September 30, 2010

an early morning romp in San Francisco


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photo by Donald Kinney

Each day I try to get some good aerobic exercise, and last Sunday morning the Filbert Stairs filled the bill.

It was a bit too early for NorthBeach, and definitely way too early to go spooking around Chinatown; so I think it was quite natural that I ended up at the base of Coit Tower -- deciding to hike down the Filbert Stairs was just sort of a spur of the moment thing.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Easy hiking down, but coming up is another story!   Some day I'll have to count the number of steps in those stairs, but they are definitely a real slog to climb.   They start on the flats of the Embarcadero and go up, straight up Telegraph Hill -- which originally served as a lookout to keep an eye on ships entering the bay.

Quoting Wikipedia:
The hill owes its current name to a semaphore, a windmill-like structure erected in September 1849, for the purpose of signaling to the rest of the city the nature of the ships entering the Golden Gate.   Atop the newly-built house, the marine telegraph consisted of a pole with two raisable arms that could form various configurations, each corresponding a specific meaning: steamer, sailing boat, etc.   The information was used by observers operating for financiers, merchants, wholesalers and speculators.   As some of these information consumers would know the nature of the cargo carried by the ship they could quickly predict the upcoming (generally lower) local prices for those goods and commodities carried.   Those who did not have advance information on the cargo might pay a too-high price from a merchant unloading his stock of a commodity — a price that was about to drop.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Refreshed and invigorated by my trek up the Filbert Stairs -- oh who am I kidding, I was plum tuckered-out -- I made my way over to Chinatown.   I think it's great fun searching for juxtapositions between this area and the skyscrapers of the Financial District.



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photo by Donald Kinney

It's not terribly difficult finding something "arty" in Chinatown.   Oh, San Francisco has museums filled with all sorts of "intellectually correct" art, but when I spotted this curious washer hanging down from an even more curious piece of wire I knew I had found a little bit of "art" on my own.



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September 29, 2010

sunrise


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photo by Donald Kinney

I haven't quite figured this out yet, but I enjoy sunrises much more than I do sunsets.   Oh, I suppose a sunset is the exact opposite of a sunrise, but I think there is a big difference between the two.   For starters, the sunrise is a promise of a new day; whereas when that sun sinks into the sea it's time to put the camera away and head towards home.



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photo by Donald Kinney

I try not to fall in love with my photos but this shot has stolen my heart.

For sunrises I usually head out to China Camp on San Pablo Bay, which is the northern thumb of San Francisco Bay.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Here's another sunrise, this time from the Cavallo Point area, within spitting distance of the Golden Gate Bridge.



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September 28, 2010

Pierce Point Dairy at Point Reyes


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photo by Donald Kinney

Is it art?

I'm currently having a great debate with a friend of mine about whether or not photography is art.

He says it can be, depending on whether or not the photographer put any forethought into it beforehand, or any creative interpretation into it during post-processing.

I say that there is no need for photography to emulate art -- it can stand on it's own.   It just seems way too simple and way too easy to simply hold a machine up to the eye, turn some knobs and click, push more buttons in Photoshop; then with any luck -- if the image holds up as visually interesting -- call the finished result "art".   An "applied" art, perhaps, but certainly not a "fine" art in my opinion.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Constructed in the 1860s by Solomon Pierce, Pierce Point Dairy became the most successful "butter rancho" in the Point Reyes area.   Beginning in the 1880s the ranch was leased to a series of tenants.   In the mid-1930s it was sold to the McClure family which operated it as a Grade B dairy until about 1945, when dairy ranching ceased after 90 years.

The complex includes the 1869 and earlier sections of the two-story main house, the tank house, school, woodshed, carpenter shop, blacksmith shop, dairy, horse barn, slaughter house, hay barn, hog sheds and pens and woodshed.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Using the term loosely, I think this old building has a rather "artistic" shape.



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photo by Donald Kinney

That's the old creamery -- I was trying to be a bit "arty" by turning the color shot into a black-and-white.

And those fine cows are on another Point Reyes dairy ranch, one of a handful that are still in operation on the Point Reyes peninsula.


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photo by Donald Kinney

Ask this bull about "art" and you'll probably just get a blank stare -- he probably has other things on his mind.



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September 27, 2010

San Rafael Mission


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photo by Donald Kinney

Last week I had to take my car in for tires and had an hour to kill, so I decided to take my camera over to San Rafael Mission to see if I could sleuth out any photos.

