Tag Archives: walking

Wood & Stone. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature)

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Good Evening:

Explored Land’s End on Sunday in hopes of snapping a few long-range shots of the coyotes that have made San Francisco their home (yes, coyotes thrive in one of America’s most densely populated cities). Had no intention of getting close–coyotes have foul tempers on their good days, and they never have good days–but had no luck spotting any.

However, did find a number of interesting patterns shaped by nature in the wood and stone.

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Serendipity is a wondrous element of life–finding something you didn’t know you wanted to find can offer at least as much pleasure as finding what you wanted.

Vonn Scott Bair

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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

Sunday Afternoon, Lafayette Street near Natoma.

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Good Evening:

Got a little lucky with this one.

Basketball Hope, Lafayette Street, San Francisco, California, 29 March 2015, 1:53 p.m.

Basketball Hope, Lafayette Street, San Francisco, California, 29 March 2015, 1:53 p.m.

Taken with an iPhone 6 Plus, edited in iPhoto.

Vonn Scott Bair

The World of the Eating & the World of the Hungry in San Francisco’s Civic Center.

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Good Evening:

During a recent Friday lunch hour, I had to run a few errands and that including walking through the food trucks and tables that take over San Francisco’s Civic Center every Friday starting at noon. At one point, I found myself halfway between what felt like separate worlds.

Approximately fifteen feet to my left:

Food Trucks and Court at San Francisco Civic Center

Food Trucks and Court at San Francisco Civic Center

Approximately ten feet to my right:

Broke - Hungry Anything Helps!!! God Bless

Broke – Hungry Anything Helps!!! God Bless

And when I returned after completing my errands:

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I swear it almost looks like worship.

I get why San Francisco has once again become such a fascinating subject for pontificators and opinionators in the pontificating and opinionating industries. No other city combines such a ridiculously high median income ($96,000!) with such visible displays of poverty and hunger. Separate worlds of The Eating and The Hungry, as it were. Also, the disappearing middle class disappears here at a faster rate than most other places in America, as far as I know. I am not a professional journalist, just an amateur observer with a limited perspective, so perhaps other places exist where the contrasts between haves and have-nots is even more spectacular–possibly Wisconsin, for one.

Of course I don’t, can’t, have no right, and absolutely refuse to complain. Although my income is less than two-thirds of San Francisco’s median, I can get by rather well, thank you. I can even retire much earlier than most people, although “retirement” is a misnomer in my case–actors and writers just plain don’t.

But San Francisco’s haves–they have it real good. They can afford Leap, a sort of private public transit system, where for $6 (!), they can ride in a bus where they can spend even more money on Blue Bottle coffee and organic pastries, plus indulge in Leap’s social media component (free cyberstalking with every fare!). Apparently, I am not allowed to ride on Leap. Oh, I can afford the $6; sadly, if the advertising is any indication, Leap is limited to San Franciscans less than 30 years old. Darn it.

On the bright side, if I had a car, I could hire someone to park it.

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Oops, wait–looks like I’m too old for this one, too. Darn it.

While I understand the importance of a healthy, stable, preferably even growing middle class, and while I understand the potential economic harm to America resulting from an ever-shrinking middle class, I wonder at all of the attention we middle-class folk have received. Should circumstances ever become economically impossible for me to continue living in San Francisco, I have options–Los Angeles being an obvious choice for someone who already has 15 or so credits in the Internet Movie Database. I have resources.

In the world of The Hungry, people don’t have resources.

San Francisco has seen an explosion in the number of homeless, and I don’t think it can all consist of other states exporting their mentally ill to my city. Again, I’m not a professional journalist, and I don’t have facts, figures and statistics, but a lot of the newly homeless who set up homeless encampments at night in places like the block on Market Street near 2nd Street (in our Financial District) must have recently lost their homes in San Francisco and had no place to go.

The American middle class is in danger of losing their financial well-being. But what of the people who already have?

When does that become an issue?

Vonn Scott Bair

Garry Winogrand Had It Easy! (A Serendip of San Franciscans, Part 2, 11 March 2015)

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Good Evening:

So did Gordon Parks. So did all of those New York photographers in the post-WWII era who roamed the streets, letting their cameras dangle at their side, using what I call The 30 Shot technique to capture the lives of ordinary people around them and proving that neither they nor their lives were ordinary.

