Last year The Capital Group Foundation gifted a remarkable collection of over a thousand 20th century American photographs to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford. Cantor has been exhibiting from this collection – beginning with last fall’s display of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston photographs. Today the next exhibition is now up – with photographs from John Gutmann, Helen Levitt, and Wright Morris.
Each of these photographers has a distinctive style which this exhibition mixes beautifully. I was not familiar with Gutmann’s work – but really enjoyed discovering how he captured moments from unique perspectives. Levitt’s New York City photographs (in a mix of both black and white and color) are more familar. Morris’ photographs from the American midwest are uniquely different yet again.
Here’s one of Gutmann’s photographs on the cover of the brochure available at the exhibition which is sitting in my lap. Such a great image with that hand coming out of the broken window!
If you’re able, be sure to visit Cantor between now and April 26, 2020. Cantor doesn’t charge admission – making it a delight for me who lives about 10 minutes away enabling frequent visits! Parking can be challenging up until 4 PM during the week but very available on most weekends. Cantor is open six days each week – closing on Tuesdays.
I recently visited Cantor Art Museum at Stanford to see a temporary small exhibition of Ansel Adams’ work: Surf Sequence. It’s an exhibition of five of his photographs taken in 1940 along the San Mateo county coastline looking down at the surf as the waves move in and out over the sand.
They’re beautiful images – as usual with his work. Even more interesting to me, however, were two other images on the opposite wall taken in the late 1920’s of a skier coming down a ski run on Mount Watkins in Yosemite (both images shown below taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max).
These images remind me of one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s drawings – Winter Road – although I’m sure one didn’t directly influence the other!
Winter Road comes from one of O’Keeffe’s books of early drawings and we studied it along with some of her other work during a workshop I attended last summer in Santa Fe. The image above was taken with my iPhone at a wonderful exhibition of her work – Living Modern – that I saw last August at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.
I’ve seen a lot of Ansel Adams photographs over the years – but these were new to me. There so different from his usual Yosemite work but very “musical” in some sense. There’s a certain calligraphic look in all of these images – pen strokes that vary in width. Others might see other things – finger patterns in the frost on glass in the wintertime, etc.
Went for a walk on this lovely brisk January morning at Menlo Park’s Sharon Park.
iPhone 11 Pro Max Live photo – edited first in Photos (to change to Long Exposure) and add a bit of warmth. Next, edited in Snapped to add a touch of ambiance, a bit of negative structure (more painterly), and added a No. 12 black border (size: 20).
Recently my friend Doug Kaye and I decided to venture beyond our usual San Francisco city street photography venues to get out beyond the bay a bit. After considering a couple of options, we headed to Sacramento for a day.
Doug lives in the North Bay and I’m on the Peninsula so we needed to figure out the best way for both of us to make the trip. After a bit of research, we settled on taking the train – the Capitol Corridor line which runs from San Jose to Sacramento – taking advantage of a special “Friends and Family” discount for buying two tickets.
We met at the Richmond BART station which is adjacent to the rail line making for a convenient transfer for me – I usually take BART to get into San Francisco and on this day I took BART under the Bay to Richmond and made the short walk from the BART station to the Amtrak station. Doug drove over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to Richmond.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Capitol Corridor train. It was about fifteen minutes late in arriving – but made up that delay and got us to Sacramento right on schedule. The train cars are double deckers and we headed upstairs to sit on the left side of the train. After leaving Richmond, the train line runs along the edge of the Bay as it heads northeast before crossing the Martinez Strait to head on to Davis and Sacramento.
Doug took advantage of the snack bar in one of the other cars to bring us back a fresh cup of coffee. We arrived in Sacramento on-time and took the long walk on the underground walkway from the train landing to the station building.
The Sacramento Valley Station is in the heart of downtown Sacramento and has one of those classic old high-ceiling waiting rooms.
It’s about a 15 minute walk from the station to our first stop at the California State Capitol. Right after going through security screening into the building, I caught a glimpse of Governor Gavin Newsom as he moved down the hallway waving to visitors.
The Assembly gallery in the Capitol was open the day we visited although the Senate gallery was closed and we weren’t able to visit that room.
On the main floor of the Capitol are several historic offices – including the old Treasurer’s Office which recreates the period when California’s state government didn’t trust banks and kept all of its assets in a big safe in that office! The old Governor’s office was also very interesting – it has many desks for more than just the governor himself!
For lunch, we headed to Biba Ristorante, a great Italian restaurant in a neighborhood east of the Capitol complex that came highly recommended. We enjoyed a great lunch (I had a delicious tomato-onion soup followed by Pollo alla Milanese)
After lunch we headed to Old Sacramento and the Delta King – an old stern wheeler which has been turned into a hotel. It’s in beautiful shape – looking freshly painted and very “ship shape”.
This museum, a California State Park, is remarkable – an amazing place for railroad buffs. The upper level has a large model railroad display which brought back memories for me of the American Flyer train set that was one of my treasured toys growing up. One of the displays is a series of examples of all of the various model railroad gauges – all the way down to the tiny Z scale trains.
The docents at the Railroad Museum were a delight. They enjoyed telling us more about their exhibits, answering our questions and sharing. We particularly enjoyed the walk through both the sleeping car (which rocks and has sound and light effects simulating being on a real train trip to Chicago – “all trains go to Chicago!”) and the dining car with its displays of railroad dining china settings.
After the museum, we walked back to the Sacramento Valley Station and caught our return Capitol Corridor train to Richmond.
While this was a long day, we had a great time – and we got in a lot of exercise – over 10,000 steps and over 3 miles of walking. A great day of exercise for my legs as I’m finally back to almost 100% following my broken femur accident last spring!