I thought this tile roof design was kind of interesting.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Nobody is sorrier about this than me, but I turned out to be an atheist. Oh, I grew up in a Protestant fundamentalist family and I probably know more about the Bible and salvation than the average Joe, but what really killed my faith was the intolerance our religion had for other faiths -- our family was deeply suspicious and almost fearful of Catholics.

To this day, entering a Catholic church gives me the "wheebie-jeebies"... "Creep-me-out" might be a better description, but I am always amazed at how beautiful Catholic churches are.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Mission San Rafael Arc├íngel was founded in 1817 as a hospital to treat sick Native Americans of the Bay Area.   With less fog and warmer temperatures than in San Francisco, this location seemed ideal for helping ill Indians recover faster.

In 1822, "Mission San Rafael Arcangel" was given full mission status, joining the other 20 missions up and down California.



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photo by Donald Kinney

That's our beloved Mount Tamalpais in the distance.

Some folks believe that Mount Tamalpais itself has spiritual qualities.   I'm not ready to go quite that far with my beliefs, but I always feel recharged and invigorated when I visit her slopes, lakes, and streams.



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September 26, 2010

early morning at Rodeo Beach


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photo by Donald Kinney

Well, I usually don't go exploring on Rodeo Beach so early in the morning, but on Friday I had been over near the Golden Gate Bridge photographing fog and the rising sun and thought; "what the heck -- I may as well go the extra mile and see what's going on over at the beach".

The sand was still there, although at this hour the strong side-lighting caught my eye.



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photo by Donald Kinney

This is two photos combined, taken moments apart.   And yes, these aren't any sort of monster waves, and the color is rather drab -- backlighting in the afternoon would have made the water much prettier.   But there you go -- your typical morning waves at Rodeo Beach.   God bless America.



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photo by Donald Kinney

We haven't had an oil spill in this area for a while now so I imagine that the birds are happy about that.   Here we have egrets, a blue heron, and a gathering of ducks -- I think they are mud-hens but I could be wrong.

Click on the photo for a larger view with a bit more detail.



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photo by Donald Kinney

This photo wasn't taken on my early morning outing, but rather late in the day a few weeks ago.   I haven't had a good excuse to show it to you yet, so I thought I would throw it in today for kicks.



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September 25, 2010

more from Mt. Olivet Cemetery


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photo by Donald Kinney

Turned out I was wrong, but when I spotted this sphere from a distance I immediately assumed the poor chap must have been a bowler.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Well, I said it yesterday and I'll say it again;   "I'd give a penny for her thoughts".



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photo by Donald Kinney

Mr. Louis Worthy died in 1982, but his memory seems to still be worthy of flowers and four flags.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Oh yeah, good old Ingward and Erma -- who could forget them with such a highly stylized marker.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Now, this is a curious one... It's just a block of stone sitting quite alone, and complaining quietly.



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September 24, 2010

sad angel on a bench in Colma


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photo by Donald Kinney

This is the shot I used yesterday on Emma Tree for the challenge of illustrating six simple words; "just sit there and look pretty".
It was interesting seeing what the others came up with.

Location is the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Colma, a tiny town where the dead outnumber the living by a vast majority. You see, in 1923 a law was passed prohibiting burials within the city limits of San Francisco, and further required that all graves be dug up and moved to Colma, just south of the City. It must have been a monumental and rather ghoulish project.



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photo by Donald Kinney

I'd give her a penny for her thoughts...



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photo by Donald Kinney

So realistic that she just might giggle if I tickle her toes...



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photo by Donald Kinney

The sculptor is nameless, but obviously had a great deal of skill to turn marble into the lines of a flowing garment.   I am in awe.



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September 23, 2010

special edition -- "just sit there and look pretty"

My banner image (above) today is meant to illustrate the six little words "just sit there and look pretty" a little project going on today over at http://www.emmatree.blogspot.com.   I'll have more tomorrow.

Treasure Island, in San Francisco Bay


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photo by Donald Kinney

Some people call it Yerba Buena Island and others call it Treasure Island, but in years past it was a huge Navy support base smack-dab in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

The "original" Yerba Buena Island is small compared to the vast flat area on it's north side, created in the 1930's from dredged bay mud. Treasure Island was home to the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939.



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photo by Donald Kinney

During the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 a section of the upper roadway slipped and fell onto the lower deck, killing one person and closing the bridge for several weeks.

It was obvious that the cantilevered eastern half of the bridge needed to be replaced. Of course the "powers that be" had to argue about the construction details for ten years, but finally at a projected cost of 6.2 billion dollars construction was started in 2001 and will take a few more years to complete.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Congress has essentially given Treasure Island to the City and County of San Francisco, and very slowly improvements are being made. New housing has been built and the City is trying to lure industry to the island.

