Friday, December 31, 2010

The Intensity of Dance as the New Year Approaches

Swirling lights illuminate a future with promise that remains unknown, the moment is what matters now, the world celebrates, the ball drops, fireworks explode, the Change is hoped for, the sound is deafening, we went all in this time.  Memories last a lifetime.

Embarcadero Center, New Years Eve
San Francisco 1975
Hand-tinted gelatin Silver Print

New Years Day Rising

Last year's calender pages fly out windows in Financial District, covering the street like paper snow, crowds cheer, drink softens hard edges, trees are recycled and here comes another year as the winds blow through our concrete canyons

"New Years Rising, 1976" 1/1
Hand-tinted gelatin silver print photograph © Bennett Hall

Montgomery and Market Street
Abandoned Christmas Tree, Montgomery BART station

Sunday, December 19, 2010

San Francisco Images Collection - available framed pieces

Get the flash player here:

San Francisco photography - framed pieces for gifts, home or office

I am having a clearance on our current pieces in stock as we complete our shift to web galleries - these are the last of our collection and I am making them available at significant discounts (30-75%) - in many cases less than the wholesale value of the framing -

send me an email or call me at 415-434-8745 to make an appointment to come to the studio.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Photographs of San Francisco - all time favorites Slideshow

click on notes for more information

San Francisco Images Web Galleries

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our photographs win Westin-San Francisco photo contest

Don't say you never win anything - two my classic shots of San Francisco Skyline won a photo contect for two premium room nights - time for a night out of the town! 

Check out this link to Westin's Facebook site to see other winners, and learn more about the Starwood-Westin Hotels.  They plan to make FB promotions an integral part of their marketing.

Facebook link for Westin San Francisco

To purchase this view as open edition print of this from our Web Gallery and see other San Francisco Images

Gate from Fort Point
during passing storm
hand-tinted black and white, 1/1, 8x10" view

Skyline from Alamo Square during passing storm
classic view yet hard to shoot- needs both hot light on city and dark clouds to separate skyline from East Bay Hills

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Personal Favorite San Francisco Skyline Photograph

View from Clipper Street headed up Twin Peaks
Photographed with 8x 10" view camera, color negative material, during passing storm
by Bennett Hall

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Go to Court and learn about San Francisco History

Go to Court, Learn about local history?

That' right.  Thanks to an innovative program started by Hon. Judge Breyer of the U.S. District Courts' 9th District in San Francisco, their jury room rooms, public corridors and selected chambers areas are adorned with restored historical photographs with educational narratives telling colorful stories of Bay Area History.   The project began in 2002, and culminated this summer with the an installation covering three floors of the Oakland Federal building featuring Oakland, Alameda and Contra Costa County history.  Lawyers, their clients, jurors, and visitors will learn about the transcontinental railroad, the Key system, University of Berkeley, development of agriculture, coal, logging and other industries, dynamite in Hercules, the "Detroit of the West", Liberty Ships, the Cyclotron, Lake Merritt, waterfront development, water systems, bridges, tunnels, warships, the Mission system and even Charlie Chaplin in Niles.

The program is located in the Bay Area's primary Federal Buildings, Clay Street Oakland, 2nd Street San Jose and 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco - showcasing a total of nearly 1,000 framed photographs.  Each photograph was digitally restored from vintage materials from dozens of sources.  Each view includes a caption and story illuminating aspects of our local heritage, providing an education experience with the Court experience.  Te program was designed and produced by San Francisco photographer and artist, Bennett Hall and Helen Rischbieth of Business image Group, who worked in concert with the US District Court Judges in their respective areas, Hon. Judge Breyer, San Francisco, Hon. Judge Lloyd and Hon. Judge Seeborg, San Jose, and Hon. Judge Jensen in Oakland.  Production was all done locally, including custom framing made in their San Francisco shop Eco Framing, the latest project employing U.S. grown and manufactured solid Cherry wood frame moulding made using FSC certified methods.   An emphasis of producing this project in most 'carbon neutral manner possible was combined with using materials that were all made in America - two fundamentals advocated by Hall and Rischbieth's company.
Blog:    US District Courts - Oakland Federal Building

Website - overview of Bay Area US Courts Program
US District Courts, San Francisco Bay Area • Community History exhibits, 2002-2010

Contra Costa times / Montclairian

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

President Wilson hosts ladies luncheon at Palace Hotel, September 1919

Presidential Luncheon, Garden Court of the Palace Hotel, September 1919

The elegant Garden Court, with its dome stained-glass ceiling and Austrian crystal chandeliers, was the site for some of the nation's most prestigious events. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson hosted two luncheons in support of the Versailles Treaty, which ended World War I. This was part of his 8000 mile tour, with 40 speeches in 29 cities in 22 days.

