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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Morning Has Broken

"Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it." ~ Richard Whately


It's becoming more and more apparent to me that the best light of the day, the light that I would love to have shining on people and places and things so I can capture them with my camera--all of that perfect, clear light is going on in the morning, while I'm in the office.

What a waste!

So to add to my self-imposed mission of taking at least one good photo a day (which means I have to take a lot of others that aren't so hot), I have started leaving the house earlier so that I have time to walk around for a while before I have to head into the corporate blandness at 8:30am.

So far, I've ended up in Chinatown before 8am a few times and it's a completely different place when it's empty and the shops are closed and the tourists are still in their hotels, folding their maps and consulting their guidebooks.


I love Chinatown and it is very quickly becoming one of--if not my favorite--places to wander on my lunchtime walks. It has a million details to notice, some only visible to you from a particular vantage point or corner. It is part of my affection for the place to find every wonderful angle and interesting little sight that goes unnoticed by most.

But in the early morning, when I have it all to myself, Chinatown is even better.

Yesterday morning, the sun was bright and the sky was so clear when I took the first photo. I didn't even need to do anything to the photo except crop it slightly. The color was as vibrant and as perfect as you see it here. It was the morning light that added the magic.


This morning was completely different. There was no light. The air was full of mist, grey and flat. It made my hair damp and start to curl, and the air felt cooling on my face as I walked the hills of Commercial and Sacramento streets to get different views. I could see the top of the Transamerica Pyramid shrouded in a delicate cloud of vapor. I won't be able to tell until later tonight when I get my camera home how this batch of pictures turned out, but hopefully one or two made the hilly climbs worthwhile.

I'll be back in Chinatown again at lunchtime to finish my photos for my daily allowance, jostled by crowds of both tourists and residents, and I know I'll be drawn into some favorite shops and maybe even treat myself to a little dim sum, but I'll be back again for the mornings, when I'm all alone.


Yoli August 12, 2008 at 11:21 AM  

Girl, I love your photography. You are so grossly talented.

julochka August 12, 2008 at 11:34 AM  

and you said you weren't inspired! silly girl!

there is definitely something to having places to yourself!!!

tangobaby August 12, 2008 at 12:34 PM  

Thank you so much, Yoli. I'm working on a Chinatown photo project that I'll tell you more about soon.

ps. I read your comment on Tara's blog about China and thought it was so heartfelt and well-written.

Hi julochka,

Well, not inspired as like, an assignment about the Hermitage or some very cool ruins.

But I am trying. I still think I'm at half-mast right now, from the cold. My brain is fuzzy.

Yes, walking around in a city without a crowd surrounding you is a wonderful and unique feeling. I do like the hustle and bustle of things here, but it's such a contrast when all of a sudden, no one is out except for you.


margie August 12, 2008 at 5:06 PM  

must be something in the water that we are all so hyped about taking pictures these days. i cruise around a few blogs, yours always, and i see so much confidence!! yay us.

AscenderRisesAbove August 12, 2008 at 5:25 PM  

you are strolling in china town? i just realized we are neighbors (who live a half hour apart)

tangobaby August 12, 2008 at 5:28 PM  

Margie, isn't it just the best feeling to be taking photos that make you so happy? I am in love with the feeling, and yes, Yay for us!

HI AscenderRising,

Yep, that very Chinatown. From Kearny to Pacific to Grant to Bush, and more, I'm all over it. Today I went down lots of little alleys, besides the hills of the morning.


robin-bird August 12, 2008 at 6:38 PM  

the very moment i opened up the page i started singing Cat Stevens :) sheesh. the next moment i found my mouth hanging open at the morning shots you are getting. wow and WOW! i love the first one of the edge of the roof with the shadows inviting us up to explore "what is up there?"

and i am not a bit surprised that although you are stuck in the office you will find a way to take you beloved photos. i am anxious for you to see and post how the later shots came out.

i am off to part two of my macro workshop tonight where we all share our work for some feedback. i can see about 5 other classes i want to take in the new fall schedule!

xoxoxo see you later gator

Relyn August 12, 2008 at 6:56 PM  

Ooo... so glad to see you up and about and feeling better. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos!!

By the way, I've been at work all week and my computer is not up and running yet. So, I didn't get to my blog until tonight. I was cracking up at your goober questions. I’m glad Jeffrey took care of you. If you can work it right, you really need to add a Moon Pie and a muggy night to your Southern experience adventure.

Christina August 12, 2008 at 9:07 PM  

Aren't the mornings just the best for lighting! Did you say dim sum???

: )

rochambeau August 13, 2008 at 4:07 AM  

Dear Tangobaby,
Love you passion for what you do and your morning shots too!
There is something magical about Chinatown. It is a world within itself. There is a special energy there, not to mention treasures like paper parasols, prayer paper, dumplings.

Sorry you are going to the corporate world today. Hope you will be able to remedy that soon!


Rima August 13, 2008 at 5:31 AM  

Hello Tangobaby, thank you for your visit to my blog and kind words... happy you enjoyed your wander. A great place you keep here too..
All bests from Scotland

paris parfait August 13, 2008 at 9:01 AM  

Yes, I rediscovered Chinatown during my last visit. I was never enthralled with it all the years I lived there, largely because of the crowds and being constantly jostled. But your photographs are testament to the beauty all around. And the last trip I also rediscovered the wonderful little things to be found in the shops there - getting past the tourist tat is part of the fun. Great photos! xoxox

tangobaby August 13, 2008 at 10:35 AM  

Hi robin-bird,

You and I are of the same mind...that is one of my favorite songs and one to always brighten my mood.

I have just posted some photos from the rest of the day, so I'm sure you'll be taking a peek soon.

Enjoy your classes and I can't wait to hear all about them! Enjoy yourself!

xoxo in a while, crocodile!

Hi relyn,

I'm up, and getting better all the time, thank you!

I hope your computer worries are behind you know and you'll be enjoying some goobers and an RC soon!


Hi christina,

I think that a morning photo is going to be as important to me as a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. It wakes up my eyes and my brain and my creativity.

And yes, girl, I said Dim SUM! I had two char siu bau while I walked around. 2 for $1, can't beat that lunch!


Hi rochambeau,

I have to admit that I've become instanly infatuated with your blog! It's like visiting a French fairytale!

I did see parasols, prayer papers and dumplings yesterday. Next time I see them, I shall think of you, too.

Hi Rima,

Your blog is a wonder. You are so incredibly talented...I can't wait to see more of your creations. Perhaps someday I will own one too, like Yoli.

Hugs from San Francisco.

Hi paris parfait,

I'm glad you had a chance to enjoy Chinatown during this last visit. Getting past the crowds and losing the tourists is not too hard as they seem to mostly go up Grant Street. But there are other parts that are less touristy. They are still crowded but at least it is the locals.

Also, out Irving towards the ocean is the "new" Chinatown and I love to shop there for my produce.