Archive for 'San Francisco'

Birthdays are all about a little indulgence, especially when it comes to food and drink. Seeing as my birthday is around the corner, what better way to celebrate then an all day eat-a-thon.  Our endeavor consisted of a list of twenty-five restaurants, cafes, and bars which represent our favorites or recommendations from our foodie friends here in San Francisco. And yes, we essentially ate our way through San Francisco. The Bay Area has been my home for nearly a decade and I always proudly say, “I’m from San Francisco,” when I’m traveling abroad.  After touring five continents with my partner Bruce Aguirre through our Organic Hobo blog, we needed to show off what our favorite city has to offer.


Create.  We used the same bodies that we used for our Organic Hobo tour, a 5d MK2 & 60D.  I like to bring a wide variety of lenses to most shoots.  In this case we used Canon’s 24-70mm (Great for all purpose), 16-35mm (Great for the tiny restaurants), 50mm 1.4 (Great for low light), & Zeis 50mm 1.4 (Great for low light, and cooler then cannon’s 50).


Grow.  Photography is a constant learning curve.  If you don’t learn something during a shoot you probably didn’t go about it right.  Coordination is key and we learned quickly that we didn’t have enough battery power and memory card space for the entire day.  This seems like a rookie move, but I had 4 16GB SD cards on me, and Bruce had 2.  Together we had 6 batteries.  It still wasn’t enough for an 18 hour shoot.  Low light was another issue.  I hate being intrusive with a light, but in two or three restaurants we really needed them.  If I was to do this all over again, I would case each place out to prep for light, battery life, and of course back up memory.




The List: Restaurants On the Menu


Matching Half - Expresso (Photo 1)

Plow - Chinese Breakfast (Photo 2, 3)

Brendas - Shrimp and Grits (Photo 2)

Brouletts - Quinua Granola (Photo 4)

Blue Bottle Ferry - Gibraltar (Photo 5)

Out the Door - Spring Rolls (Photo 6)


American Grilled Cheese - GF Jalapeno Popper (Photo 7, 8 )

Local Mission Eatery - Little Gem Salad  (Photo 9)

Rosamund - Merguez  Sausage

Namu - Short Rib Korean Tacos

Four Barrel - V60 Drip (Photo 10)

Smitten Ice Cream - Strawberry & Vanilla (Photo 11)

Afternoon Tea & Happy Hour

Samovar - Wei Chi Cha (Photo 12, 13)

Little Chihuahua - Carnitas Tacos

Magnolia Gastro Brew Pub - Devils on Horseback & Pickle dish & Kalifornia Kolsch (Photo 14, 15, 16)

Alembic - Duck hearts & Promissory Note (Photo 17)

Jaspers Corner Tap - Baby Back Ribs & Pale Rider (Photo 18, 19)

Cantina - Pisco Sour (Photo 20)


Bar Crudo - Fresh Oysters, Soft Shell Crab Tacos (photo 21)

Zero Zero - Ham Plate, Arugula Salad, Cocktails (photo 21, 22)

Oola - Fried Brussels Sprout

Bar Agricole - Fried Anchovies, Fruit Cup, & Taquila Fix (Photo 20, 23)

Bareta - Cioppino, Diablo, Anejo Sour (Photo 24)

Maven - Maven Jamison Reserve

NOPA - NOPA Burger, Burnt Honey Pot de creme (Photo 25)


This video well be featured on Organic Hobo Soon…


Picture this: a freshly cleaned, mint condition, “ticket-me-please” red Porsche and the newly repaved roads of the Marin Headlands. It is pretty hard to go wrong. This shoot was taken with Chris’ 911 SC (see Brotog’s earlier post) was excellent in its laid back nature. We had the necessary permissions for the location (including some ultra stylish GGNRA Volunteer ballcaps), we had plenty of time to work, and Chris and Christian’s rapport never fails to lend some spark to any creative endeavor (banter related or otherwise).


Create: With both seasoned Brotogs lending a hand with the lighting, shutter releasing and driving, I was given the chance to concentrate on taking photos, something that is a rare occurrence when I’m often the person taking care of all three (sometimes at once). We hit the streets with a Canon 5DII, an arsenal of L glass, a Profoto 7b kit, and a bag of modifiers (not used) and gels.


