Le Jazz - Two Jazz Clubs in Paris

Le 38 Rive Jam Session

Was this really it? An unassuming storefront with peeling posters in the window? It was. Once inside we descended the spiral staircase into an intimate 12th Century vaulted cellar with a small stage and seating for about 40 people. My travel companion, Jessica & I arrived early for the Monday night jam session and scored a tiny table & chairs next to the stage. An evening of remarkable music was ours for the small admission fee of 2 euros added to the cost of a mandatory drink. Of course one drink isn't enough. Something must be paired with the charcuterie plate, deftly assembled by the very hip bartender. Did I mention the music was fantastic? The mohawked pianist attacked the keyboard passionately. Talented musicians jammed and the entire evening was a delight 

Gypsy Jazz at La Chope des Puces*

Sunday afternoon jam sessions are free and very much a family affair. Ninine Garcia, famed "manouche" guitarist and his son, Roko led the session and various family members sat in, including La Chope owner, Marcel Campion, the "boss of the French gypsies." The bar is small and democratic with lots of regulars from all walks of life. La Chope is located in a somewhat sketchy blue collar neighborhood in Saint-Ouen.  Jessica and I were welcomed with open arms (especially by the irrepressible Sammy) and we ate, drank and made merry all afternoon and into the  evening.

*The Cup of Fleas


Cole Valley Color

As @KarltheFog has tweeted so eloquently: All that is sunny does not glitter, not all those in the fog are lost. And those who hunger for color must find it in the world around them. Cole Valley supplied local color this week as you will see below. 

  • Baskets & Sunflowers frames a timely message at the corner of Stanyon & Parnassus.
  • The Quick Brown Fox Leaps . . . over a man on his cellphone at Luke's Local grocery store.
  • Lime Squeeze, crushed ice and salmon display, Luke's Local.
  • Uniforms come in many versions. Uniformed police are clearly enjoying themselves with a citizen in hipster uniform.

Oh What a Weekend!

Saturday morning I began the day at the first showing of the lovely "Beauty and the Beach." Oops! Freudian slip. "Beast." And what to my wondering eyes should appear as I headed for the subway? None other than The Emperor Norton in full uniform. He graciously posed for a Polaroid Snap.

Nothing daunted, I ventured out, camera in hand, and here is what I saw. I stopped at Fort Baker whilst enroute to a photo exhibition at The Image Flow. Sunday evening, following a luxurious morning reading newspapers & drinking coffee in bed, I bestirred myself and headed to Ocean Beach to experiment with long exposure images. Enjoy!

Hot Air Balloons over Napa Valley

After the coldest summer in memory it was a relief to head north to Napa Valley for Fred Larsen's annual Friends of Photography hot air balloon chase. The idea was to capture the balloons in juxtaposition with the full moon setting in the west. All great on paper, but when we arrived the moon was setting in one direction and the balloons were flying in another. You can't argue with wind patterns. Still, it was a glorious day with the brilliant balloons flying in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.


The Blues

I'm honored to have three of my photographs chosen for the San Francisco Women Artists' November gallery exhibition, "The Blues." SFWA received 134 entries and the Juror, Jonathan Barcan, selected 60 artworks for the show. You're cordially invited to the Opening Reception on November 4th. Adult beverages, snacks, and wonderful art. What's not to love?

Opening Reception  |  Wednesday, November 4  |  5:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Exhibition Dates  |  November 3 - December 4
SFWA Gallery  |  647 Irving Street @ 8th Ave in the Inner Sunset  |  San Francisco 94122

A Walk In The Mission District

With its colorful murals and inhabitants the Mission District is one of the most visually vibrant neighborhoods in San Francisco. I abandoned all pretense of cool and went for the color in these pictures of murals, locals, other photographers and tourists.

Symmetry, Shadows, Textures and Colors

On a visit to San Francisco Art Institute to see Doug Hall's multimedia piece, "The Terrible Uncertainty of the Things Described," I took advantage of the location to shoot inside and out. I was particularly taken by this courtyard with its contrasting architectural styles. Bounce light in the courtyard, illuminated  shapes, textures and colors. Iconic views beckoned in the background.

Generous outdoor spaces on top of the building offer iconic views. So often San Francisco is shrouded in clouds & fog, but on this glorious day brisk winds cleaned the air and it felt like you could see forever.  

I Love Vintage Signs

This has been a great week for spotting vintage signs. Events took me to Clement Street and to the Mission, where I spotted these signs. "Shoe Repair" is the Heel & I Shoe Repair near 8th Ave. and Clement Street. Toy Boat Dessert Cafe on Clement Street features a charming painted sign in addition to the neon sign in the window. The  red Coca Cola sign at Whiz Burgers Drive-In at 18th and S. VanNess is a real classic. One of these evenings I should return and capture neon "Whiz Burgers" all lit up.


Zhang Huan's "Three Heads/Six Arms" at Civic Center Plaza

On a picture-perfect day I went over to Civic Center to check out the massive new copper sculpture, Zhang Huan's "Three Heads/Six Arms." It's 26 feet high and weighs 15 tons. I was more interested in the details of this beautiful piece rather than trying to capture the entire work. Shanghai artist Zhang Huan found spiritual meaning and inspiration in Tibet.The sculpture symbolizes the shattered history of Buddhism in China. Shanghai is San Francisco's sister city and Zhang Huan created the sculpture to bring good luck to San Francisco. In viewing this shot, I like the way the sculpture itself frames one of the three heads and draws the eye to the face. And the face is placed in a "sweet" spot in the rule of thirds.

A Study in Forms

When framing up this shot what interested me was the juxtaposition of forms. In the center, Three Heads/Six Arms. On the right,the ultra-modern angular Federal Building. On the left the old-fashioned, stogy "Manifest Destiny" monument. Oddly, the oldest-looking piece, "Three Heads" is actually the newest.

Modern Girl

OK,ok I cheated on this picture and dropped Courtney in to show scale. My philosophy is "all's fair in love and photography." Whatever it takes to realize the artist's vision is fair game. For example, this series of pictures looks (I think) non-manipulated. In fact, I worked with dodging, burning & coloring in Lightroom and Photoshop to achieve the look I wanted on every single one of these pictures.

Guitarist on Market Street

Never mind the fog--it's really summer when you find free concerts at noon in downtown San Francisco. A guitarist from the Larry Walker Band rocks out to the great joy of passers-by. He "pops" out of the background because of the Bokeh qualities of the 18-200mm telephoto lens. I also like how the white hat and white piece on the guitar appear to be pointing at each other, drawing the eye into the composition.

When Bad Lenses Go Good

Some users have faulted the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR lens for softness. I think they must have been thinking about the amount of bokeh (blur in out-of-focus areas of an image)in the lens. Well, that's what I like best about this lens. The flowers are tack-sharp and the background is so blurred it takes on a painterly effect. I'm crazy about this lens. I wouldn't use it for every image, of course. But when I want a lot of bokeh, this is my go-to lens for sure.