May 4th, 2008


Photo shoot at Paramount Theatre and Lake Merritt

Photo link for the impatient

zahraa said she'd always wanted to go on a tour of the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. She, zyxwvut and I went yesterday morning. Though I'd been before for movie classics (which are great fun and I hope are revived soon), the tour gave me an appreciation of how beautiful the historic theater really is. I highly recommend the experience, especially for photo buffs as cameras are allowed.

I didn't feel like switching lenses and needed a wide angle for many shots, so stuck to my 17-55. At first I used aperture priority but soon switched to manual, at ISO 800. I decided since my subjects weren't moving (except for the few shots that included the tour group) I could try using slower shutter speeds that would allow greater depth of field. I didn't bring a tripod, but through a combination of holding my breath, bracing myself against things, and lying on the floor in a few cases I managed to get some decent shots, even at f/8. The image stabilization on my lens really helped.

We had lunch at New World Vegetarian. I love a place where I can get a Vietnamese appetizer, Chinese beverage, and Mexican main dish and dessert, all vegan. I'm trying to cut back on animal products again as I've been eating way too much chocolate and cheese at work. It helps that our Drupal consultant is vegan, so I feel like I want to be dairy-free in solidarity when he's in the office.

Then I walked over to Lake Merritt to take some more photos, this time with my 50-150. I was tired and didn't get many good shots, but you can see some birds here.


While I've been slacking on making music on my own lately, I've been listening to more live and recorded music lately, which is something at least.

On Thursday I saw the Cypress String Quartet as part of the free Chancellor's Concert Series at UCSF. Wow, were they good. They performed a couple of pieces by a composer I'd never heard of before but very much liked, Erwin Schulhoff, and also a quartet by Mendelssohn, who shares my birthday. :-) I was so impressed I bought a CD they were selling right after, but it didn't include either of those works, so after listening to it that night I bought another CD of theirs from iTunes that did have Schulhoff. While I'm not normally that into string quartets - my parents were in one when I was young, and I didn't appreciate that music enough at the time - I found myself really enjoying listening to the differences between the sounds of instruments and the movement of melodies from one to another.

Friday night I went to the Red Devil Lounge to see a couple of bands featuring Blue Bear staff: The New Up and Crowsong. I'd seen both before at the Café du Nord showcase last month, but this time I wasn't taking pictures, so I could enjoy the music more fully. The opening band, Repeater, was pretty good although they did a rather short set. Crowsong was next and made an amazing amount of sound for only three instruments (guitar/bass/drums, though joined on one song by another guitarist). The New Up was energetic and fun to watch, though the strobe lights and fog machine were a bit too much for me and I eventually moved back from my spot right at the edge of the stage. I didn't stay for the last band, five a.m., as it was midnight and I had to get up early the next morning for the Paramount Theatre tour.

Saturday night I stayed home, processed photos, and listened to more music. While it might seem natural that I'd have music playing all the time when I'm at my desk, I cherish silence and often am content to hear nothing but the street noise outside my window for hours. I was in the mood for something else this night though, so I cranked up Classic Yes. Wow, I hadn't listened to that full album in a long time, and was amazed how much I liked it. Tremendous musicianship, and very similar to the kind of long song forms I fell in love with while listening to Genesis. And I am totally in awe of Chris Squire's bass-playing genius. When the album was over I immediately went to Last.FM and played nearly every full track they had available by that band. I can see that I will have to expand my progressive rock collection...