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Friday Slide Show: Nob Hill Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

14 October 2016

It is not easy to write about Nob Hill and it is even harder to photograph. We haven't so much put it off as we have scrupulously avoided it. But today is the day.

We found ourselves there earlier this week to attend a business meeting at the Fairmont Hotel. It's a peculiar destination, not conveniently reached (meaning it takes more than one bus). The downtown hotels are a convenient 20 minute streetcar ride away from us. But the Fairmont required us to backtrack on a 1 California rabbit-ears up the steep hill to the hotel.

We could have taken a cable car, but our transfer wasn't good for the ride. So we stuck with the bus.

Arriving a good bit early (which you do when you have to rely on two buses to get you somewhere), we decided to put ourselves through the ordeal of walking around Nob Hill taking a few photos. We started with the Fairmont itself and the Mark Hopkins on the corner next to it. Then we turned around to get the view north over the bay and down Mason.

We didn't see a single rich person as we walked around. But we never do. They must be invisible.

Grace Cathedral beckoned, so we took some exterior shots wary of the unavoidably converging verticals before going inside to be equally wary of the dark interior shots that required damning levels of ISO. We nearly became possessed when we saw the angle we had to shoot the stained glass, which just ruined the shots.

It's no wonder the place is frequently used for concerts. It's designed for the ears, not the eyes.

So we got out of there as fast as we could but not before shooting both the exterior and interior labyrinths. They are supposed to be meditative exercises, good for the soul. But, protective of the only soles we have, we sneaked softly away like a thief, avoiding them like they were law enforcement.

We didn't see a single rich person as we walked around. But we never do. They must be invisible.

We've been at the Fairmont for many functions over the years, almost all of which seemed to end up at the Tonga Room's tiki bar. So it feels like home even though we never have a key. And while we did take a few shots at the business meeting, we're saving them for the story.

So we're giving you Nob Hill on a sunny autumn afternoon shot with an Olympus E-PL1 and the 14-42mm kit lens. An antique camera with almost as much history as Nob Hill itself. But the battery still takes a charge, which you can't say for the cable cars.

We converted the Raw files into DNGs and processed them in Lightroom using the presets that mimic Capture One Pro's defaults that we devised according to Martin Evening's instructions and adding a little Clarity to the situation.

We did employ the Upright tool, which turns out to be something of a joke considering the subject was Nob Hill. Grace Cathedral resisted its persuasions with shocking fortitude while the Fairmont yielded gracefully, let's say.

Sometimes being short and squat pays off in ways being tall and slender does not. Had we found a tycoon or two idling the afternoon away on Nob Hill, we're sure they would have confirmed that. But, as we said, they are as rare as unicorns.

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