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Today at the pump

The Sole Prop's Sister?


Under here.

November 2, 2009

Soothing Terms
Monday. To sleep relatively late for whatever reason, up at seven-thirty to walk over to breakfast, a large breakfast, walking back to take the occasional photograph, wondering how many lake scenes with a figure in the distance I can take, how many pictures of workmen digging up the street and remain happy with the result, happy enough with the fact I can cover this familiar ground (every ding dong day) and still take pictures thinking, well, might this one be nice? Something like that. Tired at the moment, but nice tired, the walk back a leisurely walk back, some thought I should get more exercise without any plan to actually do much about it. Walk the lake, for example. Would I get all the way around in one piece? Hmmm. That question may be enough to see. Today maybe. With a camera. Before dark.

The Bay Bridge is still closed. I'm not sure what that does to the local freeway traffic around here, if it might make a drive over to Berkeley or Emeryville a mistake. In the past I'd drive over to a food emporium complex in Emeryville and take a few pictures while I ate. After this morning's breakfast I'm not sure I'll be hungry again today for other than a very late snack, but just the thought of how long it's been, wondering why I stopped going, is probably a good sign. We'll see.

This energy thing, this overall sense of wellness or lack of wellness is changing. I hope for the better. The Bay Bridge outing makes BART problematic, though. Probably won't go photograph the Day of the Dead festival in San Francisco at seven later this evening, out on Bryant Street and 24th. The site of the Carnaval parade, when it forms. Something of a walk, although a walk in a fairly large crowd so packing the cameras isn't a worry. A camera. I should just carry it to the site in a knapsack. No fuss. No muss. No fret.

There's no chance of actually going this evening and you know it.

Yes, yes, but I'm obviously turning it over. See if I can't do better than I did yesterday, make some adjustments. Get in more of that walking I talk about. And I would be riding BART against the surge. I think. I could be wrong. Mumble.

I see where the online news says the bridge was opened this morning at nine. Still, most people who took BART this morning, thinking it would be closed, will be coming back later this evening making it crowded. But I'd be going in the opposite direction. Mumble.

Later. After a very familiar internal battle - should I go downtown? if not, where else? should I go downtown? - all this happening as I was walking to the bus stop, I took the bus downtown (where else?) with one of the larger cameras strapped around the wrist and sat for a while in the City Center watching the people pass.

One of the Shorenstein guards - the City Center is owned by the Shorenstein company, the same company that owns my old APL building across the street - came over and asked if I had permission to shoot pictures of their buildings. Now, understand, I can think of at least three people who'd walked by me in the last fifteen minutes taking pictures of the buildings with cameras as opposed to mobile phones - there's a well know sculpture titled There! sitting right in front of me, how many pictures have been taken of that? - so I asked if that meant the lunch I was planning to buy needed to be bought from a non-Shorenstein restaurant, that I should boycott any that sat in a building they didn't want me to photograph?

I was being testy and the few pictures I'd been taking weren't of the buildings (although I've certainly photographed them in the past) but of the people and, if the common areas called “the City Center” are, in fact, maintained exclusively by Shorenstein (many regional shopping centers donate their parking areas, for example, to their local city or county to gain financial advantage, but they give away their right to control photography, election pamphleteering and the like, since they've become in the opinion of the courts, in effect, city streets) then they have the right to prohibit pictures. Why they'd want to, I have no idea. Why their lessees would want them to (chase away customers), I have no idea. But they can. So I left. In a huff.

The dilemma of the street photographer, of course. Shooting buildings, who really cares? Can they stop you from shooting when you're standing on their property? They can. Photographing people, though, without their knowledge, is perfectly legal as long as it's done in a public area. You can't stand in a public area and take a picture of someone with, say, a telephoto lens standing (lying, sitting, squatting, hanging by the thumbs) in a private area such as a home or an office or hotel room or such, but, all that aside, there are personal codes of behavior to take into account.

You're walking along the street and someone like me takes your picture and puts it up on the web. Is that fair? Public space, yes, but, you know, you happened to be walking along and you, thinking no one was watching, picked at your nose and unbeknownst to you someone took a picture. Now picking your nose is putting it in the starker terms of black and white (and there are laws that specifically protect you from some of this), but what if it's a picture you personally find offensive that nobody else thinks of as offensive?

These are two pictures I took today. The lady is standing in the sun. I like the expression, so I took the picture. I find nothing about them in any way offensive. We've all taken advantage of the sun on a lunch break, perfectly normal behavior, nothing to make anyone upset. But what if she were to find the picture personally offensive? I'd take them down, of course, but legally I'm allowed to take the picture (maybe not in the City Center, come to think of it) and put them on the web. Legal, but, well, less than nice? Less than honest? Less than what? Art and Life: they can butt heads. Yin and Yang. Recall recent upsets created by images with a religious bent.

I understand the potential for upset. Something I've rarely had to confront as I'm not into embarrassing images or embarrassing strangers I may photograph on the street. The “invasion” of privacy, legal or not, is, however, something I think about. So far my reaction has been to wish for smaller, less obvious equipment (and continue to shoot). I take that back. The bigger and bulkier the better so people know what I'm about and they can, if there's a problem, talk to me on the spot. (In calm, intelligent, soft and thoroughly soothing terms.)

The photograph was taken at the Oakland City Center with a Nikon D3 mounted with a 24 - 70mm f 2.8 Nikkor G lens at f 8 at 1/160th second, ISO 200.