Growing by the Bay

Category: photography

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

I visited Muir Woods yesterday (in the company of a couple of beautiful women) via the main entrance and found it quite crowded — the only parking was a good ways down the road from the auxiliary lot. That’s one of the reasons we normally enter from the Pantoll or Bootjack trails. But the main redwood grove by the entrance really is quite spectacular, and I took a few pictures..

I’ve been taking pictures in Muir Woods for decades, but I feel it’s a difficult subject: it’s both very low (and quite green) light and also — perversely enough from the photographer’s standpoint — high contrast. Probably the best as a general rule would be a low ASA setting, a small aperture, and a very long exposure using a tripod. I didn’t have that luxury however, as I was just shooting with my trusty Canon A630. Still, these low-res samples might capture something of the feel of the day. (Expand to full screen or click through to the Flickr page for better views.)

San Francisco skyline

This photo of the San Francisco skyline was taken from a rooftop on Potrero Hill.

Love (now get back to work)

Here’s a belated valentine for back-to-work day following Valentine’s Day and the Presidents Day holiday. For Valentine’s Day Namastenancy linked to Robert Indiana’s Love painting — though a different version than the one featured on the SFMOMA web site, which I won’t show since it carries a copyright notice from the artist (so much for free love).

The sculpture in Philadelphia’s JFK Plaza (“Love Park”) is fair game though. Here’s a photo I took a few years ago.

love park, philadelphia


San Francisco skyline from Port View Park, Oakland

san francisco from port view park

While we’re checking out the SF skyline, here’s a closer view, from Port View Park in Oakland.


Photo Wednesday

child and leaves near moscone center

This charming photo, taken near Moscone center, is from roger jones’ photostream.


The city as it was

cable car postcard from 1960s

David Newman administs a Flickr pool called San FranGone: The City as It Was. Here you can find photos, postcards (such as the mid-a960s cable car above), and maps ranging from the nineteenth century to fairly recently. Newsom says:

Please post your image in this group if:

You can’t go there anymore (i.e. Playland-at-the-Beach)

If the person, place or thing has changed significantly since the image was made (i.e. SF Bay with ferries, before the bridges were built)

This sheet music cover dates from 1917.

frisco china town sheet music

Hanging out on Haight and Masonic during the Summer of Drugs Love:

summer of love fashions

My publishing company used to occupy the entire first floor of the tower portion of the Call Building, the tallest building, I think, to survive the earthquake.

historic call bldg, san francisco

The pool has some limitations. A few posters somewhat overwhelm the rest, and there are quite a few more pictures of someone named Leo than I really need. While the pool is fun to browse, it is very difficult to find anything in particular. I think the pool should be subdivided by decade, subject, or neighborhood.

For more click on the screenshot below.

san fran gone: historic sf

Photo Wednesday: Filbert steps mosaic

This photo of the Filbert Steps from EricGjerde’s photostream

is actually a composite of many photos, as this detail shows:


Exporatorium Roof Cam

The Exploratorium has a pretty cool roof cam. It is set to shift its view every fifteen minutes, or you can select from several presets.

If several people are visiting the site at the same time they queue up to take turns controlling the camera. When you are in control of the camera you have the ability to scroll right/left and up/down. You can also zoom out or in, between 1x wide angle and 25x telephoto).

The presets include:

Golden Gate Bridge

Wind Surfing Area


Golden Gate Bridge Approach

Palace of Fine Arts Lagoon

Weeping Women at Palace of Fine Arts

The Exploratorium’s Weather Station

Another Bridge View (this is the one shown above)

And the Wave Organ (an Exploratorium project with artist-in-residence Peter Richards)


Photo Friday

Bubbles and balloons in Golden Gate Park, from brokenchopstick’s photostream.

bubbles and balloons in golden gate park

San Francisco Bay Area Photo Destinations

A good group of Flickr photosets by Thomas Hawke, who also has a set on San Francisco neighborhoods. Click the screenshot to visit the site.

bay area photo destinations

San Francisco skyline from Bay Bridge

san francisco skyline from bay bridge

Here’s a view of the San Francisco skyline that I took from a car crossing the bridge a while back. I’m posting it because, unlike the Golden Gate Bridge, there is no pedestrian walkway on the Bay Bridge, and since stopping is prohibited one rarely sees this angle on the city in photographs.

