Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Friday Flu Hits San Francisco! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life)

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Good Afternoon:

I did not have The Friday Flu yesterday (that mysterious flu that mysteriously disappears approximately 2.25 seconds after its victim calls in sick at 8:00 a.m. on a Friday Morning). I took a legitimate day off and have the official City & County of San Francisco paperwork to prove it. However, San Francisco experienced its first beautiful day in the midst of a string of rain storms yesterday (my neighborhood has experienced three big ones so far today), so inevitably that unique malady associated with blue skies, puffy clouds, warm temperatures, and Fridays reared its ugly head at Yerba Buena Park.

Yerba Buena Park, Friday Afternoon, 28 March 2014

Yerba Buena Park, Friday Afternoon, 28 March 2014

Big time reared its head. Has anyone else noticed that sometimes my city looks like a Renoir or Suerat come to life?

The Soccer Players, Yerba Buena, 28 March 2014

The Soccer Players, Yerba Buena, 28 March 2014

Picnickers, Yerba Buena, 28 March 2014

Picnickers, Yerba Buena, 28 March 2014

Yerba Buena, San Francisco, CA, 28 March 2014

Yerba Buena, San Francisco, CA, 28 March 2014

I appreciate women who appreciate food, but not only do I appreciate women who appreciate food, I also appreciate other guys who appreciate women who appreciate food.

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So I decided to show the gentleman my respect by working on the raw picture. I saved a few copies, converted them to black & white in iPhoto, and then had some editing fun.

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Settings: Saturation 0, Highlights 10, Shadows 15, Sharpness 100, De-Noise 100, other settings unchanged. I divided the picture according to the 3×3 rule and in this crop placed the woman’s head on the upper left intersection (or whatever professional photographers call it). OK, I guess, but the picture feels a little unbalanced; too much excess space on the right, too much activity on the left.

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Settings: Saturation 0, Highlights 80, Shadows 15, De-Noise 100, other settings unchanged. This time I cropped to put the man’s head in the upper right intersection (or whatever professional photographers call it). This composition makes him and more important his attention to her the focus of the picture, and I found that satisfactory. However, their clothes are darker and they don’t stand out from the background as much as above.

So one more try.

Lunch @ Yerba Buena, San Francisco, CA, 1:40 p.m., 28 March 2014

Lunch @ Yerba Buena, San Francisco, CA, 1:40 p.m., 28 March 2014

Settings: Exposure 0.40, Highlights 30, Shadows 15, De-Noise 100, other settings unchanged. The lighter color of her jacket and his shirt makes them stand out better from their background. I don’t mind the extra details on the left because the viewer’s attention always shifts to them, esp. him; furthermore, I want to establish that the setting is a park bench in a city park.

Overall, pretty good; the editing’s getting better. However, can’t help wondering: would it look better in color after all?

Vonn Scott Bair

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Happy Friday! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life)

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Good Afternoon:

When capturing the street life of San Francisco, I like to practice something called “The 30 Shot.” Rather than hold the camera up to my eye, I let my arm hang down limply, holding my point-and-shoot about 30 inches above the ground. It works great for candid photography; people look at other people face to face, and don’t notice your hands. It also works great at taking pictures of scenes directly behind you, even when you have no idea what the camera has captured. Most of the time I have to discard the results; a 95% discard rate happens a lot.

Sometimes I get lucky. Mind-bogglingly lucky. But at the same time, unlucky.

Friday Afternoon, 5:23 p.m., 21 March 2014.

Happy Friday! 5:23 p.m., 21 March 2014.

But when you mind-bogglingly lucky, you also have a lot of work to do. I took this picture shooting directly behind me and got lucky in the sense that I captured the mood of the women, but I also pointed the camera directly at the late afternoon sun, which washes out a ton of detail. Here is the original picture:

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That sunlight is just way too obnoxious. Believe it or not, the sky was actually blue! You can’t see any detail of the clothing, and most important, the sun was too bright around the right-hand woman’s face. Still working on this one (I want better detail in their faces), but I have a feeling that B&W will remain the best solution.

I hope everyone has a happy Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

Vonn Scott Bair

The Niche.

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Good Evening:

On the other side of Redwood Alley from the San Francisco PUC HQ, you will find the Superior Court building. Another relic of the dark ages of San Francisco architecture, the building features these niches built into the walls for the vents. I don’t know if the architects wanted people to use them as benches, or if they set the vents into the walls to protect them from the elements, or if they simply didn’t think these things through, but in recent months a homeless woman has taken to using the same niche every afternoon.

