Thursday, December 31, 2020

Mirrors and foam

The beach was popular today, but in a physically distanced, safe, responsible way.  

Also: Slow Streets still has all of the Great Highway OPEN to pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, and all other non-motorized recreation, which means the roadway was filled with more socially distanced exercise.  (It's always so strange to hear pedestrians speaking about the road being "closed," just because cars aren't on it...)

Foam line

One of my great moments of joy today was watching one of the two dogs at the top of this image lose its mind entirely while chasing blowing sea foam.  It was madness and happy barking!  I like sea foam, but that dog LOVES sea foam.

Streaked sky

It got up to about 54 degrees Fahrenheit today (12.2 Celcius).  I love the Bay Area!

This sky looks like a pastel drawing to me.  By someone with much more pastel drawing talent than I have ever had.

High sun

It was beautiful.  Also, the wind in my ears gave me a headache, because I wore the wrong kind of hat.  (I'm a FOOL!)

Fiery ice plant

I should learn to draw and watercolor these, since I am always so interested in their glow when they are backlit...

Less famous windmill

This is the Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park, along with a house associated with its keeper.  (You can read about this windmill here at Wikipedia.)  It was theoretically the largest in the world at the time of its construction in 1908 (because: Americans).  It was disassembled for repair for years, and so I'm still surprised to see this restored version.

Yes, I took too many photos of it, especially its blade-side.  (I'm sparing you those today.)  Yes, I'm just appreciating the scale and profile of it here, and the little family picnic scene in the foreground.

Misty near shore


Living in California means perennials are always around, and something is always blooming, even in December!  Hooray for the Mediterranean Climate Zone!

December blossoms with red & green leaves

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Serious postage variety

All in a day's mail: stamps from the UK, the Netherlands, and Taiwan!  

These kinds of stamp collages are a sign that my pen friends are rather SERIOUS about their mail.

Note that the Taiwan stamp on the right excited me too much, because it's a fruit I haven't tried.  The translated name appears to be "Thai wax apple," which is a specialty of Taiwan, but I haven't seen one in real life yet.  

Monday, December 28, 2020

Sunday afternoon, looking east from Lake Merced

Northeast more than east, I suppose.  The hills in the background include (left to right): Golden Gate Heights, Forest Hill, Twin Peaks (marked by red and white striped Sutro Tower to the left of its range; the peaks are hidden in trees), Diamond Heights (probably), and Mount Davidson (with a concrete cross on it).  There are other hills in the foreground, but they don't all have names - our city is too hilly for that outside of real estate listings.

Soft, muted shore

We are so lucky to have a large, natural lake here in San Francisco...  

It is such a shame that it is surrounded by cars.  On the east side in particular, cars operate at nearly freeway speeds, and you can see the worried look of parents on the shared sidewalk/bike path as their kids wobble beside cars zooming past...  

Sunday gold

It's exciting to see the yellow version of this!!  I think it is some type of crocosmia cross, but I don't know with what - it is longer than the crocosmia I usually see.  

Friday, December 25, 2020

Recent Netherlands stamps from a friend

I should share more images of the lovely stamps my pen friends use...  Since I write a lot of postcards and letters, and have a few friends who write back, I've got some nice international stamps going back to...  1984?  The Postcard stamps from Postcrossing are especially nice, and I should show more of those off here.  

Friday, December 18, 2020

Holiday lights

I am easily mesmerized by the color-cycling light show these put on...  *happy sigh*

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Friday, November 27, 2020

Warm glow

This was satisfying.  The sun sets every day, but it was wonderful to take some time to really appreciate it, and pay attention to it.

Sinking sun

It's hard to read the sun as it loses its edge.  My eyes kept showing me a line through it, as if it was sinking behind a fence...  It also looked strangely flat on top, for no apparent reason.  Here you can see that it looks like it is penetrating the horizon line in a way that doesn't merely look reflective...  Fun with optics!

Strolling along the shore

It's nice to see people at a safe distance through some means OTHER THAN ZOOM.  Also, it's nice to see people having fun, and clearly enjoying being outdoors.

At the beach

It has been cold in the mornings (in the 40s Fahrenheit), but the afternoons have been lovely, and lure us out with their brightness.

Light through the eucalyptus trees

We're so lucky to have such a fantastic collection of outdoor parks and natural spaces in our dense little City.  


There has been a TON of hard work in weeding and clearing trash that has blown or sunk or otherwise turned up along the Lake Merced Basin, and I admire the effort that went into it.  (Below the bottom edge of this photo are garbage bags, part of an old row boat, and other debris...)  It feels like this view of this particular grove is completely new.

So yellow

Plants are cheerful in their perfection...

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Wednesday watercolors (watercolor crayons)

I like to draw with crayons.  Grown-up crayons.  Water soluble Swiss crayons.  Sometimes touched up with watercolor pencils.  (Also grown-up, and in this case also Swiss.)

I'm warming up to another project, one based on things representing reality, but this is RELAXING.  I need to relax so much more than I do.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Presidio in November Sunshine

I was going to set up a photo gallery for my walk with my hiking pod today, but my photos are just so much of the same old same old...  

Sands, but not of time

Yes, I do like the patterns that wind and water make.

Autumn on my mind

Autumn manifests in subtle and lovely ways here in San Francisco...

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Orange glow, tiny screen

SO HALLOWEEN, this sky.

Salt-avoiding Cypress

This looks like one I might draw...

Orange Halloween Sky

The fog bank offshore lends some variety.  Despite having the marine layer relatively close, it was a very warm evening - I was out without sleeves, and was quite comfortable.

Exiting the Gate

Container ships really get going after they pass through the Golden Gate - it's remarkable what distance they cover when they go full speed...  Also, they really should be covered with solar sails, shouldn't they?  And maybe regular sails?

(Ocean Beach in the foreground; modern Cliff house at center right; Mt. Tamalpais' peak just left and above it, beyond the hills in between, spreading to the ship on the center left; a bit of Point Reyes' mountains in the front of the ship at left.  The rocks between the boat and the Cliff House are Seal Rock(s), brought to you by the same creative minds who named the beach Ocean Beach. (Ha!)  Given more observation, they might now prefer to call them Loud Gull Rocks.)

Sunset screen

The sun didn't set into the horizon line of the sea on Halloween; it sunk into a fog bank off the coast.  But it still made for a pretty dusk.

Spreckels Lake in the evening

Drawn-on Star

The deep red-violet five points look SO drawn on with a watercolor marker...  by someone really skilled! :)

(Spot the) Hummingbird

My phone camera was NOT made for this kind of challenge....  Those little wings move so fast!  And we were in the shade, so the light was relatively low...

Long shadow

Festival atmosphere (and crowds)

San Francisco has done an amazing job of keeping the COVID-19 infection level under control, but this still threw me for a loop.  This is an overlapping collection of large Halloween parties.  Yes, it's outdoors.  Yes, the DJ that I could hear (broadcasting from atop a bus) was playing my kind of music.  But it still alarmed me to see so many people in one place.  

Some of these groups really were keeping their distance from others.

I kept my distance.

Many pointed buds

Round Stowed Sun

Duck watch

These involving too much zooming, but I am impressed by the complexity of patterns on the average duck.  I also love that blue racing stripe hidden in there!

deYoung corner

It looks dramatic in the autumn afternoon light... 

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?)