Pier 24 SF

Everyone is a photographer now, and that’s wonderful. We all document moments both important and mundane, scenes both amusing and stunning, creating a colorful whirlwind that turns into an extra layer of the fabric of life. Step into the serenely industrial galleries at Pier 24 in San Francisco, though, and you’ll be reminded that photography can also be art.

pier24sf-narrowdoorA huge variety of photographic prints make up the current exhibition (“A Sense of Place,” open through May 2014), but it’s the gallery space itself that is most intriguing. Continue reading Pier 24 SF

The Best Thing I Didn’t Eat Last Week

(Or, Never Let Photography Get in the Way of Tacos)

She flew all the way in from Salt Lake City just to make tacos. Not regular tacos — those can be found in various Tex and Mex styles all over the East Coast — but an entirely new kind. And I missed them.

Taco Continue reading The Best Thing I Didn’t Eat Last Week

Swiss Cubes

There is something universally pleasing about a cube. The symmetry is easier to grasp and to describe than a sphere’s. Cubic forms are primary building blocks both in physical construction and in the realm of thought.

The cube can be an elucidatory shape, such as in The Emperor’s New Mind, where physicist Roger Penrose falls back on the familiar cube to explain higher dimensions, as does Carl Sagan in Cosmos.

[Viz: if we recognize that a two-dimensional line drawing of a cube really shows us a “shadow” of the actual 3D cube, we can think of the 3D cube as a “shadow” to imagine the 4D version, and so on up the dimensional ladder.]

The cube can also be a form that connotes mystery and intrigue, such as the Bene Gesserit‘s pain box in Dune, or the puzzle box in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.

Manufacturer Arca-Swiss has a cube that’s a bit of both. A few years ago, the company, which is well-known for ball-head tripod attachments, released the C1 cube [PDF], which “simultaneously achieves mastery of control with an appearance approaching the status of jewelry.”

The elegant C1 is a precision geared tripod head that can hold and position heavy, professional camera rigs, and weighs less than 25% of anything comparable.

Outfitted with bubble levels, the head adjusts on two sets of x-y axes, and allows for tilt and pan, all while keeping the image plane — or lens nodal point — in pretty much the same spot. (Jack Flesher has a great review with more details from a photographer’s perspective.)

The only drawback to this cube is that Arca-Swiss appears a bit snobbish. The company eschews an online presence, having no website and contact emails with addresses like aol.com and swissonline.ch. And, the price tag: yours for only $1,699.

But compared to $5000 for an ugly, large, mechanized auto-adjusting tripod head, the cube seems a better choice. And as Swiss-designed tabletop sculpture goes, it’s probably quite cheap.

[h/t Shao for reminding us this particular cube is on our wishlist]