A Shiny New Toy

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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.




Functional. Alien. Beautiful.

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My new commute is bringing me lots of new things to look at and new sights I’ve either not seen before or haven’t seen in a real long time.

I’m starting to figure out which side of the train to sit on to take in some of the coolest views on the journey.

One of my favorite parts of the ride is emerging from the tunnel on the Oakland side. Now, Oakland gets such a bad rap, but I find much of Oakland quite beautiful. (No city is 100% beautiful)

In fact, going home each night, I love to sit on the left side of BART so I can take in some gorgeous sunsets over the Port of Oakland.

Here is a photo I snapped with my iPhone from a moving train:




Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page.



I love this photo. What you are seeing here are the shipping container cranes at the Oakland docks. Often compared to At-Ats, I think these are some of the most fascinating machinery I’ve ever seen.

I recall when the first of these cranes were purchased several years ago. They came in on a ship from Asia and were so huge, there was much worry about bringing them in under the both the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge. One big wave swell would have spelled millions in damages. They made it through safely and now many more have come to take their place, revolutionizing how Oakland moves cargo.

This is how you get your stuff, man! Pretty cool.

These cranes make fast work of unloading big metal boxes of goods from the incoming freighter ships. Every morning through the BART windows I see eighteen wheelers lined up ready to get their payload so they can haul it off to the four corners of the state and country.

The Port of Oakland is the fourth busiest container port in the U.S. Their efficiency is amazing.

And those big beautiful industrial pieces of equipment are fascinating. When silhouetted against the setting sun they are so alien and yes, so incredibly gorgeous.

They are modern and very functional art.




Everything Old is New Again

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Take a look at this photo. It’s not my photo. I came across it yesterday and I kind of liked it.




It’s got that color saturation and green tinge that you see in a lot of these new square format apps for the iPhone and Android (my personal favorite is Hipstamatic).

Actually, I like this photo a lot. But I didn’t heart it on Instagram. I didn’t like it on Facebook. I didn’t re-Tweet it either.

Because this photo was found inside a frame and mounted to a wall at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

This photo is part of their Walker Evans show.

This weekend, my photography group took a field trip to check out the exhibit. Going in, I knew very little about Walker Evans other than he had captured a lot of powerful black and white images from the Depression. I purposefully didn’t study up before my trip because I wanted to learn about the photographer through his photos.

Well. Knock me over. I was really, seriously and deeply educated by the time all was said and done.

First of all, Walker was a writer, and then moved into photography. He did both for most of his life. So take that you scallywags who say an artist should pick a medium and not dabble. Feh! Also, I really came to appreciate Walker’s sense of irony. You have to get up close and look around the frame of his photos to find it, but it’s always in there.

That said, the part of the exhibit that gave me the “holy crap!” moment of connection was at the very end when I saw the photos tucked away on the back wall.

It seems that in his early seventies, Walker Evans was left tired and uninspired and found himself unwilling or perhaps unable to create.

And then he got himself a Polaroid SX-70 camera and an unlimited supply of film.

“I bought that thing as a toy, and I took it as a kind of challenge,” Evans explained. “It was this gadget and I decided that I might be able to do something serious with it. So I got to work to try to prove that. I think I’ve done something with it.”


As I stood there looking at the photos, I was at first jealous. Jealous of that “unlimited supply” of Polaroid film. I am completely devoted to the Polaroid camera and used several different versions growing up and well into adulthood. I shot Polaroid until the film was no longer available.

Thanks to the Impossible Project, it’s still possible to buy Polaroid film, but at almost $24 a pack, that easy carefree snap-whatever-you-feel-like and just buy another pack mentality has to be reined in.

So I stood there feeling jealous about having all that free film on hand.

And then…my hands came up and framed either side of my whaaaat? face as I realized…

I have access to an instant camera and unlimited film. But in a different format. Sames tools, different age.

I have Hipstamatic on my iPhone. And Instagram. And a bunch of other toy camera apps.

