One of the best things about blogging is the people you met along the way. Over the years I’ve been really fortunate to have met a lot of wonderful people through my blog who have inspired me deeply and have helped me plan my own travels to new places. When we began planning our family trip out to Northern California I knew I’d have to reach out to one of my favorite photographers in the Bay Area, Jane Lurie, for some advice on where to go and what to see. I have been following Jane’s beautiful photography blog for years and I love her inspiring work. No one knows how to capture the Bay Area and Northern California better than Jane.
Jane gave me some ideas on where to go, and while we were in California I realized how difficult it truly is to capture such a stunning place on film. We were there in early August which is normally quite foggy in the along the northern coast. I have never shot in fog before so it was quite a challenge. A few of my photos came out alright (which I will show later in another post) however I realized what a true art it is work with varying light and fog. I knew instantly that I’d have to contact Jane and find out how she does it so beautifully. I also wanted to learn more about the woman behind Jane’s Lens so I invited her to do an interview with me. Here is what she had to say.
How long have you lived in the Bay Area? Where are you originally from?
I’ve lived in San Francisco for five years and part-time for ten. I grew up in New Jersey and worked in the education field there throughout my career. Then, my husband Bob and I lived near Charleston, South Carolina on Kiawah Island for many years before moving to San Francisco.
When did you learn photography?
I have been interested in photography for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I proudly created photo albums with pictures from my little Kodak Instamatic and received my first “big” camera, a Minolta DSLR, in high school. I always had that camera with me taking photos of my friends and family. I studied photography and darkroom early on and continued when I switched to digital photography after my career in the education field ended.
I currently enjoy courses at SFAI (San Francisco Art Institute)— the photography department, by the way, was founded by Ansel Adams – a lifelong inspiration.
What are some of your favorite subjects?
I have a variety of interests— landscapes and nature, city and street scenes, architecture and portraits of kids. We travel fairly extensively and I enjoy the challenge of settling into a new location to find that unique sense of place.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Photography helps people to see”, by Berenice Abbott. This thought is at the heart of what motivates me creatively in photography. Seeing extraordinary things in the everyday and celebrating them through my images is what I hope to achieve.
It may be the stunning light at sunset, unusual shadows cast on a building, a humorous “found object” on the street or simply the rain on a succulent in the park. It’s a joy to practice the art of seeing every day.
Another incentive in my work is to document places of natural beauty to help educate and illuminate the need for preservation and conservation of our limited resources – and, to encourage people to get out there and enjoy them. I’ve had my photography blog, Jane’s Lens, for 8 years and I hope my weekly posts encourage and inspire followers to see the world in different ways.
I’ve always had a particular love for black and white photography and am inspired by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Henri-Cartier Bresson- too many to mention- all of whom documented our world so beautifully in those days. And I admire many contemporary photographers, Richard Misrach, Lee Friedlander, Roman Loranc, Steve McCurry, Annie Leibowitz to name a few.
I am currently a main contributor to a website called Monochromia, a terrific group of photographers dedicated to black and white photography.
Where are your favorite places to shoot in San Francisco?
The Golden Gate is my steadfast companion. She is a muse of many moods and I just love to photograph her. Historic Fort Point, at the base of the bridge, is fun to climb and gives an interesting vantage point to see surfers, whales and the winter waves crashing along the shore.
San Francisco is a walking city and I love to explore the neighborhoods: The Presidio for its natural beauty and Spanish architecture, Chinatown for its markets and vibrant street scenes, The Mission for its street art, the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero, the Sunday Fort Mason Farmers’ Market.
Anywhere along the Bay- the Headlands, Lands End, Baker Beach, Crissy are all great for hiking and photography.
What are your tips for shooting in heavy fog?
Fog is mesmerizing to watch and photograph as it rolls in and out. It’s fun to get above the fog so I often shoot from a high spot in Russian Hill or the Headlands. The exposure can be tricky with the reflected light on the fog so it helps to bracket and get a variety of exposures.
When I’m in the thick of it, the challenge is to find the subject and get the focusing down. The Golden Gate is dramatic when it’s foggy- which is most of the summer!
I work in Lightroom and generally, contrast and highlights can be adjusted in post-processing. I think fog photos look great in black and white.
What kind of camera do you shoot with and what is your favorite gear?
I shot with Nikons for years and my last kit, the Nikon D800 with the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 were recently, and sadly, retired when I switched to a mirrorless system.
I now photograph with the Fujifilm X-T2 with the Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8, 35mm and 90mm f/2 prime lenses. The mirrorless cameras win for their light weight and excellent technology. My back sure thanks Fuji!
With the lighter system, I now use a tripod called the 3 Legged Thing by Punks Corey which is small, light and great for travel.
What do you love most about living in San Francisco?
From a photography standpoint— the light. It is exciting to see how dynamic it can be during the day-highlighting the bridges, the colorful Victorians or the captivating hills.
Also, what I love is that there is always something going on: marches, races, street fairs and farmers’ markets. It’s a photographer’s dream living here. And, hiking in the hills of Marin is a short drive away.
Finally, I love the diversity in San Francisco, there’s always something to do culturally and the food is fantastic!
Where are some of your favorite places in Northern California that you recommend visitors see?
There are so many amazing places to see in Northern California! However, here are some of my favorites:
- Point Reyes National Seashore is magnificent.
- Big Sur is a must see.
- Bodega Bay and its Headlands where you may see whales.
- Sonoma and Napa for vineyard photos any time of the year.
- Tomales Bay – and there are oysters.
- The California Redwoods.
How can we learn more about your work?
You can subscribe to my blog, Jane’s Photography Blog – at https://janeluriephotography.wordpress.com/
Or you can follow me on Instagram: janeluriephotography