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to my personal photography blog. I specialize in making unique and highly detailed photographs. Notice I said making and not taking. Yes I take photos but a lot of time and work is involved in pushing and punishing the pixels in my images to achieve the look I like.

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Entries in Chinatown (10)



Sincere, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

Vintage Chinatown gift shop sign in Los Angeles


Sam Wo's

Sam Wo's, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

In the 1970’s, this was probably the most famous restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown. They have a ton of signed photos of old celebrities, athletes, politicians and even a president on their walls. It was unique for a few reasons. One was that to enter, you had to walk through the kitchen which was so narrow that the line cooks and servers would have to press themselves against the stoves and woks to let you get by. Then to reach the second floor dining room, you had to climb a steel stairway which was so small that two people traveling in opposite directions would never be able to pass one another. The tables were small and the seats were wooden benches.
Back in the 70's the owner would openly solicit tips from the queue of people waiting for a table. If you tipped him well, you went to the front of the line. If you objected, he chased you away and told you to go to another restaurant. Once you were inside he often would tell you what to order as well. He was funny but could also be rude. I had the opportunity to eat here a couple of years ago and found out that the owner had passed away, and the food which was fantastic was now just mediocre. When I took this photo, I didn’t notice the little girl looking down at me from the dining room. Sam Wo’s, now a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to eat there.


Eastern Bakery

Eastern Bakery, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

Opened in 1924, the Eastern Bakery was the first bakery in San Francisco's China Town. Located at 720 Grant Street and known best for their Moon cakes which feature a light melon filling or rich lotus seed paste, the Eastern Bakery is a San Francisco landmark. Kathy and I decided to walk over to Chinatown early before any of the stores opened and the crowds gathered. Chinese new year had just started the day before and the foggy streets were covered with red paper from exploded firecrackers.


Silent Street Scene

Silent Street Scene, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

Kathy and I woke up really early on our last day in San Francisco. I looked outside of our hotel window and could see the fog rolling down the hill and heading for China Town. I told her I was just going to throw on some clothes and walk over and take some shots. She got up immediately and we both headed out. It was so strange to walk around the silent China Town streets. This area was just packed with people and traffic the day before.


Wakeup with a Bang

Wakeup with a Bang, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

Kathy and I were walking around Chinatown during Chinese New Year and were shooting HDR sequences of a cable car where the California Street line crosses Grant when we noticed that all the lights on Grant were off. In a few minutes we heard sirens and several fire trucks drove by at high speed. While walking up Kearny we were crossing Commercial Street and saw that the fire trucks were at the end of the street which was only being illuminated by their red flashing lights. We decided to investigate and I spoke to this group of people who said they were all sleeping when they heard a loud bang and the ground shook. Then all the lights went out.


Do Not Cross

Do Not Cross, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

This was taken on Commercial Street near the intersection of Grant. Kathy and I took a bunch of photos this night. The lighting was really interesting! We could smell something burning. Maybe a transformer exploded or something like that.


Beautiful Chinese Calligraphy in Portsmouth Square Plaza

Kathy and I were walking through Portsmouth Square Plaza and noticed a large crowd gathered around a table. Being a tall person, I could peer over the shoulders of the crowd and glimpsed a calligrapher creating some beautiful artwork. After a while we were able to get a little closer and we both got a few shots though I think Kathy's were better.


The New Americans

The New Americans, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

Once during a photography class I attended, legendary shooter Joe McNally said "whenever you are setup for your shot, look behind you because what's back there may be more interesting". He was right. I did look behind me when framing a shot down Grant Street and saw a tour group momentarily paused quite improbably in front of this touched up American flag. Several of them were looking toward the left side of the scene at this old Chinese man standing on a short ladder, holding up a sign with a lot of small text on it. He was shouting "Say hi to your mommy, Dalai Lama is bad" over and over. I only had time to take 6 exposures before they walked away.

I really like how the flag is reflecting on the roof of the car in the foreground. Kinda interesting.

Lesson learned. Check your six o'clock every now and then or you might miss something.


She Calls the Shots

She Calls the Shots, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

My wife Kathy takes a break from schooling me and looks over her shots. While I tend to shoot wide angle, her favorite optic is a 20 year old Minolta Maxxum 100mm F2.8 Macro lens. This is a very sharp, fast and contrasty lens and she really knows how to use it to maximum effect. You can see her photographs here.


This way to Chinatown

This way to Chinatown, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

The Chinatown gateway in Los Angeles is a little worn but its pretty neat.