All of these beautiful color saturated photos. They can still be made! I can still snap with reckless abandon! Oh dear god I have this gadget and I might actually be able to do something serious with it.

Oh my goodness. Oh. My. Goodness!

This realization left me dazed and confused and happy. So happy.

And inspired.







Top photo, “Untitled, 1974 Unique Polaroid” by Walker Evans and used here under Fair Use.

Quote from The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer.

Bottom photo, “Power” Copyright 2012 Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column of this page. Taken with Hipstamatic app for iPhone.



Fi-yah!!

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One of the amazing, fabulous, so-cool-I-can’t-believe-it aspects of our new apartment is a real, actual, honest to goodness wood burning fireplace.

No pellets. No gas. No “oh it’s just for show we don’t use it.”

A real fireplace! With fire! From a log!

Yowza! [ insert cavewoman grunt here ]

Fire, good. Warm. Unh-huh.

However, since there are several units in my building, and who knows what sort of yahoolios I have for neighbors, today I called my insurance agent and double checked that I’m super duper double covered for such things as fire. And you know…burning.

Turns out that I am covered, and that’s good. I was raised with a healthy respect for fire. When my mom was just a little girl, her brother was using a burn barrel (or maybe burning leaves, I can’t remember) and he accidentally set several large farm fields on fire. My mom can vividly recall the huge flames and ever since she’s kept a healthy distance from any sort of fire.

So of course, my dad used to load up our 1970’s burnt orange free standing fireplace with lots of sappy New Mexico piƱon logs. Then he’s say “what?” when mom mentioned that maybe that was a little too much fire for such a small fireplace.

I mean, as a kid I learned how to make a darn good campfire and over the years I’ve always really enjoyed cooking over fire (both bbq and camping), however, in my adult life, I have never lived anywhere that had a fireplace. Most apartments don’t offer this feature because the property owners don’t want to assume the risk.

Last night, I pondered while looking at this particular fire:



The first fire in our new place!!

For as much progress as we have seen in the world including technology, medicine, engineering, etc…meaning, of all the amazing tools that we, as humans, have at our fingertips, it’s still the tool of the caveman that can wipe the whole thing out.

One flickering flame. One spark from a burning fire is a lifechanger.

And so today, when my insurance agent asked me the all important question “what is the distance to the nearest Fire Station” and I answered “less than a mile,” at I first felt worry over having to even discuss the probability of tragedy. Then I felt thankful that the fire station is so close. Then I felt doubly thankful for all the people who work at that fire station and are willing, as a normal part of their job, to come and save me, and The Good Man and, yes, even The Feline, from a possible terrible situation.

Being a human is full of risks. Even if I choose not to use my fireplace, I can’t control all the others in my building. So yeah, I’m going to use that fireplace and I’m going to stand in front of it and warm my rear end. I’m also going to be very careful and very respectful.

And very grateful.

Regarding the fire, the Feline says, “where you been all my life?”.



Yes, that’s a box of Duraflame. Real logs are on the way.




Except where noted, photos Copyright 2012, by Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.

Photo at the link to the freestanding orange fireplace is from UglyHousePhotos.com. That is not a photo of my family’s home.



Belated Birthday Love

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Last week, on the occasion of New Mexico’s 100th birthday, I had this great plan to feature a little blast from the past, a medallion from New Mexico’s 50th birthday, along with some recollections from my mom who was living in New Mexico in 1962.

When I asked the Queen Mum to wax nostalgic, she reminded me that in 1962 she was pregnant with my big headed and breach oriented big brother, my dad was a full time student at UNM, working on his engineering degree, and there was a lot going on in her life. New Mexico’s 50th anniversary sort of passed her by.

And then the USPS dragged their postage stamped paws on delivering my package.

So now it’s four days past the birthday and, well. Best laid plans and all that.

So what the heck, here’s this fun little collectable anyway. I found it on eBay and bought it for a rather small sum. I don’t imagine it has much value beyond sentimental, but I think it’s pretty cool.

Wonder if the state will do something similar for the 100th?







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