San Francisco

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History Photography

Colorized Footage Travels San Francisco’s Market Street Four Days Before the Devastating 1906 Earthquake and Fire

May 3, 2022

Grace Ebert

The Miles Brothers were cinematic trailblazers, who, in 1906, filmed the historic “A Trip Down Market Street.” Traveling from 8th Street to the Embarcadero, the 13-minute journey documents San Francisco’s environment from the perspective of a cable car, showing the busy strip full of horse-drawn carriages and vehicles alongside the buildings and fashions of the time.

What makes the black-and-white footage particularly notable is that it captures the city mere days before that same landscape underwent a massive transformation. A 7.9-magnitude earthquake rocked the California coast in the early morning hours of April 18, 1906, in a shock that was so intense it ignited fires around the city. The original devastation and subsequent blazes killed more than 3,000 people and destroyed 80 percent of San Franciso’s architecture and infrastructure.

A new colorized version of “A Trip Down Market Street” returns to the pre-disaster scene in an incredibly clear and bright view of the city. Restored by NASS, the reimagined footage increases the speed from 15 to 60 frames per second, upgrades the resolution, and adds a soundscape to mimic the noises that residents might have heard around the turn of the century. While adding a creative flourish to historical documentation, NASS’s update offers a glimpse of the city and its people before it was irrevocably altered.

Prelinger Archives, San Francisco has the original 35mm footage, which you can watch on Internet Archive, and visit on YouTube for more of NASS’s restorations. You also might enjoy this footage from 1902 of a “flying train” in Wuppertal, Germany. (via My Modern Met)

 

 

 

 

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Photography

Dense Fog Shrouds San Francisco’s Streets in a Spectral Haze in Joshua Singh’s Photos

February 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Joshua Singh, shared with permission

Photographer Joshua Singh wields the unrelenting fog that hangs over San Francisco to veil his shots with a dreamy, eerie quality. The Bay Area city is notorious for the dense weather condition that thwarts visibility and leaves pockets of reprieve among its hilly landscape—it’s so iconic that some residents have even named the weather event. Often working after sunset, Singh captures everyday activities like soccer practice and commutes that turn mysterious when illuminated by street lights or glowing store signage that peeks through the atmospheric haze.

Head to Instagram to see more of his street photography and to his portfolio to shop prints. (via Peta Pixel)

 

 

 



Photography

Take an Eerie Walk Through the Empty Streets of Amsterdam, San Francisco, and New York City

March 31, 2020

Grace Ebert

With one-third of the world’s population currently under some level of quarantine, the streets of major cities like Amsterdam, New York City, and San Francisco are an unusual and unsettling sight. Film director and cinematographer Jean Counet, who shot “Meanwhile in Amsterdam,” shows the capital city almost entirely deserted. Public transit is empty and a four-minute walk reveals less than a dozen passersby.

Counet tells Colossal that “Meanwhile in Amsterdam” came together like any other film, except that “this time there was no director, and no plan,” he says. “We walked through the old city centre of Amsterdam between 8:30 (and) 13:30 which is normally teemed by walking people and bicycles. What we witnessed felt like a dream. Sometimes beautiful and mesmerizing, sometimes scary and worrying.”

In a similarly bizarre look at San Francisco, stop lights cycle from green to red with no cars passing through and businesses are boarded up. One with a psychedelic facade even has signs that read “We will survive” and “We will get by,” a hopeful gesture derived from the city’s musical legends that directly contrasts the nailed plywood covering the windows.

To see how the global pandemic is affecting public life in New York City and Rotterdam, check out the videos below. (via Kottke)

 

 



Photography

San Francisco Shrouded in Dense Fog Captured by Michael Shainblum

December 19, 2017

Christopher Jobson

In a relentless pursuit to capture the frequently shifting weather patterns of the San Francisco Bay Area, photographer Michael Shainblum (previously) has stalked scenic outlooks around the city for close to a decade. The city is especially famous for dense fog and low-lying stratus clouds that roll in almost daily during the summer, resulting in the surreal scenes he loves to photograph and film. Shainblum shares in a statement about the ongoing body of work:

The Fog in the bay area feels like it has a mind of its own. The fog can often times disturb a beautiful sunny day and cover the sky with darkness. There are mixed feelings about the fog, many residents finding it a huge inconvenience and depressing. Where as many residences embrace the fog and its erratic behavior. Regardless of how the fog is perceived from below. It’s hard to ignore just how incredible it looks from above. This series is a tribute to the incredible fog and a showcase of its magnificent beauty. Fog has essentially become a living breathing entity in San Francisco.

You can see more of his Symphony of Fog series on his website and by following him on Instagram. He also occasionally teaches timelapse workshops and sells prints of his best shots.

 

 



Photography

The Dr. Seuss-Like Topiaries of San Francisco Photographed by Kelsey McClellan

July 12, 2017

Christopher Jobson

While walking through her neighborhood in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, photographer Kelsey McClellan (previously) is always surprised to discover the unusual foliage adorning her neighbor’s yards. Trees meticulously trimmed into vertical stacks of pom-poms, plants that swirl like ice cream cones, or branches that span garage doors like a giant green mustaches—all practically lifted from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.

“I was instantly drawn to all the topiaries in people’s front ‘lawns’ and started snapping them as I walked around the neighborhood,” she shares with Colossal. “Most are Hollywood Junipers that have been shaped for decades by the owners.” You can see more of her botanical observations on Instagram.

 

 



Photography

Rolling Images of San Francisco’s Fog Against Neon Skies Shot by Nick Steinberg

December 12, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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Photographer Nick Steinberg has been capturing the thick fog common to the San Francisco area for the last eight years. His works, all produced in-camera and without Photoshop, bring out the neon hues found in the morning sky, colors which deeply contrast the blue and grey fog rolling over the forests below. To ensure consistency in his photography, Steinberg checks cams, satellites, and other data forecasts—tools that allow him to peak into the upcoming days’ weather patterns.

“What amazes me most about fog is the fact that no two shots are ever the same,” said Steinberg to Colossal. “This is what I call, ‘subtlety of movement’ where there are small windows of opportunity with fog as it evaporates, moves in, and undulates. This requires decisive action, tests your photographic skills, and requires one to be ‘present’ in the moment, and ‘ride’ along with [the fog].”

You can see more of Steinberg’s fog waves and other nature photography on his Instagram and Facebook.

 

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