Monthly Archives: November 2012

Grey.

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Good Evening:

An underrated color.

Glass Reflections on Building in Redwood Alley

I hope you will pardon my use of the English spelling of the color. “Grey” just looks somehow, um, greyer than, uh, “gray.”

Grey on Grey Study VIII

I found the above set of buildings near Jensen Street in Oakland, an industrial area full of urban landscapes that photographers love to explore.

Vacant Lot Next to MacDonald’s on Van Ness & Golden Gate Avenue

The above photo illustrates a surprising strength of the iPhone 4. Yes, this camera from three generations ago has grown old and obsolete, but the extremely small lens can peek between the slats of a ten foot tall privacy fence and capture the scene beyond.

Help Me Call 911

This building is located on a small narrow alley that connects Folsom and Shotwell in the Mission and runs parallel to 14th Street.

I just learned that someone in Japan became my 1,000th visitor this month. Thus November 2012 becomes my first 1,000 month, and this on the first anniversary of The San Francisco Scene–Seen! (founded 27 November 2011). Thank you all for your visits and comments, and I hope my blog continues to entertain you for a long time to come.

Vonn Scott Bair

Someone Notices the Contrast of White on White, 27 November 2012

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Good Evening:

I have a logical explanation for this. Honest, I do:

Imagine (if you dare) that Groucho Marx and Don Rickles were white-collar workers in the same office. Now imagine that they worked only a few cubicles apart. And now imagine that Don Rickles was over a foot shorter than Groucho, Asian, female, and had extremely long hair.

That was my relationship with “Joanne” until last week, when she moved to a permanent position in a different department of the government of the City & County of San Francisco. I pretended that she and I were identical twin brothers, except that “John” had gender identification issues. She played practical jokes on me. We comically insulted each other nonstop. We invented our own “top secret special secret twin langauge,” which consisted largely of belching, burping, grunting and beeping sounds. We were perfect for each other, and provided excellent entertainment for our co-workers. She gave me one last parting gift when she left; specifically, she, ahem, “redecorated” my cubicle as you can see in the above picture.

Look closely and you will see that she used a lot of toilet paper for her project. I couldn’t let it go to waste, so I’ve used the T.P. as a coaster for my coffee cup, as facial tissue to blow my nose (it doesn’t feel very rough at all), and most important of all, as a constantly changing abstract sculpture to photograph for my “White on White” and “The Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art” series. Some examples:

Frank Gehry, eat your heart out. In a foreign language.

The Nikon CoolPix S9100 has proven rather a deceptive little creature. When I checked the images after snapping them, they all appeared in their correct colors (pretending for a moment that white is a color). However, after I uploaded all of them to iPhoto, they uniformly displayed a very pale beige color. The problem presented little trouble: reducing the Saturation level from the default 50 to 15 +/-3 brought out the correct colors.

I hope you like the results. Perhaps you shall feel inspired to create your own monochromatic sculptures from common household materials.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Acorn Squash with Two Wild Rice Stuffings, Vegan and Vegetarian Versions

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Good Evening:

Although I’m not vegan, I love the cuisine and have developed a nice repertoire of vegan recipes. Whenever I host a dinner party and one or more guests inform me that they are strict vegetarians or vegans, the entire dinner will feature only vegetarian or vegan dishes. Happily, the carnivores never seem to notice, everyone goes home with full stomachs, and best of all, I have had zero fatalities.

So far.

Until I can figure out the extremely confusing Custom Menu feature in WordPress, recipe ideas will go here. A few people have asked me for Thanksgiving or winter holiday recipes for people who don’t eat meat or who only eat vegan foods. Until the past few years, vegan or vegetarian dishes for these occasions were extremely rare. Then someone discovered/rediscovered stuffed winter squashes such as pumpkins and acorn squashes. I love working with acorn squashes as they are very inexpensive at farmers markets and you can select multiple squashes of the exact same size. The flavor of the flesh complements the flavor of wild rice very well, so over the Thanksgiving weekend I experimented with a pair of recipes. Both of these were improvised on the spot and allow you to customize to your taste. For example, please don’t feel compelled to use the precise spice blends. Use larger size squash for entrees, small ones for side dishes.

