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?)

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.