Fifteenth Avenue Steps – the hidden garden

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Cantsel Adams: The Genius That Time Forgot

I had the great good fortune this past weekend of acquiring some classic pieces of American photographic art.  Sadly, these works have not made into the canon of classic images, so I believe it is my mission to educate the public about these lost treasures.

Most are familiar with the snapshots of Ansel Adams.  But what most don’t realize is that he had a twin brother, Cantsel, who was a photographer.  Jealous of Cantsel’s superior talent, Ansel often based his work on Cantsel’s ideas.

As we see here in Cantsel’s early work, New Moon Over the Tetons and Snake River, he dramatically captures the essence of a moonless night in one of our National Parks:

New Moon Over the Tetons and Snake River

Quite obviously, Ansel’s famous The Tetons and Snake River largely (and shamelessly) “borrows” from his brother’s earlier work.

Continuing his artistic exploration of our National Parks, Cantsel recorded the glory of Yosemite’s treasures.  His work, Snow Tree, epitomizes  this theme.  The eponymous tree in the foreground emphasizes the grandeur of El Capitan, just visible through the white-out, behind it.

Snow Tree (featuring El Capitan)

Some of his less dramatic works show intimate moments of both nature and humanity.   The first, Goat Expressions, shares a quiet moment of communion among caprine brethren.

The last, Self-Portrait of the Artist in the Morning, calls to mind the universal angst of waking up without coffee and having to face another day of harnessing one’s creative genius.

I was astounded that these masterpieces remained unsold at the silent auction being held in my neighbor’s garage.  It was this knowledgeable neighbor who first introduced me to Cantsel Adams unfulfilled promise as a cornerstone of Americana, and assured me that these hidden gems were an investment for the ages.  I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce him to you:  my fine, savvy readers.




Silky Flowers, Bright Colors, and a Horse

I know that in a field of Poppies, a Bouganvillea-themed photo is a little…eclectic?  out of place?  But I just loved so much the juxtaposition of the three primary colors with the horse frieze looking over it all, that I had to share.

And I’m still amazed that the satiny texture of the poppies and the stripes of reflected sunshine came out so nicely!  I give all the credit to the richly colored flowers and the buttery sunshine that day.

More from Crissy Field.Bubbles and Blooms

…and yet another strawberry.  But really, can you ever truly get enough of these hardy little plants?  (If you’re me, certainly not.)  It’s only fair, though, to showcase some of the other Spring Superstars of the Sand: California Poppy, Footsteps of Spring, and Seaside Daisy.

The “bubbles” of the title references the foamy tide coming in from the Bay.   I risked life and limb to get that shot, my friends.  If the (brand new) camera had gotten waterlogged, my Darling Spouse would have killed me.   Oh, how we suffer for our art!

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Crissy Field.Peas and Strawberries

Now is my favorite time of year in one of my favorite places in the city:  Spring in Crissy Field.  To be clear, though, not the grassy part of Crissy.   That’s boring.   Give me the living, blooming sand dunes any day.   But especially in the spring.  The Silver Lupins (in the Fabaceae – or pea – family) are exploding purple.   White Crowned Sparrows flit in and out of Lizard Tail.   While Coyote Bush finally has shed its fur, the irises are just starting to poke out.  And Beach Strawberries are everywhere in flower.   To this New England native, these are the surest signs of San Francisco spring I have found.

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