Sunday, December 02, 2012

Color photos for a black and white world

"A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."
 ~ George Edward Moore

I was out of the U.S. for 15 months when I returned in October. When I left I joked about not coming home until after the presidential elections. The joke got more serious as I was reading the headlines off the internet, and when I DID come home, right at the height of all the double-talking insincere nonsensical black-and-white blather that passes for political discourse, I wished I'd taken my advice and stayed away. I noticed something, though - most of my friends weren't bothered by it, and some actually enjoyed it. What's clear is that I need to align myself with reality. Politicians are never going to be truthful, and I am never going to be satisfied with their pronouncements, behavior, or hairstyles. Get over it, Davemo.

Somehow the time flew by, and even though I can't account for myself and my whereabouts, I managed to feel busy most of the time I was here. I apologize to the people who I should have gotten together with but didn't manage to. Almost related, but not quite - I was amazed how many friends fessed up that they don't even open up my newsletters and look at the photos! Well, guess what, we can trash talk them freely, can't we? Cuz if you're reading this, we're not talking about you! I jest, partially. People are busy and getting busier. I have nothing to do and I can't manage to finish my to do's. I'm happy for everyone and anyone who comes by the blog. That's you. And speaking of gratitude, a SPECIAL thank you to Doug and Lori who put me up in their lovely house in the Berkeley hills for the entire almost-two months. They should get an award.

I'm flying out of San Francisco on Monday, December 3 to Delhi, India. After a few days in Delhi I'm heading to the same work retreat that I attended last year at Anandwan, the leprosy community in Maharashtra. (Refresh your memory herehere, and here.) I have to say, I'm a little apprehensive this time. I was blissfully ignorant last year about what I was getting into. Going back, I'll be seeing some old folks who may not have left their little courtyard since we were there. Jyoti's atrophied limbs will probably be more advanced, and little blind and handicapped Neesha will still be sleeping on the floor of the hospital because there's no where else for her. Is 16 year-old Sandeep STILL in the hospital? And I'm getting my knickers in a twist about U.S. politics. Oy.

Much love!

Photos! I got some new goodies this trip, including a small point-and-shoot camera to replace mine that wasn't fully working. It's a Sony RX100, and it takes pretty amazing shots. I have more elaborately processed photos here than usual, mostly because of the new camera. We'll see if that trend continues.

Mystery Date! The lovely Lauren Van Ham took me on a mystery date. I told her I only have jeans to wear, and she said the attire at the event will range from tuxedos to tattoos. After a BART ride into San Francisco and a great Indian meal at Chutney, we ended up here, at Davies Hall, watching Pink Martini perform with the San Francisco Symphony. How fun is that! (My new camera takes three images at different exposures and then uses the best exposure for each part of the image. It all happens inside the camera. Wow.)

Sunset from Berkeley, looking west towards the Marin hills, just north of San Francisco.

This old beauty (the car, not me) is parked just down the hill from where I'm staying.

When the lens of a camera is wide open, the background tends to be blurred, which can be a nice effect.

A curved shadow crosses the colored lines of a leaf.

It looks so friendly and easy, but these kayakers were practicing rolls and rescues on a day that should have been cold and overcast. I was inspired by their willingness to be cold and miserable. Life affirming, somehow!

My friend Rose played Farmville every chance she got on our bike ride. I made that up. She is a licensed therapist (true story) who consults with her clients via text messages. I made that up, too. I met Rose in India in 2001 and got to know her on the first yatra in France later that year. That's just plain true.

You can just not make out San Francisco in the distance. This is from the Berkeley hills.

Part of my Brown Plant series. (How would anyone know that that's a joke? Aren't jokes supposed to be funny?)


How beautiful is this young thing? This is Ruby, seven years old and as sweet as they come. Doug and Lori adopted her in Nepal. It looks like a posed photo, but I wouldn't know how to create a photo like this. I can just see it when it happens.

That morning commute can be a killer. Sometimes you feel like death warmed over.

