Archive for February, 2013
I made this before viewing the Girl with the Pearl Earring exhibit at the de Young.
To find out what all the fuss is about (or at least my take on Vermeer and the Dutch Masters) stay tuned.
cherry plum blossoms around the Bay Area are in peak bloom — or that’s how it looks to me after watching them for the last 2-3 weeks!
In Japan, the plum blossom has been overtaken in popularity by the similar looking cherry blossom. In case you’re curious, the Japanese word for cherry blossom is Sakura; for plum blossom it is Ume. Both are members of the genus Prunas.
It’s common to celebrate blossom time with festive picnics (and sake drinking) under the beautiful flowering trees.
Here’s an excerpt from wikipedia’s cherry blossom article:
In Japan, cherry blossoms…symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse, besides being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence, and which is embodied in the concept of mono no aware. The association of the cherry blossom with mono no aware dates back to 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga. The transience of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality; for this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic, and have been utilized often in Japanese art, manga, anime, and film…
The line of bicyclists waiting to board the 6:10pm ferry to San Francisco stretched down the pier, around the parking lot, and then back-up Bridgeway Blvd.
These cylotourists (most of whom rented their bikes from operators in the Fisherman’s wharf area) bicycled across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, and are now taking the ferry back to the city.
About 8 minutes before sunset, on February 16, 2013, nearing civil twilight. (For more details on twilight — civil, nautical, and astronomical, see one of my favorite posts on this blog.)
Under challenging conditions, this is the best I can get from my iPhone (by the way, those are birds in the sky; not dust specks on the lens).
For an exquisite interpretation of this subject, check out this local photographer’s image of the Sausalito seal — la composition par excellence!
I have a love/hate relationship with the iPhone’s camera.
This twilight photo made over the weekend seriously stresses its photographic limits and although the camera is often good enough, it has two big flaws:
- Image quality: it cannot handle wide dynamic range and low-light conditions very well.
- Handling: it is slow to start up, clunky, and ergonomically infuriating.
Nonetheless, the old cliche still applies: “The best camera is the one that you have with you.”
And I almost always have the iPhone with me.
Still, for me, it’s a highly unsatisfying photographic tool. And, the tools we use in our daily lives — the quality of their craftsmanship and their aesthetics — are important. Right?
I recently sold two older digital cameras on eBay so I’m allowing myself to look at new cameras again. The highly touted Sony RX100 is a pocketable camera, but with image quality, resolution, and low light capabilities that vastly outperforms every other small-sized camera on the market.
Unfortunately, the Sony still does nothing for me from an aesthetic standpoint. It has few manual controls and no viewfinder, for instance. So it really only solves half the problem presented by the iPhone’s camera — i.e. vastly improved image quality. It does not fully address the handling issue.
That combination would be a truly satisfying photographic tool!
Here’s an Americanized version of a classic Dutch bicycle (the Amsterdam manufactured by Electra) spotted at the Sausalito Herring Festival on Sunday.
I like the chain guard and the front wicker basket. I really, really dig the rear pannier bags. These are the real deal — a Dutch company called Basil makes them.
But overall, I think I prefer Electra’s Ticino model over the Amsterdam. I just don’t care for the almost gooseneck-like curve of the frame’s top tube.
If you’re going to get a Dutch bike I like the Jorg & Olif, which I featured in this post.
I rode my Brompton down the street to meet some friends at the 1st annual Herring Festival, but I couldn’t believe they ran out of all their herring by 1pm!
I did manage to sample the grilled herring on a skewer and the pickled herring (I preferred the pickled herring).
During the afternoon, I also spoke with a CA fisheries biologist who filled me in on this local, commercial fishery — it seems we have at our doorstep a truly sustainable fishery. The season started in January and is open through mid-March. Last year’s catch was more than 1,600 tons of fish.
Interestingly, the primary product is the herring roe, which is sold to the Japanese. In Japan, herring roe is called Kazunoko.
I was excited to learn all this because in recent weeks I’ve been seeing awesome displays of bird life (and a few sea otters looking fat and content) out in the harbor. I captured a bit of this spectacle in this photograph.
Riding east on Bunker Rd. I found this picaresque spot, made even more so by the recent rain which created a mini-wetland.
It’s directly off the main road, but also at the end of a fork that connects to the Coastal Trail (used for hiking and mountain biking), which leads up the ridge to the traffic circle on Conzelman Rd. or (if followed in the other direction) down to the beach at Rodeo Cove.
The Coastal Trail eventually reaches Fort Cronkite, which houses an eclectic group of organizations including the Headlands Center for the Arts, Foundation for Deep Ecology, and The Marine Mammal Center.
This is Harry. I bumped into him at the tail-end end of the Marin Civic Center Farmer’s Market on Super Bowl Sunday. His chrome-plated 1972 Schwinn Paramount jumped out me like the organic strawberries my friends had scored earlier. I asked him to pose with his 1972 Paramount next to a nearby 1972 VW beetle.
The Brooks saddle has a well-worn patina from years of use. The components look mostly (if not all) original including a Campagnola Nuovo Record groupo.
The Nervez lugs look beautiful in full chrome.
Last week-end, I packed a light lunch and took one of my favorite rides out to Alpine Lake in Fairfax.
The sun was bright and strong, but it was still very cool in the shade. So I wore a pair of wool knickers and two cotton t-shirts (one long-sleeve and one short-sleeve), which was perfect.
During the long downhill stretches — through the redwood groves where the cold air tends to chill you to the bone — I put on a light wind jacket. On cold days, I always keep an inexpensive one stuffed in my handlebar bag. Mine is a basic, clear plastic, no thrills jacket that cost less than $20, but is the difference between freezing on long descents or being comfortably warm.
As it turned out, the long-sleeve wool layer (that I forgot at home) wasn’t even necessary.
These sunny, Northern California winter days are glorious!
The loneliest bike rack.
But an important one if you ride out here and want to visit the lighthouse.
Make sure to bring a lock.
Rust-colored moss, bright green plants, and a churning light azure, icey blue sea — a collage of color at the entrance to the Pt. Bonita lighthouse.
Unfortunately, I arrived 8 minutes after closing time (and couldn’t get into the actual lighthouse or up onto the high point of the rocks and the viewing platform).
To add further insult, the park ranger scolded me for showing up at the bottom of the paved, 10-foot wide, 1/4-mile path with a bicycle — even though I walked it all the way down.
Apparently this is a no-bicycle zone (not a “no-bicycle-riding” zone — simply “no bicycles” period), which makes this picture of me that much more scandalous!