Purchase Images of the Palace Hotel

Slideshow on Palace History

Case Study - Palace Hotel

Wikipedia history on Palace Hotel 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Charlotte Mailliard wearing Palace of Fine Arts

Back in the 80's a project came together to light the Palace of Fine Arts, the lone remaining stucture from the Panama Pacific International Exhibition of1915, led by Gina Delacetia.  Bob Pritikin, the City's rather flamboyant adman and hotelier came together to create promotional and funraising events and stunts - leading to a our producing a series of life size super-realisiic portraits of notables around town wearing Beach Blanket Babalon hats, steve Silver organized around the effort

This portrait was of Charlotte Maillard Swig, now married to Charles Schultz, wearing this over the top head gear cum architectural model.   Eventually funding was secured at the lights were restored per the original plans for this Bernard Maybeck Jewel among the City's architectural heritage

Phoography was done with the 8 x 10" view for ultra high-resolution - every thread in the fabric sharp as a tack.  The originals cut outs are not at the Bob Pritikin Mansion on Chenery Street - pending become part of the City Museum there proposed by Pritikin

Cyril Magnin greets his guests to his birthday bash

For Cyril's last Birthday bash, I had the pleasure of photographing him with my then trusty 8 x 10" view camera. He never questioned the size of the camera or the use - but a plan was under foot. Later in the darkroom - we made two larger than life cut-outs of Cyril - this one greeting guest as they arrived at the function over the awning of his long time residence, the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Here's to you Cryil! This town is just not the same without you.

Background from Wikipedia

Cyril Isaac Magnin (1899–1988) was one of the most prominent San Francisco businessmen of the post-World War II era, chief executive of the Joseph Magnin Company, which evolved into a multi-million dollar chain of upscale women's clothing stores.

Personally gracious and urbane, Magnin was a veteran political fund-raiser and power broker in the Democratic Party, dating back to New Deal days. He was Treasurer of President Franklin Roosevelt's northern California re-election campaign in 1944, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1948 (that nominated President Harry Truman) and again in 1964, when he co-chaired the Finance Committee of President Lyndon Johnson's campaign in California.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Magnin was one of a quartet of fabulously wealthy San Francisco Jewish contributors to Democratic candidates, appreciatively called "The Green Machine" by career politicians[1], the others being Fairmont Hotel magnate Benjamin Swig, Lilli Ann clothing company founder Adolph Schuman, and real estate mogul Walter Shorenstein.

The four did not always agree in their choice of candidates. Magnin himself was a major donor to the presidential candidacies of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, and, in the interim, developed a close friendship with Lyndon Johnson.[2]

Magnin was the first of the "Green Machine" multi-millionaires to fade from the national political scene after the Party was bitterly divided over the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1972. But he later worked closely with San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto and was deeply involved in the civic affairs of the city for the remainder of his life. He was President of the Port of San Francisco and was instrumental in establishing such internationally-renowned institutions as the Asian Art Museum, the American Conservatory Theater and the California Culinary Academy. Serving also as the city's first "Chief of Protocol", Magnin reveled in the informal title of "Mr. San Francisco".

Friday, April 23, 2010

Buddha in the Park

Gautama Buddha

This  bronze Buddha was cast in 1790 in Tajima, Japan, for the Taionji Temple and presented to the Garden in 1949 by the S.& G. Gump Company of San Francisco. Buddha (563? to ca. 483 B.C.) is the historic founder of the Buddhist religion.  Born Prince Siddhartha of the Sakyas in the area now called Nepal, he renounced his home of great luxury at age 29 for an ascetic life. 

Sitting under a bo tree in concentrated meditation, he attained his great enlightenment and understanding of the causes of human suffering. He become known as Buddha, The Enlightened One. 


Shot made with 8 x 10 View camera mounted with 75mm Super Angulon - creating a full lens
capture on the film.  Available as original silver prints and as a hand-tinted 50 x 50" original

Links on Buddha

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What will our ruins look like? April 18th Anniversary of Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906

Over 3000 deaths were caused by the catastrophe, primarily in San Francisco. The population of San Francisco at the time was about 400,000, and over half were rendered homeless. 28,000 buildings were destroyed.

City Hall, from corner of Ninth and Market, after San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906

Something was not quite right about the engineering of San Francisco's City Hall. When the Quake came in 1906, the structure came apart at its seams. 

