San Francisco’s Wave Organ

San Francisco is full of hidden surprises. The morning found me in San Francisco, having made my way to the Marina District to look a a project I’ll be photographing for a client. Having left the project I was in no hurry to make my way home with such a clear crisp day and the waterfront of the Marina beckoning me. I was on foot, having arrived by way of public transportation using BART and bus. Looking at a map and I noticed something at the end of the jetty labeled “Wave Organ. Unique acoustic sculpture on the bay.” I was intrigued so I made my way to the end of Marina Green Drive and on out to the end of the Jetty.  The Wave Organ is a wave-activated acoustic sculpture.  The concept was developed by Peter Richards and was installed in collaboration with sculptor and master stone mason George Gonzales. Installed in 1986. To really appreciate this you need to sit on a bench and just let the sounds wash over you; a very subtle and gentle experience.  In addition to the wave organ, the location offers a spectacular view of San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in the distance.

BAMPFA and Ottoman

We made a visit to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive today, arriving by bike after church. Our motivation for the visit was to watch the film “The End of the Ottoman Empire” by Mathilde Damoisel, a documentary overview of the Ottoman Empire and its decline. The Ottoman Empire is not something I ever studied in school and not something for which I’ve had much appreciation. This movie helped enlighten me, and helped me understand some of the history and cultural issues that still impact much of the middle east today. Recommended viewing if you get a chance. There is another viewing on December 4. Don’t delay though. Tickets for today’s showing sold out early!

Aside from the movie, the building itself has some fascinating architecture.

Untold Stories

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I’m not sure what inspired me to take this photo. Usually I prefer creating beautiful images for clients, or I look to celebrate the beauty of the natural world. But here was this scene that was demanding to be photographed.  I had to stop and ask myself why I should photograph this. Is my fascination with an un-told story that demands to be captured? A public park used as the scene for car maintenance? Who was it? Was it one person or several? It was clearly somebody with a different value system than my own; a different ethic when it comes to how we view the natural world. I saw this scene as a challenge to create a visually compelling statement about the elements in the composition. And then I wonder if it’s the influence of photographers such as Walker Evans and his fascination with the mundane details of life that influences me? Is there something universally interesting here, or is it just my warped mind? And I took a bit of care in composing the image. I excluded a couple of used hypodermic syringes which would have told a whole different story or perhaps that’s part of the story also.

The Messenger

Fields of coreposis on the Carrizo Plain

The Messenger
by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here, which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.

A Day with Monet

We decided to play tourist in our own town today, making our way to the Legion of Honor in the North West corner of San Francisco. The location alone, in Lincoln Park, is worth the visit, overlooking the entrance to San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. We started with lunch at the cafe, eating on the outdoor patio, which was a quiet and peaceful setting. The exhibit “Monet: The Early Years” features works created in the initial stage of Claude Monet’s career (1840-1926). The exhibition runs through May 29. Inspiring to see such a broad variety of work, and to gain appreciation for some of his daring and bold works before he became known for his impressionistic style. On leaving the museum we walked across the street to view the Holocaust Memorial and to admirer the architecture of the Legion of Honor.

Quote for the Day

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Kehoe Beach. Point Reyes National Seashore.

“Our greatest power as nations and individuals is not the ability to employ assault weapons, suicide bombers, and drones to destroy each other.  The greater more creative powers with which we may arm ourselves are grace and compassion sufficient enough to love and save each other.” —Aberjhani

I found this quote wile reading the November-December issue of Orion Magazine. I thought this quote seemed appropriate given the season and the challenges we face.

Le Chevrefueuille

We’re spending three nights at a delightful farm house, just a few kilometers from Les Eyzies. Nice to put our feet up after logging 100+ kilometers on our seven-day walking tour of the Dordogne. Already dreaming about where my feet might take me next.

We found this place through Rich Steves’ guide to France; not AirB&B as I mentioned in a previous version of this post. I’ll have to give this place a high rating; I’ll have more to say in a future post. We went into town for an afternoon tour of the Font-de-Gaume, one of the better known caves in the region. Photography is not allowed in the caves, so the best I could think of was to photograph some postcards that represent what we saw in the caves. Exquisite examples of poly-chrome Paleolithic art.

Finding Photos in Your Own Backyard

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I was out photographing a project for a client yesterday, and awestruck by this mural, painted on the side of a warehouse. I’m intrigued by murals, and it seems Oakland has a good share of murals and other public art. I’m continually reminded that I don’t have to go very far to look for photos. Mind you, my bucket list has plenty of places I’d like to visit, and sometimes I pine for the opportunity to travel and spend time in the natural environment that I love, but yesterday I left this photo shoot smiling, and happy to have discovered a an artistic treasure close to home.

Holiday Shopping?

It was not my intent to avoid the retail shops this Christmas season, but Christmas came and went and I managed to avoid the shopping frenzy. A couple of years ago we started pooling names for Christmas gifts. The idea being that rather than get gifts for everybody, we’d draw names, and get one gift for the person who’s name we draw.  We used Drawnames.com create our Secret Santa gift exchange. Among the items on my recipients wish list was something homemade.  I spent a few days thinking about what I could make. No shortage of photos, but I wouldn’t want to give somebody a photo that might not suit their needs. How about photo note cards? I’ve been producing note cards off and on for close to 40 years. I stopped a few years ago when the printer I used broke and the replacement wouldn’t take the fine art paper I was using. I had also decided that trying to print my own artwork was not productive, given the time and expense of maintaining the printer and such. I got to wondering if the Epson XP-810 I currently use would take the fine art paper. So without too much effort Santa went to work selecting images that he thought would suit the recipient, and after a few hours work he had an elegant batch of note cards, each with a photo representing something from the Eastern Sierra. The only thing Santa’s work shop was missing was envelopes, so a quick trip to Office Depot one morning produced the missing item.

Don’t expect these to be available in any retail outlet soon. To make this work Santa had to print the cards by hand feeding one sheet at a time through the rear paper feed. About 30 percent of the cards had to be scrapped due to ink smudges appearing on some cards. Perhaps not something that’s viable as a commercial effort, but fun to create a gift that was truly something of a personal expression and something the recipient will enjoy.