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Wednesday, 10 June 2015


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Marin County rain in June is an anomaly. It will do this once every two years. Monday the TV "Weather Update", showed what summer is like here most of the time: Temperature 59 degrees at the coast, 101 degrees inland.

While you are here, check out Pier 24 Photography (http://pier24.org). Entry is free, but you must obtain tickets in advance through their website.

(Oops, currently closed while they change exhibits, but highly recommended for any photographers visiting San Francisco.)

I've heard that people on vacation take pictures with their phone and post them on Instagram. Whatever that is.

Welcome! The rain today is very unusual, but appreciated nonetheless given our extreme drought. I hope you enjoyed Berkeley. Point Reyes is my favorite place on Earth. I hike and photograph there often.

That cottage in Inverness will probably cost you at least a million, though. Don't get too comfortable : )

Welcome to my part of the world! And, no, the rain is very atypical for this time of year — but we are all loving it.

The rain was...an aberration.

In the top picture, I half-expect to see Steve McQueen's black Mustang bashing down the hill, followed at some distance by a green VW Bug.

Stephen Johnson is in Pacifica, http://www.sjphoto.com/ I took a fine art b&W printing class with him - he's a cool guy.

If you have a bit of time, traveling south to Monterey and Carmel is also quite nice.


Hey Mike!

I'm glad you're enjoying our neck of the woods. I would throw some recommendations at you, but between Ctein and your hosts, I'm sure your dance card is full!

Have a great time!

You may also conclude that Tesla's are amongst the most popular cars in the country. But again, that could be a small sample error based on driving on highway 101 between SF and Silicon Valley...

Enjoy your time in the bay! Sorry it's been wet today, quite out of character at the moment...

If you're still in the north bay area, see if you can have dinner at Sir and the Star, in Olema.

You have not been visiting California, just a small subset of a polyglot culture and environment that goes by that name.

If you think about it, the common image of California is of a warm climate where the television coverage of the New Years Day Rose Parade inspires hundreds of freezing inhabitants of the Midwest to pack up and head for the Left Coast. But it was Mark Twain who said "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

Seriously, the huge variety of terrain, climate, and cultures within the state makes me think of the phrase from Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" - "I am large. I contain multitudes."

- Tom -

it's a relief to see that you are clear across the country. With your recent frequent trips to upstate NY, your silence on TOP since the weekend and the recent prison break in Dannemora, I was starting to think you might have been their getaway car!

Welcome to SF. Yes, regarding rain your sample is too small--only about the 3rd day of rain so far this year and not much at that.
I agree this is like a different country; also each area within it is slightly different - Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, Marin and even the locals in different neighborhoods within those cites vary.
I suppose you'll have no time for a meetup but let me know if something like that is possible.

Welcome to SF Mike. I live right in North Beach near where your pictures were taken. You are right, no bugs. There are many interesting places to see, but make an effort to walk out onto the Golden Gate Bridge. It can get windy, and you certainly won't be alone, but it is one of the worlds great wonders. Also find a Philz coffee. It's the bomb!

Welcome to the Left Coast.
Enjoy your stay.

I suddenly understand why people can be flower photographers. Taking photographs seems to be a natural "oooh" response to the extraordinary vegetation.

Indeed! Here is what you can look forward to photographing in the Southern Sierras (from my flora collection):

Flora of the Southern Sierra Nevada

I hope you will have the opportunity to travel in that area sometime!

- Richard

Sincere thanks if you are responsible for bringing the rain. While you are here, try visiting Point Reyes and, in Sonoma, Jack London Historic Sate Park. Both beautiful and interesting to see, and great photo opportunities.

An American visiting us here last week was astonished that he could cross from Luxembourg, into France, on to Germany within minutes. In Germany he sat outside having a meal. It stayed light until 22:00 and at no time were there insects that made being outside unpleasant. Sitting in Germany, with vineyards behind them, the River Mosel in front, overlooking vineyards in Luxembourg he realised that Europe was not bad.

The Spanish heritage: open windows an people walking and talking aout in the street

This is a link to a blog written by a young newyorker who has lived 8 months in a litle spanish village.
Old Spain´s way of life, and how to love it.


Welcome to the Golden State!

Speaking of anomalies, when you visit Ctein in his habitat on Friday, take note of the colors of houses and apartment buildings there. Perhaps it is a coincidence, perhaps not.

I grew up in California, and when I was 16 I went to Europe and was surprised that everywhere I went the landscape sort of looked like somewhere in California. Spain and Switzerland in particular. The only places I have ever traveled to that don't look sort of like somewhere in California are southern China and Kansas.
I've never traveled to the Southern Hemisphere and from pictures I've seen there are plenty of places there that do not look like anywhere in California where we have an appalling shortage of jungle.

Hey, Mike, you probably have run out of time by now, but it is too bad that you didn't get to Marty's gallery. He has been photographing in that area for many years and he operates a nice little gallery on the main drag... which is not more than a couple doors for a great place to get your morning pastry!

In any case, hope you enjoy (or enjoyed!) your visit!


Most of the fat Californians seem to live inland. When I visit my moms farm from New York I am amazed. To quote Kevin Spacey " I mean, like, orca fat. "

I'm a Canadian, from just about as far north as you can live and still say you're fro ma major city. We went to San Diego a couple years ago, and I still can't get it out of my mind. It's a different, and dare I say, better world down there. Why do I still live where it snows for 8 months of the year?

Oh! You're making me homesick and giving me rent amnesia! Have fun, eat well, breathe the salt air and don't forget to take in every second spent on or near the ocean, Golden Gate Bridge or Chinatown!