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Fuyu Persimmon and Fuji Apple Stuffing.

  • 2 Acorn Squash, split, with seeds and guts removed
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • Olive oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, or butter
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 Fuji (or Gala) apple, peeled, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 Fuyu Persimmon, peeled, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • (Vegetarian version: 1 cup packed grated cheddar cheese)
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Wrap each acorn squash half loosely in foil and bake directly on the rack in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick easily pierces the flesh. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature
  2. Simultaneously with the squash, cook the wild rice according to package instructions. Remove from heat and drain when done.
  3. Saute the shallot in olive, corn, or grapeseed oil (or butter) over medium low heat until it turns translucent.
  4. Add the apple, persimmon and spices and saute, stirring frequently, for five minutes more.
  5. Remove the mixture to a bowl, stir in the cooked wild rice and let cool until room temperature.
  6. If using the grated cheese, stir into the mixture now.
  7. Fill the cavities of the four squash halves with the mixture. You should have enough to create nice little mounds.
  8. Place the four stuffed squash halves into a baking dish so they don’t tip over. You may top with more grated cheddar if you wish. Bake in that preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Wild Mushroom and Pecan Stuffing.

  • 2 Acorn Squash, split, with seeds and guts removed
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1/2 cup pecans (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 12 ounces of Shiitake, Oyster, Portobello or other mushrooms, finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely minced (optional)
  • Fresh, finely minced parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to taste (or whatever herbs you prefer)
  • (Vegetarian version: 1 cup packed grated Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Emmentaler or Swiss cheese)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Wrap each acorn squash half loosely in foil and bake directly on the rack in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick easily pierces the flesh. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature
  2. Simultaneously with the squash, cook the wild rice according to package instructions. During the last 10 minutes, add the pecans. Remove from heat and drain when done.
  3. Saute the mushrooms in olive oil over high heat until all of the water has released and evaporated. Remove to a mixing bowl.
  4. Return the pan to the heat, reduce to medium low. Add more oil if needed. Saute the shallot over medium low heat until it turns translucent.
  5. Add the celery, herbs and spices; saute until the celery turns translucent.
  6. Stir the rice & pecan mixture, along with the vegetables and spices, into the same bowl as the mushrooms and blend thoroughly. Let cool.
  7. If using the grated cheese, stir into the mixture now.
  8. Fill the cavities of the four squash halves with the mixture. You should have enough to create nice little mounds.
  9. Place the four stuffed squash halves into a baking dish so they don’t tip over. You may top with more grated cheese if you wish. Bake in that preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

You might have extra leftover stuffing. This is not a problem.

I have never written a recipe before, let alone two, so if anything seems unclear/contradictory or just plain wrong, feel free to write.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful – Farmers Markets

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Good Afternoon:

Doesn’t matter if you practice veganism, vegetarianism, or just have a wide repertoire of meatless recipes (such as yours truly): you have probably come to love farmers markets, where you can combine both low prices and outrageous freshness. Even organic produce costs only a fraction of what it costs in the supermarket chains.

And since I like color (see previous post), I always bring my camera. For once, my shots come in the gallery format. Whilst I don’t usually resort to any of WordPress’ gallery implementations, it seems like the best way to portray this particular collection of pictures.

Anyone feeling hungry? I am. Time for two of my favorite vegan winter dishes: Puree of Butternut Squash, Apples & Leeks; and then Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice & Assorted Mushrooms.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful – Colors

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Good Evening:

If we did not know that colors exist, we would not miss them; but we do, and we would.

From the “Yellow, Orange, Brown” Series: Peace Sign

From “The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art” series: Red, Blue, Black 24 November 2012.

