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23 August 2017

You just can't get bored around here. Every time you pass by the same view, there's something different to see. Maybe it's the bright white tower of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Maybe it's Salesforce's Tower of Babel. Maybe it's something a bit more subtle.

But there's always something. Which is why old time San Franciscans only bemoan what has disappeared once before adapting to the new reality. Anchor Steam Beer? As gone as the Hamm's Brewery sign. Buca di Beppo? Closed after 20 years (where is all the stuff going to go?).

If only someone would find a way to apply this phenomenon to a person's closet or garage. Urban Renewal for Personal Artifacts. It would revolutionize modern society, recycling sentimentality into bold new initiatives.

Or, we could just antiqueize the new stuff, giving it a veneer of sentimentality. Which, as you may have guessed, is what we're up to here.


The first part of this trick is to use the right optic. An old piece of glass isn't sufficient. It has to be an old design.

We've been carrying around the $279.95 Lensbaby Twist 60 for a while now. Mounted on a Four Thirds camera it provides a 120mm equivalent focal length. On our Nikon D300, it works out to a 90mm equivalent.

Neither of those sensor sizes lets the Twist's Petzval design swirl the background noticeably. You need a full-frame sensor for that.

But we fell in love with its rendering when we caught this Royal Enfield Classic Battle Green parked in the neighborhood. It had not occurred to us to try it in black-and-white, though.

We shoot Raw to have full color information to work with in our monochrome conversions. So it was just a matter of capturing the skyline from the spot where Portola meets Market St. below Twin Peaks.

We shot at ISO 200 with an aperture of f2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/4000 second in the wind on a hazy day.


In Adobe Camera Raw, we pretty much went left wherever we usually go right. Clarity was de-emphasized, Dehazing too, Contrast. And we added a vignette.

When we resized, we did not resharpen, further degrading the image.

But we didn't degrade to the point of simulating a film stock. That would mean editing the image in Exposure X2. Which is a different kind of fun all its own but one which would obscure just how much the Twist itself had contributed to this image.

As it was, our edits even made the newly-remodeled SFMOMA look like a survivor of the 1906 earthquake and fire. Here's a 100 percent crop of the full resolution image showing the difference:

All we really had to do was convert the distant blue image in the haze to black-and-white.


We took a few shots on this safari and converted them to black-and-white with the same effect. Which we would call Instant Nostalgia.

Generally, we prefer to limit our special effects to editing where we can take an image in several directions. But in this case, the lens was special and the effect, while constraining, was just what we wanted.

And what we wanted was the sense of having lived so long the new stuff looked old.

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