Tag Archives: california

Chinatown Merchandise Racks

Chinatown Merchandise Racks
Unused merchandize racks sit on the sidewalk

Chinatown Merchandise Racks. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Unused merchandize racks sit on the sidewalk

I photographed these well-worn and utilitarian merchandise racks on a walk down a Chinatown side street last summer. It almost appeared that they had been demoted from active use to side-street storage, and that perhaps they were just waiting to be dragged away, or possibly they were being kept around long enough that they could still be pressed into service if needed.

I like trying to read (or read into) the possible history of artifacts like these. For example, they give every indication of being “home-made” by folks who don’t follow construction “rules,” but who have probably built such things before. The colors are wild, between the fluorescent green and the yellow, red, and blue of graffiti. I love the angle on the lower front of the rack at the left — all I can figure is that it must have been designed to match the slope of the particular San Francisco street where it was once used.


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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Dust Storm, Dunes, Evening Light

Dust Storm, Dunes, Evening Light
A dust storm rages above sand dunes at the end of the day, Death Valley National Park

Dust Storm, Dunes, Evening Light. Death Valley National Park, California. March 28, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A dust storm rages above sand dunes at the end of the day, Death Valley National Park

This was a wild evening, featuring an apocalyptic combination of tremendously strong winds, huge clouds of blowing sand and dust, periodic downpours of rain, and light that changed constantly from ominous and dark to luminous clouds backlit by sun to threads of virgo, and more. I had never seen quite this combination of conditions in Death Valley at one time.

Photography was quite challenging. Because sunset was approaching (and I continued to photograph into the dusk), it was often quite dark. The screaming winds made it virtually impossible to shoot from the tripod, so I was mostly reduced to bracing my camera against the window frame of my vehicle and working with the camera handheld. In the rough conditions I was forced to work from a distance with a long lens, since photographing inside the windblown clouds of dust and sand was not a good idea. Here the clouds and the dust above the sand dunes momentarily thinned, creating a backlit glow from the low angle sun about to drop behind mountains to the west.


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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Sidewalk Shoppers, Night

Sidewalk Shoppers, Night
Shoppers and tourists walk past Chinatown shops at night, San Francisco

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

Shoppers and tourists walk past Chinatown shops at night, San Francisco

Allow me to continue to indulge my (relatively) new obsession with handheld night street photography! This is yet another photograph made after dark in San Francisco, in a popular tourist area full of people, shops, and plenty of wildly colorful artificial light. This might look a bit like just a photograph of a crowd, but when I look closer I’m fascinated by the variety of faces and activities and ways of engaging that I see.

It was only perhaps a couple of years ago that I discovered that I can use small handheld mirrorless camera set to high ISO to photograph in the nighttime city environment. In the past this was sometimes marginally possible in very well-lit areas, but most such photography required a tripod and its attendant disruption of the scene — people behave very differently when they see a big camera on a tripod. But now it is quite possible to roam with a very small camera and produce viable photographs that can even be printed rather large.


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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Dunes and Mountains, Twilight

Dunes and Mountains, Twilight
Sand dunes and desert mountains in twilight, Death Valley National Park

Dunes and Mountains, Twilight. Death Valley National Park, California. April 27, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Sand dunes and desert mountains in twilight, Death Valley National Park

Arriving in Death Valley earlier in the day, we had visited some canyon country that is a bit off the beaten path and then headed back to our home base in the park for the next few days. We got settled in, had some dinner, and headed out to make some photographs, deciding that it would be best on this first evening to photograph nearby.

We made it to an area along the periphery of the dunes before sunset and then continued to photograph during the evening light transition from warm pre-sunset color to the post-sunset blue hour light. Here there was still a bit of a glow from the west, but the sun had already dropped below the Cottonwood mountains, and the light was soft as we finished photographing in the evening 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.

Zoltar Speaks

Zoltar Speaks
Zoltar waits for his mark on a San Francisco sidewalk

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

Zoltar waits for his mark on a San Francisco sidewalk

Zoltar, in all of his flamboyant glory, waits in a sidewalk booth to give fortunes to passers-by. Despite his ultra-colorful appearance, not a single person stopped to speak with him during my visit.

I did not realize that Zoltar is actually a “thing.” Yes, you can look up “Zoltar Speaks” on the Internet and read all about him. (He comes in standard, economy, and deluxe models.) I remain perplexed about what he may have to do with the cultural setting of San Francisco’s Chinatown district.


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.

Grant Avenue Sidewalk Scene, Evening

Grant Avenue Sidewalk Scene, Evening
Crowds of people walking past shops along Grant Avenue on a summer evening, San Francisco

Grant Avenue Sidewalk Scene, Evening. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Crowds of people walking past shops along Grant Avenue on a summer evening, San Francisco

To me, this photograph has a feeling of San Francisco. Yes, it is in a tourist location, but the crowded sidewalk, the diverse group of people, the somewhat old and (lovingly) worn buildings and sidewalk, the narrow street, the clutter… all contribute to the charm of The City.

There are a lot of small things in this complex photograph that I like. The center, though it is subtle, may be the man facing the camera and looking into the light of the store. But there is also the family with two children, one clutching dad’s hand and the other, barely visible, looking into that light. There’s more, but I’ll leave it to viewers to look.


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.

Clay and Grant, Night

Clay and Grant, Night
People assemble in summer twilight at the corner of Clay and Grant Streets, San Francisco

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

People assemble in summer twilight at the corner of Clay and Grant Streets, San Francisco

This was a beautiful San Francisco afternoon and evening. I rendezvoused with some photographer friends in the late afternoon, and after a group dinner we headed out onto the San Francisco streets eventually winding our way into the Chinatown area around dusk. Fog was coming in, turning the ambient light a beautiful blue color, and street and business lights were coming on and producing contrasting warmer toned light.

In these situations photography is a combination of keeping my eyes open and responding intuitively and of watching for potential compositions and subjects and then waiting for the right characters to populate the scene. Certain places are more likely prospects: narrow streets with electrical light coming from both sides, storefronts, and corners. At the latter people often have to stop and wait for traffic to clear or to figure out where to go next, and they sometimes assemble into interesting compositions and stay there for more than an instant. Here, if I recall correctly, my first attraction to the scene was towards the glowing light in this corner market. I quickly noticed the line of people spread across the scene from left to right, and for an instant the man standing in light at the center of the frame looked up and somewhat toward the camera, and against a backdrop of mostly hidden faces his appearance jumped out at 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.
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.