The new $6 million building, which had been under construction for 20 years, was considered by some to be more noble as a ruin. Entire walls crumbled and massive stone columns fell into the street, leaving the relatively intact dome oddly perched above the twisted debris.

Fire Burning after the Earthquake, April 1906

Multiple fires swept the City for four days, erupting from damage to gas lines and electric wires, fueled by the wooden debris. The City's water system had not been upgraded to cope with a major fire threat and key water mains were broken, leaving the hydrants empty. Many buildings were dynamited, as recouted by General Funston to create firebreaks - drawing on dynamite supplied by the California Powder Company, whose leading brand product became the namesake of the town of Hercules.

View West up California Street from Merchants Exchange, 1906

The Earthquake and fire of 1906 left over 10 million cubic yards of wreckage that had to be cleared before reconstruction could begin. The business district and three-fifths of the entire city was in ruins, and damage was estimated at $500m. The Fairmont Hotel, at the top of the hill, was about to debut at the time of the earthquake.

Palace Hotel's entrance after the Earthquake and Fire, 1906

The Palace suffered only moderate structural damage in the Earthquake, due to the efforts by William Ralston to make it earthquake resistant. However the "fire-proofing" efforts were a total loss. Artesian water stored in roof top and basement tanks was exhausted well before the fire could be contained. Rubble from the building was later dumped in the Marina area as fill.

Ruins of Hibernia Bank Building, Market and Jones Streets, after the 1906 Earthquake

Wreckage of the Hibernia Bank Building, Jones and McAllister streets. This view shows the McAllister/Market Street-side of the structure. This building was repaired, and temporarily housed the Harbor Police Station after the earthquake. It was restored to bank use, and again became a police substation when the Hibernia Bank closed in the late 1980s.

Rubble after the Earthquake and Fire, view towards Call Building
 (Central Tower), April 1906

To acquire reproductions of these and other San Francisco Images-visit our Web Galleries

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Embaradero - 1975 Flashback - Anyone miss the Freeway?

I made this view with my then trusty 4 x 5" view (What's that?) as the park and pathway were being built -creating this rather dramatic and satisfying s-curve composition.  It is hard for me to imagine this waterfront had this freeway not proven to be unsafe, forcing its demolition.  I ponder if we will feel the same way in twenty years when all of 2nd street is rebuilt, Varnish, Zebulon, Gassers, the entire area made into a modern utopia courtesy of the powers of eminent domain and the forces of progress.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Palace Hotel: Hollywood arrives by train, 1932 - what a banquet!

Banquet for Hollywood Stars, Garden Court of the Palace Hotel, 1932
Who can you recognize in this shot?  (Edgar G. Robinson for starters)

Hollywood's elite partied all night, arrived by private rail care to this festive Garden Court banquet at the Palace Hotel. This banquet was held by by Governor James Rolph for motion picture stars, who traveled from Los Angeles by train for the occasion. Rolph served as mayor of San Francisco for 20 years, before being elected Governor of California in 1931.

This five foot hand-tinted photography is on view in the 2nd floor banquet room at the Palace.
Palace Hotel photographs on San Francisco Images web site
 Case study of project

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Palace Hotel shortly after its opening in 1876

This photograph shows Montgomery Street toward Market Street, c1880 Gas Lamps installed on Montgomery Street, viewing toward Market Street and the Palace Hotel on Montgomery Street, across the street from today's Charles Schwab Bld.

View down Montgomery Street in 1870s shows the newly completed Palace Hotel at the far end. Another leading hotel, the Lick House, at the corner of Montgomery and Sutter streets, is visible through the row of ornate street lamps.

The first street lamps in San Francisco were erected in Merchant street, by Mr. James B. M. Crooks, in October, 1850. They were lighted with oil, and to be paid for by private subscription. The same gentleman had also completed the erection of ninety lamps, on the 20th of February, 1852, on Montgomery, Clay, Washington and Commercial streets, to be paid for in a similar manner. These, with the exception of four posts, were all destroyed by the fire of the 4th of May following. In the autumn of 1852, the common council contracted with Mr. Crooks to light the city within the limits of Battery, Kearny, Jackson and California streets. This contract was carried out until the introduction of gas as above related, by a contract made with Mr. James Donahue for the “San Francisco Gas Company.”

Photograph Hand-tinted © Bennett Hall 2010

Slide Show of Palace Hotel photography -

Story of our photographic exhibits for the Palace Hotel- case study

Web Galleries - Hand-tinted San Francisco Historical photographs

San Francisco Photography including Palace Hotel - Flickr

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Time is now: Treasure Island 1939 & under Construction

What a Fair it was...