I spent a few hours at the annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in the Mission District in San Francisco. In Latin America the day celebrates those that have passed on. It's a fantastic combination of heartfelt reverence, mourning, joy, and a rocking good party. In the words of Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

There are stairs, and an escalator, but he wants to walk down the wall. I understand that, and I have the scars to prove it.

Beautiful Ruby, the day after her full-blown, five-hour ear surgery. Poor thing! She wasn't unhappy, she only looks it in this photo.

A worm being doing worm stuff in this flower. (Maybe it's not a worm?)

I apologize the number of funky HDR-enhanced photos you're about to see. OK, I'm not that sorry. I think I got my camera the day before this photo, which was taken in a tunnel on the Bay Bridge.

One of San Francisco's famous cable cars.

Another special effect built into my camera: illustration mode. This was taken inside the original Peet's Coffee in Berkeley, and the camera converts it into an illustration in just a few seconds. It's kind of fun, but would I use it normally?

The Bay Bridge that runs between Oakland and San Francisco.

From San Francisco looking back towards the Bay Bridge, with Treasure Island in the distance.

The Golden Gate bridge.

A German Shepherd who thinks he's a Labrador Retriever. He's breaking so many rules.

One of the many beautiful sunsets since I've been here.

The Richmond San Rafael bridge. I find the HDR mode, which I used here, can make grungy, industrial scenes looks quite beautiful somehow.

San Francisco from the Berkeley shore.

Another illustration mode photo from the inside the Boiler House restaurant in Richmond.

This place is a real find. Spectacular setting right on the water, good food and a nice vibe. Go here! The photo is an illustration.

This is the nicest toilet picture I've ever taken.

Next to the Boiler House is the impressive Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park. Amazing history! During World War II there were 747 ships built here, nearly one per day until the war ended. We watched a fascinating short film about women's entry into the male-dominated trades as well as racial tensions and Japanese internment. Mind-blowing - highly recommended! The photo is of a slab of concrete near the water, part of a series that tells the history with stepping stones.

Illustration-mode photos of Ruby and her brother Elijah.

On a field trip in San Francisco, I walked down Leavenworth St. in the Tenderloin district and was stunned by the number of people openly selling drugs. They were calling out their wares like vendors at a farmer's market. Less troubling: these cute little dogs on the same street.

This is the reason for my field trip on this day: Michael Swaine has been setting up a manual treadle sewing machine one day a month to repair people's clothing, without charge, for 13 years. He's a very sweet, down-to-earth guy who's not out trying to solve the world's problems by next week - just this particular problem, today. Beautiful.

This gentleman wasn't too sure about me photographing him. He said, "As long as you don't make any money off of it." Please don't send me money for taking this photo. You're free to send me money for any other reason, though!

Inside the little park area that's been dubbed the Tenderloin National Forest, (NY Times article here,) lies this "story room," which reminds me of the altars from Day of the Dead. (FYI, this isn't so obviously an HDR photo, but it is, and a regular photo couldn't handle the different exposure between the low light inside the room and the neon light outside.)

This man has been coming to get his clothes mended by Michael for 10 years.

These two CrazyBoys were shooting video, one on a skateboard holding a camera with a light, and the other performing some jumps. Many, many, jumps.

Light reflected from a dock in the San Franciso bay.

Thanksgiving! My brother Mike has been a good cook for a long time, but he keeps getting better, and he went all out for the vegetarians in his life - me and his daughter Brooke. That's a delicious vegetarian gravy (recipe here) and veg lasagna in the back. So good.

One of my favorite viewpoints in the Bay Area, from the hills just above the Golden Gate bridge, looking towards San Francisco. HDR goodness.

That's the Cliff House on the left and Seal Rocks out in the water. Just in front are the ruins of what used to be the amazing Sutro Baths, built in 1896 and burned down in 1966.

A telephoto view of San Francisco taken from Doug and Lori's house. On the far left you can see the Bay Bridge, and the pointy building is the Transamerica Pyramid.

Eeks and gadzooks! This was just a test photo I took just to make sure my Canon 7D was working when I got it back from the shop.

(The End)