And don't make this photo if you're driving:

Crossing The Bridge, October 07, 2012

Crossing The Bridge, October 07, 2012 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr

Ah, home. I was born in San Francisco and lived the first 37 years of my life in the Bay Area -- a book I'm slowly writing is partly about being raised in the 1960s and 70s by a hippie mom in the hazy golden dream of that enchanted land.

For reasons no sane person can explain, I moved to New York a dozen years ago, but a few winters back I "made a film", using a rudimentary smartphone, about arriving in San Francisco on a plane from the east, for anyone with 1 minute to waste:


Good thing you got to see it before the move.


I've met Marty Knapp in one of my North outings a few years ago - he's super nice, and his coffee is awesome :-) (his work as well)


Yes indeed $42.00 for lunch! You ought to check out what rent is on a small apartment...or even more scary house prices in the SF bay area.


Hi Mike,

I will be giving a talk/book signing tomorrow night, Friday, June 12th at the Leica Store in San Francisco, from 6-8pm.

I’d love to see you both. I will be in SF until Sunday night.
Warm regards,


You were in Berkeley with foodies, but did not do Chez Panisse?!! [tsk].

And pics of the ctein in native habitat, please-o-please!

I second (or third) visiting Point Reyes National Seashore. A real treasure especially if you're into shooting majestic cliffs by the wild and beautiful Pacific.

As great as San Francisco is, it is the older more mature part of California where things have settled down a bit. Come to Los Angeles and witness a wondrous mix of cultures still in conflict with each other and their own past. The food is great the art is stunning and the people are ok too.

Enjoy your vacation, Mike. You deserve it!

Mike, great to hear you're in our neck of the woods. It's beautiful here, and the beauty is only spoiled by the abominable traffic we worker bees have to cope with every day.

The rain was indeed an anomaly; when I heard it the other night, I literally could not believe it was actually raining; the sound of it on the window was wonderful, and I slept like a baby as a result, awaking feeling rested and refreshed. I think it's only the third time it's rained in 2015.

Perhaps this trip will spur you to visit again soon, and if so, a TOP Bay Area meet would be mos def be in order. Berkeley is a great place, centrally located, especially as there some great microbreweries. You could even visit The Looking Glass, one of the few remaining brick and mortar camera stores in the Bay Area.

Really glad to hear the 14 is working out so well; that lens is surprisingly versatile and quite beautiful in it's imaging.

> I'm in a strange, wondrous, and improbable land called "California." It's
> like little I've ever seen. The people are like Americans, only thinner.

I suspect that from a physiology point of view, Wisconsin must not be that different from neighboring Minnesota, and that they may thus come to depend on these wasted svelte Left Coast pinko punks to defend them... ;-)

You're crazy if you're in SFO and you don't go to the Double Play. 2401 16th Street (sort of in the photo district, or at least near where I know a lot of people have art and photo studios). Old San Francisco baseball memorabilia nailed all over the wall...regular people, regular waitresses, meals like meat-loaf special...duck the cyber-punks and posers, unless they ruined the place, haven't been in about 18 months and stuff changes fast in SFO...love the place tho, try to go every time I'm there...

Darn. Wish I knew you were here. You were literally a only a couple miles from my home in Albany and office in Oakland. I know some great craft beer places around here!

You come all the way to the cradle of the f64 group; in SF the oldest, and largest, public darkroom west of the Mississippi in Duboce Park; then there's Rayko; not to mention a fine photo gallery just down the street from where you are staying and oops no time to check out the photographers here. And you are here why?

Dear Joe,

Just so that auslanders don't get the wrong idea…

Yes indeed, housing prices here are insane whether are an owner or renter, apartment or house. They are just nuts.

But eating prices? Not so much! You can spend a huge amount for a very good meal or you can spend very little. (Of course, you can do the same for lousy food, too.) By way of example, yesterday (Friday's) lunch also cost $42 at High Tide Restaurant Cafe and Creperie, at the southern end of Pacifica. That was for THREE of us-- me, Mike, and Paula-- and there was more (very good!) food than we could eat.

Pacifica, weirdly enough, is loaded with good restaurants that nobody seems to know about. Gorilla Barbecue is, for me, the very best barbecue place in the whole Bay Area. That's an ideological statement, because much like pizza, there are different schools of barbecue and there is no compromise or accommodation between them. But Gorilla is way, way up there. Especially if your leanings run more towards dry Texas then wet Louisiana.

The three-meat combo plus extra sides will run you a good $30. That sounds like a lot… But Paula and I will both get three full meals out of it. It would serve four folks Mike's size.

Next to it is Taqueria Guererro. Very, very good standard Mexican fare, under $10 a person.

Of course finding good and cheap Mexican or Asian of any variety in the Bay Area is not exactly a hard thing. I'm just saying, expensive eating is hardly necessary.

Which doesn't mean you can't spend money. I've had three meals which approached $100 per person (note––I don't drink, so we're excluding alcohol). All of them were unbelievably fabulous. There are restaurants that will top that. Based on the reviews I've read, and people I know who've gone there, the food is beyond-unbelievable.

So all kinds of great stuff, all over the place, for all kinds of price ranges. Even within cities proper like San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. Skyrocketing rents haven't eliminated great, cheap restaurants.

Now, trying to find a decent affordable place to live… Good luck with that.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Dear Folks,

Not that Mike needs me to defend him, but he and S were here on family business, and that took up almost all their time.

So far as I know, the only non-family related stuff was getting together with me for lunch on Friday. Mike suggested inviting some TOP folk.

I vetoed it. I wanted the freedom to talk personal and business as I desired, not just what would be for public consumption.

So, if any of you feel left out, you can blame me.

pax / Ctein

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