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Land’s End, SF

Perhaps the last weekend of the year before the first rain, which they tell us could come as soon as Thursday. I hope it is true for the sake of the victims of the fires, as well as for all of us breathing the smoke that has been blown down here on the wind.

There’s a thin coating of ash on everything, from plants to cars. I am amazed at how far the smoke and ash can travel. There has been plenty where I live, a good 60 miles away. The wind turned and we had good air again this weekend. But it does make you think about what the world would be like if we allowed as much pollution as can be spewed into the atmosphere unchecked. I read that the air quality here was on par with Beijing. I can’t imagine having to live with it all the time.

I also can’t imagine why anybody would oppose steps to stop us from destroying the earth. It seems like such a basic thing to me. Without air to breathe, what is the point of anything? Even those who don’t claim to care about nature, animals- what about themselves? Surely everyone is selfish enough to want air to breathe.

I recently finished a book, Death’s End, the third in Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem trilogy, and one of the passages described the symbiotic relationship between life (plants, animals, etc) and atmosphere and water on planets. Without an atmosphere, the water evaporates or freezes. Without water, no life (as we understand it). But without life (plants balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide) there can be no atmosphere. So it is like a closed circle- no life without atmosphere, no atmosphere without life.

Everywhere else we have looked in space, there is nothing. Only dark cold death. So what the heck people? Are we really this short sighted?

Hurricanes, flooding, fires, there will only be more and more as the ocean and air temperatures rise.

I guess I went off on a tangent. It’s just really nice to be able to walk around outside, you know? I didn’t like being trapped inside because the air is deemed unhealthy to breathe. Of course this is nothing compared to actually being in the fire itself and losing one’s life or property.

Anyway, pictures.

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Morning Fall Forest

A few more pictures from yesterday’s hike in Wunderlich park. That fall morning light is just so nice. For these photos I decided not to edit them aside from a tiny bit of cropping. Usually I do edit my photos in Camera Raw, just adjusting the contrast, color correction, etc. Sometimes they look so nice straight out of the camera, I don’t feel it’s needed.

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SF MoMA II

A little more than a year ago I posted photos from a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern art. I took a completely different approach to photographing the museum this time, with an eye toward my current obsession with black and white photo-editing. Last year I took only a 100 mm lens, meaning I took a lot of close shots. Today, I brought only my 10-18 mm ultra wide lens, resulting in expansive shots. I brought a similar philosophy about taking photos at a museum however- rather than taking pictures of artwork, I try to compose shots that are interesting on their own, which may contain artwork but are also about the building itself, or a compelling juxtaposition between multiple elements. Or the crazy color of the completely red bathrooms. Couldn’t resist.

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October Leaf and Web

I may have gone a bit overboard this morning taking closeup photos of fall ephemera in the woods. And then, I went a bit overboard in editing. I try to narrow down what I am going to post, really I do. But since I love the feeling of these as a group as much as apart, I’m posting them all. I am still being drawn to black and white in my editing, but a few colors made it through this time.

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Wunderlich Park b&w

I have an order of difficulty ranking in my head for the hikes near me. Pulgas Ridge is the easiest. This I can do pretty much any time even if I feel out of shape. But it will be tiring if I am actually out of shape.

Next on the list is Wunderlich, which is a much bigger park with longer hike options, but still nicely graded trails so it’s pretty much the easiest 10 mile hike with 2000 ft of elevation change you’ll find anywhere. Or so it was. Apparently after last winter’s crazy rain, there was a landslide that cut off one of the usual trails. The current work-around is a (thankfully brief) steep slog that cuts off one of the switchbacks. Which wasn’t exactly what I signed up for today, but it was fine. I disliked going back down it more than up.

So, that tells me I am ready for my third level hike- Purisima Creek. I will check the trail conditions before I go. Live and learn.

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Around the Corner

Somehow during all of my many walks at Seal Point Park, I never found this little salt marsh flat viewing platform slightly to the south of where I usually walk. At a certain point the bay trail splits and the left portion has a sign for “bikes” so I always chose the right portion instead, figuring it lessens my chance of getting run into by a biker. However by doing this, I missed that there was another path off the left of that that takes you to a viewing platform (where, coincidentally no bikes are allowed.)

I’m going to have to go out there at sunrise one of these days.

Still on the black and white kick, by the way.

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Black and White Hiking Photos

I felt that some of my most recent hiking photos were just begging to be edited in black and white. The hazy morning light and long dramatic shadows really work well without color.

And just to photography nerd-out for a second, I’ve been using spot metering a lot for my photos lately because I love the high contrast I can get that way. It’s the secret to taking photos of nicely exposed flowers with a dark background, and apparently works well for hiking photos too. Black and white highlights the contrast.

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Steep Ravine, Stinson Beach

Something a little different today, some photos edited in black and white. I took these yesterday, a perfectly clear day with harsh sun and dark shadows. Looking through the pictures, I thought it would be interesting to edit them in black and white to highlight the high contrast nature of the lighting situation and the interesting shapes and spaces it creates.

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Beyond

As a digital artist and animator, I spend a lot of time staring into my computer screen at work. I’ve used Photoshop and for over a decade (as well as Illustrator, After Effects, 3D Studio Max, and a variety of other graphics programs). However, until now I have not done much in terms of editing photographs beyond the obvious color correction and cropping.

Golden Branch

This week I started taking photos in RAW and editing them in Camera Raw. Hey, why didn’t anyone ever tell me how powerful and exciting this is? In addition to making the usual corrections to my photos before posting them here, I played around with pushing some of my pictures beyond realism and pleasantly balanced contrast into the realm of abstract colors and obviously unnatural results. This post contains some of my more successful experiments.

San Francisco Across the Bay

It’s interesting to me how thinking of taking pictures as Photography has changed my feelings about it. I’m doing the same thing, pointing my camera at a composed subject and capturing it, but I’m thinking about it in a different way. I am using that part of my brain I usually only use when painting or drawing. Suddenly it feels like an artistic endeavor, not just capturing pretty stuff I see. There is a subtle difference to this process that intrigues me.

San Mateo Bridge Sunset

I can’t quite find the words to explain what I’m trying to describe here. But when I go on my photo walks now, it feels different. The photography is the point, the walk is just what I have to do to get to the things I want to shoot. Whereas in the past, the walking was the point, and if I saw something, I would stop and take a picture. Similarly, editing photos with an eye toward creating something new and artistic, rather than simply improving photos technically, feels new and exciting.

SanFran Reflected Sunrise