I am fortunate enough to have traveled to many exotic locations. Still, the biggest thrill is when the plane slowly makes its way around the bay area and settles into a slow approach over the San Francisco Bay towards the San Francisco Airport. The bigger the bird, the slower it is in its approach.

As we float over the bay, approaching from the Southern end of the Bay Area, occasionally, I find myself sitting on the window seat on the plane’s right side. My vantage point gives me a view of the San Mateo bridge and the salt ponds that have been part of the bay since the California Gold Rush. The 16,500-acre ponds once were part of the wetlands.

Almost every single time, I marvel at these ponds’ colors and the minimal beauty of their geometric shapes. Recently, I snapped a few photos with the new iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the long reach of its telephoto lens allowed me to focus on a few elements in each photo. And since I was using Halide’s app, the RAW files gave me enough data to manipulate in Photoshop. I was quite amazed by the details captured by the new iPhone camera. The reflections of the clouds were very clear and added a nice texture to the photos. Using Topaz’s software, I was able to clean up the files. After that, it was just a matter of applying my custom presets and playing around with saturation and contrast.

As the holiday break approaches, I plan to find a way to fly over the bay and do a proper ariel photo session over these ponds. I want to see what my “pro” grade camera and lenses can help me achieve in this most fascinating of landscapes. That said, the iPhone 14’s camera rig is pretty darn good — as you can see in these three photos.

November 30, 2022. San Francisco

I crave these moments of stillness. I occasionally find myself in the right place with the right camera and capture the moment precisely the way I feel it. Of course, it takes a bit of an effort to get rid of the distracting color 😉

I hope you are having a great day, where ever you are!

November 15, 2022. San Francisco

Good morning my friends over here! Earlier this morning, I got a message from another friend that someone was imitating me on IG by stealing my photos. I sadly had to go there and report the account. It was one of my first visits to IG since I quit the service in 2020. And the visit to IG made me realize that the reasons I quit the service and the negative feelings it brought up are still in place. I reported the account and came back here.

In sharp contrast, the calm and zen of my new photo community, Glass, makes me appreciate it even more. It is almost like living in a community where everyone knows and cares about you and what you share and create. Thank you, team Glass. On another note, we had a rainy weekend, and that meant an amazing morning of fog, mist, and rain in the air. Obviously, it is my kind of weather.

I have been playing with a new camera and a new focal length, so the look of these photos differs from my usual combination of a Leica SL and a 50mm lens. These are wider — almost the focal length of the typical iPhone camera. I did an additional B&W conversion and found that it is different enough from color and was worth sharing.

I hope you enjoy these images!

November 7, 2022. San Francisco

Labor Day Weekend is here! And it also means the end of what the locals call, Fogust. This is the official start of our version of summer, and it is called Indian Summer, though it is nothing like an “Indian summer.”

This weekend and the coming week, the temperatures across the Bay Area (and in California at large) will be reaching record levels. There has even been a heat advisory. San Francisco, a city, usually cool because of the winds of the Pacific Ocean, is expecting temperatures in the eighties.

Perhaps, that is why I thought it would make sense to share a few more from my “Cool Gray City” series of photos. It is unlikely that we will see any fog for a while, so this is probably the last set for a few weeks.

Have a great long weekend, everyone! #coolgraycity! 

September 3, 2022. San Francisco

The winds of the Future wait
At the iron walls of her Gate,
And the western ocean breaks in thunder,
And the western stars go slowly under,
And her gaze is ever West
In the dream of her young unrest.
Her sea is a voice that calls,
And her star a voice above,
And her wind a voice on her walls—
My cool, grey city of love.

George Sterling.

“San Francisco,” Gary Kamiya writes in his book,  Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, “is all about the collision between man and the universe.” What a wonderful description of the city on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. As someone who wants to avoid people, urban blights, and grand vistas in his photos, San Francisco is a challenge and chalice from a visual standpoint. As a photographer, I struggle to decide: Should I ignore the manmade and instead look to gifts of the gods? Or should I embrace the outcomes of human ingenuity? There is an abundance of both in the city of seven hills. 

A poem by George Sterling inspired Kamiya’s book title, so I am taking a cue from both of them — I have come up with a new project: cool gray views of the city, and it is my way of telling its visual story. 

It will combine what I love most in my photography — silence, fog, abstraction, and an opportunity to wander. One of my new photo friends on Glass, after seeing my shared photos, called them “dreamy grays.” It never really occurred to me, but that comment and Kamiya’s book helped coalesce everything for me. 

Ironically, I have been on the journey for a while; I didn’t realize it. I am sharing some photos that tell you what I have in mind. It is an unending creative effort, and I hope they will one day become part of a larger body of work.

I will tag this series #coolgraycity! 

August 21, 2022. San Francisco