Tag Archives: nikon coolpix S9100

Street People in San Francisco, Saturday, 13 September 2014. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity)

Standard

Good Morning:

Saturday morning had me up and running early, performing chores. For starters, I bought breakfast for the actors, directors and playwrights participating in a 24-hour theater festival (where you write, rehearse and perform a set of short plays in 24 hours, and yes it can be done). No matter where I went up and down Market Street, I saw something like this:

Market Street Near 7th, 13 September 2014

Market Street Near 7th, 13 September 2014

At 7:00 a.m. on a weekend morning, San Francisco’s homeless are still asleep on Market Street. Something so obvious to me now to which I had been so oblivious before: old age. Our homeless population has aged before our eyes and now they have to cope with advancing years.

Powell & Ellis, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Powell & Ellis, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

And with age comes increasing physical disabilities. Oblivious me, I had never noticed the canes and wheelchairs before.

Powell Street Cable Car Turnaround, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Powell Street Cable Car Turnaround, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Sutter & Powell Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Sutter & Powell Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Market Street, near Stockton and 4th Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Market Street, near Stockton and 4th Streets, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco, 13 September 2014

Polk Street Near Fulton, San Francisco, 12 September 2014

Polk Street Near Fulton, San Francisco, 12 September 2014

San Francisco has one of the largest gaps between the richest and poorest in America, and that gap becomes most obvious early on Saturday morning.

All photos taken Saturday, 13 September 2014 (except for the last, 8:00 a.m., 12 September 2014) with my point-and-shoot, cropped, edited and converted to B&W using iPhoto.

Vonn Scott Bair

Advertisements

Dogs and Their Humans (Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue)

Standard

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

Mirror & Roll-Up Gate, South of Market District, San Francisco, 14 Sept 2013 (Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns)

Standard

Good Evening: 

You might see as many 5-7 posts from me on this subject. Sorry. Camera: Nikon CoolPix S9100 digital point-and-shoot; Landscape Mode; converted to B&W and other edits made in iPhoto.

Mirror & Roll-Up Gate, South of Market District, San Francisco, 14 September 2013

Mirror & Roll-Up Gate, South of Market District, San Francisco, 14 September 2013

Vonn Scott Bair

The 30 Shot (Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV)

Standard

Good Evening:

What do you do when you want to take a photograph? Chances are that you lift your camera up to your eyes, zoom in or out depending upon the shot, maybe fiddle with a few other controls, and then snap the shot. For this post, I request that you consider a different take on taking pictures, creating a different POV using a different POV.

Wait, Did I Just Take a Picture? Haight Street in Front of McDonald's, 27 August 2006

Wait, Did I Just Take a Picture by Accident? Haight Street in Front of McDonald’s, 27 August 2006

For a long time, I’ve wanted a means of taking/performing/committing street photography inconspicuously, without anyone realizing that a photographer (gasp!) lurked in the vicinity. Took me a while to realize that I always had such a technique available. Occurred in the photograph above, occurred in the photograph below.

Cigarette Break at the End of a Rough Day, San Francisco, California

Cigarette Break at the End of a Rough Day, San Francisco, California

I sometimes snapp pictures by accident–an involuntary twitch of the right forefinger, and the shutter closes. In the past, I had reflexively, without thinking, deleted them from the camera and/or my computer. But a few months ago, I took in the Garry Winogrand exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art shortly before it closed for renovations.

Stunning experience. Winogrand often did on purpose what I had done by accident (and had always assumed was a blunder). What had always seemed a dumb but temporary waste of pixels had constituted a major part of the work of one of those great photographers I had never heard of because I know so dang little about photography. Then I remembered a scene from the Costa-Gravas movie Z in which a photojournalist interviews the widow of the assassinated politician, sneaking photographs of her with a camera that seems to dangle uselessly at his side. I figured out that one can take pictures without even looking at the subject!

I call it The 30 Shot–largely because I have no idea what term professionals use.

The technique requires a small point and shoot digital camera with a very large view finder window. I zoom out as much as possible and use the default Landscape setting, then just let the camera dangle at my side. The lens hangs roughly 30 inches above the ground, hence my name for the shot. But the technique proved very difficult for me to learn and led to a lot of hopeless but deletable mistakes. I took all of the following shots in the past few days using a Nikon CoolPix S9100. I have not edited any of them for reasons I’ll mention later.

