Twenty Minutes of Street Photography – Six Photographs

I was in San Francisco this morning for a demo/announcement of new Google Plus features and after the event I had a bit of extra time on my walk back to the Caltrain station – 20 minutes to be precise. So, just for fun, the results (most of them at least) of 20 minutes of street shooting in The City.

It might seem odd to some that a photographer who does so much landscape work would be interested in photographing the sometimes-gritty urban environment of San Francisco. There is a lot I could write about this, but I’ll limit myself to a few ideas here. First, to some extent I think of photographing the urban environment as an extension of landscape photograph – let’s call it “urban landscape.” Second, shooting handheld while on the move leads to a different way of seeing that is quicker and more “improvisational” (to use a term from my music background), and this is, if nothing else, a great exercise in seeing.

Woman with Phone, Tall Building
Woman with Phone, Tall Building

Woman with Phone, Tall Building. San Francisco, California. October 29, 2013, 11:01AM.

I had stopped to try to photograph a woman pushing a stroller with this wall as a backdrop. She walked out of the frame too quickly, but I managed to grab this one of the solitary woman against the same backdrop.

MUNI Bus Yard
MUNI Bus Yard

MUNI Bus Yard. San Francisco, California. October 29, 2013. 11:03AM.

A moment later and on the other side of the street, I walked past this MUNI yard full of buses ready to head out.

Woman and Dog, Brown Building
Woman and Dog, Brown Building

Woman and Dog, Brown Building. San Francisco, California. October 29, 2013. 11:04AM.

One minute later and back on the other side of the street once again, I saw this interesting structure and a woman with a dog fortuitously walked in front at just that moment. This photograph is about many things, but the colors are quite important.

Pedestrian, Sidewalk
Pedestrian, Sidewalk

Pedestrian, Sidewalk. San Francisco, California. October 29, 2013. 11:16AM.

Slacking now, it was 12 minutes between the previous photograph and this one… ;-) Here I was trying to figure out my best route and I think I wandered around a bit without shooting, but then I saw this low building which was covered with swatches of paint that had been applied to cover graffiti. Once again, I was lucky and a pedestrian walked into the frame just as I was ready to shoot it.

Autumn Leaf, Sidewalk
Autumn Leaf, Sidewalk

Autumn Leaf, Sidewalk. San Francisco, California. October 29, 2013. 11:19AM.

After making a wrong turn I ended up walking around a block and back up towards where I started. While walking I saw this leaf and photographed it quickly without looking through the viewfinder.

Garage and Fence
Garage and Fence

Garage and Fence. San Francisco, California. October 29, 2013. 11:21AM.

A moment later and on the other side of the street from the leaf, I saw this small lot and the light blue building with the roll-up door, and the bright sky beyond. Initially I wanted to include the more of the building to the left along with a street light near its corner. So I made a few exposures of that, pausing as traffic passed by, and then made this one that eliminated all of the left-side building except for the tall wall facing the lot.

At this point I realized I had a train to catch, and one stop to make on the way there…

© Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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9 thoughts on “Twenty Minutes of Street Photography – Six Photographs”

  1. My initial favorite was the photograph of the woman with the dog. The reasons are perhaps subtle, having to do with several things that might not jump out at folks.

    The color palette is somewhat unusual, being mostly about browns and blues.The woman’s blue top ties to the blue of the sky, and even the things that seem white in the photograph are very pale blue. The garage doors are obviously brown, as are the bricks and the dog. To my eye, the high key partly-cloudy sky creates a sort of unreal quality to the image that might belie its source on a busy downtown street.

    While none of these are in my more common natural landscape mode, I actually like several of them a great deal. All of them fit into a series of photographs that I’ve made that might have something to do with some sense of separateness or loneliness in the urban landscape, the place that people often go because there are so many other people. (The first photograph in this thread was made a few years ago in the Mission.) And, no, the series is not about a personal feeling of loneliness in these places – I don’t really feel that way – but about the presence of this apartness in many that I see there.

    The woman with the phone photograph fits this, obviously, but there is also, I think, something disorienting about the scale of the elements of the image. To me, she looks way too small for the building behind her as a result of the unusual size of all of the features of the building.

    I could go on… but I’ll stop for now! :-)


    1. I never would’ve guessed… I don’t think I would’ve clued into the “apartness” them either, though it is readily apparent after you articulated the theme. Thanks…!

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