No Warning: Civic Center, San Francisco, 29 September 2014.

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Good Evening:

Sadly, San Francisco’s Civic Center, home to City Hall, Bill Graham Auditorium, the main branch of the public Library, the Asian Art Museum, the United Nations Plaza, and my favorite farmers market, is also the home of considerable drug abuse. So much so that I spotted this graffito on the back wall of the Orpheum Theater.

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I turned around and less than two seconds later, snapped this shot.

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Yes, that’s a crack pipe.

Vonn Scott Bair

Silence Insane @ Haight and Divisadero, 28 September 2014

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Good Evening:

I had hoped he didn’t see me.

He went hopelessly insane years ago, and I know little of psychology, but unfortunately it appears that nothing can save him. However, today did not count among my lucky days:

Immediately Before the Attack.

Immediately Before the Attack.

He saw me. And made me his next target for his next assault.

But this was no ordinary assault.

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He assaults people by harassing them without saying a word, he hardly makes a sound even when he moves, circles his victims, makes threatening gestures for a few moments, and then moves one, but then moves back and repeats the above until his victims are thoroughly terrified. I have used my camera to chase off a thug threatening two couple, and then to chase off a homeless addict/alcoholic threatening me, so I tried it again. It sort of worked; he left me alone after one circle, then walked down the street not harassing people when he saw me continuing to photograph him. This might be my money shot:

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Looks kinda like something that madman Winogrand might have taken. Aside from the first photo, I have not edited any of these shots (taken with my point-and-shoot), but I might crop the top and convert to B&W to see what happens. Here he is retreating from my camera:

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I didn’t scare him away, but my camera did.

Vonn Scott Bair

Aperture Studies (Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime)

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Good Morning:

Is it just me, or have the weekly Challenges become, well–challenging?

Night photography has always baffled me; even when the results turned out well in the post on fire spinners, it took over 200 shots just to finish with a handful of acceptable pictures. Aperture has always baffled me; a low number means what, a high number means what, why do camera speeds change with aperture changes, uh, how does that work again?

Might as well make a Challenge twice as challenging and combine my personal challenges.

San Francisco on overcast nights takes on the colors of the San Francisco Giants (who are back in the playoffs, yeah!): lots of orange in the blackness.

Out of 40 shots taken at 1:00 a.m., 9/28/2014, the most accurate terms of color.

Out of 40 shots taken at 1:00 a.m., 9/28/2014, the most accurate terms of color. 0.5 sec exposure.

Hardly a great shot, of course, but it gives you an idea of how the city looks from my fire escape. One huge problem consisted of the camera’s refusal to take any pictures depending upon the composition (which objects were in the shot). This angle was the only one that let me take pictures at any setting.

My ancient Nikon D40 DSLR has 17 aperture settings ranging from f3.8 to f22, so the project presented itself: one shot at aperture setting, letting the camera adjust time of exposure on its own, then crop and convert to B&W in iPhoto and see what happens. The results present some subtle differences, even though the camera auto-focused on the same area in every picture, the cluster of lights in the upper right quadrant.

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f3.8

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f3.8

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f13

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f13

San Francisco, 28 Sept 2014, f22

San Francisco, 28 Sept 2014, f22

The f3.8 has the softest focus, the f22 had the longest exposure yet turned out darkest, and the f13 turned out brightest. Still baffled; just have to keep on practicing. Fortunately, photography has a tendency to become more enjoyable the more it baffles me. A good thing, right?

Vonn Scott Bair

More Spam Scam Poetry! 27 September 2014.

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Good Morning:

Ahem. Ahem, ahem, ahem. Oh wait a minute. I don’t need to clear my throat. I’m writing, not reciting. After months of nothing from the spam scam vultures, I have received their second attempt to steal my money in one week. This one allegedly comes from PayPal, a company I will never patronize. I love the spelling, capitalization and punctuation errors (the incorrect spaces), which remind me of e. e. cummings.

Your Account Will Be Limited

by Vonn Scott Bair

Dear Customer,

Your account will be

Your account will be limited ,

Until We Here From You .

To Update Your Info ,

Simply click on the web address below ,

(or copy and paste the link into your browser):

Help Center Å Å | Å Å

Partner Directory Å Å | Å Å

Logo Center Å Å | Å Å

Security Å Å | Å Å

Business Center

Vonn Scott Bair

Answer: Thursday.

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Good Evening:

Question: What do San Franciscans call two men with terrible taste in women’s clothing and suffering from bad hair days walking in the Civic Center in front of City Hall at 5:10 p.m.?

Yes, These Are Men.

Yes, These Are Men.

See? Told You So.

See? Told You So.

You should see Fridays.

Vonn Scott Bair

New Spam Scam Poetry! 24 September 2014

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Good Evening:

This newest email spam scam looks pretty dangerous; it comes from something called “E-Z Pass” and claims you better click on the button below to pay your invoice for not paying at a toll booth or you will face civil and legal consequences. Be careful; it’s a jungle out there.

But a poetic jungle.

The spam scam included the usual miscellaneous text designed to fool spam filters, except it wasn’t usual or miscellaneous: “Latest News: Astonishing cardboard contraptions
Daniel Agdag works with a limited arsenal of tools: a surgical scalpel, some cardboard, every so often a circular cutter and lots of glue. But from that humble toolkit, he makes sculptures that are mind-bendingly complex. For the past 10 years, the Melbourne, Australia artist has been building intricate cardboard sculptures in the form of whimsical flying machines and rickety roller coasters. They look like pencil sketches brought to life, and with good reason.”

Time for some spam scam poetry. Ahem:

Latest News: Astonishing Cardboard Contraptions

by Vonn Scott Bair

Daniel Agdag works

with a limited

arsenal of tools:

A

surgical scalpel,

some cardboard, every so often

a circular cutter

AND

lots of glue.

But from that humble toolkit,

he makes sculptures that

ARE

mind-bendingly complex.

For the past 10 years,

the Melbourne, Australia artist has

BEEN

building intricate

cardboard sculptures

in the form

OF

whimsical

flying

machines

AND

rickety roller coasters. They look like

pencil sketches

brought to life,

AND

with good reason.

Copyright 2014, unless I can’t.

Somebody notify the Pulitzer committee immediately; we have a winner. I would, except I’m ever so modest and humble.

Vonn Scott Bair

Thrashing for the Camera on Haight Street, 21 September 2014.

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Good Evening:

I know almost nothing about the skateboarding culture, so I don’t know if this phenomenon is universal or unique to San Francisco, but when skateboarders travel in packs, someone usually brings along a video camera–and not the sort of video camera that comes with every cell phone nowadays.

As I awaited the bus at the Haight/Divisadero stop, I had the opportunity to watch one such team at work. First, I present “Heroin,” the star of this scene.

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Now the director/cinematographer creates the shot and starts filming.

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They filmed close to twenty takes. The final photo records the end of one of the few completely successful runs. You’ll notice that “Heroin” managed to navigate his board down a pair of very narrow steps, which explains why they needed so many takes to get the raw material for future editing.

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I suppose we can’t do anything nowadays without recording it.

Vonn Scott Bair