Thursday, September 6, 2018

Colors of San Francisco: Photographs of a few Iconic Landmarks in the City by the Bay

In early July, our family enjoyed a week-long vacation in San Francisco, California.  I spent the early mornings (while the rest of the family was catching up on sleep), out photographing some of the iconic landmarks in this beautiful city.  Last month I posted a group of my photographs of the old growth redwood trees in Muir Woods National Monument (just over the Golden Gate Bridge, in Marin County), from this trip. 

As I have lived only on the east coast of the United States, I am certainly not an expert on San Francisco.  That said, I have developed a few favorite photography locations.  I have listed them below, followed by some of my photographs from the trip.  I'm sure this list will expand during future trips.

1.  Fort Point.  This location offers a wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, with the Marin Headlands in the background.  The early morning light brought out the wonderful red tones in the iconic bridge.

2.  Lombard Street.  Known as the "crookedest street in the world", the combination of red bricks, lovely flowers, bends in the road, interesting architecture, and a great view of Telegraph Hill make this a lovely place for photographers.  Beware:  If you are not there very early, you will be surrounded by tourists.  Also, it is very steep, so wear good walking shoes if you intend to walk along the "crookedest" section.  In the early morning, I was able to park near the top without any problem.

3.  Alamo Square Park.  The park is set on a hill, and offers a wonderful view of the city's famous "Painted Ladies" (a group of beautifully painted historic Victorian houses), with the city's skyline in the in background.  I took my photograph below in the evening, as the last light of the day was hitting the skyline, including the Transamerica Pyramid.

4.  The Embarcadero (near the Ferry Building).  This waterfront area has great view of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Ferry Building, the "Cupid's Span" statue, and the skyline, among other things.

5.  Fisherman's Wharf.  Much of the day and evening, this area is jam-packed with tourists.  In the early morning, its a great spot to shoot colorful fishing boats, as well as the the sea lions at Pier 39. One word of advice regarding the sea lions - We were there in early July, there were only a couple of sea lions (a fraction of the number we remembered from a prior San Francisco trip).  We learned that the sea lions migrate each year from approximately late June until early August.

6.  Baker Beach.  This is another iconic spot to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge, with a sandy beach and rock formations in the foreground, and the Marin Headlands in the background.  I went there just after sunset, and the bridge was backlit, which contributed to a lovely, peaceful feeling.  My guess is that in the late afternoon, there would be more light on the bridge, making it a bit more dramatic and colorful.

7.  The Palace of Fine Arts - The historic architecture, pond and variety of flowers make this a very interesting spot to photograph. The light was poor during my morning visit, so I did not include any of my shots with the building reflected in the pond.

8.  Battery Spencer***, in the Marin Headlands.  You may notice that I have not included any photographs from this iconic location, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin County side.  I had made an early morning trip there, hoping to photograph a sunrise.  A few things folks should be aware of:  a) While I was at Battery Spencer, it was extremely cold - noticeably colder than it had been in San Francisco moments earlier or in Muir Woods, about an hour later; b) It was extremely windy, and there were frequent, significant gusts of wind - e.g. a gust blew over my sturdy tripod (messing up both my camera and lens) and another gust blew my baseball cap off my head; 3) While there may be other viewing areas from the Marin Headlands that are more accessible, Battery Spencer is a fairly steep walk from the parking area.

Golden Gate Bridge at Sunrise, from Fort Point.

Golden Gate Bridge in early morning light, from Fort Point.

Flowers on Lombard Street - "The Crookedest
Street in the World"
Lombard Street:  Flowers on House.
Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, from top of Lombard Street.
Painted Ladies, with the San Francisco Skyline
(a.k.a. "Postcard Row" of Victorian Homes, as seen from
Alamo Square Park, just before sunset.
San Francisco City Hall, on the evening of July 4th.
Palace of Fine Arts, with Lily of the Nile flowers.
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, in early
morning light, as seen from the Embarcadero.
Cupid's Span statue and San Francisco Skyline in early
morning light(near the Embarcadero).
The Ferry Building, in morning light, from Pier 7.
Fishing boats at Fisherman's Wharf, in early morning light.
Italianate-Style House on Dolores Street.
The Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach,
just after sunrise.

Finally, here are a few random restaurant, coffee and entertainment suggestions for fellow-tourists, as well as locals.  Thank you to our older son, Alex, for most all of these food-related suggestions.

