Thursday, September 25, 2014

Late Postcards from San Francisco: Painted Ladies I

It's more fun to look at postcards of the wonderful houses of San Francisco than it is to tell you what's wrong with Possum's teeth. So we'll save that tale for another time.


I had trouble photographing many of the Painted Ladies because they are obscured by mid-sized trees. The house below is just stunning from the front — at least what can be seen of it is. What a shame that it's impossible to see anything of the second floor:




During the first wave of the Painted Lady revival, in the 1970s and '80s, the houses often had bright, multicolored paint schemes that were a little closer to psychedelic than historically accurate. Then tastes settled down. The houses with more recent color schemes are have a softer, more harmonious look. A lot of homeowners choose pastels or neutrals (gray, tan) for the primary color, with a more limited number of accent colors. 

As a New Englander, I'm thrilled to see almost any house that isn't painted white with green or black shutters. I'm happy with neutrals or crazy colors, as long as they were thoughtfully chosen and suit the character of the house. I'd say this pink house below falls somewhere in between the two trends:



And I really enjoyed looking at it.

Another problem with photographing Painted Ladies: many have had their ground level converted to less-than-stellar garages, as you'll see in several examples here. All of the "action" begins up on the parlor level, beyond a steep flight of stairs. I'd have to sneak up the stairs to get my shot, or do some neck-bending. Occasionally I felt safe standing in the street, but not often.


Here's a row of houses that required serious neck-bending:


 I don't know how often San Francisco skies are that blue, but I had unusually sunny, warm weather for much of my trip.

Here's the house next door to the Chateau Tivoli. I got to look out at it from my third-floor turret room, and admire the etched-glass windows and the fancy shingles. That fuchsia bougainvillea looked wonderful against the purple walls:

Another problem with my house photographs: straightening them! I'm quite incapable of taking a level photo so I'm always rotating my pictures in Photoshop by an astonishing number of degrees. But even when I took level shots in San Francisco, they look crooked because the streets are so steep. Take this photo, for example: It's straight!


To be continued...

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