Tag Archives: california

A Bar

A Bar
The view through the open door of a San Francisco corner bar

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

The view through the open door of a San Francisco corner bar

I felt like a bit of a voyeur making this and a few other San Francisco night photographs — but that is part of street photography, isn’t it? After starting in a very different area at sunset — a less touristy area of Chinatown — then working my way slowly down past the gaudy lights and bright shops of Grant Street — I ended up in the popular area of shops and restaurants and hotels near Union Square.

This place is, quite literally, a “corner bar.” It was quiet inside, and I imagined that at least some of the folks at tables or sitting on stools having a drink might be regulars. A few sat alone and a few were in groups of two or more. The most interesting man (in the world) appeared on the television screen. The door was open and I considered that enough of an invitation to make a few photographs.


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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Bow Hon Seafood Restaurant

Bow Hon Seafood Restaurant
A group of people waits for a table at the Bow Hon Seafood Restaurant.

Bow Hon Seafood Restaurant. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A group of people waits for a table at the Bow Hon Seafood Restaurant.

This photograph comes from an evening of night photography in San Francisco, mostly in and around the Chinatown district. This is, of course, a popular tourist area, but somehow the night changes things and makes it perhaps a bit less tacky — or maybe just tacky in more interesting ways! Many of the shops seem to close down early here, even though this was a weekend evening in the height of the San Francisco summer tourist season.

This is almost one of those “photographs of nothing special,” though I think that many of us can identify with the feeling of standing outside small restaurant in an urban area, talking and perhaps waiting for a table as the street life passes by. When shooting handheld photography at night I seek out this little pools of light beneath commercial signs or in the light spilling our from well-lit businesses.


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.

Storm, Mono Lake

Storm, Mono Lake
Dark clouds of a massive summer thunderstorm move across Mono Lake.

Storm, Mono Lake. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. August 7, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Dark clouds of a massive summer thunderstorm move across Mono Lake.

This has been the “summer of the monsoon” in the Sierra Nevada. Although the range is terribly dry after four years of drought and this past winter’s truly anemic snow pack, summer has brought a greater than usual amount of monsoonal flow from the south, producing a great deal of thunderstorms and rain. In July I saw an odd juxtaposition of nearly snow free peaks and ridges that looked like late September of a dry year… along with green meadows and full ponds where the rains had fallen.

By the time of this early August visit to the Yosemite High Sierra and then a few days of backpacking on the east side of the range further south, things were drying out a bit and the foliage was taking on the usual late-August dry appearance. I camped down in Lee Vining Canyon the first night, and being close to Mono Lake I managed to head out there and make photographs after setting up camp. Thunderstorms were forming above the Sierra crest, and they had sprinkled on my camp. They then drifted east of the range and continued to build, so as I looked along this section of the north shore of Mono Lake, with Black Point and Negit Island visible in the foreground, the sky in the distance was turbulent, dark, and full of falling rain.


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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Tourist Shop, Night

Tourist Shop, Night
Front of a Chinatown tourist shop at night, San Francisco

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

Front of a Chinatown tourist shop at night, San Francisco

Like any big city popular with tourists, San Francisco has its share — and then some! — of these little shops whose sole purpose seems to be to sell cheap proof that “I was there!” to folks visiting the city. This one happens to be in the densely packed Chinatown district of the City, right on Grant, but you can find the same thing alone the areas of the waterfront that are on the tourist circuit and in a number of other places.

The items included in the stock of such shops, while often sharing the same level of kitsch and cheap manufacture, are often a sort of study in the ways that cities portray themselves and in the ways they are viewed. Exhibit #1: How about those American flag tights! Wow! It was getting late when we passed through here, and many shops had already closed or were in the process of closing.


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.

Three Men, Urban Garden

Three Men, Urban Garden
Three men sitting on benches in a downtown San Francisco courtyard

Three Men, Urban Garden. San Francisco, California. August 14 ,2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Three men sitting on benches in a downtown San Francisco courtyard

This seemed like a rare quiet scene in this part of San Francisco, along busy Market Street, which is crowded with tourists, locals, buses and taxis at this time of year. While walking through this area with my camera I had taken a break to grab a coffee when I saw this scene right outside the window.

There are many things that strike me about the relationship between urban environments like this one and the natural world that is also a subject of my photography. Places like Market Street are so antithetical to almost the entirety of the rest of the world — they noise and bustle and crowds are truly an anomaly on this planet. In some places it is quite possible to see almost no evidence of that non-human world, except perhaps by looking straight up at the sky. Yet in places like this an image of that world, synthetic though it may be, is constructed — and it brings some quiet and stillness.


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.

Mount Dana

Mount Dana
Evening light, Mount Dana and Dana Meadows

Mount Dana. Yosemite National Park, California. July 13, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening light, Mount Dana and Dana Meadows

On an evening early in my mid-July visit to Yosemite’s high country, I parked my car along Tioga Pass Road and next to a meadow that is an old friend of mine, shouldered my pack and tripod, and wandered slowly into the landscape, knowing that there was too much to see to warrant hurrying. I dropped to a low flat area, only to discover that water was flowing across it beneath the meadow foliage, so I spent a bit of time looking for a dry path through the section. A bit further on I climbed a low rise with glacial boulders and small trees on top, and I paused here to look for a while and then made a few photographs before moving on.

The photographs from this spot included some of this slope leading toward the summit of Mount Dana, the second tallest peak in the park at just over 13,000 feet of elevation. From my location in this subalpine meadow, the terrain gradually ascends through dense forest, with trees gradually becoming smaller, past the tree line to where only smaller shrubs and bushes grow, and on up to alpine tundra. Clouds shrouded the peak on this evening, leftovers from early thunderstorm weather. Of all these things, photographically I was most interested in the close meadow, rocks, and trees Oddly, when I returned home I initially ignored this photograph, but later on I went back and looked again and ended up feeling that it conveys a true sense of this sort of country.


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.

Service Station, Billboards

Service Station, Billboards
Billboards tower over a service station in morning light, San Francisco

Service Station, Billboards. San Francisco, California. August 14, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Billboards tower over a service station in morning light, San Francisco

There are many kinds of landscapes to photograph, and I like most of them. This one happens to be an urban landscape, a subject that I like a lot. I made the photograph on one of my periodic walks through parts of San Francisco. This one, as most of them do, started at the Caltrain station very early in the morning and headed straight up toward Market Street. This gas station is right near a freeway interchange, and probably ideally situated for people arriving in or departing from downtown San Francisco.

I know that a scene like this may simply baffle some viewers, especially those who are more drawn to nature and natural landscape photographs with their depictions of unspoiled beauty. I understand. But even in the city there is beauty, and the light was especially wonderful on this morning — blue sky with scattered fog breaking up created a soft but still directional quality to the muted light. My eyes first went to the billboards, whose backsides here tower above the surrounding buildings — urban mountains or cliffs, perhaps? But alone they did not seem to make a photograph. But then I saw the light on that wall with the “PRINTING” sign, and the contrast between the blues of the sky and wall and the hot reds and yellows of the corporate colors on the gas station.


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.