Presidio Partials

These four images (click for slideshow) may be different in subject matter and treatment, but have two things in common. First, they all arose from one morning’s shoot in the Presidio of San Francisco. And second, they are crops — in a couple of cases, significant crops — from the capture that came home on my camera’s memory card.

This second happenstance is not unusual for me. In some cases, the crop is planned. Maybe I see a square composition, and my camera’s proportions are not square. Or maybe the lens I’ve chosen can zoom in only so far, and I know that the final “zoom” — the crop — is available later. In other cases, though, I discover my final composition only after the fact. I may try a number of angles at the moment of capture, but it isn’t until I’m in front of my computer that some essential combination hits me. Often I go through a multi-stage process, whittling and stripping away non-essentials.

Now, this discovery process has the obvious disadvantage of limiting the size at which the piece can be printed. Since my current camera is not one of those 50 megapixel monsters, it can be an important “error” in my practice. Occasionally I will return to the subject and, if possible, do a retake to maximize megapixels. More often, I just live with it. Life and light inevitably limit the time I have to work a scene, so there’s no reason to beat myself up over not getting it perfect on the spot — especially when my goal is usually a creative rather than a documentary piece.

With every editing session I learn a bit more that informs future shoots in the field. But I suspect that the artistic play of “whittling” will always be part of my process.

Presidio Light: Lovers’ Lane

Every photographer has them: places you love to go shooting, but just don’t get to very often. The Presidio of San Francisco is one such place for me. This incredible gem is a former military base that now blends historical sites, hiking and natural areas, art and cultural destinations, and a home for nonprofits and other low-impact businesses. Quite a list, and I’m probably leaving things out. As the crow flies, the Presidio is only two miles from my home, yet somehow I don’t get there very often … and when I do, I end up asking why not.

Two weeks ago I spent the better part of a day there. My exploration started with a long stay along Lovers’ Lane, which angles into the Presidio from its southeast corner. Here are some images from those hours as fog tried to burn off, then returned, then disappeared halfway again. I began where the Presidio Wall divides the park from the City, and ambled down from there, enjoying the moody eucalyptus groves, the row of old brick military housing, and always, the wonderful play of fog and light.