Notes: All photos taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max and edited on the iPhone using Photos.
This morning I was at one of my favorite spots along the Pacific coast in Half Moon Bay for today’s high tide. This was supposed to be an unusually high tide and I was hoping for some dramatic wave photographs – but, alas, there was no wind and the wave action was minimal.
So instead of making ocean wave photographs, I was walking back to my car and came across this fisherman launching his small boat out into the harbor. He had just finished mounting a small outboard motor on the stern and was plugging the start cord as I made this photograph. I liked the monochrome treatment of the image and is really shows off the dramatic contrast between the sun’s glow on the water in the harbor and the boatman and his board getting ready to go.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and want a lovely place to walk (or cycle) be sure to head for Pillar Point Harbor and take a walk on the paved pathway that heads south to Surfer Beach. It’s a bit over a mile walk down and back with some of the most beautiful beachfront along this section of the Pacific coast!
If you’re looking for more outdoor adventure, head a few miles north to Moss Beach along Highway 1 and the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. The Reserve’s combination of high cliffs along the ocean and some dramatic forest makes for another great walk. Or, if you’re more in the mood for a coffee or a nice meal, head south along Highway 1 and then on to Main Street in Half Moon Bay where you’ll find that kind of thing along with more places to explore. And if you just want some quiet time, the Half Moon Bay Library is a delightful place to just “hang”, read and relax quietly. This combination of outdoor, exercise, or quiet time doesn’t get much better than in Half Moon Bay!
Here’s another tip: Sam’s Chowder House is just above the pathway along Pillar Point Harbor. Sam’s operates two webcams (SamCams) from the top of the restaurant which provide a quick way to see what’s happening along the beachfront that can help you make a decision about visiting.
Update: I first wrote about this back in 2012. The lessons remain powerful – even in retirement! Suggest you give these techniques a try if you have the freedom to do them! With the New Year, I’ve been looking back at some of my older posts – and this was one I re-discovered with a couple of important lessons!
Back when I was a senior executive in a big company, I had an amazing executive assistant who made a big difference in how my work flowed day to day. She could read me like a book – as they say – and could tell when my frustrations started to build. She guarded my calendar carefully (back in the days before meetings could somehow just pop up on your online calendar) – but most days I was almost zombie-like moving from meeting to meeting.
One particularly frustrating day – one of back to back seemingly endless meetings – she caught me at the end of the day. She’d noticed that one hour meetings on my calendar seemed to take all that time – and that I’d often have no time in between one meeting and the next. A day of this kind of back to back meeting schedule was particularly grating on me.
She had a very simple suggestion: saying to me “Let’s change your minimum meeting time block to 90 minutes instead of an hour.”
So simple. I agreed to give it a try – and a few weeks later noticed the difference it had made in my work day. Most of the time, my meetings ended after an hour or a bit more. Her insight was that, by blocking 90 minutes on my calendar, I’d actually have a bit of “recovery time” in between meetings. It was sorta magical – I had “think time” during the day – a time to reflect, recover and prepare.
Sometimes these simple things make a big difference – in your personal productivity and, perhaps more importantly, how you feel about your work – and, ultimately, your life.
Back when I was still working, I decided that I wanted to try to apply a similar idea to my work week. I’m fortunate – being no longer hostage to back to back meetings in a corporate setting – and I usually had quite a bit of flexibility in terms of balancing meetings, calls with clients and prospects, actually working, doing email, etc. But I always noticed the toll that interruptions and, importantly, the context switches that come with them actually took on my ability to focus and get things done.
So, I began to block each Friday as a day when I would not schedule meetings, conference calls, etc. I’d just try to protect each Friday as a day for me to get my work done. Obviously, I can’t guarantee being able to do so – clients sometimes want to schedule meetings on Fridays, important internal work requires Friday work sessions, etc. And, of course, there’s always email, Twitter, etc. But I was surprisingly successful in protecting many Fridays – so that I could focus on the work at hand. I’ve come to think of Fridays as my “crank day” – that’s about cranking on work, not being cranky! And avoiding those externally-imposed context switches which seem to add such a burden and create a hit to productivity. Flow – it’s all about creating a zone where you can focus.
It’s proven to be a very useful personal productivity technique for me. If you’re in a situation when you can apply it, give this simple idea a try!
Would love to hear if it makes a difference for you!
Here are a couple of iPhone 11 Pro Max images from yesterday’s first photo walk of 2020 San Francisco.
The glow of the sun on the columns of the Union Bank building on California Street made a compelling subject. We stood across the street and waited. This woman seemed to see me and started to run as I was taking her photo!
In Chinatown there’s a seemingly endless project for the new subway station. These workers were up on a wall of re-bar making for an interesting subject!
Before heading home, we had lunch at one of our favorite spots in San Francisco – Tadich Grill on California Street. The ahi tuna salad special was a treat for me today!
So much for our first day in 2020 back on the streets of San Francisco. I had a larger camera along in my shoulder bag but didn’t pull it out – increasingly the iPhone 11 Pro Max camera system is meeting my needs for street photography. I recently got the newly released Smart Battery Case for it – which includes a nifty new recessed button for quickly accessing the Camera app making it an even better street photography camera!
While heading to the Ferry Building this morning I came across this practice session at the temporary ice rink at Justin Herman Plaza along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Fun to watch them drill! Shot with iPhone 11 Pro Max.
The results of the “like” voting for my images on Instagram are in for 2019 – and the nine winning images are:
The images from top to bottom, left to right are: Columbia, SC; Hong Kong (from 2018); Provence, France (from 2006 but re-processed and posted in 2019); Apple Store Stanford; Pier 3, San Francisco; Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach, CA; Hong Kong escalator (from 2018); Paris, France; Cantor Art Center, Stanford.