2

I’m selling my Fujifilm X100S and Fujifilm X-E2 with the 18-55 mm lens.

My first Fujifilm camera was an X100S that I bought in June 2013 and just sold today. It’s a delight for street photography. In October 2013, I added the Fujifilm X-E2 with its interchangeable lens capability. These two cameras have the same beautiful X-Trans sensor from Fuji – and operate very similarly in terms of menus, etc. They’re just superb cameras.

So, why am I selling them?

Earlier this year, I upgraded to the Fujifilm X-T1 – which made the X-E2 sort of redundant in my kit. Much more recently, I decided to upgrade to the Fujfilm X100T – primarily for its new WiFi capabilities. Along the way, I sold off all of my Canon and Nikon DSLR camera bodies and lenses – making my migration to mirrorless cameras complete!

If you’re interested in either of these cameras, see my listings on Amazon.com (X100S and X-E2) or contact me directly.

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.