Golden Gate : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Whoa. That’s Something.

If you are a regular reader of Oh Fair New Mexico you will remember this post from March where I spoke about joining the photography club at my place of employment, and how I was rather intimidated by the group that is 1) mostly men and 2) mostly PhD level scientists.

When a scientific eye is sees and comments on the pixels, it makes me look at photography in a whole different way. I have certainly learned a lot from the group. I have also taken some hard chops on my photos during the monthly critique sessions. For the most part, the critiques have been 100% right. Flaws and problems in my photos that I didn’t see were pointed out and once I saw them too, I knew clearly how I’d erred and how to fix it next time.

And that makes me a better photographer.

Each month, at the end of our critique session, we all go off and vote for our favorite of the photos. The photos earning top votes are published in the online newsletter that goes out to every employee at the corporation.

Every month from March forward I have submitted photos and the most votes I have ever received was two. Until this month. That’s when something special happened. This month my photo garnered top votes and by golly it was published to the entire company.

Whoa! The newsletter went out last Friday and I was inundated with emailed congratulations from coworkers and clients.

I feel pretty dang good about this accomplishment. Slowly but sure I’m getting it. I’m figuring out this group, improving my eye and taking better photos.

The winning photo was actually something I took in 2010 (it’s been on the blog before), and this crowd seemed to like it.

Here it is:




Image Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth





Photo Copyright 2010, by Karen Fayeth, and taken with a Canon G10. Exposure bumped and a few minor fixes done in Photoshop. This is a single shot and not layers as you see in many examples of night photography. This photo is subject to the Creative Commons license found in the right column of this page.




A Shiny New Toy

My fascination with bridges is pretty well documented. I have a mini project going on in my creative background to photograph bridges (and rivers, boy do I love rivers!).

This weekend I had a nice opportunity to photograph a brand spanking new bridge.

For years, ok pretty much since I moved to the Bay Area, I have railed about the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The western span is a beautiful, elegant suspension bridge while the eastern span is a bunch of clunky tinker toys, better known as a cantilever bridge.

Here’s a photo I took from the upper deck of the tinker toy:



Image Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

This part of the bridge is very functional but not very aesthetically pleasing. At least in my personal opinion (others disagree).

You’ll recall that in 1989, this was also the section of the Bay Bridge that collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake.



Image from Wikipedia and used under a Creative Commons license.


If that photo don’t make your heiney pucker, than you have a set of brass nerves that I just don’t have.

In the wake of the 1989 earthquake, planning and work began to replace this span of the Bay Bridge with something more seismically stable. This project was not cheap and it was not simple, but by gum, now some 24 years later the brand spanking new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opened up to the public last night.

Traffic reports this morning were pretty bleak as plenty of people crammed onto the new span for their first ride.

Yesterday The Good Man and I sought to escape the breeze-less heat at our happy home and drove out to the marina near Emeryville, which offers unobstructed views of the City, the bridges and downtown Oakland. I took my camera along as I am part of a photography club and this month’s theme is landscapes.

Here is my semi-artistic view of the new eastern span (to the far left in the photo) and how it blends is perfectly with the existing buildings and landscape of the San Francisco city line (that’s the top of the iconic Transamerica building just to the right of the new bridge).

At first I was no fan of the white paint on the new span, but now I’ve come to love it. This new suspension bridge really stands out against the backdrop and claims its own place in Bay Area history.



Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth


Hard to tell from this photo, but there are no cars on the deck of the bridge. Who knows how many years will pass before we see that again!

And while I’m excited to the point of hyperactivity about this gorgeous new suspension bridge and looking forward to seeing it every day as I drive to work, I find something curious is happening.

The news reports say that the moment the new bridge is up and running, the old eastern span will be dismantled. The pieces will come out in the reverse order they went in and much of the metal will be sold for scrap. This makes me a bit sad. It seems that ugly ol’ bridge found a way into my heart. Those 1934 era tinker toys now mean something to me, and I’m more than sad to see them go.