My father waxed lyrically about how spectacular GGE was at night - excitement permeated the air, he had never seen anything like this before. Lights radiated in a rainbow of colors in every direction, excitement in the air... this was place to be. Later, he went on to help build Liberty Ships in Richmond.

Can't [we] create something like this today?

We have advanced technology, lighting and sound gear, far superior resource distribution systems.

What's Up? Are we going backwards?

Let' make Treasure Island a global beacon that metaphorically guides the world into this millennium properly.  The clock is ticking and we are all behind schedule.

Gentlemen, start your engines.
image above: San Francisco image collection; all rights reserved

The Time is NOW.

Treasure Island, 

gradually sinking into the Bay

the Pacific 
Ocean Rises

to new highs in 2100

Treasure Island, site of the 1939 International Exposition, was built with dredged soil from the Bay. The island was to become San Francisco International Airport in 1941. However, the Navy seized the island in 1942, after World War II began, and it became Treasure Island Naval Station. Situated between the world's two largest bridges spanning San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island was the site of the 1939 International Exposition. Built of bay dredged dirt, the island was to become San Francisco International Airport in 1941. However, the Navy seized the island in 1942, shortly after World War II began, and it became Treasure Island Naval Station.  

Image Source: Digitally mastered from the collection of the Oakland Public Library,  all rights reserved

What is next for this gradually sinking properly in the headwind of rising sea levels projected for 2100?  


Treasure Island Museum:
Web Gallery

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Alien Landing, McClaren Park San Francisco 1978,

Anyone out there recognize the spacecraft and the story?  Where you there?  Were the lighting effects caused by the alien craft? Could the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art have had something to do with this?

Hand-tinted black and white photograph © Bennett Hall

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sky Tram at the Cliff House 1960

The Cliff House Sky Tram from Richmond SF Blog on Vimeo.

Home movie footage of the Sky Tram by Ron Biagini in 1960. The Sky Tram ran next to the Cliff House over Ocean Beach in San Francisco's Richmond District. Video includes shots of the installed double waterfall and broken windows of the Sutro Baths building.

from the Richmond Blog:

Monday, March 22, 2010

North Beach from the top of the hill

Image made with an 8 x 10 view with a 1200mm lens - cropping in for this compacted view.  1984

Originally, the city's northeast shoreline extended only to what is today Taylor and Francisco streets. The area largely known today as North Beach was an actual beach, filled in with landfill around the late 19th century. Warehouses, fishing wharves, and docks were then built on the newly formed shoreline. Due to the proximity of the docks, the southern half of the neighborhood south of Broadway was home of the infamous Barbary Coast.

Due to its past legacy as the Barbary Coast, Broadway east of Columbus, grew to be the home of the city's red light district and striptease clubs. The Condor Club, on the corner of Columbus and Broadway, was opened in 1964 as America's first topless bar to which it still is as of today. The Lusty Lady, a peep-show establishment, is notable as the world's only worker cooperative strip club. The Broadway strip was also home to the Mabuhay Gardens, the Stone and On Broadway nightclubs, which were important venues in the punk rock scene of the late 1970s to mid-1980s...from Wikipedia

Let's Play Ball! View to the future location of "Splash Hits"

 Future home of San Francisco Giants c 1915
 collection of San Francisco Images

China Basin building and City Skyline in the background, viewing what will become McCovey Cove

Update:  SF Gate photo gallery on the ATT "Pac Bell" Park construction for 10 year anniversary

wikipedia background:
Just beyond the wall is a public waterfront promenade, where fans can watch three innings of a game through the wall's archways, free of charge, albeit with a somewhat obstructed view. Across the cove from the ballpark is McCovey Point and China Basin Park, featuring a statue of McCovey at the mouth of the Cove. At his feet are small plaques commemorating the winners of the Willie Mac Award, named in McCovey's honor. Along the southern shore of the cove, between McCovey Point and the O'Doul Bridge, is a walkway featuring plaques showing the Opening Day Roster of every Giants team from 1958 through 1999. Just south of the statue is Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field, a t-ball sized baseball diamond. [2]

Splash Hits

Splash hits are officially recorded only as Giants players who have hit home runs that have landed in the cove on the fly. As of August 29, 2009, 50 "Splash Hits" [3] had been hit into the Bay by Giants players since the park opened; 35 of those were by Barry Bonds. The only Giants other than Bonds to have done it more than once are Felipe Crespo (in 2001), Michael Tucker, Ryan Klesko, and Pablo Sandoval. 7 other Giants' players have accomplished the feat just once.