Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Buena Vista

I'm not a big bar hopper but I have been to a handful of different saloons around the country. I have come to the conclusion that one particular bar stands out above the rest as my favorite. San Francisco's Buena Vista found at the bottom of Hyde Street. When I was living on Hyde Street during my first run in SF this Spring/Summer I would wander down the hill and grab a bite to eat and their highly recommended Irish Coffee. Little did I know I had accidentally discovered an American landmark. The bar has been around since the 1800's but in the early 1950s they really put their name on the map by bringing Irish Coffee to the US. They have perfected it and have served millions over the years. I read in a newspaper article hanging on the wall that one of their bartenders won the Irish Coffee World Championship Competition hosted in Ireland. The secret? Two sugar cubes, good coffee, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey and cream aged 48 hours and frothed to precise consistency to give it the very tricky ability to float on top.

I knew I was on to something big when I visited Universal Studio in Orlando. They had a San Francisco ride featuring a mock version of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Buena vista. Can't beat that advertising eh?

Anyway, I wandered down tonight to grab a couple of shots so here they are....

People wait in line a long time to catch a ride on the cable cars right next to the Buena Vista...hint to visitors..they only fill it about 60% on the bottom..walk up one block and they'll stop and pick you up.
You can feel the history of this place just standing near it. If the walls could talk...

The famous cream floating on the top...mmm mmmm good

San Francisco Shoot

This is a shoot I am particularly proud of. I flew down to San Francisco a month or so ago and brought with me a minimal amount of gear with the intent of snapping a few photos here and there but not anything too serious. I have with me just one flash, no umbrellas, no soft boxes, just a small diffuser that looks like a Tupperware dish to stick on top of my flash and two pocket wizards to fire my flash off camera when necessary.

I was approached a few days ago by a friend that had a school emergency. She had mis-timed her deadline for her final assignment in fashion design and needed a model and a photographer at the last minute. The girls she had originally lined up to model couldn't make the pushed up deadline but luckily her best friend Debbie was. She asked me if I would do the shoot and I explained my gear shortage in SF. She did not care and so I agreed to help out. I was concerned about my gear shortage and the lack of planning but the light was cooperative and the one flash provided just enough of a boost to give the photo's the look I was after. I think it worked out better because of the pressure. Her entire grade is dependent on this one shoot. She was tasked with creating and accessorizing a number of outfits and had chosen an urban theme.

We hit the town early Sunday morning and let me tell you something...I was wearing a pair of jeans, hiking boots, thick socks, a shirt, a sweatshirt, a coat and a stocking cap. I was friggin freezing! You can see what Debbie was wearing in the shots and I can only imagine how cold she must have been but hardly a word of protest. A real testament to their friendship was shown there. Debbie isn't a professional model but she should be. We covered a lot of ground, used a lot of different looks and had a great time. Here are a handful of pics for you to check out.

This was an alley hidden deep within China town. I worked at a Fish House for over 20 years and I can tell you the fish smell in this alley literally gagged me.

So much great graffiti in SF. The cops stopped when we were shooting here. I thought we were in some kind of trouble but no..they just wanted to watch.
This old Chinese guy was leering from about 50 feet away the whole time we were here with his big toothless grin. Since I couldn't ask him to leave, I asked him to move closer to make this shot possible. Awkward.
Deb literally stopped traffic on this busy street.
Hyde Street with Alcatraz in the background.
We found these bright red doors leading into a large Catholic Church.

I love some of the houses in SF and incorporated one in this shot.
Graffiti near Haight Street.

This was not one of Ashley's fashion designs but rather a shot I asked to set up for my own portfolio. I don't know why, but I really like it.

I'm not sure what's up with the bananas in this graffiti but it works.