Lee Friedlander retrospective at SFMOMA

 photography by lee friedlander

From February 23 through May 18, SFMOMA will presents an exhibition of photographic works by Lee Friedlander (the show was organized by organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York). B in the D, when photography was getting a little full of itself, Friedlander infused it with irony and energy. His B/W photos often have remarkable immediacy, and they are always cunningly framed. The SFMOMA show will present some 500 of his photographs.

Lee Friedlander, Nude, 1982, Gelatin silver print 8 1/16 x 12 1/16” (20.4 x 30.7 cm). Purchase The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2006 Lee Friedlander

A San Francisco webcam

san francisco webcam

Don Strickler has a webcam with a nice view of the bay. It’s located about 900 feet above sea level in Sausalito. The images are captured by a 3-megapixel NetCam XL.

Strickler, now based in Sonoma, also has a wine-related blog.

Muybridge’s San Francisco panoramas

muybridge panorama of san francisco, 1877

Eadweard Muybridge produced two panoramas of the city. This one, made in January 1877 (the same year he produced photographic evidence that a trotting horse may lift all four hooves off the ground), was shot from the Mark Hopkins Mansion at California and Mason. Muybridge used 13 different cameras to make the image. At America Hurrah you can click the panorama thumbnails to see larger versions.

UPDATE: The American Hurrah link has gone bad. One place you can still find at least a portion of a larger version is cameraplex. (There the first panorama is dated to 1878.) Below is a detail.

Muybridge, San Francisco panorama, detail, ca 1877-78

Muybridge, San Francisco panorama, detail, ca 1877-78.

Low-Altitude San Francisco

Aerial photos, a flickr set. Shown: Golden Gate Park, looking southeast.

golden gate park

Lily and snake

water lily and snake at University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley

Here’s another in my series of photos of water lilies. This is from the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. With this one you get a bonus: a water snake on one of the pads.

Lily 1 (Getty Villa)
Lily 2 (San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers) (Illustrator artwork)
More to come …

Secret List of Buildings You Can’t Photograph

bay bridge, san francisco

I took this photo of the Bay Bridge from the Ferry Building. But a while ago when my daughter was at the Ferry Building she was accosted by a security guy as she was shooting pictures. I suppose much of my photography is travel photography, whereas Ellen is more of an art photographer. So she might shoot unusual subjects, sometimes from odd perspectives. In this case she appears to have pointed her camera the wrong way, because a security guy grabbed her and tried to intimidate her with a a lot of questions. Then he took her to his supervisor, and together they continued the interrogation, which ended with them taking down a lot of her personal information.

Well, it turns out the Department of Homeland Security has a secret list of buildings that must not be photographed — but they won’t release the list. Marc Fisher quotes a police chief in the Washington Post:

I am certainly not implying that a person taking photographs is inherently “suspicious,” but when the appearance is that the subject of a photograph is a government installation, officers have a duty to ensure the safety of the occupants of this structure.

To which Fisher replies:

Hmmm. Any government installation? This overly broad approach to security is why we end up with ridiculous horror stories about innocent tourists getting hassled for taking photos of the Lincoln Memorial or the Department of the Interior … utterly ignoring the fact that the Soviet empire collapsed under the weight of its own paranoid security apparatus….

Boing Boing
Washington Post

Golden Gate Bridge, Sunset

I guess if you’re doing a San Francisco-related blog sooner or later you have to post a sunset shot of the bridge. San Francisco is not really known for spectacular sunsets — something to do with the fog, the latitude, the climate, I don’t know. But occasionally we get a stunner. This picture was taken from the Oakland hills earlier this year.

golden gate bridge at sunset

San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

snow in golden gate park, 1932

The San Francisco Public Library’s historical photograph collection is a great resource for old photos of San Francisco, such as this one of snow in Golden Gate Park in 1932. You can search the database online, and if you want print-quality photos you can order them very cheaply. I got several of the photos for Bridge to Understanding, my book on the Asian Art Museum, from this collection.

San Francisco, May 28, 1906


San Francisco in ruins, 1906. Be sure to view the large version via the link!

San Francisco in ruins, 1906. Be sure to view the large version via the link!

Here is a remarkably detailed (7000 pixels wide) photo of the city in the wake of the ’06 earthquake and fire. According to the legend on the photo, it was taken from the Lawrence Captive Airship. The photo was marked “copyright the Geo R. Lawrence Co., Chicago,” but works from 1906 have passed into the public domain. Click the image above for a larger view. (When you are at the image you might have to click again to zoom in.)

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