Category Archives: Photographs: People

At the Gallery

At the Gallery
Visitors at the new SFMOMA museum in San Francisco

At the Gallery. San Francisco, California. May 6, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Visitors at the new SFMOMA museum in San Francisco

The newly expanded and refurbished SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) reopened recently, and we had an opportunity to spend a day there during the week before the public opening. The new building is a success in our minds — full of interesting and sometimes surprising interior spaces, with new portals connecting it visually to the surrounding city, and beautiful galleries to display the work. (There are a few oddities — the space on the ground floor seems sort of sprawling and disorganized, but I digress…)

I always like photographing in museums, especially those with more modern architecture. The light and the angles of walls and entry ways are often fascinating, and people behave in ways that are much different from what I might see in other venues. I usually photograph quickly in these places, partly because I don’t want to intrude on the experience of other visitors and partly because scenes and juxtapositions often assemble themselves and then disappear so quickly.


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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Photographer, Desert Canyon

Photographer, Desert Canyon
Photographer Patricia Emerson Mitchell at work in a Death Valley canyon

Photographer, Desert Canyon. Death Valley National Park, California. March 30, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Photographer Patricia Emerson Mitchell at work in a Death Valley canyon

Photographer Patricia Emerson Mitchell paying attention to the small things along a narrow canyon in Death Valley National Park. On a cloudy day with dust storms out in the valley we headed up this canyon in the afternoon and found quiet conditions following this narrow canyon as it twisted and turned its way up into the mountains along the east side of the valley.

We started our hike at the top of a monumental alluvial fan build of rocks washed down from the mountains through this canyon. We dropped over the edge into the main wash and headed uphill, with the canyon walls soon closing in around us. In many places the canyon walls are almost vertical and only feet apart. These are places of deep quiet and stillness, mostly cut off from the surrounding terrain, protected from the wind, and with only a narrow band of blue sky straight overhead.


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.

Red Pants

Red Pants
People and their reflections on a walkway at SFMOMA

Red Pants. San Francisco, California. May 6, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

People and their reflections on a walkway at SFMOMA

In my continuing effort to make my landscape photograph fans uncomfortable — just kidding! — here is another urban/street photograph from a recent day in San Francisco. As members of SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) we got tickets for the members’ pre-opening this week. (The museum officially reopens on May 14, following two years of a major renovation and expansion project.) To answer the obvious first question… the new building is beautiful in almost all ways. (It isn’t perfect, but what is.) We greatly enjoyed our visit, during which we managed to spend time in mostly the new areas, but also revisited a lot of the older structure as well.

I love museums, especially art museums, and I can spend hours in them, looking and thinking and making mental associations. But I also like photographing them — for the interesting architectural features which often produce a lot of very interesting light and geometry, but also as places to watch people. But I often have to be very quick, and that was the case here. I first saw this fellow in the red pants walking my direction, against a background of mostly colorless architecture and flat light. I had just time to make two very quick exposures. Initially I wasn’t hopeful about this one, as I felt that I had almost missed him as he walked out of the frame — but in the end that positioning ended up seeming to be the most interesting to me.


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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Desert Canyon Hiking

Desert Canyon Hiking
Hiking down a narrow desert slot canyon

Desert Canyon Hiking. Death Valley National Park, California. March 30, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Hiking down a narrow desert slot canyon

We (Patty and I) spent some good time in Death Valley earlier this spring, hiking and photographing in many interesting places in Death Valley. This trip brought some, uh, “special” weather on almost every day: huge dust storms, strong winds, rain, you name it. On a couple of days we escaped into narrow desert canyons, where the steep walls cut off most of the wind and produce the stillness and quiet that are so special in these places.

The hike into this canyon began along the upper edge of one of the giant alluvial fans that spread out into the valley from the lower ends of almost all canyons at the base of the desert mountain ranges. We hiked across to a wash, dropped in, and headed up into the canyon, replacing the expansive views of the giant valley with the constrained and intimate views of the interior of the canyon. In a few spots this canyon became quite narrow — never close to a squeeze, but narrow enough that we could not see beyond the next bend.


