California Dreamin’ Is Becomin’ a Reality — Photo Journal 2017, Weeks 4 and 5

A runner on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on “such a winter’s day”. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

This year marks half a lifetime (so far). This year marks 28 years that I’ve lived in the Golden State, which is half my life (you don’t need to do the math to know that makes me “of a certain age” — but thanks for calculating).

To celebrate this anniversary I took a photo walk along San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. This isn’t the California coastline that the Beach Boys sang about. Shrouded in fog most of the year, in the winter, when it’s not raining, the beach is calm when the tide is out. A bit wild when the surf is up. I heard about 15-foot waves in the morning, but by the time I made it out there in the late afternoon, it was low tide.

I continue to work with my Ricoh GR and its 28-mm lens. I bought this camera two years ago because it’s often touted as one of the best for street photography. But lately I’ve been experimenting a bit with its so-called “cinematic” tones using the “positive film” setting. This may be because I’m supposed to be spending my time working on a new film, not out photo walking.

But I am slightly pleased with the results, whether “California dreamin’” or stumbling back to the reality of the San Francisco streets.

The lovely Lisa asked me if I knew where she could get a psychic reading. Photo by Kathy Drasky.
Lewis asked for a few dollars and called me “Sister”. Photo by Kathy Drasky.

I’m also working on cinematic backgrounds the Ricoh GR can add to your portraits. When walking around my neighborhood, working on my ongoing photo documentary project Divisadero Corridor, I look for a sense of these streets as much as I look to showcase the eclectic mix of people who are my neighbors.

I’m not working on a street people project per se, but as I wander around with my camera, they are often the only people who stop me and start a conversation. Otherwise, it’s straight-up street photography that isn’t necessarily “in your face”.

For that, I switched back to my favorite fun iPhone app, Hipstamatic. During Week 1 and Weeks 2–3 I was pretty stuck on using the Beard lens/Otto film combo that was giving me a nice crisp and color popping photo snapshot effect. These past few weeks, I wove in the California dream thread shooting a lot with the John S lens, a long-time favorite.

It’s been hard to tear myself away from photo taking and shift gears back to the film project. The last few weeks have yielded a couple of photo rewards, like a Hipstaconnect Sunday Highlight and a feature on the Indisposable Concept feed for some film shots I took in New York a few weeks ago.

For these honors, I couldn’t be more grateful. And encouraged to get back to work on a film that is relying on a great deal of dreamlike imagery to pull off…. Right after I get back from a holiday to sunny Sydney, Australia!

To see my complete 2017 Flickr photo journal (so far), click here.

Kathy Drasky is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and photographer. She lives in San Francisco.