Tony's Pizza Napoletana - 1570 Stockton St.  Not only are their regular pizzas delectable, but they make their own gluten-free crusts (one of our sons has celiac), which are excellent.

Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen - 401 Valencia St.  Good arepas are hard to find, and these are really delicious.

Smitten Ice Cream - 587 Hayes St. - Each order is churned in front of you, and frozen using liquid nitrogen!  Don't worry - its not just a gimmick.  The ice cream is really tasty.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream - 432 Octavia St. They have a wonderful and unique variety of delicious flavors.

Philz Coffee - I quickly became a fan of their iced mint mojito.  Each cup is made individually, as a "pour over."

Marrakech Magic Theater, starring Jay Alexander - A super fun evening of "magic, mentalism and comedy."

Friday, August 3, 2018

Walking with the Redwood Trees: Landscape Photographs of Muir Woods National Monument, California.

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, 
we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
John Muir

Have you ever walked in a forest in which the average tree was already alive when Christopher Columbus discovered the "New World"?  During a recent week-long visit to San Francisco, I had the pleasure to twice visit Muir Woods National Monument.  This beautiful forest is 25 minutes from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge (in Marin County, California), and it is home to giant old-growth redwood trees.  My first outing was primarily for photography.  I arrived at 8 a.m., when the park opened, and I brought by tripod, DSLR, and backpack with assorted lenses.  On my second trip, several days later, I greatly enjoyed a walk through the woods with my wife and two sons (21 and 18).  All of the photographs below are from the first of these trips, in which I went around the main trail, which hugs Redwood Creek down to the fourth bridge.

The average age for the redwood trees in Muir Woods is 600 to 800 years old, and the oldest is over 1200.  The tallest is about 258 feet - not too much shorter than the length of a football field. But numbers cannot reflect the feeling one gets from walking along these beautiful giants.  John Steinbeck said:

"The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe." (John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley In Search of America).

I have been to Muir Woods only a handful of times in my life, usually with decades in-between, but each time I walk under these giants, I am filled with awe.  While the constraints of photography make it difficult, if not impossible, to capture the magnitude of these trees, I hope that a few of my photographs hint at the tranquil and humble feeling one has at Muir Woods.

For those who may be planning to take photographs during your visit, here are a few random suggestions:

1. Presently, you need to make parking or shuttle reservations ahead of time.  Use this LINK to get information and make a reservation.  If you choose to drive yourself, you reserve a half hour window in which to park.
2. If you are planning to take photographs, I suggest you go when the park is less crowded.  I arrived at 8 a.m., when Muir Woods first opens, and I had the place largely to myself.  A few hours later, it would have been impossible to get photographs of the paths without hoards of people.
3. I suggest that you bring a tripod for landscape photographs.  Although you are outside, the place is fully canopied, so you are shooting in heavy shade.  If you do not want to raise your ISO too high, you will need the stability of a tripod.
4. All of my images below of Muir Woods are taken with wide angle lenses.  If I had more time, I am sure that there are photographic possibilities with other lenses (e.g. macro shots of the fern). For me, these will have to wait for another visit - Hopefully I will not have to wait another decade!

The early morning view from Muir Woods Road,
on the way to Muir Woods.
Muir Woods National Monument (1).
Muir Woods National Monument (2).
Muir Woods National Monument (3).
Muir Woods National Monument (4).
Muir Woods National Monument (5).
Muir Woods National Monument (6).
Muir Woods National Monument (7).
Muir Woods National Monument (8).
As a long-time fan of our American National Park System, and I am grateful that this grove of magnificent redwood trees has been carefully and lovingly preserved. To conclude, here is a comment by John Muir regarding conservation:

"God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools, — only Uncle Sam can do that."

Monday, May 7, 2018

Winter into Spring: Black and White Landscape Photographs of Bucks County, Pennsylvania

“Our lives at times seem a study in contrast… love and hate, birth and death, right and wrong… everything seen in absolutes of black and white. Too often we are not aware that it is the shades of grey that add depth and meaning to the starkness of those extremes.”  -Ansel Adams 

As a teenager, I was inspired by Ansel Adams' iconic black and white photographs of the American West.  His work planted the seeds which have grown into a life-long love of photography. While the majority of my current images are in color, certain subjects and weather conditions seem to pull me in a monochromatic direction.  Between December 2017 and April 2018, some of these situations presented themselves.  I photographed our beautiful and historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania in falling snow, bitter cold (in which the Delaware River was frozen), and dense morning fog.  What follows are a series of Ansel Adams-inspired images taken during the past few months.