In the wake of this shiny new toy, that unseismically sound bridge now seems awfully lovely. In the many months I commuted to the east bay across the Bay Bridge (before I made the big move), I learned to love the forgotten little sister to the Golden Gate bridge.

Sure am going to miss one half of my old chum, even as I welcome this safer new span.

I’m glad the Bay Bridge is having a much deserved moment in the sun.





Image of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth. Image of new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth. Both images subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Old span taken with an iPhone and the Camera+ app, new span taken with a Canon Rebel and fixed up a bit in Photoshop.




How I Learned To Re-Love My Home by Being a Tourist

When you live and work in an area that is a poplar tourist destination, once can get a bit…weary…of the whole out-of-towner schtick. Come summertime when the weather starts to warm up and school lets out, the San Francisco Bay Area is certainly a popular place for folks to visit.

When I first started dating The Good Man (lo these many years ago), he lived just off the Embarcadero and I learned to not just deal with tourists, but to be fully submerged into their every photo clicking, map pointing good times.

I grew a little tired of it, honestly. Kind of made me want to stay inside and avoid those types.

Enter this past weekend and the arrival of my almost fourteen year old goddaughter. She lives somewhere in that no man’s land between Las Cruces and Radium Springs, New Mexico and her view of the world is a little different from mine. She had briefly been in San Francisco five years ago around the time of my wedding, but hadn’t really spent time in the City.

So Uncle Good Man and I did it up right. We loaded her in the car and headed off for destinations such as Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, the Cliff House, Lombard Street, the Wharf and more.

As I huffed and puffed walking many of the seven hills and jostled my way through tourists and took in my beloved sights once more, I too became a tourist. A tourist with a memory.

Oh yes, I recalled the stone risers near Ghiradelli Square where I sat on that beautiful California day and contemplated if I could really live here. I watched the gentle waves in the Bay and summoned my courage. And OH! There is that little dude who wears a full old-time golfer uniform and waxed mustache who does a rollickingly fun shell and balls game on the streets. Man, that guy is still there? And oh muh lord, the Golden Gate on a clear day. What a gorgeous little orange gem.

I saw the familiar sights with new eyes and I remembered fully, totally, and completely why San Francisco is one of the most wonderful places in the world.

I think I needed that. I needed to remember why I live here, why it matters, why I left not just my heart but my liver, and pancreas and eyes and all the other major body parts in San Francisco. I felt the energy and excitement of all the tourists visiting my fair City and I echoed it back to them.

Good ol’ San Franciscio, she made me fall in love all over again, and that leaves me with a happy smile.

And a huge stack of Ghiradelli chocolate bars in my kitchen cabinet. Buy four get one free! Whatta steal!





And Then It Got Surreal

Yesterday I found myself sitting in the very posh office of the Chief Executive Offer (CIO) of this here organization that employs me. Our CIO is absolutely brilliant, well recognized in the IT field and is one hell of a business woman. She’s also a rather serious sort, which is fine. All business.

Somehow I’ve managed to be a good enough little employee and shown enough of my own savvy that she has been willing to invite me to some pretty high level meetings. Yesterday was one such meeting and I was damn lucky to be invited.

In the office were five of us minions from various ends of the business along with the Lady With a C Title.

The IT organization is building a very big and very key component of the business systems here at the ol’ place of employ, so we were on the phone with a third party having a fairly intense negotiation.

The building where the CIO sits is very, very old and a brand new happy IT building is being constructed as we speak. It’s going up right in front of the existing building and will be a little jewel of efficiency and network capacity. Good stuff!

The current building sits on a hill and the windows from the CIO’s office offer a spectacular view of San Francisco and even the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. When I do get to be in her office, I always sit near one of the large windows and spectate the view.

So there we are yesterday on the call with our CIO and the CIOs from four other large organizations speaking with a third party company about this huge joint effort. My C Level exec was taking the lead on the call and right from the start, things were getting tense.

As she was speaking, suddenly I hear the “bluuuuaaaaaart!” of an air horn. The kind of air horn that an obnoxious fan might bring to a football game. I’m the sort of gal who startles easily so the air horn lifted me a quarter inch off of my seat. As my head whipped around to look out the window to see what, exactly, the frap was going on, I noticed a large bundle of rebar go floating by.

