Monthly Archives: December 2013

Houdini on Christmas Morning (Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy)

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Good Morning:

I turned to my niece the high school senior and said, “I think cats exist to make English Bulldogs look intelligent by comparison.”

She turned to her uncle the old buzzard and said, “I think English Bulldogs exist to make cats look intelligent by comparison.”

We had both been looking at Houdini.

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Houdini is one of two cats of uncertain ancestry living in my sister’s household (the other is named Presto–not bad, huh?), both male, both neutered, and both the recipients of grey and white striped catnip mice which you can see in the upper left and right corners of this photograph. But as you can see, Houdini has neglected both of his feline mind-altering substance filled toys in favor of tearing up the wrapping paper in which their pet humans had wrapped them.

Catnip, no. The scent of catnip? Yes.

Oh, well. He’s not too bright, but he is happy.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Ones Off to the Side (Weekly Photo Challenge: One)

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Good Evening:

During the Sunday last minute shopping, I recalled this week’s Challenge and wondered where I might find something that represents “One.” Turns out that I saw “ones” everywhere I went, such as this actor, prepping his splendid elaborate costume for an outdoor show.

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Here is Bucketman, so named because he used to perform on the streets using plastic buckets as his percussion.

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Others, sad to write, looked more shoved off to one side.

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This mentally ill homeless woman spent the entire afternoon dancing to Bucketman’s beats.

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This gentleman preferred to go his own way in the world of fashion. I do not mock him. Have you seen some of the latest trendy clothing? I can’t blame him for not wanting to dress au courant.

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And this one? People steered a wide berth around him.

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It isn’t the sign so much as it is his “cell phone.” Not until I edited this shot did I realize that he didn’t have one.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Last Sunday Before Christmas

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Good Morning:

On the last Sunday before Christmas, I had exactly one last purchase to make–a small gift box or gift bag for a small present. So what the heck, might as well bring along a camera as I explored downtown San Francisco in the area of Union Square. I used my “30 Shot” technique for most of them.

Checking Out the Selfies, San Francisco, CA 22 December 2013

Checking Out the Selfies, San Francisco, CA 22 December 2013

I saw a lot of that. Selfies seemed almost as important as last-minute gifts.

Giant Baby Carriage on Stockton Street, 22 December 2013

Giant Baby Carriage on Stockton Street, 22 December 2013

Why have baby carriages grown so huge? They were maybe one-fourth the size of the above back when I needed one. This one looks like Daddy wants to enter his rugrat in a demolition derby.

Oh, and speaking of rugrats, next Christmas will be unlike anything this couple has ever experienced:

Expecting Parents Awaiting Someone Else Outside Crate & Barrel

Expecting Parents Awaiting Someone Else Outside Crate & Barrel

And this gentleman could not get enough of his.

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These two women in front of Macy’s collected donations on behalf of the San Francisco SPCA. Macy’s partners with the group to create window displays featuring kittens and puppies seeking homes each holiday season.

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This final photo captures the hubbub of Geary and Stockton, a popular location for street performers even on weekends without an upcoming holiday.

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Lot going on, isn’t there? Almost like a Breugel painting, if he lived today and used cameras instead of paints. Note the trio of musicians in the middle. They did not play for themselves, they collected donations for UNICEF, but the gimmick differed slightly from the usual. Instead of asking for money, they charged you money in return for the privilege of conducting the trio as they performed. The gentleman in the red football jersey (the 49ers’ star running back Frank Gore wears #21) has just finished flailing his arms as the artists played whatever they intended to play even without his work.

I hope you’re done with prep and are prepped to relax and enjoy.

Vonn Scott Bair

City Hall Blues (Weekly Photo Challenge: One)

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Good Morning:

For the Christmas season, City Hall turns on the red and green spotlights at night, every single night.

With exactly one exception.

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I don’t know why they went blue on this one night (19 December 2013) (UPDATE: A friend informs me that Twitter had rented City Hall for a company party), but the effect amazed anyone in the vicinity with any sort of camera. Instead of the usual one or two people, I shared the mall with dozens of people all trying to get the picture right, holding their cameras steady by any means necessary.

I did use my point-and-shoot for a few shots, but I rather like the results obtained by using my iPhone 4, with its measly 5 megapixels, tiny sensor, and agonizing struggles with very low light conditions. The colors you see are accurate (and aren’t those blues astounding?). I did reduce the exposure in iPhoto and turned down the brightness of the lights.

The results oddly please me. The pixellation notorious to this old camera yields a nice somewhat impressionistic feel to the final results. Perhaps I delude myself, but it seems the very weaknesses of the iPhone 4’s camera helped produce an almost satisfactory photo.

Vonn Scott Bair

City Hall Grand, the Sequel (Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand)

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Good Evening:

City Hall–serious somber seat of government, or San Francisco’s grandest Christmas decoration?

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Vonn Scott Bair

Backlot, 6th & Bryant, Wednesday Night

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Good Evening:

Saw this and thought I’d have fun experimenting with B&W night photography.

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This is about as close to a Wordless Wednesday as I get.

Vonn Scott Bair