iPhone 5s Photography Photoshop CC San Francisco/California Topaz

Down We Go – Spiral Staircases at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center

Down We Go - San Francisco - 2014

One of our favorite places for photography in San Francisco is Embarcadero Center. The Center’s architecture is very special and unique – with lots of lovely nooks and crannies along with beautiful vistas of the four tall buildings that make up the core of the center.

There are several spiral staircases within Embarcadero Center that make wonderful subjects for photographers. A couple outside and another couple inside the buildings. As the light shifts, the outdoor ones take on a variety of moods – sometimes they’re in bright light/shadow. Other times, when it’s foggy and overcast, there’s a soft light aspect that can be special.

Yesterday, we were on our way to see the movie Tim’s Vermeer at the Embarcadero Center Cinema when I walked by this particular staircase and captured it with my iPhone 5s. I brought it into Photoshop CC and tweaked it a bit using both Topaz Simplify 4 and the Oil Paint filter to add a bit of interesting texture. The image deserves more time to make it even better – but this quick, first cut version captured my eye!

Black and White Fujifilm X-E2 Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Fujifilm X-E2 San Francisco/California

The Spiral Staircase – Embarcadero Center in San Francisco

Stair Shooter - Embarcadero Center - 2014

A favorite shot of ours is one of the spiral staircases in Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. My photo buddy Doug Kaye and I have shot these staircases many times.

Here’s a shot of Doug shooting one of those staircases – shot with my Fujifilm X-E2. Embarcadero Center is such a delight for photographers. If you haven’t been, go – you’ll see what I mean!

Black and White Fujifilm X-E2 Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Fujifilm X-E2 San Francisco/California

Checking In at Embarcadero Center

Checking In - Embarcadero Center - 2013

From a recent photowalk with Doug Kaye – shot with my Fujifilm X-E2 and converted to black and white in Lightroom 5.

Black and White Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Nikon D600 San Francisco/California Street Photography

Appreciating the Magical Reflections in San Francisco

Reflections - San Francisco - 2013

One of the best times to go out shooting pictures is right after it’s rained.

Rain adds saturation to colors – and the rain also leaves behind these magical looking glasses called puddles.

For me, photography is all about this kind of magic – those special elements that come together at a venue and surprise us with a new point of view. Puddles bring reflections – and reflections bring magical ways of seeing.

Being out on a morning after the rain is one of the best times for a photographer. You just have to be open to it – open to seeing it, right there, on the ground before you. Mostly, you need to get lower – to fill out the reflection, to combine the upper (real) and lower (reflection) portions of the image into the right balance.

This image is from a recent photo walk with Doug Kaye at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center – one of our favorite venues. It was shot with my Nikon D600 and tweaked in Photoshop CS6 using Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (Detail Enhanced and Pro Contrast), Topaz Simply 4 (Black and White II present – mostly in the reflection half of the image) and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 where the final tweaking was done – adding midtone structure and the color.

I thought about taking out that patch of fog in the upper right – but, somehow, it works for me just to leave it alone as a point of interest. Actually, for me that patch of fog is part of the magic!

Black and White Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II San Francisco/California

The Rack

The Rack by by Scott Loftesness

I’m heading up to San Francisco this afternoon to meet up with Doug Kaye for an afternoon of exploring and photography. Thinking about it last night, I remember this photo taken at the first photo workshop I attended in 2009 with Chris Honeysett.

During the workshop, Chris had us set our cameras to display our images in black and white – and I remember feeling how different the feedback was when in that mode vs. looking at the usual color display on the back of my DSLR. There’s something about seeing the results in black and white that focuses on the quality of the light and not the noise of the color.

As we were leaving Embarcadero Center, I happened to notice this circular bicycle rack – which had exactly one bicycle in it – you can barely see it at the far end. I loved the symmetry of the circles in this rack – and bent down very low to take this shot. I post-processed it (an original JPEG) using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and added in just a bit of color to set the mood.