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.
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:
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:
This next shot features a construction project at Market & 10th Streets:
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:
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.
Vonn Scott Bair