Tag Archives: iphone 4

Dogs and Their Humans (Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue)

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Good Evening:

This week’s Challenge posed serious, uh, er, um, uh, challenges.

I hadn’t thought of pictures as containing/producing dialogue among themselves before. It took quite a bit of thinking before hitting upon the notion of how playwrights such as yours truly use dialogue in the theater. Among other things, we use dialogue to yield contrasts among characters and/or conflict. Here is the first contrasting, possibly conflicting, pair of photographs for your consideration. I used my point-and-shoot digital camera, editing the shot slightly in iPhoto.

San Francisco Homeowners & Renters with Their Dogs, Duboce Triangle Dog Park, San Francisco, California, 30 August 2014

San Francisco Homeowners & Renters with Their Dogs, Duboce Triangle Dog Park, San Francisco, California, 30 August 2014

Now for my second picture, taken on the 21-Hayes bus with my iPhone 4, unedited. Hey, there’s a contrast right there.

San Francisco Homeless with Their Dogs, Hayes Street Behind the Civic Center, San Francisco, California, 29 August 2014

San Francisco Homeless People with Their Dogs, Hayes Street Behind the Civic Center, San Francisco, California, 29 August 2014

How many contrasts can you spot? There exist a few, and perhaps I haven’t detected all of them.

Vonn Scott Bair

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Stained Glass Windows, Notre Dame Plaza, San Francisco, 10 August 2014 (Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture)

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Good Evening:

They didn’t need Photoshop in the Middle Ages!

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I attended a writers’ seminar Sunday afternoon at Notre Dame Plaza, a beautiful retirement community across the street from Mission Dolores near 16th & Dolores. We gathered in a chapel with stained glass windows, and during breaks I indulged in my hobby, using my iPhone 4. The original iPhone 4 has a flawed camera compared with later versions, but I’ve learned to exploit its weaknesses to my advantage, taking extreme closeups of the glass panes to use the textures created during the manufacture of the colored glass to do interesting things to the background scenery. No edits aside from cropping out distracting elements along the edges.

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I found this window at the bottom of a stairwell.

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Even the stairway has its “textural” interest.

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Vonn Scott Bair

Winning the Baby, 4 March 2014

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Good Evening:

If you’re from New Orleans, you will take one look at the photo and know what happened today.

The Baby & The King Cake, 4 March 2014

The Baby & The King Cake, 4 March 2014. Taken with an iPhone 4.

Today was Fat Tuesday, or what my New Orleans co-worker calls Mardi Gras. Since I work at the kind of office with high employee morale and where we all wuvz each other so vewy much and therefore it’s the office where diets go to die (last Friday, donuts, dim sum and cake; tomorrow, Chinese food for lunch), we celebrated the holiday with a jug of Peet’s coffee, a big box of donuts, and something called King Cake (one recipe here): a traditional New Orleans ring-shaped pastry filled with cinnamon or praline, coated with frosting and dusted with purple, gold and green colored sugar.

Originally, centuries ago, the King Cake was baked with a dried bean somewhere in the dough. Whomever got the slice with the bean became the King or Queen of the Party, with all rights and privileges due thereunto–not to mention a possible broken tooth from biting on the bean. Over the centuries, the bean got replaced with tiny figurines; at first, a porcelain figurine of a king, currently, a plastic figurine of a baby. And the prize is different, too; instead of becoming the ruler of the festivities, the “winner” of the baby enjoys the right and privilege of purchasing the King Cake for next year’s Mardi Gras workplace celebration.

And that’s a good right and privilege.

Because I wuvz my co-workers so vewy much.

Vonn Scott Bair

Wordless Wednesday: Grey Series, 26 February 2014

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Good Evening:

To celebrate the disappearance of my Malevolent Zero problem (no idea how/why it went away, it just went away), I present my latest additions to The Grey Series, my ongoing attempts to prove that grey is the most aesthetically underrated of colors. Both shots taken today with my iPhone 4 during a rainy lunch hour from the 12th floor of SFPUC headquarters. No filters.

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Vonn Scott Bair

The Upper Haight Through the Window of the 33-Stanyan (Weekly Photo Challenge: Window)

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Good Evening:

Running seemingly millions of errands on Saturday, I did not think I would have time for photography and left both my DSLR and point-and-shoot at home. But as the rain came down whilst traveling on the 33-Stanyan bus from the Mission to the Upper Haight, it occurred to me that an experiment presented itself. What if I used my old iPhone 4 with its pixelating camera, the window next to me, and the rain to create a different take on the term “watercolor?”

