An Illusion

An Illusion
A complex juxtaposition of street elements, San Francisco

An Illusion. San Francisco, California. May 20, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A complex juxtaposition of street elements, San Francisco

I’m going to have a little fun with you today with this photograph. It might be a bit of a mystery and it contains one or more illusions, and more than one world. I’ll let you ponder that.

I made the photograph on one of my photography walks in San Francisco, which usually are dominated by street photography, some architecture, and even a bit of urban and near-urban landscape, all shot handheld while on the move. The area where I made this photograph is a bustling part of newly developing San Francisco, with lots of traffic (I waited for a break), lots of expensive new housing, and sometimes a lot of people.


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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Hi Dive

Hi Dive
The Hi Dive, Embarcadero, San Francisco

Hi Dive. San Francisco, California. May 20, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The Hi Dive, Embarcadero, San Francisco

San Francisco, a city with a truly interesting past, is being gentrified at an alarming rate. The absurd and explosive increase in real estate values in the region is one indication. Another is the rate at which formerly down and out areas are being “redeveloped” and filled with very expensive real estate.

In few places is this more apparent than along the waterfront north and south of ATT Park, where the Giants play. The area right around the ball park took off some years back, and soon become one of the most expensive areas in the City. (No surprise, given the views of the bay!) More recently the run down areas south of the park have been the site of a huge amount of new construction — run down open areas are now full of new buildings. In a few spots some of the old things remain, including along sections of the Embarcadero where the “Hi Dive” still stands, along with the Java House and (not for long) Red’s Java House.


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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Chairs and Dappled Sunlight

Chairs and Dappled Sunlight
A small brick-paved urban square in dappled sunlight

Chairs and Dappled Sunlight. San Francisco, California. May 20, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small brick-paved urban square in dappled sunlight

I have my reasons for photographing in urban environments, even though that might seem like an odd passion for someone who photographs nature and landscapes. The same attractions of form and light and texture and juxtaposition are found in both places, though the urban environment encourages me to photograph in a different way. Here I don’t use a tripod, and I often make photographs very quickly and instinctively, since the subjects are so transitory and it is a matter of photograph it now or never. Even a seemingly static and quiet scene like this one only lasts a moment before people again walk through the scene. If nothing else, it is an intense exercise in seeing.

The area of where I made this photograph is, despite the appearance, a very busy and noise place along San Francisco’s Market Street, a place where there are throngs of people and where traffic noise can be oppressive. Yet at times the crowds part and the scene can be almost empty. And there is often quite beautiful light — it comes from all angles as it reflects back and forth among the glassy surfaces of tall buildings, and at street level in some places the light can fill the scene from almost all possible directions.


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.

Dawn Arrival

Dawn Arrival
Winter geese fly in to a Central Valley wetlands pond at dawn

Dawn Arrival. Central Valley, California. January 1, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Winter geese fly in to a Central Valley wetlands pond at dawn

Near the end of May I revisited some photographs from the past year, including a set that I made on an annual New Year’s Day visit to California’s Central Valley. For several years now a group of friends, photographers, artists, and more have greeted the dawn of the new year by going together before dawn to celebrate the new year and the annual spectacle of the winter bird migration into the valley. So, during the first week when the temperatures here in California rose into the nineties, I enjoyed recalling a foggy morning when they sat near freezing.

We arrived a half hour before dawn to find patchy, thinning fog. We set out trying to determine, in the half-light, where the birds might be, and soon some were spotted settling in on a nearby pond. We headed that way, and I lined up a view across the pond, past quiet foreground birds and past a row of trees toward the eastern sky, which was gradually beginning to brighten. I made this photograph as another small group of birds was flying in to join those already on the pond


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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Through the Scrim

Through the Scrim
Benches and a balcony, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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

Benches and a balcony, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

There is a small thread in my photograph of the interior spaces of buildings that looks through gauzy, diffused curtains, blinds, and scrims toward the world outside. For example, I have several in his line that I made at the Getty Museum in Southern California, and some things photographed in museums in New York that go in a similar direction. I made this photograph at the new SFMOMA museum in San Francisco during a members’ preview before the official opening last week.

I love the newly expanded and remodeled museum. One writer commented on the way that the new facility opens to the City. (The former building, as good as it was, was mostly closed off from San Francisco, with few places where the interior space opened to views of the surrounding area.) Now the new “back side” of the museum opens straight out over and into the urban environment, and there is quite a bit to see there — and the design creates a stronger link to this city. In this photograph, which was initially “about” the lines of the buildings in the upper part of the frame, the shapes and tones of the two foreground benches are beginning to interest me more.


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.

Headlands, Fog, Ocean

Headlands, Fog, Ocean
Gathering fog along rugged Big Sur coastal cliffs

Headlands, Fog, Ocean. Big Sur Coast, California. May 1, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Gathering fog along rugged Big Sur coastal cliffs

One more photograph from my May Day quick visit to the Big Sur Coast and the lower Monterey Peninsula. I visited fairly early in the morning — not as early as dawn, but certainly before most of the tourists showed up along this popular coast on this weekend day.

I started with a plan to visit Point Lobos — and I did later end up there — but I was distracted by the formation of thing fog right along the waterline. More typically I would expect to see thick fog in the early morning, left over from the night before, with murky conditions until some clearing happens later on. But on this morning the pattern seemed reversed. It started out clear and then as the morning wore on the weather changed and a beautiful misty quality appeared along the coast, in places leading to the formation of fog.


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+ | LinkedIn | Email


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

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