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Friday Slide Show: St. Francis Wood Fountain Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

30 July 2021

There are two public fountains in St. Francis Wood. This is the upper fountain on St. Francis Boulevard, which complements the Circle Fountain further down the hill. On a cold and windy day we visited it with our Olympus E-PL1 with 14-42mm II R kit lens.

The fountain was designed by Henry Gutterson, who succeeded John Galen Howard as the supervising architect of the development and designed many of the houses in St. Francis Wood over three decades.

There's an Art Deco motif to the fountain, which cascades from a four-level fountain to a lower three level pool.

There are just two seated figures carved in relief and a wolf head spouting water into the upper fountain's pool, which leads to the lower pools. The two figures are seated on a bench into which is carved a verse from the Song of Solomon:

Thou Art a Fountain of Gardens, a Well of Living Water.

In front of the lower pools, the sidewalk is embedded with memorial bricks usually inscribed with the names of people who contributed to the fountain's restoration. At either end of the fountain are steps to get from one level to another. There are a few plaques near the steps, too, although the particular tributes made it difficult to appreciate their importance.

On occasion a developing mind realizes a box of soap can turn the fountain into a bubble bath. It usually occurs at the zenith of their career in chemistry before they find something more suited to their interests.

On this occasion the water ran clear and, in the wind, danced delightfully before our lens.

The Upper Fountain. From across the street, you can see the whole fountain at once.

We threw Lightroomm's sliders all over the place, particularly Contrast, to draw out the play of the water. And, after a few shots, we cranked up the shutter speed by opening the aperture in Aperture Priority mode to freeze the water drops.

Which led to a thought we kept turning over in our skillet-like mind on the walk home.

Using a slow shutter speed in which the water turns into a blur creates an image that does not exist in the real world. You've seen this effect frequently where moving water is involved. But never in reality. It's an artifact of the technology.

On the other hand, freezing the water stops time and lets you see what actually does happen but just too fast to process in real time. It isn't a false image. It's real.

These are two different aspects to the art of photography. One just wanders happily off into la-la land while the other gets scientifically precise. Pictorialists vs. Group f/64, if you know what we mean.

Neither approach is better than the other, though.

On the one hand you have Julia Margaret Cameron's dreamy portraits of family and friends dressed up as literary figures. Unforgettable. On the other you have Doc Edgerton's strobe shots that could even stop hummingbird wings in flight. Unbelievable.

We wouldn't be without either of them. And photography makes room for both. In the same little device you can hold in your hands. A camera.

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