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.

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.


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.