I found this addition to the “Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art” series in a very odd location: the floor of the parking garage of Falletti Foods on Broderick & Oak. The late afternoon sun shone on the concrete at a very low angle producing a curious effect thanks to the shadows:

From the “Grey” and the “Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art” series.

From “The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art” series: Orange & Black, 24 November 2012

“The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art:” Flowers

“Blue” Series: Haight & Cole Mural, 24 November 2012

All pictures taken Thursday through Saturday this week with an iPhone 4.

Vonn Scott Bair

I Do Not Understand Reality, Even More Nudity in San Francisco Edition, 20 November 2012

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Good Evening:

I don’t understand this: public nudity in our culture is strange; San Francisco in our culture is strange; surely strange should be able to do strange right. But my town has flagrantly flubbed flaunted flesh (ah, poesy!).

My hometown’s nudity movement (I can’t believe I just wrote that) became a civic issue months before I saw the nudity demonstration in the Civic Center only five days ago. A group of men had taken to sitting au naturel in one of SF’s smallest parks, a roughly fifty foot diameter circle of bushes and a few metal tables at the terminus of the vintage streetcar line that travels up Market Street and ends at yet another one of San Francisco’s five-way intersections (Temple, Divisadero, Market, Castro and 17th Streets). Incidentally, when I wrote of this curious affair to my other online buddies, one of my fave correspondents, a sweet-tempered grandmother and Red Sox fanatic from Boston, Massachusetts wrote back asking if the men were young, handsome, suntanned, hetero and single. Sadly, I had to inform her that they were old, flabby, pot-bellied, pale and gay.

The Supervisor (similar to an Alderman in other cities/towns) whose district includes the Castro neighborhood, Scott Wiener (yes, his last name is unfortunate, and no, he is not that Weiner, and whatever one-liners you’re imagining we San Franciscans have already told each other) grew concerned about the possible health risks concerning the spread of butt bacteria (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and wanted to introduce a law requiring the nude sitters to “…place a towel or other barrier on a public seat before sitting in it. And that they be prohibited from dining in restaurants naked.” (from the SF Chronicle article written by Heather Knight which you can read here) This stirred up more controversy than people expected.

First of all, the City & County of San Francisco has a surprisingly strong Libertarian streak (just ask the surprised Libertarian activists who discover how popular Ron Paul is around here): a lot of defenders of public nudity didn’t approve of the imposition of forcing the nudists to carry a towel with them. Second, San Francisco has a new “sit/lie law” that bans people from sitting or lying on sidewalks, no matter how many/few/no clothes they wear. Why should nudists be allowed to sit in public when panhandlers on Haight Street can’t sit at all? Third, the gay population in the Castro wanted public nudity in their neighborhood banned, period, arguing that among other things, the nudes were bad for the local small businesses. San Francisco, contrary to conservative stereotypes, is one of America’s hottest hotbeds of entrepreneurship, business, and free enterprise.

When the story spread that the sitters were not even San Franciscans, they were out-of-towners, the aghast locals asked Mr. Wiener to do something about this. Think about that; people not from San Francisco conducting themselves in San Francisco in a manner too risque for San Franciscans. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

So Mr. Wiener did what politicians are expected to do, obeyed his constituents’ wishes, and introduced a law limiting but not eliminating public nudity, because after all, this is San Francisco, and we have annual events such as the Folsom Street Fair and the Pride Parade where nudity is expected, so we can’t ban expected nudity, now can we? However, because after all, this is San Francisco, the public hearing drew protestors who stated that the nude sitters were not out-of-towners, they were San Franciscans, and since they were nude activists, they therefore engaged in some pubic baring at the public hearing (and I can believe I wrote that). Many of the other Supervisors opposed the law, saying that “Sometimes there’s a little weirdness about how we express ourselves, but that’s a great thing about San Francisco.” The proposed law did pass and barring surprises will go into effect on 1 February 2013.

The final vote? 6-5. Naturally, everyone says that the new law just barely passed.

