Tourists on a late-night walk pass closed Chinatown shops in San Francisco
This is (yet another!) night street photography image made on one of my summer night walks in The City, in this case between roughly Union Square and almost to North Beach. A group of us meets up to photograph these subjects every so often. We begin before sunset and then continue walking, watching, and photographing right on into the night.
I recently read a nice description of part of what is appealing about photographing the street at night. In the daytime everything is more or less evenly lit, but at night small groups move into and out of the light, becoming “spotlighted” against the backdrop of the night. In places where we might see undifferentiated subjects in the daytime, subjects that pass though localized pools for light acquire more importance, and other elements of the scene recede. Here a small group of slightly uncomfortable-looking tourists shuffles past the closed up storefronts of Chinatown. Something about the group does not look entirely comfortable with their surroundings.
Steep coastal ridges run down to the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Northern California
Having lived not far from the Pacific Ocean for more than a couple of decades, I am lucky to have regular access to the California coastline and its often dramatic meeting of land and sea. Due to proximity, my home territory is the section between just north of San Francisco and down through the upper portions of the Big Sur coast. The shouldn’t be any surprise, given the number of photographs of that area that I have made.
Oddly, for a near-native Californian, I had little experience with the coastline farther north. I had made it up as far as Fort Ross a few times, but every time I went north in the state I headed inland. Some years back we began to rectify this omission with some visits to the Mendocino area. I still haven’t gotten my mind completely around photographing this particular coast, but I’m learning. While we think of the coast as being somewhat civilized, with roads traversing it and passing from town to town, the actual meeting of land and water remains mostly a rugged wilderness. I made this photograph from a spot that it at the edge of one of these wilderness sections, where the roads cut inland and leave the coast to the birds and the sea life.
Cliffs and eroded towers near Fruita, Capitol Reef National Park
I’m a sucker for juxtapositions of mountains and cliffs, and sunlit and shadowed surfaces. (In fact, “juxtaposition” is a word I think about a lot when making photographs.) This part of the world provides these juxtapositions with a vengeance. Everywhere in the red rock country of the Southwest there are sandstone walls, lined up, building one on top of the other, standing in front of and behind each other, layered with eroded rock and soil, standing above valleys and beyond lower ridges.
We had only a brief time to photograph on this first afternoon in Capitol Reef National Park. I had arrived in the middle of the afternoon and then busied myself with setting up a tent and a few other camp chores, plus catching up on the news with my friend Dave. By the time all of these important things had been taken care of the sun was rapidly dropping toward the horizon, so we quickly headed to a nearby area to see what sort of late-day light we could find. Literally within minutes of leaving our campground (which is just to the right of the shadowed trees visible in the lower part of the photograph) we came upon this intense and saturated late-day light, with shadows starting to stretch across the valley and the low foreground ridges.
Bicycles lean against an old stone wall in Salzburg, Austria
This is another photograph from our visit to England, Germany, and Salzburg, Austria a few summers ago. (We need to go back! Not this summer, though.) From our “home base” in Heidelberg, Germany we travelled south by train to Salzburg on our way to Bavaria, where a big group of us stayed in a farm-house near Berchtesgaden and the Königsee for a week.
Since that area is so close to Salzburg and since we arrive and departed via that city, we ended up visiting Salzburg several times, often walking around the city with cameras at the ready. Cars really can’t get into the central old town area, so almost everyone walks, with bicycles serving as a faster mode of transportation for some. And there are bicycles everywhere, including these two parked against a very old stone wall.
Looking towards the Bavarian Alps from the Salzburg Castle
I’ll admit that this photograph has one of the more unusual compositions among my photographs. Late in the afternoon on a summer day, I made the photograph from within an upper courtyard of the Salzburg Castle during our visit to that part of the world a couple of years ago. We were actually staying in Bavaria, in the portion of the distant mountains that is in Germany, but we arrived by train in Salzburg, departed the same way, and managed to travel down to the flatlands and visit the city on a couple of other occasions.
The castle is a spectacular place, located on the high ground above the old town and a bend in the river and having a commanding view of the surrounding flatlands and all the way to the mountains. As impressive as it is to us today, it must have been far more impressive when it was built. From this vantage point I was just able to see over one of the upper walls toward the mountains, and the backlit, hazy sky glowed. I suppose that the photograph is all about shapes, mostly abundant rectangles, but also the triangular shapes of the roof of the white building. The mountains echo those shapes, but inverting the tones — where the white buildings are the lightest things in their part of the image, the mountains are the darkest things in the upper rectangle holding the distant landscape.
A lamp, old buildings, and a narrow street, Salzburg, Austria
With this photograph I’m back to that theme of the lamps on the walls of Salzburg, Austria. As I mentioned in an earlier post, once I noticed them I began to see them everywhere, always attached to the exterior walls of buildings and always with the same lamp shape, the same curving stem, and the same two bars to brace it.
This one is actually in part of the Salzburg castle, if I recall correctly. It was getting to be late in the afternoon and the angle of the sun was becoming lower, creating more shadows with their blue-toned light. In the photograph one wall is still lit but the sun, and the foreground wall picks up a bit of the reflected glow of sunlight on a wall behind my camera position. Given that the place was busy with tourists, I had to be patient and wait for a moment when the scene was clear.
People stroll past a restaurant along a narrow street of Altstadt-Heidelberg
Here is another photograph from our 2013 visit to Heidelberg, Germany. (And London, and Bavaria, and Salzburg. Can we go back, now?) We stayed within walking distance of the altstadt section of Heidelberg, the old town area along the Neckar River and near the castle, and we walked over by way of the Philosophen Weg many times, hiking up and over a small hill between where we stayed and this popular area.
Being in the old town, it is no surprise that the streets are very narrow here. In most of this section of the town there are no cars, and people walk everywhere — except for the many folks on bicycles — and restaurants spill out onto the streets.