But there's a whole lot of old decaying military buildings remaining -- all tightly closed with posted warnings of asbestos contamination within. This is the old bowling alley -- bowling is what people did for fun before video games became part of our culture.



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photo by Donald Kinney

And yes, San Francisco isn't very far away...



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September 22, 2010

fire in the morning sky


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photo by Donald Kinney

Gee whiz... If I had known there was going to be a colorful sunrise last Sunday morning I would have gotten over to the City a bit earlier and been a bit more prepared.



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photo by Donald Kinney

So there I am, tooling up Columbus Avenue trying to think of good vantage points in the area and all I can see is a whole lot of wires blocking the view.



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photo by Donald Kinney

But ah yes, between this wire and that wire -- it's just a fragment of Peter and Paul's Church, but I'll take it!   Snap.



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September 21, 2010

Legion of Honor, San Francisco


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photo by Donald Kinney

Much like today, in the late 1800's you either had money or you didn't. It was an era of extremes and a few gentlemen made huge profits on the commodities and rail transportation they controlled.

Adolph B. Spreckels had the monopoly on sugar, and yes, there was big money to be made in sugar. Adolph also had a wife, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels who was talented in spending her husband's money.

Alma persuaded Adolph to build and donate the museum, completed in 1924 to the city of San Francisco. Mrs. Spreckels made numerous trips to Europe to search out and buy masterpieces for the Legion of Honor's collection.

In 1791 this lovely young lady was Hyacinthe Gabrielle Roland, later Marchioness Wellesley. Oil on canvas by Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun, 1755--1842.



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photo by Donald Kinney

And while I always fall in love with the young lady in the first photo, I'm pretty sure this slightly older lady would straighten me right out.

By Frans Pourbus the Younger, Flemish, 1569--1622, oil on panel.



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photo by Donald Kinney

And yeah, war still rages on. It is man's destiny. Sorry to admit it but suspicion and killing is just about all he is capable of.

Painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, titled The Dead Soldier, 1789.



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One of my favorite paintings at the Legion of Honor.

Reclining Female Nude, by William Etty, British 1787--1849, oil on canvas, gift of David Pleydell-Bouverie.


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September 20, 2010

it's Chinatown -- let's eat!


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photo by Donald Kinney

On my walks through San Francisco's Chinatown I always feel a bit out of my element -- not a creek or tree in sight.



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photo by Donald Kinney

But, ah yes... It is all coming clear to me now -- the common bond here is food, and this looks an awful lot like chicken.



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photo by Donald Kinney

I know about three Chinese words, so I'd probably have to do a lot of finger pointing while placing my order. Hmmmm -- the overcooked string beans with carrots and tofu looks pretty good...



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photo by Donald Kinney

And as you may already know, the Chinese fortune cookie didn't originate in China -- Los Angeles is the birthplace of what we know as today's fortune cookie. It is actually a variation on a larger folded Japanese cookie that contains a random fortune or message.

Three billion cookies are made and consumed each year, but I assume that the production in this tiny Chinatown factory is just enough to pay the employees and keep the doors open.

I had never noticed the sign (in the upper right corner) which requests 50 cents per photo. I usually employ the "snap-and-run" approach in Chinatown -- I suppose I owe these hard-working ladies at least a buck-fifty by now.



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September 19, 2010

our beloved Mount Tamalpais


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photo by Donald Kinney

Ask any of MY friends why they live in Marin County and I'm absolutely sure they would say it's because of our proximity to our beloved Mount "Tam".



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photo by Donald Kinney

And yes, this mountain has a vast array of moods, from sunny and bright, to cool and gloomy, to storms that rip down her slopes like a freight train.



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photo by Donald Kinney

For hiking, she has a wealth of trails amidst uncommonly beautiful scenery.
For the biker all I need to say is this mountain was the birthplace of the "bomber" or mountain bike.   No foolin'.

Definitely no shortage of moss. The climate is moist, with the usual foggy Summer mornings and afternoon clearing.   Low spots on the ridge are foggier than others -- this tree stands in one of the foggiest.




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September 18, 2010

Oh, that sun...


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photo by Donald Kinney

Oh, that sun -- just a bright shiny object in the heavens, but a very important factor in the creation and sustenance of life.



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photo by Donald Kinney

A tireless worker -- despite every cloud that develops, the sun struggles to break through.



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photo by Donald Kinney

Sleep in, oh sleepyhead, and you're going to miss it.



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photo by Donald Kinney

A new discovery for Don, here, on San Pablo Bay.  
Golden water reflections of the sunrise.   Pretty, isn't it?



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