Sunday, October 25, 2020

Two submerged trees in the greenest pond

I'm unsure how the trees haven't drowned - they must have enough roots above the waterline (not visible to me) that are balancing it all out?

There always seem to be ducks enjoying the shade beneath these trees.

Happy fish

Recently repainted, from the looks of them! And in such lovely colors.  Milk chocolate and pumpkin, or is that just me being food-obsessed?

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Friday, October 16, 2020

340-plus pages of voting materials

We take voting VERY SERIOUSLY here in San Francisco, and in California.  

The SF voting handbook is more than 230 pages long this election; the state/county book is more than 110 pages long.  This extensive material is provided in part because our laws require that certain topics always be put in front of voters after the legislature and governor approve it, AND because we have a robust and popular initiative process, which allows proposed laws to be put to vote in November if supported by valid voter signatures on petitions.   (The signature requirements are based on a percentage of the population which varies depending on what we are trying to accomplish, say ~620k+ or ~990k+ signatures.  You can read about this on Wikipedia. ) 


Yes, we have more than one election each year, so this isn't covering ALL of the decisions we needed to make in 2020.  

And yes, because we welcome people to become citizens from around the world, we offer ballots in many languages.  The handbook page shown excerpted above (upper right) finally tells me that the Southeast Asian script I didn't recognize in some of our official documents are in Khmer.  (That is SO COOL.)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

My notebooks can be self-critical

I have a series of creative project notebooks, and was hoping to make a book out of some photos taken with my distorting Kodak Duaflex (notice the lack of straight lines in the photo shown).    Only some of the photos I'm after are in the notebook though, which raises questions about what I did with those I remember best...

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Postcard preview - lessons in progress


It's that time again, when I need to refresh my collection of postcards for my postcard exchange club.  As a photographer, I'm honor bound to make my own: while I've found some lovely pre-made cards in bookshops that suit my tastes, people in the club complain about duplicates, and having my own images printed prevents that.  (Also: bookshops are still largely closed here due to COVID-19 restrictions, and while I can order books for pickup, small gift items are not on the menu.)

It's been difficult for me to think about postcards properly: the ones in the shops always seemed so cliché, and I've generally avoided photographing anything famous - I barely can SEE the famous things, due to overexposure to them as symbols of my hometown.  I usually focus on little details that delight me personally, which works for botany, but not so much for easily recognized symbols of a place that someone who has only seen my hometown in movies would want.  

(I also fail to photograph with wide margins around my subjects, which WOULD help with the trimming/printing process, if I realize that my work will be subject to cropping when I print full-bleed (up to/over the edges).  That's a habit that will take a while to sink in... but it frustrates me often - I use the entire frame! - so there are many images I can't use because the subject's edges will be missing in a non-artsy way.  See the cream-and-burgundy streetcar card in the grid above for one that is AT RISK.)

It took repeatedly reading people's wish-lists in the postcard club to understand that there really is an interest in TYPICAL landmarks, TYPICAL famous views, and TYPICAL types of trains and buildings.  They mean it!  I believe them now!

I wrote about how I've been learning about the demand for "tourist cards" on my photography websites blog (yes, I have more sites) two orders ago, and am still learning (and struggling with it a bit).  I now TAKE NOTES when I struggle to fulfil a stated preference, so I can dig into my archive to do better in the future.  


  • I run out of streetcar cards QUICKLY.  
  • There is a higher demand for sunset/seashore photos than I anticipated, but I forget that those of us on the coast are living a dream of landlocked folks.  
  • National Parks requests seem to be rising, and I've started making my own to provide variety from the Ansel Adams landscape cards from Museum Graphics that delight me (not everyone appreciates black and white photography, however), or the Ranger Doug Enterprises WPA postcards (which are both retro and hip - Everyone loves Yellowstone and Zion's images, especially).
  • Single views are preferred over multi-views
  • Since I personally prefer full-bleed images (images that run over the edges, rather than those inset into a smaller frame), I should not be shy about adding colorful boxes to the cards to allow the text to stand out more clearly.  The sky works well as a background, but a busy sky makes for slightly harder reading.  (You should see how many font and color changes I test while laying these out!)
  • Color is preferred over black and white, though black and white has zealous fans
  • Keep it local: collectors sternly want photos from where the sender is, not where we went on vacation or for work
  • There will always be requested topics that I don't specialize in or don't have copyright of (frogs! VanGogh paintings! puppies! outer space!), which gives me excuses to buy postcard books/sets often, especially while visiting museums. One frustration: it's hard to get postcards of work by women: they are not published or available enough.  I am thrilled to have postcard books by Emily Carr (a famous painter from up near Vancouver) and Georgia O'Keefe (famous for the southwest and NY), but should be able to have more options! Also: the postcard books I can get are almost all Europeans or of that ancestry. I've got one by a remarkable Chinese brush painter, Chao Shao-An, but there really should be more!

