Category Archives: Photographs: People

At the Counter

At the Counter
A group of people at a coffee shop counter at night

At the Counter. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A group of people at a coffee shop counter at night

This is the first of a group of two more photographs I’ll post from a recent bit of street photography in San Francisco, done on a Friday evening when I joined a small group of other photographers to photograph mostly after dark in urban areas. This on perhaps indulges my inner Edward Hopper a bit — I’m often fascinated by business windows at night and the idea of looking in from the outside to see whatever world is inside.

The photograph was a quick “grab” as I walked past this coffee shop and noticed the group of four people at the window-facing counter, each doing something different and each apparently unaware of the others. (And, of course: these are the places we all sit when we stop in coffee shops alone, right?)


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Couple, Night

Couple, Night
A couple out for the night in San Francisco

Couple, Night. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A couple out for the night in San Francisco

Although it is not particularly apparent in this photograph, one of the things I like about photographing at night is the way that the darkness, lit by multiple artificial light sources, becomes magical. You’ll never see shadows like those on the wall behind this couple in sunlight! This light, and the responses to the night of the people who are out and about, make the nighttime environment very different from the daytime world, and places that might be mundane in daylight can become special at night.

This must have been a quick and spontaneous photograph… because I don’t even remember making it, much less precisely where I was! I think I may have been along Grant Street somewhere below Chinatown and getting closer to Union Square. In all likelihood, I saw the two of them and quickly lifted the camera to make an exposure and kept walking. I love the expression on the woman’s face.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Man With Flag

Man With Flag
A man with a flag organizes a group of tourists on a San Francisco street

Man With Flag. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A man with a flag organizes a group of tourists on a San Francisco street

I think this is another “there’s more going on here than you might first realize” photographs. Yes, there is a man marching out of this store carrying a small flag, but why? The answer to that question is pretty easy — he is apparently leading a group of tourists through this part of San Francisco, and the flag is his way of letting them know who to follow. (You’ll see this phenomenon in almost any city or other area that is popular with tourists.) But there is something else interesting — at last to me — about this photograph. Many of the people in the scene have apparently just become aware of me and are looking my direction, apparently not quite certain how to respond just yet. (I’m discreet, so I probably didn’t have the camera to my face, and it isn’t a large camera.)

Pools of light like this one are prime spots for me when shooting urban areas at night. I love the way the light spills out onto the sidewalk, creating shadows leading away from the people. I can also play with this light. I might shoot straight into it and make shadow the main subject. Or I can sometimes get just a bit between the subjects and the light, and then it can light them quite beautifully, especially when there are multiple light sources. If I recall correctly, it was the light and then the bricks that first caught my eyes here, and then when the people appeared in the doorway the photograph was complete.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Asian Styles

Asian Styles
People in front of a San Francisco storefront at night

Asian Styles. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

People in front of a San Francisco storefront at night

At about this time last year I made an important “discovery during a trip to Manhattan” — with newer cameras I can photograph at high enough ISOs that it is possible (and even easy) to do handheld night street photography. And since I use a small mirrorless camera for street photography, I can even do this sort of photography without carrying around a big camera and lenses. I’ve long been a night photographer, but generally the type to sets up a tripod and approaches this genre more or less the same way I approach landscape photography, but with longer exposures. Much longer! But this new development is tremendously liberating. Using a large aperture prime I can walk around and spontaneously respond to what I see, and I can capture brief and ephemeral moments in the wild and beautiful light of the urban night.

This photograph exemplifies one way that I’ve always shot street photography, though now adapted to the night. I begin by finding an interesting bit of urban landscape — buildings, light, color, texture, form. I find a composition that will work… and then I wait. Sometimes the wait is brief and sometimes it is long. I wait for people to populate this “landscape,” and to ideally configure themselves into some interesting combination. Since I don’t pose these photographs, I have to react quickly and take whatever the street serves up. This time it served up something special, I think. The storefront itself first got my attention, with its brightly colored merchandise, the light spilling out onto the sidewalk, the aqua windows on the left margin, and the red and yellow vending machine on the right. The small group of people just to the right of the doorway were my first target, and I think I have a photograph of just them taken shortly before this one. But very soon a wonderful and unpredictable conjunction occurred as the man walked out through the store doorway, the woman in blue passed in front of the vending machine, and the two men with the crying child in a stroller passed the store, followed by the woman with the bag.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Two Photographers, Zabriskie Point

Two Photographers, Zabriskie Point
Two photographers sit behind a camera and tripod at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

Two Photographers, Zabriskie Point. Death Valley National Park, California. © Copyright 2007 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Two photographers sit behind a camera and tripod at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

In the midst of sharing many photographs from my most recent Death Valley visit near the end of March and the start of April this year, I happened to be looking at website logs when I saw a link to this photograph from way back in 2007. I hadn’t thought about it for a while, so it was fun to get the reminder — and to have an excuse to rework it just a little bit and share it once again.

I had ended up at Zabriskie on this early April morning, and it turned out to be a morning of lovely light, though nothing far out of the ordinary, as I recall. My recollection is that as I waited to see if something more interesting would happen I thought about switching my focus to the other people who were there, and I ended up photographing quite a few of them — solitary figures silhouetted on the ridge above me, rows of photographers lined up at the edge of the drop-off, and a few individuals and small groups here and there. These two people were part of a slightly larger group, and they also seemed to be awaiting the hoped-for special light. I was intrigued by their patience and by the way they leaned in towards one another, and by the visual contrast between her light-colored jacket and his much darker clothing. In order to let the focus be on them rather than on the landscape, I exposed to let the distant subjects become quite light and then decided to render the image in black and white.


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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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

A Moment

A Moment
A Moment

A Moment. Getty Center, Los Angeles, California. March 28, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

An unplanned tableau at the Getty Center

The Getty Center, much like similar places where a lot of people collect and do interesting things, it a great place for shoot-from-the-hip photography. You keep your eyes open and keep the camera ready, and when you least expect it something worth photographing pops up, often for only a brief moment.

I don’t know if others will see it, but for me there is something intriguing and perhaps every so slightly “off” about elements of this little scene. The glowing white walls seems like something from the future. The woman against the wall seems to have one eye covered and the fellow at the far, who is only half seen, is standing and facing that bright white wall. The colors of the shirts on the two children relate in an interesting way, and one of them tilts off-kilter. There is something a bit odd about the two guys conversing at the right — something about their stances, the distance between them, and the body language.


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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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Violist Janet Sims

Violist Janet Sims
Violist Janet Sims

Violist Janet Sims. San Jose, California. June 5, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved

Symphony Silicon Valley violist Janet Sims at a June, 2014 rehearsal

This weekend I am sharing two more photographs from my ongoing project photographing professional classical musicians, a three-year project during which I have the opportunity to attend many rehearsals and concerts and generally spend a lot of time learning to see and understand this world. (I already understood more than most since I’ve been part of it in several ways for many years.) Both of these photographs are casual shots made during rehearsals. Such photos remind us of several things, I think. First, it is possible to get some odd ideas about who the musicians are if your only experience is seeing them in formal concert situations — but backstage and during rehearsals… they are “regular people” just like all of us. Second, and from the same perspective, it is easy to overlook that fact that the vast majority of the work necessary for a live performance is actually done outside of the performance, with often intense and lengthy periods of individual practice and preparation and significant time spent on group rehearsal. And, finally, in both of these photographs I think you will see the intense focus of these musicians. Janet Sims is a first-stand violist in the Symphony Silicon Valley.

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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.