Grow: Sophistication is spelled out in straight forward and well executed details, and can be quickly dismantled by distractions and inaccuracies. This holds particularly true in automotive photography, where your subject’s ability to gain and maintain attention depends largely on the scene surrounding it. Include unnecessary background elements, color casts, or reflections in the paint and the shiny object of desire will fall victim to its environment. Learning how to take great pictures of a car requires careful control, both in shooting and in post processing, and each shoot is an opportunity to develop these skills. These days, I rely on taking a great many photos with the camera on a tripod, and merging the best areas of exposure together in Photoshop. This post processing intensive method is relatively new to me. As such, a great deal of my energy in the past was concentrated on making sure the photos going into Photoshop would be compatible with the process, and less energy was expended on simply taking good photos and creating compelling compositions. With Chris and Christian there to help me with the lights and moving the car, I was able to go back to the basics, and create photos that I loved straight out of the camera. I learned a couple of uninterestingly specific techniques to employ in Photoshop that really helped to bring out the lines of the car AND keep the reds under control. Small steps, but it’s the baby sized strides that keep the details in check. And I always enjoy a good walk.


May 01, 2012

We surround ourselves with people everyday, and we liken them to friends and colleagues. You meet for drinks, dinner or some mutual activity that you enjoy together. You get snap shots of their lives as they update you with their experiences with their job, dates, or family. Your perceptions of them change slightly with time to shape this person that exudes a certain personality.


Bay, a local San Franciscan here, is such a friend. We find time every couple of months to hang out, but I always wonder what this guy is up to on his own. We all have our ways to decompress and spend time to think about what is going on in our lives. Bay and I share an interest in riding our bikes through Golden Gate park as a way to decompress after a day at work. So, you have to wonder what they are like when they are on there own on that ride; this is my rendition of what he is like.




This shoot was done on a dreary day with a lot of fog coming over the park, so the light was hard to work with. I shot every shot by over exposing a full stop to compensate, making a lot of the backgrounds blown out. As always, I shot with my Canon T2i with a friend Harry’s 24-70mm L series lens.




One of the greatest things about shooting your friends is that you know their personality. You know when they laugh and what kind of personality characteristics that usually embody. You have to look for those moments and speak to them to coerce those moments out. I actually spent most of my time talking to him as if we were hanging out without a camera in my hand. After a few minutes he came around and forgot that I was even shooting him. Of course, he posed for a few shots (which you can see in a few of these), but there were some great shots that showed him being himself… just going for a ride.


In 1967, the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen wrote:


“Whenever I feel I’m getting out of touch with the City, I take a long walk along Market Street.


A few minutes on Market will convince anybody, even the oldest native, that he’ll never truly get to know San Francisco. It’s the street of broken dreams, of frozen screams, of strangers rubbing elbows.


In many ways Market is the most sophisticated street in town, if by sophistication you mean weary, worldly, and aloof. Its warmth is its coldness: you’re alone, but so is everybody else. In a city that in too many ways is like a small town, it is blessedly impersonal.


Market is teeming with San Franciscans you’ll never get to know. It is quite clear that they don’t want to know you, either. Nothing is given, nothing is expected— a truly civilized arrangement.


It is wide, long, stubborn, and unregenerate— a true brute of a street. A dead end with a life all its own.”


My first apartment in the City was a 150 square-foot studio located above a strip club on Mid-Market between Sixth & Seventh streets. I remember my first walk down Market Street as if it were yesterday and have walked the length of it several hundreds of times since. But never while focusing on anything in particular and never with a camera in hand.


When Patrick approached me about doing a guest post, I mentioned that I was interested in composing a photo-story on Market Street and the people one sees while walking along it.


Create. For this project, I decided to use an iPhone 4s along with a couple of camera apps to make the the photographs. I’ve been using this combination for a personal portrait project for 6+ months and have been quite happy with the image quality and the subtle nature of the camera itself.


I focused on the lower and central areas of Market Street in order to capture the energy of the people in the densest sections of the city’s main thoroughfare. The walk completed around 9 hours, starting at the Ferry Building and walking southwest towards Tenth Street.


The biggest overall challenge was the harsh midday sun and the way it casually bounced and reflected off taller buildings, spilling into the street. I solved this by constantly switching sides of the street and repositioning my subjects in better light.


The second challenge was keeping the iPhone battery powered during the eight hours I was out. (Camera apps drain the battery much faster than in normal use.) I solved this by recharging at Sutter Station (3 pints of beer) and Cafe Trieste (1 double latte) along the way. Both locations offered free WiFi in addition to power outlets.