I'm sure I'll write about this more as I work through my archive, trying to find unscanned film of the Yosemite High Country and ANY photos of redwood forests.  (So many visits - where are the images now?)

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Inside the wrappers

The tomatillo fruit were gorgeous, and sticky in that strange way they are.  Their enclosures are surprisingly strong, and hold together well.

They made an amazing salsa (I used this epicurious recipe for tomatillo salsa with serranos, and it is GREAT), and I am enjoying it still.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

See the World Cyanotype Day submissions at!

 There are some really excellent prints! And the variety is delightful.

World Cyanotype Day 2020 gallery - Interconnected -

The 26th September 2020 is World Cyanotype Day. Below are artists and photographers that have entered a cyanotype on this year's theme "Interconnected". If you see this page on or before 26th September don't hesitate to take part, if you missed it, don't worry, there will be a World Cyanotype Day on the last Saturday ...

Monday, September 28, 2020

Pink street flower

In my first true failure of a reverse image search, the big G search engine tells me this is a rose.  

I don't believe that.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Green wrapped gifts

If you ever needed to keep me distracted, some beautiful Physalis ixocarpa with complete, green calyxes and a basket of Physalis peruviana could both occupy me in study AND result in tasty snacks!

(Aside: These bright indirect light highlights are challenging for my phone in a way I hadn't noticed in other situations, even while having it focus on the brightest areas, there is some blowing out...  The solution would be to get them closer to the light source, so there is less range. It's still funny to see.)

Autumn in tomatoes

It's better than looking for autumn colors in the many wildfires raging in my state.

Lone tomatillo

Physalis ixocarpa, what a beauty you are!

I feel so lucky to have grown up with access to these, especially prepared by others in beloved salsa verde (green sauce).

I received gorgeous tomatillos this week with my produce subscription, carefully wrapped, with the husks fresh and completely intact, and immediately lost my mind wanting to photograph them, because - OF COURSE I DID. You know what I'm like by now. (It's this, a door, a cactus, or a cloud, right?)

I can't find the phone macro lens that I want to use (because it is TINY), or even the phone microscope attachment (less tiny, in a clearly labeled box, SOMEWHERE).

The Wikipedia tomatillo page says that scientists have found tomatillo fossils dating back 52 million years. That is the first thing I learned today. I am trying not to name anything "tomatillo fossil," though there is something satisfying about that combination of words.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Neighborhood flora

The upside of running an errand during a brief window when the air was clean!
Hooray for neighborhood gardeners!

Indoor patterns

You know I love my teleidoscopes.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Indoor sports

So, there's a pandemic on AND a heatwave AND the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups due to wildfire smoke.  Every time I try to get some "fresh" air, I wind up with burning eyes.  So, it's time to catch  up on my photography chores, and that includes doing some Polaroid peel-apart print scanning from my most recent (yet not very recent) outing with my gorgeous Polaroid Land Camera from the early to mid 1960s.

You should be impressed that film that has been in refrigerators since about 2008 still works!  Yes, there are lots of odd edges, spots and areas that just won't develop on some of the prints, but they are kind of charming, in their way.

The only problem with catching up on scanning is that I wonder where other sepia peel-apart prints I made wound up.  I've got some favorites that...  I can't account for.  Where are they now?

Mountains hiding in smoke

The San Francisco Bay Area is still subject to vast plumes of wildfire smoke.  Here's a view north/northwest last night vs. this morning.  (The angle of the sunlight matters a lot.)