Picture Puzzle for October 2014!


Good Evening:

Haven’t done one of these in quite some time. If you haven’t seen one of these before, they generally don’t pose more then moderate difficulty: first, an overall picture of the protective window shield of the The Pink Dolphin bar on Haight Street between Ashbury &  Masonic.

DSC_0048Now a series of closeups of the mural.

DSC_0058 DSC_0061 DSC_0054 DSC_0050 DSC_0052 DSC_0055And now your challenge: locate the closeups within the mural as a whole. Probably more entertaining than difficult, but I hope you like it anyway.

Vonn scott Bair

Fog, Mist & Reflections at San Francisco’s Stow Lake (Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction)


Good Evening:

Finally had a decent morning fog today! Not one of San Francisco’s heavy duty professional fogs, more like a highly-talented-amateur-hobbyist fog, but still good enough for exploring what happens when light passes through the mist and fog of San Francisco’s Stow Lake near sunrise. If that is refraction (Now might represent an ideal moment for someone to inform me that I have no idea what photographers mean by refraction). Anyway, some of the better pictures, and let’s play around with the Nikon D40’s Cyanotype filter again to mess around with the light even more. All photos unedited.

CSC_0134 CSC_0193 CSC_0201 CSC_0171Plus one more in full color just for fun: the sun had burnt off the mist and fog much earlier than normal for a foggy morning (told you it wasn’t professional grade), but who can resist a semi-natural arch?

DSC_0110Vonn Scott Bair

Consumers & Runners (Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction)


Good Evening:

Had a ton of errands downtown today and thought that maybe a few pictures of people reflected in store windows would prove interesting for the Challenge. In reality, almost all of them turned out badly except for this one, and even here the store windows were reflected in the bus windows.

DSCN5594Then blundered into a thick, overflowing crowd in front of the Nike Store at Union Square. Nike will sponsor a women’s half-marathon tomorrow and come up with the idea of printing the names of all registered competitors on its windows. In terms of safety, this wasn’t the best idea, as the crowd sometimes swelled so much that passers-by often had to walk in the streets to get around the runners–and the shopping traffic on a Saturday afternoon comes thick and fast around the Square. Nonetheless, the runners loved the mural and posed next to their names for pictures.

DSCN5596 DSCN5601 DSCN5595 DSCN5603Vonn Scott Bair

Window Reflections (Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction)


Good Evening:

I hope I didn’t misunderstand this week’s Challenge, because we approach the time of year when San Francisco skies take a turn for the wild, and their reflections in the windows near the Civic Center today had some impressive effects.

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And one more, a curiosity from Redwood Alley:


Vonn Scott Bair

MacWorld Expo, RIP.


Good Evening:

Well, officially the MacWorld folks say the Expo has gone on “hiatus,” but unless Apple reverses Steve Jobs’ decision to stop using the annual exposition of all things Mac as the showcase for the latest products in the company’s portfolio, this seems like the end of a great yearly tradition. For me, the best part of each Expo consisted of reconnecting with online friends for serious face time on the Expo floor and at the nearby Buca di Beppo restaurant.

However, January 1992 remains special. That says a lot, because I was one of the first people to see a demo of the Bondi-Blue iMac. I was also one of the only Americans who saw the iMac G4 with the half-dome base before Apple unveiled it in 2002. 1992 stands out as the first MacWorld Expo I had ever attended. It introduced one absolutely shocking innovation (by 1992 standards): QuickTime. I remember looking at a QuickTime clip, about the size of a large postage stamp in the upper left-hand corner of the monitor, listening to someone confidently tell me that someday very soon all television will come to us via computer.

I imagine that took a bit longer than he expected.

But the most vivid memory involves the other shocking new technology–Adobe Photoshop plugins. Adobe had introduced plugins in 1991, but MacWorld Expo 1992 saw the introduction of a set of plugins by not-yet-computer-graphics-software-legend Kai Krause called Kai’s Power Tools. Every demo at his booth was jammed, and you could not walk past it because too many people filled the aisles.

I only had a mild interest in his demo; when your computer is the original Mac Classic, you ain’t gonna use Photoshop or Kai’s Power Tools any time soon. In fact, I spent as much time glancing at the other spectators as at the demo. Fascinating. So many stunned human beings. Some had bulging eyes. Some had jaws hanging down. Some kept saying “Whoa!” at each effect. Some did all three.

Except the guy standing next to me. He was shaking a little.

Very, very tall, receding hairline, quite slender. I wondered why he reacted differently, especially since–believe it or not–his Expo badge stated that he worked at Adobe.

So why did he seem upset?

Surely Kai’s Power Tools would boost Photoshop sales, much as Enrico Caruso’s records boosted the sales of record players (at least, according to urban legend). If anything, he should have felt delighted with the demonstration, which I must say was a brilliant one.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I notice that you work for Adobe.”


“You seem upset. What’s the problem? Some kind of copyright violation?”

“N-n-no, n-not at all. It’s Photoshop. That software is doing things that I didn’t know were possible, I never imagined that Photoshop could do what it’s doing. The software has powers I never thought it had.”

I shrugged. “Well, if you ask one of the programmers, I’m sure they won’t be surprised.”

He turned to me, his eyes turned wild, and he said exactly what you think he said.

“I AM one of the programmers.”

Which made it official: the new era predicted in dystopian science fiction had not just arrived, but had firmly planted itself in the world and become accepted, even embraced. I refer to the era of software engineers creating products that have far greater powers than they thought, powers that they didn’t know they had programmed into their software. I’m sure Photoshop was not the first software that had abilities its programmers did not anticipate, with all the potentially disastrous–and beneficial–consequences that might have. But to that Adobe programmer and to me, it seemed like the step forward that you can’t take back.

The step forward to software that will achieve consciousness.

Still seems like fanciful science fiction to me.

But who knows?

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–Standing next to a legend, and it never occurred to me to learn the guy’s name. Sheesh.

Cyanotype Impressions 3: Ocean Beach, San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy)


Good Evening:

Do oceans dream, and if they do, of what?

The weekend of “dreamy” cyanotype and aperture experiments ended at sunrise on Monday at Ocean Beach near the intersection of Great Highway and Ortega. The first three photographs come in chronological order: just before sunrise; just at sunrise; and sun fully above the horizon.

WordPress 101514 CSC_0092 WordPress 101514 CSC_0112 WordPress 101514 CSC_0131A picture looking north from Ocean Beach of the Marin Headlands.

WordPress 101514 CSC_0115It took awhile, in fact three days, but I finally took a photograph that I really, really like (in other words, 2 stars out of 5 in iPhoto, not 1). Most people don’t photograph the view looking south from Ocean Beach, but your faithful photographer got very, very luck with this shot.

WordPress 101514 CSC_0141_2Thus ends my set of experiments with cyanotypes in response to this week’s Challenge. Based upon the results, my *very* preliminary conclusions consist of these. One, you need bright natural light for the details to come out. Two, overall, plants seem the best subject of cyanotype photography–as Anne Atkins discovered back in the 1840s! Three, the results have a very peaceful feel; cyanotypes might serve as an ideal medium for capturing that specific mood. Definitely recommend that photographers take another look at this 19th Century technique, especially since digital filters in both cameras and software make this so easy.

Vonn Scott Bair

Cyanotype Impressions 2: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy)


Good Evening:

Some more weekend attempts at “dreamy” photography using the Cyanotype filter in my DSLR, aperture experiments, and the morning fog. Would have liked more fog; the effect might have looked even better, but overall fairly satisfactory. Incidentally, aside from using the Cyanotype, have performed no other edits on these shots.

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Vonn Scott Bair