Ah, I see. The construction.

Because I am mature and a professional, I immediately wanted to start giggling like crazy. It was so surreal. “Blah, blah, blah you are not understanding our strict budget requirements…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*… : bundle of rebar floats by: ”

So I looked at my shoes, I looked at my notebook, I looked anywhere but in anyone’s eye because I was about to laugh my fool head off.

Ahem. Then I regained my composure and my serious “umm hmm” look and got back in the game.

About ten minutes later, the CIO is drilling the third party rep, “That is NOT what I told you two weeks ago, you have NOT addressed the key component of this proposal…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar :”

Oh hell. I can’t keep it together. I bit the insides of my cheeks and stayed strong.

Then a scant five minutes later the third party rep, “…we can only provide this set of concessions because the way our company is positioned, the street won’t look favorably on…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar : ”

I can only imagine what the guy on the phone was thinking. He had no perspective on what the air horn was about, he just kept hearing it over the line.

Which made me wonder if that wasn’t the greatest negotiation tool ever!

This third time I hazarded a look around the room and found that no one other than me seemed to be affected by the air horn blasts. They were all cool as a cucumber while I was using every tool in my arsenal to hold it together.

The fourth time was the deal breaker. It came at such an awkward moment in the conversation that all five of us minions broke down and started giggling like kindergartners. I looked around the room as we all laughed. All of us. Except the CIO.

Whoops. Ahem.

Thankfully the meeting soon wrapped up and as I took my leave, the CIO thanked me for attending and I managed to stay very serious and professional, but I chuckled all the way to the parking lot.

I may be a well-regarded professional, but that latent childhood hasn’t gone away yet. Nor do I expect it will anytime soon.

*bluuuuaaaaaart!*





Image from The Sportsman’s Guide.




Goodbye Old Friend

This morning I had a doctors appointment at 9:30, which was the same time the Space Shuttle Endeavor was due to fly over the Bay Area.

This made me very cranky. It’s so hard to get in to see this specialist, so I simply accepted my fate.

Today is one of the few days I’ve been grateful for the Bay Area’s marine layer. The fog delayed the takeoff and am I ever glad it did.

After finishing my appointment, I climbed up in the Jeep and listened close to the radio. I chose a course on southbound 101 hoping to catch a glimpse.

I turned off at the exit for my mid-peninsula place of employment, and on the radio they said “Endeavor has just left Oakland and is making it’s way to the Golden Gate.”

That meant I had maybe 15 minutes. I saw a few people milling around in a grassy public space so I turned quick into the parking lot, tugged the parking brake, and joined them.

“Do you think it will come by here?” I asked the older couple already there, setting up their camera gear.

The man who so profoundly resembled my dad talked me through his reasoning as to why where we were standing would be a good viewing spot. His logic was spot on.

I teared up a little. How cool it would have been to share this with my dad. He used to take me to all the air shows at Kirtland Air Force base as I grew up. It’s probably his fault I’ve always been fascinated by fighter jets and the Space Shuttle. He would have dug this flyby a lot.

As the time passed, more people started showing up, all asking the same thing “do you think this will be a good spot?”

Then suddenly, “There it is!!”

And there it was.

The plane carrying the shuttle moved so slow, seemingly impossible to stay aloft moving that slow, and at a pretty low flight deck too.

I tried to take photos but the haze was no photographer’s friend. So instead I put my camera down and just watched. As I said to a friend on FB, it was like a slow funeral procession for a much beloved icon.

I teared up a lot. I’m not even embarrassed to say it.

The shuttle was a big part of my growing up and for me its retirement is met with sadness and a bit of frustration at how, over time, NASA mishandled the program.

Onward to the next adventures, old friend!

Hey, you know what? The next step in space travel may just hit a little close to where I come from.

Here’s a few photos of today’s flyover from the local paper:



Two icons together, Endeavor and the Golden Gate Bridge




Endeavor and its fighter jet escort near one tower of the Bay Bridge





Images from SFGate.com



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