Christmas in San Francisco 2015


Hello blogosphere! It’s been many a moon since my last blog post, as once again life and time intrude, as they often do. But it’s that holiday time of year again, and I would feel remiss if I didn’t post pics of my favorite time of year in my favorite city: that’s right, it’s Christmas in San Francisco, 2015 edition!

In fact, as I look back, the last time I did this was 2013, as I recall that time and life also took their toll on 2014, when I didn’t post anything holiday related. So it’s awesome to be able to present this year’s holiday gallery! It could that enthusiasm that accounts for my shocking lack of self editing when it came to putting this gallery together … I didn’t want to take anything out! Oh well. When it comes to Christmas, too much is never enough.

Typical of San Francisco, the pics here run the gambit, tripping merrily between the ridiculous and the sublime, the counter-culture to the traditional, from a naughty Santa nymph to the tree in Union Square, here’s San Francisco all decked out in its holiday finery, up to its usual frivolity.

Happy holidays to all of my blog friends all around the world! Enjoy and peace!

Posted in Christmas, Holidaze, Photo Gallery, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Photography | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Intense


It’s full-on autumn here in San Francisco, and typical of early October, our sunsets are like classical works of art. Each night it’s a different show as the low-setting sun turns the clouds and city all kinds of vibrant colors. The shot above was taken last Wednesday evening, while the shot below was taken the night after. It’s a nightly occurrence and, as you can see, quite intense.


In the meantime, the sunrises have their own intensity thing going on:



Things are even more intense over at Ailsa’s Travel Theme … check it out!

Posted in Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Photo Essay, Photo Gallery, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Creative, Stephen Kelly Photography, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tokyo On The Go: Street Art


Regular followers to my blog know that I love street art, and wherever I go I always have my eyes (and camera) peeled for interesting street art, especially in the cities that I visit. And Tokyo, of course, is no exception.


Pretty much anywhere you go in Tokyo you’ll see some seriously creative examples of street art, like the long mural on Takeshita Street in Harajuku, above, or the playful mid-size mural seen in Shinjuku, below.


Now, one might expect a lot from such a cleverly creative city like Tokyo, but in contrast to the sprawling murals I see regularly here in San Francisco, the street art in Tokyo skews decidedly smaller, if not a bit more subversive. They are often darker in tone and theme, although you also see many examples of Tokyo cutesy.


The Japanese are very much into stickers and you see them plastered on light poles, billboards, vending boxes and machines, sidewalks, seemingly any empty space.



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Posted in Japan, Let's Go Japan!, Photo Essay, Photo Gallery, Photography, Stephen Kelly Creative, Stephen Kelly Photography, Street Art, Tokyo, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid


I’m in Japan again for this week’s Photo Challenge, because when I think of grid I think of the amazing train station in Kyoto, Japan, which is one massive collection of architectural grids. As you can see from the pics, Kyoto Station is a daringly modern piece of architecture in the middle of one of Japan’s more traditional cities. It’s an exciting structure, and its irregular cubic facade of plate glass over a steel frame gives it an a spiraling, expansive feel. The prodigious use of glass in its facade fills the interior of the structure with natural light.


As well as being one of the more beautiful cities in Japan, or on earth for that matter, Kyoto is also a major travel hub, and trains and buses of all manner from different parts of Japan will eventually stop at the station. Even the Shinkansen bullet train makes a stop at Kyoto Station as it travels between Tokyo and Osaka. The station also serves as a key stopping point for city taxis, and taxi after taxi rolls through the circular driveway at the cab stand out front. This is significant because taxis in Kyoto are cheap and plentiful and a great way to travel from place to place within the city.


The station also houses restaurants, shopping areas, a major hotel and the ubiquitous hundred coffee shops (the Japanese LOVE coffee!). But just strolling through and around the station and marveling at it’s vast expanse and effusive light is a treat in itself.

If you’d like see more pics of Kyoto Station, and learn a little bit about its history and construction, visit my blog post from 2013 that came as part of my Cool Architecture series. As I stated about the Cocoon Tower in Tokyo a few weeks ago, if you’re into architecture, then the intriguing Kyoto Station is a must see.


Check out this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge to see some interesting takes on this week’s Grid Challenge.

Posted in Japan, Kyoto, Let's Go Japan!, Photo Essay, Photo Gallery, Photography, Stephen Kelly Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Angles


Residential apartment buildings in San Francisco’s Financial District may all look the same, but once you look up, you see the radical, almost harsh angles the seem to scrape the sky. Of course, the clever photographer would know to shoot these buildings at many different perspectives, which lends a deeper dimension to this week’s Angles theme.


See more creative takes on this week’s angular theme at Ailsa’s Travel Theme,
found only at Where’s My Backpack?


Posted in Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic


I’m back in Tokyo for this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, in which the theme is monochromatic. This statue of Japanese sumo wrestlers is all kinds of shades of grey, with a little black thrown in for good measure. Who needs color when a little touch of grey will suffice? These guys look like they mean business no matter what color they’re in.


