Category Archives: Travel

Wildflowers Et Alia at Land’s End, San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Beneath Your Feet)

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Good Evening:

Photograph objects beneath our feet? Rather an interesting Challenge if you live in San Francisco. Took these near dusk on a cloudy day at Land’s End. The light presented both opportunity and challenges: wonderfully even with little shadow; but a tad dark. Still, a few turned out well without editing. All take with my iPhone 6 Plus.

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The orange flowers are probably California Poppies, the others are native plants recently restored to the park that I can’t identify. The green stuff actually are water plants that had taken over a pool of stagnant water at the ruins of the Sutro Baths. And what the heck, here are two shots of man-made items that also fit the bill.

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Vonn Scott Bair

A Serendip of San Franciscans, 3 April 2015: Commuters.

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Good Evening:

For those of you new to The San Francisco Scene–Seen!, I recently made the arbitrary decision to use “Serendip” as the collective noun for a group of San Franciscans, and begun a series of photo essays of my fellow citizens engaged in a common activity. Today’s theme: Commuters.

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The above is only the fifth photograph taken with my new point-and-shoot, a Nikon CoolPix S9900, and the previous four were random test shots. So far, the results have please me, but perhaps not as much as this unusual mode of transit pleased its very young passenger:

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San Francisco’s public transit system does one thing very well: catering to severely disabled individuals. Recently I took a 19-Polk bus that at one stop disembarked two passengers in wheelchairs and then added a third, all in less than two minutes.These two awaited a bus at 8th & Market.

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Skateboarders can commute anywhere.

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Bicycling keeps growing in popularity: as bike lanes expand, so too do the number of riders.

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But some people and critters still prefer an old school mode of transportation.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Scooter, San Francisco, California, 29 November 2014 (One Four Challenge, Week 3)

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Good Evening:

One of the two ideas I had for Week 3 did not work at all, so I’ll spare you the viewing. Went with a 100% B&W conversion instead that became anything but a simple selection from a menu.

After the conversion, the picture didn’t look right, so ended up resorting to these iPhone settings: Exposure, 1.47; Contrast, +20; Saturation, 0; Definition, 60; Highlights, 100; Shadows, 100; Sharpness, 100; De-noise (whatever that is), 0. And the result:

Scooter, San Francisco, California, 29 November 2014

Scooter, San Francisco, California, 29 November 2014

The increased Definition brings out the lines in the buildings, all which point to our friend, so I like that. Also, his hair stands out a bit more from the black roof. For the first time, I notice the One Way sign pointing directly at him, as well as a triangle in the background. The notion that he’s riding against the One Way sign, and from the older building to the newer interests me a bit.

Still have one idea left to try.

Vonn Scott Bair

Nothing Endures: The Sutro Baths at Land’s End, San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance)

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Good Morning:

Nothing endures. One hour spent at the ruins of San Francisco’s Sutro Baths provides so many examples, starting with the fact that the Baths are ruins. Remember that as you peruse this collection of photos which I took at the end of a cloudy Saturday afternoon–come to think of it, clouds and days don’t endure either.

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That ship might travel to Asia today looking strong and proud, but within 20-30 years, the cumulative effects of salt water and bad weather will reduce it to scrap metal at best.

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I have no idea what might once have awaited at the bottom of those stairs…

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…and I have no idea what these once did.

One of the sweeter and sadder aspects of human existence consists of this: love and friendship don’t endure. Either the love or friendship will fade away, or the humans will. We can derive some consolation from the fact that the concepts of love and friendship will endure and be celebrated by humanoid life forms, even those life forms that do not yet exist. At least, until Homo Sapiens itself passes into the fossil record.

Posing for Pictures Amongst the Ruins

Posing for Pictures Amongst the Ruins

Love Among the Ruins

Love Among the Ruins

Friends at Seal Rocks, 20 September 2014

Friends at Seal Rocks, 20 September 2014

Two Couples, Young and Old, Sutro Baths, 20 September 2014

Two Couples, Young and Old, Sutro Baths, 20 September 2014

So we might as well celebrate love and friendship now.

Incidentally, if you want to find good scenes and camera angles at Sutro Baths, Seal Rocks, and Land’s End, you might want to try this: look for signs that read something like “This Area Closed for Your Safety.” Then walk past those signs and head into those areas. Everyone else does (including many of the people in these pictures), and if your life insurance is paid up…well, heck, you weren’t going to last much longer than a century in a multiverse that measures its age in billions of years. Of course, long before the multiverse self-extinguishes, our own little sun will swell into a red giant and consume our even tinier little planet.

So even that won’t endure. So let’s all consume ourselves with despair.

I’m kidding, of course.

The fact that nothing will last represents one darn good reason to make the good things last as long as possible.

Have a fun weekend.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Vehicles! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!)

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Good Evening:

Don Quixote had his Rocinante. Darwin had his Beagle. The Sixties had the Volkswagen Microbus. If you’re gonna have an adventure, you’re gonna have to have a vehicle.

Some of these vehicles are more or less permanent fixtures along this stretch of 13th Street; their owners both live in them and drive to work in them. Others belong to people traveling the United States (permanently or just for the summer) who got lucky in finding a free parking space in San Francisco. I’m pretty sure the retired bus is a permanent fixture; don’t know about the rest.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Reason #822,200 to Love San Francisco: The World’s Smallest Lending Library?

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Good Evening:

Nah, it probably isn’t, but it’s the smallest I’ve ever seen.

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The first four blocks of Noe Street rank among the most picturesque and unknown beauties that even most San Franciscans haven’t visited. As this library can attest, Noe Street can have a real everyone-knows-everyone  neighborhood feel. Check out the only rules of this library.

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It’s official; San Francisco is magic.

Vonn Scott Bair

High School Has Changed. For Worse and for Better.

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Good Evening:
I visited the East Coast this week to attend the high school graduation of my niece. I graduated high school in the year MTLA, a Roman numeral that equals Much Too Long Ago, and things have changed a lot since then. Oh, have they ever changed a lot since then:
1. My graduation ceremony did not have at least eight cops patrolling the event. Actually, we had zero.
2. My graduation ceremony did not include a weapons check.
3. My graduating class did not include a blind student.
4. My graduating class did not include two wheelchair students.
The more I think about this, the more baffled I feel. I feel shamefully ignorant; I can’t tell you what happened to disabled/differently abled children in that America. Such students simply didn’t exist in my world, unless the wrestling team competed against schools for the deaf or blind. Who knows where the wheelchair-bound went? I don’t.
5. The Salutarian (sp?) referred to his gay and lesbian friends in the student body. In Roman numeral MTLA, homosexuals did not exist in high school; seriously, you did not know of their existence until at least college, possibly later. I should correct myself. All I knew about gay people is I didn’t know that my classmates secretly thought I was gay until I, uh, shall we say, accidentally proved them wrong.
6. My graduating class was 95% white, 4% Asian, 1% black. My niece’s class was Hispanic, African-American, white and Asian. In that order. The demographics are changing and those who don’t adapt will fall behind.
No question about it; the need for cops and weapon checks disturb me. And yet the acceptance of a greater variety of differences among students seems to indicate genuine hope for our future.
It seems that every day I learn that I don’t know something counts as a good day. Now if I could just learn it, preferably before my age equals MTLA…
Vonn Scott Bair