Last trip across the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with XE-1

This weekend marks the end of the East Span/cantilever section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

In what was probably my last trip across the old span (I may need to head over for a cocktail mid-week, let’s be realistic here), I snapped a few photos of the structure and its new neighbor as a farewell to this long-standing landmark.  On Tuesday, September 3, this span will be removed from service and the new, $6.4 billion East Span will open.

bay bridge

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Pillar Point Harbor with XE-1, a series in black and white

I grew up just across highway one from the harbor and have visited here many times.  I still live close enough to make frequent trips to Half Moon Bay and count myself fortunate to be able to do so.

In the summer, the coast is frequently fogged in in the afternoon which puts a damper on photography.  Occasionally, however, the fog stands off in a most agreeable fashion and we get treated to a wonderfully warm, sunny late afternoon.

Half Moon Bay-5
Rock labyrinth

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No really, keep out.

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North of the harbor fishing

Half Moon Bay
Out for a row

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Iceplant and golf ball

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North breakwater

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North breakwater and sea wall

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Slow shutter

Sunday stake out, the Blue Fig

Sunday stake out, the Blue Fig

From our window seat at Dosa on Valencia this past Sunday afternoon. We stopped in for a late lunch and, as it was a warm and sunny afternoon, sat in the window seats that give directly on to Valencia Street.

We spotted this guy sitting in his weathered, slightly rusted off-white ’53 Chevy as he intently monitored the comings and goings at the Blue Fig across the street.

He was accompanied by a nylon bass fiddle case riding shotgun on the passenger seat. For the purposes of our completely made-up story, he could have hidden anything in there.

A short time after this photograph was taken, our imaginary hero abandoned his surveillance. His expression never changed as he checked his watch one last time, started up the old Chevy, dropped the three-on-the-tree shifter into first gear, doggedly cranked the steering wheel to the left (no power steering), checked his side mirror and idled away, leaving behind a blue cloud of exhaust that dissipated quickly in the afternoon breeze.

I love San Francisco.

Where I’ve been, and where the OM-D went.

Few words, lots of pictures. Life is good.

I grew more and more frustrated with my X Pro 1 and 35mm/1.4 combo as time went on (I’d owned it for a year as of June first). I missed too many moments because I relied on the autofocus system of the camera and decided it was time to try something else. I traded away the X Pro 1 for an OM-D EM5 plus a couple of lenses (the 17 and 25).

That camera is FAST. Autofocus has been described as blazing. Instantaneous. It’s faster than that. 🙂 The camera is also tiny. A flip out, touch-screen LCD. Excellent. In-body, 5 axis image stabilization. Excellent. Why didn’t it make the cut? Well, the image quality sort of left me flat. I would never say that the images looked bad, they just didn’t really appeal to me. I got some great photos with the camera, like the shots below of which I’m particularly fond.

In the end, though, the little camera that does so many things well just didn’t get it done for me. It is an excellent little package, but there were some niggles that wouldn’t go away. I have sold the OM-D and jumped back to Fuji with an XE-1 and the stellar 18-55 zoom. I also kept nearly all of the legacy glass adapters when I moved the X Pro 1, so I have a decent selection of manual focus primes from which to choose, still. The 50/1.4 FD and 35/2.5 FL Canon glass I own have been revived with Fuji’s addition of focus peaking to the camera’s repertoire via firmware. I find the peaking function – when paired with the higher resolution of the XE-1’s Electronic Viewfinder where compared with that of the X Pro 1 – to make using manual glass much simpler and more rewarding.

So au revoir, OM-D, and thank you for the fun time.

El Músico


Prepared for any eventuality

Image7th Street, Oakland

Serving one’s self

ImageComstock Saloon

From 2011? 2012?

From 2011?  2012?

If your mom was like my mom, she had a Drawer.

The Drawer contained any number of miscellaneous (junk) items: coins, twist-ties, crumbs of bread, vegetable seed packets, combs (a dozen, maybe), a screwdriver, bobby pins, a curler or two…and your entire childhood captured on undeveloped rolls of film left to languish in obscurity. I wonder what happened to all of that film. My brother and I sure as hell never saw the prints.

I am my mother’s son in this respect.

I shot two rolls of 120 film through my Yashica Mat in late 2011 or early 2012. I procrastinated having them developed (it’s too expensive, you didn’t get anything worthwhile, it’s too expensive, it’s a pain in the ass to send the film out to get developed, it’s too expensive, you’ll get around to it later, etc.) for what has become years until finally, last week, I said ENOUGH and sent the rolls off to for processing.

This shot and one or two others from the 12-exposure roll really made me remember what I love about film in general and Ilford XP2 in particular: those inky blacks and lovely skin tones. The depth of field control. The fact that enough time had passed that I had absolutely no idea what was on either of the two rolls that had been hanging out patiently in The Drawer. Jen’s hair was long. That afternoon at Baker Beach with the bottle of Chimay and the sunset and the lights coming up on the Golden Gate Bridge. Surreptitiously setting up my camera on the bar at the Public House during a Monday Night Football game, fine-tuning focus while looking straight down into that gorgeous viewfinder and snapping this shot.

I need to pick up some more XP2. Next time, the film will go out for developing straightaway. Maybe.