While not a direct challenge, composing using a square format (rather than rectangle) does limit what you can include in the picture.


Grow. What I learned most from this shoot was in directing my subjects and keeping their attention while composing. It taught me to focus on what was directly in front of me and to move quickly. Many of these folks were working (or hustling) while I made their portrait, preoccupied with what they were doing before I approached them.


(Info on each photo below images)



Photo Captions:


1. Rabbi Saint Laurence beating his drum in Harry Bridges Plaza

2. Famous Wayne, the shoeshine king of the world

3. A dog named Tramp

4. Patrick, newspaper & magazine salesman (reading about the iPad3)

5. Tim, UPS deliveryman to the 500 block of Market Street for 20+ years

6. Vietnam Tom aka Epic Beard Man

7. Tony, homeless

8. SPPD traffic stop

9. A dog named Cujo

10. Market Street hustler & designer watch salesman, International Red

11. Spaceman and his magic broom

12. Casey, homeless

13. Man reading newspaper

14. Judy, homeless

15. Little Mike

16. Unnamed dog at United Nations Plaza

17. Accordion player named Roger & his dog Ginger

18. SFPD ticketing man for drinking in public

19. Issach covers his face

20. Boston George gives a two finger salute



March 26, 2012


Spontaneous. That is when some of the best work that I have ever captured have come from negligible planning and ad hoc shoot where you just work with you have got. Using tools like Instagram, you live in the moment and become more aware of your surroundings. This shoot was definitely one of those days, where I had arrived exceptionally early to get a ride to Southern California. As soon as I stepped off the bus to sit down and wait for my ride I came to realize what kind of conditions were present with the Bay and the weather. I had my gear prepared for the trip down south, so naturally I went out on the shoreline and realized what kind of great conditions I had.



Shooting  with a 135mm and 35mm on my Canon T2i, I was precariously limited with just prime lenses ment to be used for family portraits. Having access to something like 24-70mm is great because of how versatile the lens is. With primes, it becomes a different ball game when you are framing your shots. Add overcast clouds with low light provided a certain challenge to get decent detail in many objects in fram. But the layers and colors of grey contrasted well with the water and silhouettes of the the city scape.


Big take away from shooting these was to just shoot when you have a moment. Try not to plan all your shoots, for once. Have your camera at the ready, even when it might not hit you to. I wasn’t planning to even post this on Brotogs, where most posts are planned events or outings, but this one elicited some great shots. Even for those that don’t always have a camera to carry with them, jumping on Instagram is a great way to keep you constantly aware about your surroundings and challenging yourself to find those real moments that aren’t planned.


Create: I’ve been wanting to take a couple of recognizable cars out for a drive and photo shoot for a little while  now. The catch: I was going to use film. Most everything nowadays is digital, lit, and kinda trashy (to be perfectly honest). My aim was to lighten it up a bit, soften it up and film does an excellent job at it.


We headed out from San Francisco to Highway 84 in Woodside around 10am. An otherwise great time to meet up with some folks on a Sunday morning but a not-so-great time for light with respect to photography. Armed with some Fuji films and my Contax, we rallied through the hills of Woodside stopping occasionally along the way to shoot.


Grow: This was a first for me. I had no idea what to expect and boy was this a learning session. I usually shoot people but cars are a totally different animal because they have horizontal surfaces like the hood, or roof, or even fenders. This creates an issue with balancing the exposer in order to retain detail in these horizontal planes. With people, this isn’t usually a problem as we humans stand vertically. Finding shade was tough but when we did, the results were much better. To keep things consistent, I used tried and true metering methods for people. Next time, I’m pretty certain I know what I have to change aside from shooting at a better time of day.


March 05, 2012

Create: There’s plenty of stuff to shoot in San Francisco, that goes without saying. I could name one item for every letter of the alphabet. Alcatraz. Bay Bridge. Chinatown. You get the point. There’s always something astonishingly beautiful that I feel compelled to document with my camera. A place, an object, a moment in time. Treasures waiting to be turned into art.


Camera: Canon EOS 7D 

Lenses: 85mm f/1.2L II, 24-70mm f/2.8L28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS


Grow: I don’t always edit and share my work in a timely fashion. I get carried away polishing and re-polishing my work. Dodge and burn, tonal adjustments. I love all of it. This time around, I took a different approach and omitted the post-production step. Instead, I narrowed my focus to building around a central theme and allowing my original exposures to speak for themselves.