Believe it or not, there's a city out there.

Believe it or not, there’s a city out there.

Motorcycle on Ashbury near Haight, 11 January 2014

Motorcycle on Ashbury near Haight, 11 January 2014

Corner of Haight & Ashbury, 11 January 2014

Corner of Haight & Ashbury, 11 January 2014

Somehow I managed to get everything done, and rewarded myself by seeing Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush at the justly legendary Castro Theater. This roughly 100 year old theater with its “mighty Wurlitzer organ” is an ideal site for watching silent films. The next such festival takes place from May 29-June 1, hint, hint.

Hobson's Choice Bar, 11 January 2014

Hobson’s Choice Bar, 11 January 2014

Vintage Clothing Store, 11 January 2014

Vintage Clothing Store, 11 January 2014

After the show, I walked to the bus stop, passing in order: a parked truck filled with dancing men wearing nothing but gold lame shorts; a professional string quartet playing for spare change on the sidewalk; and a guy playing Elton John tunes on his electric piano. Dinner? A carne asada super burrito with black beans, sour cream and guacamole.

When San Francisco gets it right, no city does it better.

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

The Grey Light of San Francisco: More Music for a Friday Afternoon (Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside)

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Good Evening:

Can you think of any logical reason why a balding, potbellied, late middle aged white boy who’s never visited Africa could have possible developed such an interest in the Kora? And what does this have to do with the interior design of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s headquarters and the typical all-morning-long fog of my city’s summers?

Rear of Fourth Floor Break Room, San Francisco PUC Headquarters

Rear of Fourth Floor Break Room, San Francisco PUC Headquarters

I’ve worked at developing/increasing my collection of Music for a Friday Afternoon. Specifically, the 15-minute afternoon break on Friday, when the pressures of the week start to dissipate gently like our fog, and thoughts turn to the weekend’s chores and pleasures. To preserve the battery like of my iPhone 4 (which I used for all of these pictures), I’ve chosen the limited free subscription to Rdio for my music explorations. Frankly, Rdio does not wildly thrill me and I will probably dump it for iRadio when iOS 7 emerges into the real world. But Rdio has had its uses.

"The Escher Staircase" (my nickname) at SFPUC HQ, 3rd Floor

“The Escher Staircase” (my nickname) at SFPUC HQ, 3rd Floor

I have found some excellent additions to the Friday Afternoon playlist, starting with the curious choice of Andres Segovia. Segovia himself hardly represents a curious choice; but I have grown fonder of the solo works from The American Decca Recordings Vol. 1, not so much the concertos and sonatas with orchestras from other albums. Something about just the man with just his guitar feels just so right on a Friday afternoon.

Corner of Break Room, 12th Floor, SFPUC HQ

Corner of Break Room, 12th Floor, SFPUC HQ

Meanwhile, the Kora, a West African instrument associated with Mali, Senegal and other nations. That instrument produces atmospheric sounds of calm and delicacy, and yet manages to feel a little mysterious at the same time. Today I discovered an older collaboration between Toumani Diabate and Ballake Sissoko entitled New Ancient Strings. You can stream the CD for free on Rdio and hear for yourself why I will purchase it this weekend.

Who was here and what did they discuss? Judging from the chairs, I would say one was a foot taller than the other, and they sat close to each other and practically whispered. I suspect the conversation was both quiet and intense.

Who was here and what did they discuss? Judging from the chairs, I would say one was a foot taller than the other, and they sat close to each other and practically whispered. I suspect the conversation was both quiet and intense.

This morning treated San Franciscans to a typical example of what I call “the grey light.” When the morning’s fog doesn’t let up until sometime past noon, the overcast turns into an translucent filter that softens and diffuses sunlight. In the film industry, we have sheets of translucent paper called “opals” that have the same effect on Fresnels and other lights. This grey light (incidentally, no one else in San Francisco uses this term) illuminated all of these shots today. The interior design palette features heavy use of light green, olive, grey, cornflower blue, mustard and burnt orange, colors that lend themselves to softly lit environments.

Silk Flowers, 3rd Floor, SFPUC HQ

Silk Flowers, 3rd Floor, SFPUC HQ

Perhaps that explains the tendency toward quieter music on my Friday afternoons.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–“Satellite” by the Dave Matthews Band also found its way into my collection.