History At Your Feet Part I…Petaluma’s Downtown

The buildings on Kentucky St. and Petaluma Blvd. are home to an active business and retail district but they also represent and reflect Petaluma’s past…

Kentucky & E. Washington

Kentucky & E. Washington

From my perspective, this area is also a terrific location for photography and I concentrated my efforts there from February to July in 2012.  See Downtown…Photo Grid

I thought I had thoroughly “absorbed” the area during my photo grid project. However, on a recent visit, I happened to look down.

Herold's

Herold’s

Granted I had noticed (but did not note) this marble and tile work from my past walks but I now wondered about the thresholds and entry ways of other buildings. So I decided to attempt a photo survey of sorts. I mainly confined my efforts to Kentucky St. and Petaluma Blvd. bordered by East Washington and Western Avenue…

FINDINGS

  • Not every building has a marble, granite, or tile threshold or entryway.  Many are simply standard sidewalk concrete presentations.
  • On the other hand, I did find many intricate mosaic tile displays, some mixed with marble or granite.  Some contain the street address or the names of previous businesses from the distant past. For example, Daunt’s, Nielsen’s, S & G, L & M Drug Co.
  • Other locations did have tiled entrances but they were, shall we say, in various stages of deterioration.
  • Some locations reflect modern tile work which is quite colorful.

According to local historian, Katherine J Rinehart, much of the older work was by  E.W.M. Evans: “Evans and his sons are responsible for much of the tile and marble work you see in downtown building entrances. He died in 1942 and according to one obituary, ‘…he took pride in the work of installing monuments, vaults and granite curbing. He also installed many store fronts, tiled floorings and marble work.’”

Over time, more and more of the tile and marble work may disappear as remodeling takes place. In fact, I observed tile being removed and replaced with concrete last week in one location. 

My goal for this project was to try and document some of  what remains. 

For example, this elaborate mosaic tile apron on Kentucky & Western…

Kentucky DSCF1168RAW

…and the scenes in this gallery.

Click on any photo to open the collage to see full sized photos.

  • Navigate between photos using the left and right arrow keys, or by clicking or tapping the arrows on the left and right.
  • Click “view full size” below any image to see the photo directly outside the gallery.

In Part II I will take you to the doorway of a famous Petaluma building>> (CLICK HERE)

Photo Gallery for 2013 Now Available!

I have finally assembled, edited, processed, and posted a random selection of photos on the 2013 Gallery Page…a photo collection, if you will, documenting scenes I’ve encountered this year in Sonoma, Marin, and Napa Counties.

This year the Gallery Page is in three parts–a main gallery, plus two slideshows.

  • “Sights & Scenes…Marin Napa & Sonoma” (Main Gallery)
  • “Walking the…Dog…Horse…Cat” (Slideshow)
  • “Signs” (Slideshow)

To view all three, go to Sights & Scenes Gallery 2013

On the other hand, you can simply click on the tab at the top of the page!

As a tease, I offer these…

Wednesdays With Murray…

While not planned, this was the year for updating my “skills” with the camera.  Thanks to the gentle nudgings of Nina ZhitoI completed three weeks of classes with Frederic Larson and seven with Murray Rockowitz (Wednesdays with Murray, as I thought of the experience). 

While Larson and Rockowitz are from different photographic traditions, they conveyed common themes in their classes–at least that is how I perceived them:

1. It does not matter what kind of camera you have as long as you learn to use it within its limitations.  Move up later, if you care to do so.

2. Take the time to read the manual and practice using the various features.

3. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting–Learn how to use it and how to manipulate it.

4. B&W photography–According to Larson, the true test of the quality of a photograph is whether it also holds up in B&W as well as color. Rockowitz recognizes color, but his forte is B&W portrait photography and handcrafted prints. Trust me, you have to see them to believe them. 

The courses also altered my vocabulary to a certain extent.  The common phrase of “taking photos” is slowly being replaced by “making photos” as I wander about with my cameras.  At first it seemed to be an “affectation” but I came to realize that it is true.  From the moment you frame or set up a photo in the viewfinder to the final editing in a dark room or editing on a computer, you are making decisions about what to present in the final picture. 

Before closing, a few words about the Petaluma Arts Center are in order…

Until I took the photo classes, I never gave any thought as to the Petaluma Arts Center.  It was just another building…another one of those hidden assets one is not aware of until opportunity puts it in your field of vision. As for me, I will be back for the photography classes planned for next year. As a Camera Apprentice, I look forward to them…

For I am not comfortable with describing myself as a Photographer. Camera

But I was never comfortable with being called a lawyer, or an executive either…Rolling on the floor laughing

2010 Gravenstein Apple Fair…an eclectic micro view

From time to time, we venture outside the borders of Petaluma…and so it was on August 14, when we went to the Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol. 

