The category of Peninsula Images this year gave us a new -- and enlightening -- perspective on the familiar: the San Francisco skyline at the magical moment when sun and fog combine to create mysterious beauty; the hangar at Moffett Field as it rises in its immensity to join the sky; quiet light as it streams into a post-office window creating a scene of warmth and intimacy where least expected; and a landscape of tranquil grandeur having the haunting resonance of a dream. These are ordinary subjects made compelling by the photographers' eye for the inspired vantage point and moment of perfect light -- what the best photography is all about.
-- Brigitte Carnochan
"Cat's Tail at Sunset" by Leon Brauer
At age 10, Leon Brauer left a crumbling Soviet Union with a suitcase, a camera and a mandate from his grandfather, who stayed behind to tough out religious persecution and a deteriorating political system. His grandfather's only request was that Brauer send pictures of his new life in the United States.
Brauer first arrived in Mountain View but soon moved to Palo Alto, where he has lived off and on for almost 20 years -- leaving at times to pursue an education in photography, first at the University of California San Diego, then at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
As a youngster, growing up in Moscow, Brauer says he would watch with wonder as his father and grandfather developed pictures in a bathroom they had converted into a darkroom.
"I always found it very interesting and curious," he says of observing the pictures as they slowly emerged from the pool of chemical solution. "It was kind of like alchemy."
He says he has always had an interest in photography, but it was his Gunn High School film teacher, Wayne Hoy, who really inspired him to pursue the art seriously.
Brauer, who has entered several competitions in the past, is pursuing a career in documentary photography.
"I want to capture the essence of the moment," he says, explaining that he simply shoots what he sees and allows the observer to draw his or her own conclusions. "For me photography is really about documenting the experience -- through the two dimensional print, bringing that experience to the audience. I'm not constructing reality, I'm capturing it. The best part for me is when I feel I have done that."
In "Cat's Tail at Sunset," Brauer captures a moment he feels many people living on the Peninsula take for granted because it is such a common sight.
As he was on a hike with friends in Pacifica, Brauer took out his camera -- which he has with him most of the time -- in order to record the moment as the sun was setting and the fog rolling in.
"I thought it was a very typical view in Pacifica with the warmth of the sun but the chill of the fog. It's just a very serene, peaceful, happy moment. I don't know if there is a lot of meaning behind it. Hopefully somebody who sees the picture can get a sense of what I was feeling right then."
-- Nick Veronin
"Clouds Over Hanger One" by Don Whitebread
While I am almost exclusively a landscape photographer, preferably photographing deep in the wilderness, I have found that some human-made objects possess many of the same textures and patterns that make nature so captivating. Hangar One at Moffett Field has a mixture of angles and curves, light and dark, and when the light is right, is wonderfully luminous.
This Peninsula landmark was the focal point of many memorable Fourth of July air shows that stoked the fires of my childhood fascination with aviation, and also where I did some of my first photography, so when I heard about the plans to destroy the exterior of Hangar One, I made plans to photograph it in detail.
In the spirit of old and new, and because it works better for this project, I am using a large format view camera with actual film to capture the image, and then making the final prints digitally.
"Evening Fog Blanketing the City" by Laurie Naiman
It was taken on a late afternoon in July 2008 from the 41st story of a hotel in the financial district of San Francisco, where I was staying with my youngest son, in town from Tokyo on business. The long corridor outside the room had a long window with a panorama view of the downtown area and the waterfront, including the landmark Transamerica Pyramid. While admiring the view, I started taking photos. I then saw the evening fog come in, gradually blanketing the city below. I waited for just the right time when the setting sun revealed itself in the background. It was a breathtaking scene, made possible largely by my good fortune of being in the right place at the right time.
"Silence in Palo Alto Post Office" by Hiroshi Suzuki