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She reads avidly, a hardcore book lover, and it would not surprise me if she has a library card; the Main Branch of the Public Library lies only about a hundred yards away. Lately she has taken up writing, penning one page after another at a pace that would give me writer’s cramp.

And recently, it appears that someone else has discovered the pleasures of a quiet place in the middle of the big noisy city.

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I hope that whatever that woman writes becomes a bestseller. Certainly, she’s working hard enough.

Vonn Scott Bair

Reflections of a Ballpark, Reflections Upon Baseball (Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection)

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Good Evening:

San Francisco has a series of storms coming its way, starting this afternoon, but in between systems I took a series of shots of the Giants’ ballpark from the other side of McCovey Cove. Fans of the G-Men have had many reasons to get excited over the upcoming season, including a 16-10 record in the preseason and a free viewing day on March 31, when San Francisco opens at Arizona. But 2014 has already become a bizarre season.

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It already began. In Australia.

Don’t get me wrong; your correspondent strongly supports MLB’s push to establish the sport throughout the world; in fact, I feel this push is well over a half-century overdue, and should have begun as a component of the Marshall Plan. The 2013 World Baseball Classic would have occurred on the 50th anniversary of the first, and 64 nations would have competed in eight regionals, with the best two in each group qualifying for the WBC. Every year, MLB should schedule as many games in countries that participated in the WBC as feasible.

But baseball has not only a tradition but also a belief in the power of that tradition.

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You can see it even in, especially in, a modern ballpark like San Francisco’s. You will find statues, engraved bricks, plaques, sculptures and monuments dedicated to the history of the New York Gothams (1883)-New York Giants-San Francisco Giants. Just today, I learned that the first Japanese player in the majors played for SF in 1964, and in 1968 the Giants no-hit the Cardinals in one game and were no-hit by the Cardinals in the next (!).

Opening the season in Australia does not honor that tradition, and I write this as a hard-core Aussie-phile who supports the almighty Footscray Bulldogs (I refuse to call them Western!).

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The Cincinnati Reds, the oldest major league baseball club in existence and still the only one with a perfect season (65-0 in 1869), should open every year. I think this used to be a tradition, but don’t take my word on this. If it was, it’s a tradition worth bringing back, and thanks to interleague play, we can improve tradition.

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Every year, the first game of the season: the defending World Series Champions at Cincinnati. If the Reds are the defending champs, they host the St. Louis Cardinals, a division rival and one of the greatest franchises in history.

Either way, the game automatically becomes compelling baseball. I mean, how many baseball fans even noticed the Dodgers vs. the D-Backs in Oz (the local nickname for Australia)?

MLB can do much better than this.

Vonn Scott Bair

Stow Lake Saturday: Close-Up Studies

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Good Evening:

In addition to playing with this week’s Photo Challenge, I also visited Stow Lake to practice extreme close-ups. Normally, my close-ups in nature don’t work out very well. I even created my own Murphy’s Law, Bair’s Corollary of Outdoor Close-Ups: flowers will remain absolutely still until you try to take a picture, at which point the wind will kick up and stay kicked up until you give up and walk away. However, yesterday’s batch yielded a few acceptable shots. Maybe I just learned how to hold the DSLR steady.

All of the colors, especially in that second picture, are true to life, and all shots are #nofilter.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Stow Lake Saturday (Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection)

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Good Evening:

Golden Gate Park’s Stow Lake is a fun little place to take your sweetheart on a rowboat trip, watch birds and turtles, and take lots of pictures of reflections. I didn’t do so badly with today’s photo session, and even got to experiment with the Cyanotype setting in my DSLR.

I don’t why the combination of a tree and still water makes me think cyanotype, but it does:

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Rather satisfactory for an unedited shot, but I might crop it a bit and lighten the shadows.

The rest I present without commentary.

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All right, one comment; I hope you’re having a good weekend.

Vonn Scott Bair

Zig-Zag Reflection (Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection)

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Good Evening:

In a city with as much glass as San Francisco, you have a lot of subjects for this week’s Challenge, but the only photograph I took today that I feel like sharing is this one:

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You see a weird sort of zig-zag reflection for lack of a better term. The sun hovered directly behind this building from where I stood. (Hayes, between Polk and Van Ness). The sunlight passed over this building, over my head, reflected off the building behind me, back over my head, off the windows, and back into my camera lens.

Kind of, sort of, zig-zagging.

Vonn Scott Bair