Most of the photographs I collect when visiting Fort Point, San Francisco are of the architecture and magical spaces between shadow and light created by the repeating motifs and angles of the Fort itself. Climbing the steep stairs to the top of the structure, one is rewarded with a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and this day was no exception.
I have seen this place at various times of day, in different seasons, all types of weather, and part of the what keeps bringing me back with my camera is the potential for dramatically framed, constantly shifting scenes. On this particular July afternoon, the fog had settled heavily along the water, and as I admired the form of the bridge vanishing into the mist, a pair of figures paused in just the right spot to unexpectedly add balance to the frame.
As I had been at that moment experimenting with the panoramic capabilities of my phone, I quickly captured this photo with the camera in hand, rather than risk losing the moment while switching to my DSLR. I did managed to grab a couple similar frames with the big camera afterward, but for me this image stands alone.
Minutes later, the couple had moved on, and the fog began to lift, giving way to a glorious sunny day and a large pod of humpback whales feeding beneath the bridge – those particular photos will get their own post – proving that one never knows just how fleeting a moment will be or what will come next!
…is the one you have with you. If you’ve been anywhere near the internet in the past several years, you’ve heard this phrase. If you’re a photographer of any sort, from hobbyist to professional, you know without a doubt that it is true.
I’ve worked with SLRs since the age of seven, when my father entrusted me with a 35mm Minolta SLR body and a few lenses, providing an endless supply of black and white film for my early photography explorations. I also had a Kodak point-and-shoot through which I must have run hundreds of rolls of color print film. When it came time for me to start building my own SLR camera kit, it came in the form of an upgrade to an entry-level Nikon FM-10, which I still keep handy for those opportunities when a return to 35mm film for a few shots might be worthwhile.
With each camera, I learned very quickly to work with whatever equipment I had on hand. Didn’t pack the right lens for the occasion? I’d work with what I had thought to bring, and never regretted the lessons learned in those moments of artistic and technical problem-solving.
In the digital era, I once again found myself playing with the freedom and spontaneity of a newer Kodak point-and-shoot, while the bulk of my photographic work was created with a Nikon D80, which I managed to make effective in a wider-range of shooting circumstances than the manufacturers may have intended. I worked with the D80 well past the reported limit of actuations, and as the image quality began to degrade, I knew my beloved DSLR body had helped me to build an extensive portfolio as I explored different shooting styles and challenges.
I have now made the ultimate upgrade, working with a Nikon D800, and the creative flexibility and power it provides has opened up new paths for me, through visual and technical experience. It is an incredible piece of engineering, and I hope my photography will continue to evolve as I learn to make use of all that it offers.
What inspired this post, however, is a recent, smaller upgrade. For nearly 4 years, I’ve carried around an iPod touch as my “pocket computer”. I tend to be a late-adopter on principle, and did not see the need for an expensive data-hungry phone, when any wi-fi connection could connect me in an instant to the online world. With the iPod, I started an instagram account and enjoyed the spontaneous world of snapshot sharing. As the years have gone by, I have been keenly aware of how the quality of my low-resolution images compare to those made by newer smartphones and mobile devices. Yet I continued to share my world and in-the-moment photos in low-resolution, because in many instances it was the only camera I had with me, and therefore it was the best camera for that moment. I’ve now upgraded my phone, and while the camera can not compare to my DLSR, it offers me new creative opportunities as I share higher-quality images and may find myself even further inspired to capture those candid and intimate moments that every day has to offer. Join me on the journey!
Around the time one calendar year changes to the next, it is easy to become absorbed in reflecting on the recent past. In this case, 2011 flew by with alarming speed, and it is hard to believe that 2012 has already arrived. Rather than dwell on what has been, however, I am very excited by what is next. Many changes afoot for this blog and my photography – from new digital darkroom tricks to some incredible print collections and fine art offerings.
These two images, both shot on the same beach in Big Sur, are from a recent exploration of longer-exposure photography. Living on the coast affords me easy access to some spectacular coastlines awash in sunset colours and misty waves, and I hope to bring you more of these peaceful, scenic images in the coming months.