These pics were taken just outside of the Sumida, Tokyo train station, which seems to double as a shrine to all things sumo. And that’s no surprise, as Sumida is home to the Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall, one of Tokyo’s more famous and storied sumo wrestling halls. It mainly plays host to the sumo wrestling tournaments (honbashu) that occur many times during the year, but it also featuresprofessional boxing and wrestling matches and concerts. Ryōgoku Kokugikan also houses a popular sumo museum and it will host the boxing competitions in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Posted in Art, Japan, Photography, Stephen Kelly Photography, Tokyo, Tokyo On The Go, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected


Even though it may be an abstract thing, music is perhaps one of the more powerful connectors in life. It can reconnect us with times, people and events from your past. It makes you feel connected to yourself by evoking deep emotions and feelings of all sorts. We sometimes travel to great lengths to see our favorite musicians in live settings, whether in concert halls or on the streets, where we connect with other many other people in a celebration of music. As a once and future Deadhead, I know this last aspect all too well.

Here’s some pics of musicians I’ve encountered, all connecting with other people in a way only they can. As Madonna once said, “Music makes the people come together. Music, mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel.”

Check out this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Connect for some interesting interpretations of the theme.

Posted in Photo Essay, Photo Gallery, Photography, Stephen Kelly Creative, Stephen Kelly Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tokyo On The Go: Excellent Architecture: The Cocoon Tower


One thing I love about Tokyo is its amazing range of interesting and creative architecture. Whether it’s classic, centuries-old temples or sleek, modern high-rises, Tokyo has it all for the architecture buff.

But hands down my favorite building in Tokyo is Cocoon Tower that punctuates the heart of the Nishi-Shinjuku business/skyscraper district in Shinjuku. In fact, it’s right up there with the Sydney Opera House, San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid and the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong as one of my favorite buildings in the world.


Officially known as the Mode Gakuen Coccon Tower, it is a 204-metre-tall (669 ft.), 50-story tower that houses three educational institutions: fashion school Tokyo Mode Gakuen (for which the building is named after), HAL Tokyo, a information technology and design college, and the medical college Shuto Ikō, each operated by Mode Gakuen University. It is the second-tallest educational building in the world (surpassed only by the main building of the Moscow State University) and is the 17th-tallest building in Tokyo.


Literally a vertical campus, the building can accomodate 10,000 students. Each floor of the tower contains three rectangular classrooms that surround an inner core, which consists of an elevator, a staircase and a support shaft. Every three floors, a three-story student lounge is located between the classrooms that face east, southwest and northwest.

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Posted in Architecture, Japan, Photo Essay, Photo Gallery, Photography, Stephen Kelly Photography, Tokyo, Tokyo On The Go, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Dogs


They’re cute and they’re furry and they’ve got wet noses. They’re renowned for being man’s (and women’s) best friends and they have an amazing ability to lift your spirits when you’re feeling down. They’re loyal and trusting and they love you totally and without question. All they ask in return is a pat on the head and perhaps a nice tummy rub. It’s no wonder former French president Charles DeGaulle once said, “The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” Ladies and gentlemen, dogs!

Check out Ailsa’s Travel Theme for more canine encounters.

Posted in Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Animals, Photo Gallery, Stephen Kelly Creative, Stephen Kelly Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Every Angle #2: The Golden Gate Bridge


I rarely post two responses for one photo challenge, but I was so torn by my choices for this week’s WordPress “From Every AnglePhoto Challenge that I felt compelled to break my rule and post another response. And in this post I’d like to focus on what is perhaps the penultimate SF site, because few sites say San Francisco more than the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.

IMG_0783In fact, the Golden Gate Bridge joins the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial as total visual symbols of the United States. One of the perks of living in San Francisco is being able to easily visit and photography the bridge, and I feel lucky to have that opportunity. I often think to myself that people come from around the world to visit the bridge and it’s in my own backyard. I always appreciate that fact, and I try to take advantage of it, because it’s really an amazing site. It always makes me sad and a little perplexed that many people who live in San Francisco never indulge in all of the great things this city has to offer. But that’s my own particular thing, a rant perhaps better left for another post.

Some fun facts about the Golden Gate Bridge: The bridge officially opened with much fanfare on April 19, 1938. It took four years to complete, with work starting on January 5, 1933. The bridge celebrated its 75th birthday in 2013. It is 4200 feet long, and until 1964 it was the world’s longest suspension bridge. It handles 110,000 cars a day, who pay its whopping $7.00 per car toll. The Golden Gate Bridge cost $35 million to build, and 11 died while building it. Nineteen others fell but landed in the safety nets; they’re known as the ‘Halfway to Hell Club.’

IMG_6958And for those who wonder or debate about the bridge’s color, it is officially known as “International Orange” and its a variation on the color used now for many astronaut jumpsuits. In fact, it is a color commonly used by the aerospace industry to set objects apart from their surroundings. The tone of International Orange used to paint the Golden Gate Bridge is slightly lighter than the standard International Orange used by military contractors and in engineering in order to increase its visibility to ships.

For those graphic designers who want to emulate that Golden Gate Bridge color, it is most closely matched by Pantone color 180. Pantone color 180C is equivalent to the hex code #C0362C.

I guess the bottom line is that I’ve had many chances to photograph this iconic piece of architecture from many, but not all angles. Here’s a few samples of my many visits to San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge.


Posted in Photo Essay, Photography, San Francisco, Stephen Kelly Photography, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments