Rainy Day Memories of my San Francisco Years

May the sun bring you new energy by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away your worries, may the breeze blow new strength into your being, may you walk gently through the world and know it’s beauty all the days of your life.

Apache blessing

It’s been raining for 3 days in New York City: for me, a drag. The rain, not to mention ennui, has brought back to me the memory of a particular day in 1980.

After spending Christmas with my Mother in L.A.,  I had just returned to San Francisco, with so much relief that I can still feel inside me that emotion I felt on that day. Back home in North Beach, the first thing I wanted to do, which is what I mostly always did on my days off from work, was go out on the Bay and take photos, my favorite activity at the time.  Afterwards I often indulged myself at a great San Francisco restaurant.

I was on the Aquatic Park Pier (one of my favorite places to take photos from) when a man, with an expensive camera in his hand, said to me, in passing, and with disparagement, that it was too cloudy and dim to take photos. I thought that was exactly the right time to take photos.  That was why I was there.  I thought the inclement weather would make for some dramatic photos.

SFBayB&W
That’s the Golden Gate Bridge in case you didn’t recognize it.

This was a photo I took on that day during the last week of 1980 of San Francisco Bay.  I loved going to the Harvey Milk Rec Center where they had a facility where anyone could go and print photos (B&W only) for a very small fee.  For five years I printed there, a minimum of once a week. I often printed on very heavy textured paper, because I liked the look, as I did in the above photo. Especially, in the sky, you can see the texture of the paper.  A version of this photo which I printed on regular glossy photo paper got published in a local San Francisco magazine.

Later, I colored this photo with Marshall’s photo tints. When I printed on such heavy textured paper, it made hand coloring so much easier, and more effective. (the heavy, matte, textured paper is so absorbent) . It looks more painterly than photographic.  Maybe I liked the painterly look so much, because I really wanted to paint.  Now, I prefer painting to doing photography.  Photography never gave me a feeling of complete artistic fulfillment, although it provided a little, and hand-tinting added a little more.

San Francisco Bay (1980) hand tinted.
San Francisco Bay (1980) hand tinted.

During the first half of the 20th Century, and before color photography, hand-tinting photos was popular, but now hardly anyone does it, and it looks antiquated. However, I think it’s really fun to do and I like the look.  I also learned retouching, which was an easy way for me to correct my photographic problems like parts too light, or not contrasty enough.  Now, one can correct those problems on the computer.

If you are interested in hand-tinting photos, on another blog of mine, I did a post on how to hand-tint black and white photos that you might be interested in visiting. This post also shows a few other hand-tinted photos of San Francisco I made while living there.

meWindowSF

This is a self-portrait of myself (actually, using color film) that I made around that same time. I worked then as a secretary at an architectural firm (MBT Associates) in San Francisco that had lovely, artistic-looking interiors.  I especially liked their large windows, as you can see in this photo, and the picturesque views out the windows of Chinatown.  I used to go there to take photos on the weekends.  In 1980, we had Wang word processors that I enjoyed writing with, after having used the old-fashioned typewriter for years.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

View from my Window (1980) in North Beach, San Francisco.  Photo is a hand-colored black & white print that I printed myself.  One afternoon, I looked out my window and that fantastic cloud was hovering over the hill.  The bottom of the hill is North Beach, The middle of the hill is Chinatown, the top of the hill is Nob Hill.  This photo brings back lots of memories and feelings of those days in which I lived in a hotel room on Broadway and Columbus.
View from my Window (1980) in North Beach, San Francisco. Photo is a hand-colored black & white print that I printed myself.  Back then I was very much into hand-coloring my photos.  I haven’t done that in a long time, but am starting to get the urge again.  I used Marshall’s photo colors and after 30 years they are still good and I still have them all.  I’ve been carrying them around with me from one place to another all these years, so I would have them if I got the urge to photo color again.

One afternoon, I looked out my window and that fantastic cloud was hovering over the hill. The bottom of the hill (not much visible in this photo) is North Beach, The middle of the hill is Chinatown, the top of the hill is Nob Hill. The tallest building at the top of the hill (gold modern rectangle with flag) is the Fairmont Hotel.

This photo brings back lots of memories and feelings of those days in which I lived in a hotel room at Broadway and Columbus for 4 years. At the time I had a job as a secretary at an architectural firm, a few blocks away. I chose not to show all of the hill of buildings so that I could get the cloud in.

These were acquaintances of mine at this time.  Man on the low left is the poet Gregory Corso.  They were sitting in front of the Church
These were North Beach neighborhood people at this time (1979-84). Man on the lower left is the poet Gregory Corso, who was the only person in this group I knew at all. I left San Francisco in 1984 and haven’t been back, but hope to visit some day.
San Francisco Boat_1982
Me, in 1982, I think. I’m standing outside a cruse ship in San Francisco Harbor.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friendship

B&W Photo hand-tinted (1983)

 I was sitting alone on a bench in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris when these children approached–posed as in photo–and said “Take our Picture.”  I had to snap it real fast, because they didn’t want to wait.  It was the best photo I took the whole time I was in Paris

Two Friends at the Blessing of the Animals Ceremony at Christ Church in Manhattan 2011

I Love Paris

I just got through watching the movie “Midnight in Paris.”  I  thought the best thing about it were the Paris scenes. I can’t see what was so great about the screenplay to win an Academy Award or even be nominated for one.  I thought that the Rachel McAdams character and her parents were painted too much like caricatures.  You know from the first time you see the young couple together that they are so mismatched that they will end up separating and then the viewer just waits through the whole movie for him to come to his senses about his relationship with the girl.  The film has no plot surprises, but, like all of Allen’s films, it has that certain charm.  In the whole movie, I only found one slightly interesting conversation.  That was the one where Gil talks about living in one’s own time when he is visiting in La Belle Epoch.  I fast-forwarded through some of the movie because I was so bored.

However, watching this movie made me start thinking about my own Paris experience.  I spent the last week of 1982, alone, walking around Paris with my camera. It was one of the loveliest weeks of my life.   I loved Paris so much, I couldn’t wait to go back again, but I never made it.  Now I really want to try to visit again.  Back then I had a Nikon FM camera and took photos mostly in black and white which I often hand-tinted.

The Boat on the Seine
Aux Deux Magots Cafe, 6, pl St-Germain-des-Pres (hand-tinted) where I ate breakfast on my first day in Paris.
Children I encountered in the Tuilleries Gardens (b&w photo Nikon Fm 1983)
On the Left Bank of the Seine (hand-colored)
Dogs by the Seine being left off the boat to exercise
Looking under Paris Bridge. Hand colored with watercolor pencils.
Self-Portrait--in my room at the Hotel Bonaparte (December, 1982)