The biggest mistake: simply missing the shot.

DSCN8253

Yes. I would call that a miss.

Another problem I encountered consisted of horribly tilted angles that even editing in iPhoto couldn’t cure. I finally solved this through practice. Find a long stretch of flat road (think that’s easy in San Francisco?), with a brick or cinder block wall, something with long straight lines running parallel to the ground. Practice walking while pointing the camera at those lines and keeping it both steady and untilted.

The goal is to develop what actors call muscle memory. Try to remember the stress on your wrist and fingers as you hold the camera level. Once you do that, you can take pictures without looking at your subjects knowing that the results will turn out level or more often, almost level but easily fixable. Something like this.

DSCN8196

Not a masterpiece of course, but with cropping, correcting the tilt, and adjusting the light and dark areas (actually, I’m thinking B&W), should be an acceptable picture.

If you walk past a sitting subject, take a batch of shots, one quick one after another. Some will slightly miss:

DSCN8251

One or two will prove usable.

DSCN8250

Correct tilt, bright and dark spots, get rid of that bleeping pigeon, and I’ll have another adequate shot. I took 6 pictures of this gentleman rooting through his bad and deleted 4. No regrets–and no regrets are a vital part of The 30 Shot because believe me, you will miss far too many great shots.

I’ve learned a couple of other interesting techniques: first, that you don’t want take a shot as your foot hits the ground because it produces blur (unless you want the blur for artistic effect); and you can twist the camera around so that you take pictures of subjects directly behind you without even knowing what you’re photographing. Such as this man:

DSCN8220

A good example of the virtues of zooming out as much as possible. When I edit copies of this picture, I can crop it many different ways to produce many different new pictures. Megapixels are meaningless most of the time; I have no idea why people obsess over them (the sensor and the lens are far more important). Cropping is the one time when I do want the megapixels; however, even here the “mere” 12 megapixels I have are more than good enough for editing purposes. An 8×10 or even a 9×13 will look good.

Potentially, my mistakes can prove a lot of fun, and that is a very good thing because I make a lot of mistakes, no, I make a LOT of mistakes. Precision of expression is good. Whenever I practice The 30 Shot, I end up deleting 60-80 per cent of the pictures because they are truly hopeless. Not a problem. My definition of A Real Photographer is someone who can take 100 pictures, upload them to a computer, study each one carefully, edit each one as best as possible–and then delete all 100. Obviously, I am not A Real Photographer.

But the mistakes will sometimes amuse me.

DSCN8258 DSCN8188

This next one deserves some photographic love and affection and tender loving care. I wanted to photograph a young couple walking their hyperactive Shih Tzu, but three of the shots missed badly (and I deleted them), while the fourth yielded this:

DSCN8324

Look at how her posture almost exactly mimics the man reflected in the glass! Can you also see the reflection of a second man’s legs in the marble? Similar posture! This is a Garry Winogrand type of shot, very typical of his late period work where he would ignore the rules about including the entire person in the picture. I think he actually The 30 Shot or another technique akin to it. No, no, of course I’m not even close to his level of quality, but I think Winogrand took a lot of shots using a similar technique. Of course I’ll convert to B&W because I’ve never seen a Winogrand photograph in color, and I’ll crop the left and bottom edges a bit. If presentable, I will present the finished results in a later post.

I do think that all of these shots would have been even worse had I taken them at eye level. Something about keeping the lens 30 inches above the ground seems to produce better angles and therefore results, esp. when the objets d’art are sitting. I can’t explain why. Please don’t think I’m trying to teach you anything, because I have no idea what I’m doing. Really, I don’t want to teach; I want to share how I’m learning. This post represents me as a student, not a teacher.

The final shot–perhaps–has the most potential.

DSCN8257

Let us not kid ourselves; right now the photo is a complete mess. Total disaster. The shadows are too dark, the whites are too bright, and you can’t tell that’s her helmet she’s removing from her head. But the composition, and the story it tells of their relationship at that moment in time (more like that millisecond in time) means that I might have (accidentally, of course) captured Henri Cartier-Bresson’s beloved Decisive Moment.