For those living outside of Sonoma County or California, this is a big event.  The newspaper reports an expected attendance of 20,000 people for the weekend event.

As in the past, the event was well-organized and extremely efficient in moving people and parking cars.  This year had an added plus as the temperatures were well below the normal 90 degrees plus.

I am not going to report on the many food booths, art & craft booths, antique engines, musicians, wine, etc. I will report on three items:

  • A photographer
  • A “neighbor dispute” between a llama and Angora goats
  • A wine glass

CameraPHOTOGRAPHERCamera

Cindy Garza 

Although I am a camera enthusiast, I seldom pay much attention to photo booths at events such as these.  One booth caught my attention given the variety of photos as well as their quality–particularly some of the macro close-ups as well as several scenes from a recent trip to Africa.

For the first time, we bought prints and had a conversation with the photographer, Cindy Garza of Santa Rosa. You can find out more about Cindy on her web site Cindy Garza Photography 

While her web site features mostly portraits, she has quite a wide variety of photographic skills and capabilities.

Frankly, I am not sure she realizes just how good she really is…!

                                   (Emily)                                       (Cindy)   

LLAMA & ANGORA GOAT DISPUTE

Domesticated animals are a mainstay of an event such as this. Of course, I had to find a “story” in the photos…

WINE GLASS…Organic

This was the 100th Gravenstein festival or fair as evidenced by the logo on the souvenir wine glass. This year they used something other than the traditional wine glass.  It was a “plastic” goblet, made, as best I understand it, from “organic” plant materials. Specs & info below…

I will continue to use the wine glass and perhaps report as to its lifespan in a future post. As an aside, it reminds me somewhat of a portable picnic cup made out of brass that was popular in the middle of the last century…

Photography Rediscovered–Back To The Digital Future

Years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to be a fairly serious amateur photographer transporting two 35 mm Nikons, lenses, filters, etc. on cross-country motorcycle trips.  

Real life intervened and my interest in photography faded.  When digital cameras became the norm, I stepped back in, but mostly to use “point & shoot” techniques to produce “documentary” photos of graffiti, abandoned shopping carts, and blight scenes for blogging articles.  I did manage to evolve to documenting various community work projects as a means of escaping the Petaluma Blight Beat.

Recently, Nina Zhito persuaded me to sign up for a photography class (“Capturing Great Moments in Great Light”) at the Petaluma Arts Center taught by Frederic Larson

Of course there was “instruction” in the formal sense…

Plus, there was field work–in the rain–to put some of the techniques to use…

I won’t be so hyperbolic as to say that the class was transformational–but it has pointed me in a new direction in terms of how I will spend my time.

One of the immediate consequences for me was to start a photo blog as a companion to this site.

Check out The Petaluma Spectator Photo Blog to see if I learned anything!

  • Additions to the photo blog will be infrequent (it takes time for the “good stuff” ) and I will change it from time to time as I continue experimenting.
  • I will also be going through my inventory of past Petaluma photos to see if, by accident, any qualify for the new photo blog. One has already made it.

Thanks again to the Petaluma Arts Council and to Frederic Larson!

By the way, just to prove that old habits die hard, I did take note of a graffiti tag on the sidewalk  just outside the building and made a photo collage placing the tag on the door…

Oops! Did I just tag the Petaluma Arts Center??

A Mysterious Face In The Bucket

This post is a break from my Blog Break to briefly report on a recent experience generated by my photography class at the Petaluma Arts Center.

I was practicing various settings, shooting macros, and all that technical stuff to see what worked for me and what did not. On a recent rainy day, as I was coming inside, I decided to shoot a quick pix of a bucket that was collecting rainwater.  I gave it no thought whatsoever. I just wanted to see how the camera captured the light on the water surface–no attention was given to framing, composition, etc.

Later when I downloaded it, it drove me crazy…

 ©2010 Frank Simpson

So what is the source of the face?

  • Do we in fact have spirits lurking in another Petaluma dimension (past, present, or future) trying to communicate with us?
  • Is this part of a new campaign for or against the water rate initiative in November?

Can you figure it out?

It was not my reflection as I did not look through the viewfinder. I just held the camera over the bucket and took the pix as I was walking into the house. It was intended to be a throw-away test photo.

There is a simple explanation (and it is not Photo Shop) that I will provide after the class is over. We finally figured it out. Frankly, I am glad we did as it was starting to be just a little too creepy.

To see a larger version, click on the photo above.