Shawn Clover

21.09.2012 in21:37 in City scape, architecture -->


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This is the eighth build of shawn clover.com. Number seven was a catastrophe. I was going for a photography/blog hybrid with a touch of art deco style. The very first version of shawnclover.com launched in 2005 with Clucky the Chicken on the homepage spitting out some of my favorite quotes. I idolized Clucky.

There are lots of photos here. I’ve loved taking pictures since I was a lad. I entered my first photo contest when I was 11. I didn’t win. I took some photography classes in college and those developer chemicals must have gotten in my blood. I won a photo contest. Then a few more. I started winning digital SLR camera bodies and even a $2500 lens. I couldn’t believe the gear I was being given as prizes. I was hooked.

I went through the evolution that many photogs go through. It goes like this: you get an SLR and suddenly you’re an instant pro. Why? Because your friends and family say so. Ego grows. But your photos suck. You learn this startling reality when you sit down with a pro and do a portfolio review. Or when you post on a site like 500px. They eat you alive on 500px. This is the point where you start to become better. I’m fortunate enough to be in a city where I can meet up with some of the top pros and learn from them. I’ve got a long way to go.

I travel every chance I get. Bringing the camera isn’t always possible because I say I’ll just bring one camera and that one camera turns into a 45 pound bag of gear. It’s too much sometimes. But when I travel alone it’s game-on… an entire fleet of lenses and equipment comes along. I take way more pictures than I have time to edit or publish. The problem is that I sometimes spend hours editing a single photo.

Images of Part Modern Day San Francisco and Part 1906 Earthquake

At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, San Franciscans woke up to a quick jolt. For the next 25 seconds, all was silent. And then it hit hard–42 seconds of intense shaking. Buildings fell, sinkholes in the streets opened up, railroad tracks bent, and collapsing bricks crushed cable cars sheltered for the night in the cable car barn. But the real damage had not even begun. It was the out-of-control fires that did 90% of the destruction to San Francisco. Over 30 fires, caused by ruptured gas mains, destroyed approximately 25,000 buildings on 490 city blocks. Worst of all, many were started when firefighters, untrained in the use of dynamite, attempted to demolish buildings to create firebreaks, which resulted in the destruction of more than 50% of the buildings that would have otherwise survived. The dynamited buildings themselves often caught fire. In all, the fires burned for four days and nights.

Mayor Eugene Schmitz put out an authorization for the federal troops and police to shoot and kill looters. Thousands of tents and temporary relief houses went up to house 20,000 displaced people. The city was in disarray. But photography was a common hobby by 1906 and thousands of photos have survived to this day. One photographer even flew his 46 pound camera on a kite to get aerial shots of the aftermath. Some color photographs have even been found.

It’s been two years since I posted the first installment of this series, 1906 + 2010: The Earthquake Blend (Part I). I kept running into delays. In the case of the Valencia St. Hotel, I had to return to the scene on Valencia between 18th and 19th four times before I managed to get it right. There’s quite a bit of conflicting information of exactly where this building once stood. And just when I was about to wrap things up, my dad announced that he had unearthed a local magazine published in late 1906 loaded with earthquake-aftermath photos that I had never seen in any library or online collection. On the plus side, I’ve got plenty more material for a part three now.

To put these photos together, I first create a catalog of historical photos that look like they have potential to be blended. Unfortunately most of these photos end up on the digital cutting room floor because there’s simply no way to get the same photo today because either a building or a tree is in the way. Once I get a good location, I get everything lined up just right. My goal is to stand in the exact spot where the original photographer stood. Doing this needs to take into account equivalent focal length, how the lens was shifted, light conditions, etc. I take plenty of shots, each nudged around a bit at each location. Just moving one foot to the left changes everything.

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