And that is why I have edited none of these photos so far. I’ve concluded that my previous commitment to “editing in the camera,” while a good idea, should have never become an absolute rule. All of the professional photographers I know edit their pictures, believing that taking the picture is only the beginning, not the end. So I will take this messy collection of bad photographs and teach myself how to edit them.

Presenting the results later–assuming I have anything worth presenting.

Vonn Scott Bair

Chronicle of a Death & Resurrection Foretold (Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV)

Standard

Good Evening:

I have already written of the Anti-Masterpiece of Van Ness Avenue Architecture: what makes the POV of this series of pictures not just unusual but unique is I took every picture from the 8th, 10th or 12th floors of the Public Utilities Commission HQ on Golden Gate Avenue. The result: a POV that most people can’t access. Of course, City Hall, a true masterpiece of civic architecture rather messes up each picture–aside from getting between the office building and my camera, it adds much too much beauty to the scene. Nonetheless, I present a bunch of pix of one of San Francisco’s ugliest buildings, in chronological order starting with the oldest.

All pictures taken with either an iPhone 4 or Nikon CoolPix S9100 through tinted glass windows, so the colors might look a tad odd.

DSCN3639 DSCN6844

“Wait one moment. Is this building getting dismantled?!”

Indeed it is. Taken apart piece by piece. They have already gutted its innards, now come the “outards.”

DSCN6844 DSCN6970 DSCN7123

There you have it: the death of an obsolete and ugly office building, a chronicle foretold. Yet this tale is also a chronicle of a resurrection foretold. As you will see, the steel frame is not coming down.

DSCN7412 DSCN7677

This is a story not of recycling, but of Recycling on Performance Enhancing Drugs. As I walked past the (de)construction site, I asked one of the laborers when the steel would come down. He told me that they will not dismantle the building’s frame, not one little bit.

DSCN7824 DSCN8223

“Condos. Three-Fifty, start.”

The building will be recycled. To translate from the real-estate-ese, the skyscraper will become the massive home of condominiums with a starting price of $350,000 for tiny units perhaps one-half the size of my apartment. And the clear implication: potential home seekers have already made inquiries, perhaps even offers.

We reuse everything in San Francisco. I’m sure the HVAC they install will prove vastly more energy-efficient than the old disaster. Furthermore, the exterior will look much better, if only by default.

I do wonder about one question: will it open before the second half of 2015? The scuttlebutt around City Hall (“scuttlebutt:” one of the words I most enjoy saying, along with “serendipity,” “flummox,” and “jimsonweed”) lately goes something like this: the housing boom, and the intense demand for housing, will peak in 2014. The housing bust will begin in the second half of 2015. The more you think about it, the more that should amaze non-San Franciscans. San Francisco, which has an exclusively boom-and-bust economy, has had so many booms and so many busts that we can actually schedule our busts.

Not that we want busts. But we can schedule them.

Vonn Scott Bair

Outside Lands 2013 (Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways)

Standard

Good Evening:

Since I had already purchased a ticket to this year’s Outside Lands Festival, I hauled my digital point & shoot plus my iPhone 4 along with me to try and get some decent shots for this week’s theme. While the interesting bark of a nearby tree proved a cooperative addition to my Grey Series…

DSCN7159 DSCN7158

…human beings are another matter. They have a tendency to move, darn it…

DSCN7296 DSCN7302

…which made it very difficult to capture the exact same shot two ways.

Really, human beings should make a greater effort to understand the needs of photographers.

Another interesting complication consisted of how a good shot in landscape orientation became a bad shot in portrait orientation, and vice verse, if I did not change the zoom. I haven’t inspected my shots that closely (busy week), but it appears that none of the pairs of shots I took with the same settings were both good. The semi-decent ones required either zooming in or out, such as this pair.

DSCN7167 DSCN7169

The final pair for tonight is an odd couple: the only pair taken with my iPhone 4; taken at dusk when the light was much dimmer; heavily pixelated due to the camera’s struggle with the lighting conditions; and yet somehow the final result is, for lack of a better term, kinda sorta almost kinda sort neat.

IMG_5334 IMG_5333

Sorry for the use of the high-falutin photography lingo in the previous paragraph.

Vonn Scott Bair