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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Macro Photographer, Death Valley

Macro Photographer, Death Valley
Photographer Patty Emerson Mitchell at work photographing the small things in Death Valley

Macro Photographer, Death Valley. Death Valley National Park, California. March 29, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Photographer Patricia Emerson Mitchell at work photographing the small things in Death Valley

This is perhaps the typical photographic pose for my wife, Patty Emerson Mitchell, when out photographing — down on the ground, intently photographing some small thing that I probably wouldn’t have even noticed. Her speciality is in “seeing” flowers, often not as literal objective depictions of these things but as vehicles for exploring color and line and texture and shape and curve. A flower is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can be many other things, too. On this morning we had stopped near a section of the Death Valley playa where there is a bit of water, and I had wandered off to photograph mountains and sky and the playa. She walked down toward the playa, photographed that stuff a little bit and then headed back toward the car as I continued to work.

Eventually the sun was high enough and I and had photographed here long enough that it was time to head back myself, too. I figured that she might be waiting in the car, but then I remembered, “No, she will be crouched down in the gravel, lens an inch or two from something interesting that I probably stepped over, making photographs.” I had photographed in Death Valley for quite a few years, not unaware that there were flowers, but not paying them all that much attention. On the first trip there that she took with me, for the first time I saw — or, more accurately, was shown — that there are small flowers and plants almost everywhere you look, even on the apparently rocky surface of a dry playa or even under a light snowfall.


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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The Train Guys

The Train Guys
Subway rail fans waiting at the station for the historic “nostalgia” train, Manhattan

The Train Guys. New York City. December 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015. G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Subway rail fans waiting at the station for the historic “nostalgia” train, Manhattan

A few days earlier we visited the Subway Museum in Brooklyn, where we had a chance to wander through a bunch of old to very old historic subway cars. I was fascinated by how old some of the rolling stock is, and by the history of the system that I had not known about. I was also a but surprised to realize that some of the trains currently still on the tracks have been there for a long time. A big draw at the museum is the fact that the old subway cars are parked in this old station and one can wander in and out of them.

With this visit fresh in our minds we decided to catch the historic “nostalgia trains” event that brings many of these trains out of the museum and runs them on the subway system for one day in December. Not surprisingly this draws out lots of fans of New York history and a lot of “train people.” (It also surprises a few folks who don’t know what is going on when these really old trains arrive at their stations!) I’m not sure what it is about train people, but the seem to stand out. These guys had apparently ridden the train partway up Manhattan, crossed to the adjacent platform, and were now waiting to the train to come back for their return trip.


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.

Photographer Louis Mendes

Photographer Louis Mendes
Photographer Louis Mendes rides a historic New York subway car

Photographer Louis Mendes. New York City. December 27, 2015. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Photographer Louis Mendes rides a historic New York subway car

The timing of our December 2015 visit to New York City coincided with a special event on the New York Subway system — a day when historic subway trains run along one Manhattan route. Our sons had told us about this before, and we all met up at the south end of the line to catch the first train. It is made up of a variety of cars — some from just before the vintage of the current trains and others from much further in the past. It is a big event, and by the time the second run began there were big crowds. (One fun thing was watching the looks of the faces of folks at stations who didn’t know about this… as ancient subway trains rolled in and stopped to take on passengers.)

As I walked through one of the cars there was a big group of photographers, many holding vintage film cameras, some rigged up to work with modern electronic flash units. This fellow immediately caught my eye, and for a bunch of reasons. Many years ago my father had a camera almost exactly like his, and I thought it was the coolest thing back then. I also was taken by the contrast between his rig, with his giant camera and multiple flash units, and what I use to photograph in circumstance these days… a very small mirrorless system that works so well in low light than I never use flash. And I was pretty sure I recognized him, and thought that I had read about him somewhere. It was too crowded and noisy to talk, but I later figured out that he is street photographer Louis Mendes, who is well-known for photographing with this eclectic equipment in Manhattan. (I later ran into him again in front of the B&H store, and I recently read an interview in which he said that is his “third favorite” location for photographing.)


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


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.