Vonn Scott Bair
Read more at Neil J. Riley’s article (and yes, there are pictures!): http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-barely-passes-public-nudity-ban-4055606.php#ixzz2Cq1HaMVB

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green – Really, Really Big Leaves (The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art, 19 November 2012)

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Good Evening:

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in general and the Conservatory of Flowers in particular host many exotic plants that have really, really, big leaves. The Conservatory, bless ’em, has a very tolerant policy toward photographers–don’t touch the plants, and you can pretty much do as you want–so I could indulge one of my favorite techniques. This consists of taking an extreme closeup of an object to remove it from the context of its environment and reducing it to “instant abstract art.” The results sometimes prove worthy of a look or two.

I do feel a little disgruntled with myself, because of my lack of journalistic skills: I forgot to record the names of any of these plants. Oh, well. Good theme for this week, at least for me. Might have one more Green post in me.

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green – The Instant Art of Instant Abstract Art, 18 November 2012

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Good Afternoon:

I explored San Francisco’s downtown yesterday with the idea of adding to my collection of Instant Abstract Art, all with the color green in mind. I like to take extreme closeups of objects with the idea that object itself becomes indistinct; all that remains is color and shape (all shots, iPhone 4):

Folded Table Umbrella at San Francisco’s Union Square, 17 November 2012

Green Metal Table Top with Raindrops, Union Square, San Francisco, 17 November 2012

Closeup of Mural on Folsom Street, 17 November 2012

Plus, I saw this and “the camera made me do it!” I couldn’t resist:

“Do Yoga” 17 November 2012

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green – “What the H***’s So Interesting About That?”

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Good Evening:

So said the very wide-hipped Asian woman aged 50-60 who walked past me on Folsom near 16th Street today. She walked with her right arm stiff and trailing behind herself, leaning forward with her jaw tilted as far up as possible. Who knows? I photograph subjects that everyone else ignores; perhaps the subject is uninteresting. See for yourself (iPhone 4, unedited but for an 8×10 crop). Please do not think that I seek to compel you to compliment me; if you don’t like it, I encourage you to say so and say why.

Things On Walls Series: Locked Grate on Folsom Near 16th Street, 17 November 2012

What do you think? Uninteresting or not?

Let’s pretend for a moment that I did create a work of beauty,  and ignore the question of whether this photo is good, bad or indifferent. What makes it beautiful? I have speculated on this before and have formulated four hypotheses why:

  1. The object was always beautiful; I saw the beauty first.
  2. The object is not beautiful except for a once-in-a-lifetime perfect setting; I simply got lucky and walked past at the right time.
  3. The object did contain the elements of beauty, but needed someone to capture them.
  4. The object is beautiful only because I say so.

Thoughts, speculations, guesses, counterarguments welcome.

Vonn Scott Bair

Of John Constable & The San Francisco Civic Center, 15 November 2012

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Good Evening:

John Constable, one of England’s greatest 19th Century painters, took pleasure in tossing off the occasional cloud painting (many of which you will find at this website). For him, close studies of an important element of the natural world which he so loved to paint; for me, some of his best work. He would have enjoyed sitting in the Civic Center this afternoon with his easel, sufficient paints and brushes, and a few spare canvases. Perched upon the left edge of the continent, the skies above San Francisco mark a sort of crossroads where a variety of winds push a variety of clouds in a variety of directions. Here are a few pictures, and yes, I have added them to my White & Blue series.

