Descent, architectural detail | San Francisco, California

Wandering the streets of San Francisco with a camera has always been a rewarding experience; along with being an interesting, often picturesque urban environment, there is endless opportunity for the unexpected.

This is a favourite image from my archives, captured on a relaxed summer afternoon of city exploration. I had never ventured far into one of the commercial complexes near the Embarcadero Plaza, and was wandering through the network of bridges and walkways that linked shops and restaurants in a canyon of office buildings and hotels. At one crossing of paths, I noticed a stairway leading down to the level below, and paused to admire the echo of form, texture, and tone in the large fern that grew in the curve of the stairs.

Architectural urban detail, a woman walks down a spiral staircase in downtown San Francisco

While composing the frame and trying to balance shapes and leading lines, a woman walked down the stairs, and as she reached the bottom I captured a single frame. I had not planned on the human element, but I love how it adds a sense of motion to an otherwise static scene. In black and white, the texture and tone of the mosaic floors and fern become more cohesive, and the spiralling, circular structures of concrete, plant, railing and tile frame and compliment each other, tying it all together.

This image is included in my Black and White Prints collection, and offers both architectural interest and a timeless moment full of details that invite reflection.

Handbuilt, a study of the Saturn V

At Kennedy Space Center, I entered the building housing the remarkable Saturn V exhibit, and looking up, this is the first thing I saw; intricate, astounding engineering on an enormous scale. I love this image, because I can remember that moment of awe, and every time I look at it I notice some new arrangement of shapes and mechanics, textures and tones.

WM_KennedySpace_01
Detail of Stage I Saturn V rocket

Even more incredible, this is Stage 1 of a rocket that took mankind to the moon, and it is entirely built by hand. I admire such workmanship, and understand that it took many talented minds and hands to assemble such a feat of engineering.

My digital black and white images are all tuned “by hand” as well – I do not use plugins or presets, and instead rely on my own sense of tonality, contrast and composition to bring a certain mood and focus to each photo. It is a labor of love, and as a result this image has proven to be quite striking as a large print.

To purchase a print of this image, please visit my Black and White Prints gallery.

Small Yellow Songbird

As the days gradually become shorter and the season shifts to cooler temperatures, autumn is turning the leaves a lovely golden color before they fall. I am reminded of a little yellow songbird perched high in the branches of a tree on a cold winter morning. It calmly watched the sunrise, warming it’s wings as sunlight spread across a mountainous Southern California desert landscape beneath a bright blue sky.

Small yellow songbird
A small yellow songbird perches in the California desert sunshine, framed by the branches and yellow leaves of a tree against blue sky

This is an image from my archives, and I am adding it as a new release to a collection of square prints that are sized and priced for the casual art collector. I often provide custom, larger-format fine art prints to private collectors, but wish to share my images with a wider audience. This sweet little songbird is the first image selected for a set of square prints that start at $30 USD, with gallery canvas wrap and standout mounting options available. I will be adding new images to my Open Edition Square Series print collection in the months to come, so please check back for announcements or subscribe to this blog for updates.

To purchase ‘Small Yellow Songbird’ please visit apkphotography.com

Tandem

As the daughter of a pilot, it is nearly impossible for me not to look up when I hear airplane engines rumbling through the sky.  These two planes passed overhead while I was on a recent travel photography expedition, and while I only had a split second to catch them from my spot on the sidewalk, I am actually quite pleased with the unexpected composition of the powerlines and dramatic sky framing, before these two planes passed into the bright afternoon sun.

This sky photo is available as a fine art print here.

One Structure, Many Forms

Working through my archives, I recently spent some time processing a handful of cityscapes and architectural shots from a trip to San Francisco last year. These two images were shot on the same day, and depict different angles on the same windows and balconies of one building.

This image intrigued me, with looming rows of railings, the couple hidden in the shadows, and the layers of squared corners and circles at the top. The tone and texture of the building against the blue sky seems to add another layer of interest, as it is difficult to decide whether this building might be a modern experiment from years past, or some possibly futuristic structure.

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The second image frames one edge of the angular building in the heavy concrete of a foreground structure. I chose to work in black and white for this view, as the elements of interest are all caught up in the layered angles, and in the balance of light and shadow as the afternoon light settles across the skyline.

It is important for me to routinely challenge my eye with these comparisons, as it can take so little to bring an entirely new meaning to a photograph. Which interpretation of this building do you prefer?

Echoes of the past

Some places have a special kind of nostalgia, often unexpected and off the beaten-path.  San Francisco’s Fort Point National Historic Site offers many angles on both the water and striking architecture, from a strategic spot beneath the Golden Gate Bridge at the entrance to San Francisco Bay.  A photographer’s dream location, the light is always interesting and the compositional opportunities are seemingly endless.  I have rolls of film shot here when I was a child, enthusiastically clicking-away in the echoing halls while sight-seeing with my family. I’d love to work with a model or two in this space sometime, but for now I’m content to explore these familiar arching passages and the dramatic setting for structure’s sake.

under the bridge

Explore this incredible spot a little further in my photo archives – and be sure to visit it yourself on your next trip to SF!

A Very Patient Dog…


You know that moment, caught out of the corner of your eye, that seems to perfectly sum up a story or feeling, and then as quickly as it appeared, it vanishes into thin air?

Doggy in the window


This is one of those moments, and perfectly illustrates why, at all times I feel compelled to have a camera with me. This was actually photographed with a tough little 5MP point-and-shoot camera, the only digital option I had at the time, which I’d stuffed into the pocket of my winter coat while up in the mountains for some winter recreation. Stopping by the lodge cafe for lunch, I noticed a very focused and forlorn dog hanging around the back door, and as I sat down to my meal, he stopped his pacing and sat down too, intently watching the warm scene of people and food inside. I was able to catch this snapshot in a break between passing customers, and a moment later, the dog had been reunited with his owner and was gone.