Patterson Farm in falling snow, Yardley, Pennsylvania (12/9/17).
Calhoun Street Bridge and the partially frozen Delaware River,
Morrisville, Pennsylvania (12/29/17). 
Statue of George Washington crossing the Delaware River, in falling snow, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania (12/30/17).
Washington Crossing Bridge over the frozen Delaware River,
Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania (1/2/18).
Cuttalossa Road in snow, New Hope, Pennsylvania (1/7/18).
Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge crossing the frozen
Delaware River,Lumberville, Pennsylvania (1/7/18).
New Hope and Ivyland Railroad, New Hope, Pennsylvania (1/7/18).
Lake Afton and the Old Library in fresh snow,
Yardley, Pennsylvania (1/17/18).
The Delaware River with gathering ice,
Yardley, Pennsylvania(1/20/18).
Patterson Farm in early morning light,
Yardley, Pennsylvania (2/27/18).
St. Andrew's Church reflected in Lake Afton in falling snow,
Yardley, Pennsylvania (3/21/18)
Fonthill Castle after an early April snow,
Doylestown, Pennsylvania (4/2/18).
The West Trenton Railroad Bridge in early morning fog,
crossing the Delaware River, Yardley, Pennsylvania (4/4/18).
Rusty "International Harvester" truck from the 1940s,
Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania (4/24/18).
Fence and trees in early morning fog,
New Hope, Pennsylvania (4/28/18).
The Delaware Canal and Towpath disappearing into the early
morning fog, Delaware Canal State Park, New Hope,
Pennsylvania (4/28/18).
The Delaware Canal, Towpath and footbridge in early
morning fog, Delaware Canal State Park, New Hope,
Pennsylvania (4/28/18).
Van Sandt Covered Bridge in early morning fog,
Solebury Township, Pennsylvania (4/28/18).

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Year in Review: Josh Friedman's Photographs

People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photography is always a creative process in which I feel fully "in the moment" - whether I'm capturing the tranquil beauty of country road or the angles, lines and reflections in a modern skyscraper. I recognize that over the past year, photography has provided moments of respite from disturbing headlines and feeling of divisiveness in our country.  I hope that 2018 brings us a renewed sense of compassion, decency, respect, understanding and unity.

What follows are a few of my favorite or most meaningful photos from the past year.  Usually, once I post my annual "year in review," I question why I included some, and why I excluded others.  I suspect that this collection is no different.

Best wishes for the holiday season and new year.
One World Trade Center ("The Freedom Tower"), New York City.
Calhoun Street Bridge, Crossing the Delaware River
between West Trenton, New Jersey and Morrisville, Pennsylvania.
First Light on Bowman's Hill, behind the
Thompson-Neely Mill, 
New Hope, Pennsylvania
Cascadilla Gorge, Ithaca, New York.
The Old Library reflected in Lake Afton in Spring,
Yardley, Pennsylvania (Bucks County).
St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Delaware Canal State Park,
Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania (Bucks County).
"It Takes One Person: A Tribute to Rosa Parks,"
mural in West Philadelphia. 
Patterson Farm in Spring, Yardley, Pennsylvania (Bucks County).
  • "Wisdom" Statue, Rockefeller Center, New York City, NY.
Cuttalossa Farm, New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Dixieland jazz performers on Royal Street. 
New Orleans, Louisiana.
The Delaware Canal and Towpath, Yardley, Pennsylvania. 
"Trenton Makes" Bridge at Dusk, West Trenton, New Jersey.
 Alcoa Corporate Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, near the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, in the City's North Side.
Sunflowers, Newtown, Pennsylvania.
Delaware Canal and Towpath, Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, New Hope, Pennsylvania. 
Route 32, New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Delaware River in Yardley, Pennsylvania (Bucks County).
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Old Library reflected in Lake Afton,
Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Cira Centre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Delaware Canal State Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Lake Afton, Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Abandoned Truck, Pipersville, Pennsylvania.
Cuttalossa Road, New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Delaware and Raritan Canal, Lambertville, New Jersey.
Patterson Farm, Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Tujague's and Balconies on Decatur Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mahlon Taylor House, Washington Crossing
 Historic Park, Pennsylvania.