Cloud Study 5, San Francisco Civic Center, 15 November 2012, Nikon Coolpix S9100

Cloud Study 12, San Francisco Civic Center, 15 November 2012, iPhone 4

Cloud Study 2, San Francisco Civic Center, 15 November 2012, Nikon Coolpix S9100

Cloud Study 14, San Francisco Civic Center, 15 November 2012, iPhone 4

Every digital camera has weaknesses; learn those weaknesses and make them your tools. The software for the camera of the iPhone 4 will recognize shades of blue associated with the sky and render them ultra-intense, ultra-saturated, and ultra-deep (as a rule, the Nikon pictures from today display a more accurate blue). This tendency becomes even more pronounced when I resort to the HDR setting. The iPhone takes two pictures simultaneously, one “regular” and one HDR. Examine this sample pair:

Cloud Study 16, San Francisco Civic Center, 15 November 2012, iPhone 4

Cloud Study 17, San Francisco Civic Center, 15 November 2012, iPhone 4 with HDR

The regular photograph comes much closer to capturing the soft pastel character of a California coastal sky, but wow, that HDR! The intense Lapis Lazuli blue just POPS! off your computer screen and into your brain, doesn’t it? So one picture has the truth, whilst the other has the beauty; those of you who believe that “truth is beauty and beauty truth” have a conundrum to ponder.

The Civic Center contains more than 19th Century English skies; on some days (such as yesterday) it also contains public nudity; but today’s lunch hours, the plaza contained non-nude, non-protesting, non-political people partaking of the picturesque skies as they partook of their repast and/or perambulated randomly about the plaza. People such as these individuals:

Smoker on Morning Break in Redwood Alley Near Civic Center, 15 November 2012, iPhone 4

Lunch Break with Asian Art Museum, 15 November 2012, Nikon Coolpix S9100

Dog Lovers, Civic Center Plaza, 15 November 2012, Nikon Coolpix S9100

“Cashflow Cannon, T.N.G. Money Mob, Richmond CA” 15 November 2012, iPhone 4

This next shot features a construction project at Market & 10th Streets:

Construction Project Covered with Dust-Blocking Sheets, 15 November 2012, iPhone 4

Funny about this picture; the HDR looks inferior to the regular shot.

And you will find a massive renovation project concealed behind huge sheets of plywood on the second block of Van Ness Avenue:

Entrance to Massive Interior Renovation Project on Van Ness Avenue, iPhone 4 with HDR

If one word could explain why I’m not a real photographer, it would be “inconsistency.” During the past few weeks, for whatever reason, I have not had much success with the quality of my photography. My fault, not my equipment; ‘tis a bad carpenter who blames his tools. I simply couldn’t take a picture that didn’t require massive editing just to achieve mediocrity. Today, my touch returned. None of these pictures required even a simple crop. Basically, I picked a good day to have a good day, and even though I would not call any of these new pictures masterpieces, great, or very good, I hope you liked them anyhow. Oh, and just for fun, I present yet another picture of San Francisco’s City Hall at sunset.

San Francisco City Hall, 15 November 2012, Nikon Coolpix S9100, Dusk Mode

Vonn Scott Bair

I Do Not Understand Reality, Special Public Nudity at the Civic Center Edition!

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Good Evening:

I do not need anyone to remind me that I live in San Francisco.

I have lived in San Francisco for almost 31 years, since 15 January 1982. To this day, I have never forgotten that I live in San Francisco. I fully embrace my San Francisco-ish-ness and when I awaken each morning, I know exactly where I live. I don’t need to be reminded that I live in San Francisco, California, USA.

Today, San Francisco reminded me that I live in San Francisco.

I had just finished visiting the Civic Center Farmers Market (carrots, celery, leeks), seriously contemplating taking photographs of the 60-ish gentleman in a cream-colored suit, cream-colored straw Panama hat, white Oxford shirt and patterned yellow necktie, when I espied a young couple, twenties, Caucasian, strolling into the park in front of City Hall–completely nude except for the two protest signs “NUDE RIGHTS” and “Defend Your Right to Bare!” which they held over their heads. But that’s not where things got interesting. I looked around at the other park visitors. A single raised eyebrow here, a shrug of the shoulders there, and over there a brief smirk. In other words, just another nude couple in San Francisco–keep moving, nothing to see. Not interesting. The young lady was not unattractive, but not interesting.

