San Francisco 2010 with Paul's Photo Print

In April 2010, a bunch of us joined Mark Comon for another photo adventure, this time to San Francisco.  I have been to San Francisco many times but have never taken the time to seriously photograph much of anything.  This was an exercise in shooting several things--street photography, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Alcatraz, with a few other goodies here and there.

I decided to drive up, rather than fly, because flying in today's world is a pain in the butt (ES&D, Bin Laden).  I had dreams of going up 101 and having lunch at McPhee's Grill in Templeton on the way, but didn't have time for that, so I made the usual trip up I-5, stopping at the In 'N Out in Kettleman City.  There are much worse things than having burgers animal style at In 'N Out.

I used our Garmin, which brought me to the King George Hotel perfectly.  The King George is a pretty cool little place, a block from Powell Street and Union Square, with a decent restaurant called Cafe Mason next door.  It was an amazing bargain considering the area.  Probably the darkest hotel room I've ever had but it was a great place to stay for the group and far, far less expensive than the St. Francis. And, as I discovered later, there is a Daily Grill around the corner, which made for excellent breakfasts for me on Saturday and Sunday.

I drove up on Wednesday and because the trip didn't officially start until lunch on Thursday, I was fortunate to have dinner with Jonathan and Andy Katzman, a couple of really good guys who know food as well as anyone I know, and who arranged dinner for us at Barbacco.  It was a great meal--we sampled many things, including the chef's salumi platter (excellent!), and highlights included the squid, the brussels sprouts, the asparagus and 'nduja.  Thanks again, guys--great seeing you and partaking of great food in the process.

I had purchased an iPhone the weekend before I left and downloaded the free Photoshop app.  The iPhone camera is significantly better than most other cell phone cameras, and the 16 and 32 gb versions have a 3 mb camera, substantially larger than the camera in the 8 gb version.   I hasten to add that you can download this app directly on your iPhone from the App Store.  Anyway, it allows you to crop, straighten, adjust exposure and contrast, saturate, etc., and post to Facebook directly.  Pretty cool.  Obviously not as good as a real camera with full-blown Photoshop CS4 and Nik Software add-ins, but great when you want to post a quickie photo and you're fussy about how your photos look.  I spent some time fooling around with it (while figuring out how to solve the problem I was having synchronizing my calendar) before the group arrived.

We gathered for lunch at the Cafe Mason on Thursday and then went back to the meeting room in the hotel for Mark's orientation. The trip was sponsored by Leica and Ebi and Mary Jo were (again) delightful partners on the trip.  They loaned anyone who wanted to try one a new Leica M9, and many of the group did so.  I elected not to, because I'm easily confused by new stuff and wanted to make sure I would do as well as possible on the shoots.  Leica made street shooting famous with the introduction of its first 35mm camera, which in turn made such photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Alfred Eisenstadt famous, and Mark did a good job of structuring much of the trip to take advantage of Leica's low profile and excellent optics for street shooting.

That afternoon, we strolled around Union Square to shoot people, places and such, practicing our street shooting, and then did some motion shots of cable cars going up and down Powell Street.


We worked our way down Powell Street to the BART station at Powell & Market, and shot people and places there.

We worked our way back up to the Cafe Mason for dinner, where we relaxed and talked about the day's shooting, and went over plans for Friday.

Friday was a driving day and since I had driven Sue's car up for the extra space, and many people had flown up, I was one of the designated drivers.  We drove to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and parked in the lot across from officer housing at the Presidio, from where we walked over to the bridge and part way across.

From there, we drove over to Fort Point, the first fortification built in the western United States (like, during the Civil War!) and spent some time there.  It's a great photographic venue and worth a return trip.  It sits in the arch on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge and has a great view of the bridge.

From there, we drove to Chinatown and parked in Portsmouth Square.  We strolled Chinatown for a while, visiting the Fortune Cookie Factory and shooting street scenes here and there.

We met for dinner at the Capital Restaurant, which was a great experience, with the owner sitting down with Mark to discuss what we should have.  (I took this photo with my iPhone.)

  mark orders dinner.jpg


From there we drove out to Treasure Island and shot the city lights briefly, and came back to the hotel.

Saturday, we had planned to take the cable car to Fisherman's Wharf but they were all jammed so we took a bus instead.  We met at the Rodney Lough Gallery on Pier 39 for a personal tour and I rediscovered there what a true professional's photographs look like and affirmed that I need to keep my day job.  We walked Fisherman's Wharf for a while and then met at the Wipe Out Grill for dinner before congregating at Pier 33 for the ride to Alcatraz.

Going to Alcatraz for a night shoot was the primary reason I went on the trip and I was not disappointed.  It's an amazing place, full of history and really creepy.  You can read all about it on the Alcatraz site and see a little of what I mean in these photos below, but you should see it for yourself. 

We took the last boat back so it was 11:00 p.m. by the time we arrived at the hotel.  I had breakfast at the Daily Grill on Sunday and then hit the road.  Listened to several CD music compilations, stopped at a few rest stops, stopped for lunch at the Kettleman City In 'N Out, and drove right to Jennifer and Duane's to join everyone for dinner with their friend Vinny from New York.

Another great photo adventure with Mark Comon and Paul's Photo.