Monthly Archives: November 2014

“la la la.” 30 November 2014

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Good Morning:

Sometimes, when practicing candid or street photography, I aim my point-and-shoot directly behind me and snap away, having absolutely no idea what my camera has captured. Typically, I end up discarding 90-100% of these shots.

This one, taken at Stockton and Market on Friday at 1:21 p.m., looked a little interesting.

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But too dark. So I changed the exposure in iPhoto and lightened it.

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A slight improvement, but it seems we’ll have to return to the era of 1950s black-and-white. So I returned to the original and performed a straightforward conversion.

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Again, too dark, but at least black-and-white proved a good idea. So a bit more fiddling around and fooling around in iPhoto yielded this result:

"la la la"

“la la la” Black Friday, San Francisco, California, 28 November 2014

Funny–I did not take a picture, I photographed potential. True, a photograph that someone like Garry Winogrand would have dismissed as mediocre at best had he taken it, but mediocre Winogrand represents a huge improvement over my usual work. “la la la,” for all its flaws, captures the discomfort, stress and tension of Black Friday shopping; that girl is most definitely not smiling, and look at how her arm is uncomfortably pulled backward by the man (probably her father) who holds her hand presumably to keep her safe.

Incidentally, I had at first created three versions of this picture, but added a fourth after blundering into something called The One Four Challenge. If you like to study both photography and how artists edit their work, the webpage is well worth a visit.

Vonn Scott Bair

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Black Friday in San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge)

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Good Afternoon:

On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving in America, traditionally the day when retailers start to go from “in the red” for the year to “in the black”), San Franciscans converge upon two blocks of Stockton Street from Market to Geary to snap up Christmas presents and other bargains at the likes of Macy’s, Armani Exchange, Disney, Crate & Barrel, and the Apple Store. As it happens, this year those two blocks have been closed to vehicular traffic because of underground construction on a new subway line. A store owner and/or someone in City Hall had one very good idea…

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…so they laid down artificial turf to create a real park. I visited the area on Friday and Saturday. Friday was bright, sunny, and warm; Saturday, cloudy, rainy, and dark. Or in simple English, Welcome to San Francisco.

I used my point-and-shoot for all of these pictures, and for most used The 30 Shot to capture candids of the people. Because of the weird challenges posed by the ambient light on both days, every picture required heavy editing in iPhoto.

Some visitors enjoyed benches for resting between stores.

Pink Lady, Stockton Near Geary, 28 November 2014, San Francisco, California

Pink Lady, Stockton Near Geary, 28 November 2014, San Francisco, California

Lunching, Resting, Selfing, 29 November 2014, San Francisco, California

Lunching, Resting, Selfing, 29 November 2014, San Francisco, California

Sunbathers Near the Crate & Barrel, San Francisco, California, 28 November 2014

Sunbathers Near the Crate & Barrel, San Francisco, California, 28 November 2014

In Front of the Apple Store, Stockton Near Market, 28 November 2014

In Front of the Apple Store, Stockton Near Market, 28 November 2014

Others preferred using the impromptu park for play.

Scooter, San Francisco, CA 29 November 2014

Scooter, San Francisco, CA 29 November 2014

The Human Basketball Hoop Lets Players Take Their Shots

The Human Basketball Hoop Lets Players Take Their Shots

Small time entrepreneurs plied their wares or talents. I photographed Justin Ward just as he had begun a superb cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.”

Justin Ward Performing Sam Smiths "Stay With Me," 28 November 2014

Justin Ward Performing Sam Smiths “Stay With Me,” 28 November 2014

Balloon Lady Singing to Her Customers, Union Square, San Francisco, 28 November 2014

Balloon Lady Singing to Her Customers, Union Square, San Francisco, 28 November 2014

Timmy The English Pig Busking Our Way 'Round the U S of A!

Timmy The English Pig Busking Our Way ‘Round the U S of A!

…whilst a few had a political agenda.

Cruelty or Kindness The Choice Is Yours

Cruelty or Kindness The Choice Is Ours

Check out the headdress in the next two shots.

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This is the woman who was sitting in the black and white above as I saw her today.

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At first, I thought he was going to throw up, but in reality he was making a call and charging his cell phone at the same time.

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Of course, the folks who provided a venue for all of this fun, play, and entertainment had an ulterior motive.

Something involving lots of shopping bags:

Uniqlo, Market Street, San Francisco, California, 28 November 2014

Uniqlo, Market Street, San Francisco, California, 28 November 2014

Vonn Scott Bair

Overhead Trolley Wires on Haight Street, 28 November 2014.

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Good Afternoon:

When electric bus lines converge at intersections such as Haight and Divisadero and at Haight and Fillmore, so do the overhead power lines, and the resultant geometry produces all sorts of shapes and angles.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Who Wants to Feel *Real* Old?, 25 November 2014!

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Good Evening:

Male Voice: However, I must point out that women can behave silly, too.

1st Female Voice: Where’s your proof?! What’s your evidence?! Don’t make assertions if you can’t back them up!

2nd Female Voice: No, in his defense I have to say that I did lots of silly things when I was young.

1st Female Voice: That’s doesn’t count! You were young! I did silly things when I was young, too, so that doesn’t count!

Male Voice: You can’t just say that something doesn’t count. Where’s your proof?

1st Female Voice: I’m a woman, I can say whatever I want!

2nd Female Voice: Oh God, that’s just like so gender stereotype.

Male Voice: Can we agree that all young are silly?

2nd Female Voice: Oh God, yes.

1st Female Voice: I refuse to admit that I was ever young!

Don’t you wonder just how old these old people are? So did I, so while these three trailed behind me, I surreptitiously slipped my point-and-shoot out of my right front pants pocket, turned it on, and let it dangle down at the end of my arm. I call this the 30 Shot (and once again, must stress that I did not invent this technique): when you hold your small black compact camera about 30 inches above the ground, not only do you get some interesting angles, your subjects tend not to notice–very useful for street photography.

I pointed the camera behind myself, not even checking where I pointed the lens, and snapped nine pictures. Yes, I did not even look at where I aimed the camera, which explains why I discarded 7 of the 9 shots.

So, before I premiere my latest heavily edited blindly aimed photograph, you have one more chance to guess: how old were these old folks who mocked the young for being so silly?

Polk Street Near Market, San Francisco, CA, 25 November 2014

Polk Street Near Market, San Francisco, CA, 25 November 2014

I doubt that not one of them has reached even his/her 28th birthday.

Doesn’t that make you feel just so old?

Vonn Scott Bair

The Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art: Grey Series, 25 November 2014.

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Good Evening:

Longtime readers know that I occasionally proselytize on behalf of grey, a sadly underrated and under-appreciated color. Perhaps one needs to live in a fog-bound location such as San Francisco to learn to like grey–oh, and I prefer the English spelling to the American “gray” because grey has always looked “greyer” to me.

Some recent minimalist-style picture.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Right Angles, Acute Angles, Rectangles, Triangles. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular)

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Good Afternoon:

Definitely a good weekend for construction projects. Walked the 1.5 miles to the Civic Center Farmers Market today and passed some of the city’s newest condos and apartment buildings, seeing right angles, acute angles, rectangles and triangles galore. The first, at Dolores and Market, has not opened yet, which explains the barbed wire. Given the rents here, perhaps some of my fellow San Franciscans would consider the wire symbolic of the prohibitive cost of living here.

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8 Octavia.

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Market & Tenth Streets.

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Not sure what will go up here at Polk & Hayes, and not sure how many construction cranes stand over San Francisco right, but one hundred would not surprise me, not surprise me at all.

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Vonn Scott Bair