It’s when the couple joined a hundred other people, complete nude but for their protest signs, that things got interesting. Turns out that my hometown is the hometown for a political movement that seeks the decriminalization of public nudity, and the members of said movement chose today to stage a big, um, uh, “coming-out” party to er, um, display their political message for all to see. They marched to the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue and stood their with their signs, and then walked at least three times around the Civic Center and City Hall. At no point did they encounter any interference from the police. A tourist couple nearby:

Wife: Honey, aren’t those people dangerous?

Husband: They’re nudists, dear. Where are they going to conceal any weapons?

Even though the nude activists were roughly 50-50 male/female, and even though the women tended to look rather attractive, the spectators proved more interesting to watch. Civic Center at midday typically has over 100 people wandering about, but almost no one took pictures (and everyone in this town has a smart phone, everyone). Look at them, yes we did, but no photographs. I didn’t take pictures.

And that is why I Do Not Understand Reality: why not? Our naked friends wanted to publicize their beliefs and their cause–you don’t seriously think they didn’t want the general public to take pictures and instantly post them to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Fox News, do you? Of course not! They wanted publicity!

Why didn’t we oblige them?

Eternally Baffled, I Remain,

Yours Truly,

Vonn Scott Bair

Snapshots & Snippets of San Francisco, 13 November 2012

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Good Evening:

Trying to capture candid shots of homo sapiens sanfrancisciensis in its natural habitat can pose a host of challenges, especially when San Francisco is not exactly a “natural habitat.” But we are an interesting subspecies, so I persist, even though I persistently delete most of my attempts. How Henri Cartier-Bresson did it, I’ll never know. Here are some recent comparatively adequate photographs.

Look closely and you’ll that this gentleman’s cat carrier has wheels and an attached pole for tugging the box behind him; nonetheless, he seemed to find it easier just to carry his cat (who took one look at me and hid):

Carrying the Cat Carrier in Front of City Hall

I’ve written of this location in “The Photographer As Crocodile.” This is a recent shot:

West Side of the Orpheum Theater, 9 October 2012

Snippet #1, overheard near the Civic Center Farmers Market this past Sunday: “Laaaaaadies and Gentlemen! Presenting the world’s finest wino! Jingle bells, jingle bells, help me get drunk now”

For over two decades, a group of chessplayers have set up shop on Market Street, playing for fun, spare change or serious dollars. They used to set up at 5th & Market, but recently moved to the block between 6th and 7th Streets. But I used to play chess myself (peak USCF rating: 2282), and I know that devotees will play anywhere, anytime (even during the annual Pride Parade).

Market Street Chessplayers

Bacon-Wrapped Hotdog Vendor at Golden Gate & Polk Street

The celebration of the San Francisco Giants’ 2012 World Series victory in the Civic Center drew street vendors selling the newest culinary sensation in town: bacon-wrapped hotdogs. That was not a misprint. Take a hotdog, with all its, shall we say, interesting ingredients, wrap with a few strips of bacon, serve on a bun topped with onions. San Francisco might represent itself to the world as one of the great culinary destinations, but between you and I, we love our junk food.

Don’t tell anyone.

Snippet #2 featured the man in the picture below:

6, 9 & 71 Bus Stop @ 8th & Market, 11 November 2012

He fixated upon me, ignoring the woman with the green and yellow who remained completely oblivious to his presence.

“Hey, you! I know your kind! You have a big house, don’t you? You have a wife and two kids, don’t you? I know what kind you are. You hate your brats’ crappy rap music, don’t you? I bet you stuff your chimney with paper so you can’t hear that s—, don’t you?”

Then my bus arrived and he wandered off to find a new “pestered husband.”

So ends my latest collection of street photography. I shall keep practicing (and deleting) because for the time being I can’t think of a better way to get better.

Vonn Scott Bair

Haighting Monday

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Good Evening:

Monday was our Veterans Day, an American national holiday similar to Remembrance Day in many other countries. I had the day off, and after spending a few moments to honor the memory of my relatives who served, hit the Upper Haight for chores and breakfast. Naturally, I brought my camera along. The photos don’t represent my best work, sadly; too often, I used the wrong settings.