In those days, people looked around themselves, they engaged themselves in the world around themselves. In many photographs from that era, the subjects look directly into the camera, which makes me suspect that very large ones drew people’s attention.

Today, people on the street do not engage themselves in the world around themselves.

Market Near Van Ness, San Francisco, California, 3:01 p.m., 11 March 2015.

Market Near Van Ness, San Francisco, California, 3:01 p.m., 11 March 2015.

They absorb themselves in their own.

This is not a nice thing to do to second-rate hack amateur photographers such as myself.

Upper Haight, San Francisco, California, 2:17 p.m., 8 March 2015.

Upper Haight, San Francisco, California, 2:17 p.m., 8 March 2015.

How does a second-rate hack amateur such as myself capture The Decisive Moment as described by my boy the HC-B (Henri Cartier-Bresson, or however he spelled his name) where no decisive moment exists for the capturing? These next three pictures took less than 30 seconds and captured scenes no more than 50 feet apart from each other.

San Francisco City Hall, 12 March 2015.

San Francisco City Hall, 12 March 2015.

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What the heck is interesting in these?!

Cell phones have not become the photographer’s friend, they have become our enemy. Sure, it feels good to know that when you need a camera you already have one, and yes, the best camera in the world is the one you have in your hand right now. The trouble is that cell phones, especially the ones smarter than us, make our potential subjects less interesting because their faces look downward, you can hardly see them..

Look at these two.

Upper Haight, San Francisco, California, 2:19 p.m., 8 March 2015

Upper Haight, San Francisco, California, 2:19 p.m., 8 March 2015

Yes, they are friends, yes they are together, and yes they are hanging out with each other on a perfect weekend afternoon in the Upper Haight, but are they really together, are they really hanging out with each other–or are they hanging out with their phones and treating each other like accessories?

See what I mean?

Never mind that people nowadays do not present themselves as ideal subjects for random street photographers–even if that does pose problems for second-rate amateur hacks. They live in of the most interesting cities on by far the most interesting known planet in the universe (know anywhere else you might find chocolate ice cream or a duck-billed platypus or chocolate duck-billed platypus ice cream?)–and yet they do not live in suitably interesting fashion.

Missing out on the world in which they live means more than just missing out–it also means almost getting themselves killed. Yesterday I espied a woman who walked into Market Street traffic against the light and nearly walked into the bus taking me home from work. She had no idea that cars swerved around her, and I strongly believe she never saw nor sensed the 50 foot long bus into which she nearly walked.

Come on people. Put the phone down.

And smile. I might be taking your picture.

Vonn Scott Bair

Two Twosomes, One Threesome, One Haight, 13 December 2014.

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Good Morning:

Yesterday morning proved a good time for candid photography at the intersection of Haight & Masonic. Especially groupings, for some reason. All photographs taken with my old point-and-shoot. The first required the least editing, just a crop in iPhoto:

Waiting for the 43-Masonic Bus, 13 December 2014

Waiting for the 43-Masonic Bus, 13 December 2014

The second needed a bit of work. The sunlight was brighter, and the shadows darker, than normal, so after cropping, I had to tone down the bright yellow and sky blue while decreasing the shadows. Worth the effort; they sure look like they enjoyed themselves.

Morning Stroll, Haight & Masonic, 13 December 2014

Morning Stroll, Haight & Masonic, 13 December 2014

The third required the most work, thanks to that extreme brightness on the right and the deep shadows on the left. After cropping and straightening, I finally had to make a copy of the original and convert to black and white. But that was hardly routine. If you own iPhoto, my final settings consisted of these: Exposure, 0.96; Contrast, +10; Saturation, 0; Definition, 100; Highlights, 100; Shadows, 35; and Sharpness, 100.

Hand in Hand in Hand, Haight Street, San Francisco, California, 13 December 2014

Hand in Hand in Hand, Haight Street, San Francisco, California, 13 December 2014

I would imagine that threesomes require more than the work, so perhaps it’s appropriate that the shot did, too..

Vonn Scott Bair

Happy Hour, Friday Afternoon. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle)

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Good Evening:

Twinkling lights at a cafe at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

Happy Hour, Friday Afternoon, San Francisco, California

Happy Hour, Friday Afternoon, San Francisco, California

Vonn Scott Bair