Photographic Documentation of the Bay Area

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By Jonathan H

The Bearings Blog ethos encompasses a simple ideology: The love of all things geographic, especially things that are human-inspired and influenced. The monuments and bones of the past are a vital component of recognizing our history, blunders, ingenuity, and culture. Nowhere is this more apparent in the Bay Area, which was perhaps THE most capitalistic of urban conglomerations in our not-too-distant past. I am honored to live here, not only because of its diversity of sites to find and photograph, but also because of the artistic and technological climate it fosters.

In the most simple historical distillation, San Francisco is a microcosm of our country. It was in the right place during the industrial revolution to support a military buildup unseen in history (and which remains decaying in the wake), ripe for academics, kooks (like me), and history buffs (to interpret to a pulp). Now, as a fusion of geography, politics, history, post-industrial technology, and artistic, bohemian heritage I find this place the perfect hotbed for great ideas and great art.

Bearings has been fortunate to know some savants of this landscape, and this entry is meant to provide you with a general, albeit condensed, overview of my favorite local landscape photographers and interpreters.

Steve Walsh

Photo copyright Steve Walsh
Photo copyright Steve Walsh

Steve is a Berkeley-based photographer, who has focused primarily on moonlit landscapes. He’s also incredibly adept at light painting, a somewhat improvised, but calculated way of illuminating a frame. Another thing, which gives Steve’s work a special place in the heart of Bearings’ editor, is his love of concrete blocks (mosaic above). His personal love of these little-noticed aspects of landscape makes him top-rate in our book (blog)!

Joe Reifer

Photo copyright Joe Reifer

Berkeley is home to many incredible photographers. Mr. Joe Reifer is known for his well-received blog, Words, in which he discusses the latest news on photography, web 2.0, art, and music. He’s also a regular user of alternative film techniques, including pinhole, holga, modded, black and white, and medium/large format work.

Troy Paiva

Photo copyright Troy Paiva

He’s often referred to as “that Lost America” guy — and for good reason. His book, Lost America, has become somewhat of a cult classic, especially amongst urban landscape aficionados. Troy’s work pops — really pops — and he often (but not always) utilizes colored gels to add a little pizazz to his shots. One need only browse any night photography group on Flickr to get a sense of how Troy’s style has influenced an entire generation of night photographers.

Todd Lappin

Photo copyright Todd Lappin

What started as an urban camouflage experiment turned into a online phenomenon. Telstar Logistics was originally a method of getting into all of those really nifty spots that we landscape historians love to see but often get arrested for visiting. The corporate motto of Telstar Logistics is “Land, Air, Sea, Space.” Bearings loves to blog about this kind of schtuff; in fact, our opiate of choice are these elements of the environment — the masses can have their “religion,” we’ll just stick with our daily RSS of Telstar’s employee news weblog.

Scott Haefner

Photo copyright Scott Haefner

Scott Haefner is a kite aerial photographer — and if there’s anything that urban landscape historians love, it has to be bird’s eye views of our favorite built environments. We swoon over these things. Recently, however, Scott has focused much of his work on the ground, which is equally as intriguing. With an incredible eye for light and composition, Scott has been able to convey not only the stories, but also the art inherent in the built environment.

Andy Frazer

Photo copyright Andy Frazer

Andy is, first and foremost, an adept night photographer, but he also follows the entire world of night photography and keeps his barometer attuned to the latest and greatest photographic artists of our time through his Night Photography Blog.

Basim Jaber

Photo copyright Basim Jaber

What would the Bay Area be without the South Bay — this oft-overlooked region of our unique landscape demands its own entry in Bearings. Suffice to say, Basim Jaber has been able to capture the ghostly artifacts of South Bay history. He has an avid devotion to researching the history behind the locations he photographs. His study of Almaden Air Force Station and his survey of inundated settlements in the South Bay are unparalleled. Please keep an eye out in future Bearings entries for more on the flooded towns and Basim’s documentation of these places as the water dips to record levels at the lakes.

One comment on “Photographic Documentation of the Bay Area

  1. ~Nya

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