One of Upper Haight’s Newest Murals, in Front of the Wells Fargo Bank Branch

The above mural is very unusual for the Haight, as the other artists create their by hand, using spray paint, brush and other tools. Such as this one:

I present “Super Rusty Button,” a more typical work of art from the Haight.

The Haight Street Market has gone upscale, as have many businesses in the neighborhood. San Francisco does not stop changing, and the influx of highly-paid tech employees into the city (our second dot-com boom) has driven up a lot of prices. HSM has an excellent selection for such a small space, but every time I walk past the meat counter I remember why I have such a large repertoire of vegan recipes.

Prepping PKOK for Opening

You will find a few chain stores in the Upper Haight, but most independent boutiques do have that San Francisco flavor.

Before I had yet another classic breakfast at the Pork Store Cafe, I saw this curious scene at Haight & Cole, involving what I thought was a father and son. Unfortunately, I took my worst pictures trying to capture this scene, so I’ll have to describe it.

The tall man kept berating his smaller companion about appearances, criticizing the hair, the smell, the dirty clothes. He kept manipulating his little friend’s body, bending it over so he could pick bugs out of the hair, brush the hair, et cetera, all the while maintaining a steady beat of criticism and borderline ridicule (no swearing, though). Their dog pretty much ignored them. Not until I uploaded the shots to my computer (and discarded the vast majority–it was not a good photo day for me), did I realize something: I think his smaller companion is an adult woman.

Wow. Suddenly this looks like possible spousal abuse (subcategory psychological humiliation). I had missed the significance, the truth of the scene–possibly because I had photographed it! It does say a lot about my own personal obliviousness.

Now I refuse to make excuses for my conduct and accept any blame I deserve, but I can’t help but wonder: in our current obsession to record our world–do we sometimes fail to see it?

Vonn Scott Bair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal – con(decon)struction, San Francisco, November 2012

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Good Evening:

If San Francisco is not change, then San Francisco is not. Unlike “the surreal is that which lies at your feet,” that previous sentence is my own creation, although I have no doubt that someone has said something similar decades ago (Herb Caen would be a great place to start looking for precedents).

Oh, and economists will have to cover their eyes again as I repeat my no doubt hopelessly incorrect hypothesis that you can measure the health of a city by the number of construction cranes silhouetted against the sky. San Francisco has begun yet another construction boom–I have no idea when one construction boom ends and another begins–and here are some recent photos of the heavy equipment at a few of the sites. These come from my “con(decon)struction” series of photographs.

The above photograph (taken at Market & 10th Streets) exploits a weakness in the camera of the iPhone 4. When the software detects a shade of blue associated with the sky, it seems to oversaturate that shade of blue, making it more intense and vivid. It also has the effect of turning foreground objects into silhouettes. Rather than gripe about my tools, I seek to use their “personality quirks” to create different and sometimes decent shots.

These next come from a construction site near Market & Guerrero, and I also added them to my “White & Blue” series.

I wonder if the construction workers ever think of their beasts as sculpture. Note that the blues are more natural, more “correct.” I used a Nikon Coolpix S9100 for these. The last comes from a second construction site in the same block (no, really!) as the previous two.

What can I say? I’m just crazy for construction cranes.

Vonn Scott Bair

White & Blue Series: Recent Photographs, 10 November 2012

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Good Evening:

As you will see from the captions I have taken nearly 700 photographs that fit within the theme of “White & Blue.” Something about the color combination appeals to me.

White & Blue Series: Bricks

White & Blue Series: Market & Church Street Safeway Mural

White & Blue Series 664: Spiral 4

White & Blue Series 672: Van Ness Avenue Friday Morning

White & Blue Series 681: Broad & Capitol 5

I hope that all of you will someday look back upon these next few days and say, “That was a great weekend.”

Vonn Scott Bair