I had to meet San Francisco photographer Stephen W. Thomson after I saw his amazing photo “Raccoons at the Legion of Honor.” No surprise, the photo was chosen as the postcard image for “Night/Light: Bay Area Photographers Take Aim After Dark,” a joint presentation by the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery’s Art at City Hall Program and PhotoAlliance. This juried photography show, which runs through January 14, 2011, contains the work of 28 artists and is an intriguing collection of over 200 nighttime images that explore what happens after sunset and before sunrise. Thomson’s image is the stand-out.
“The photo was taken with a Nikon D50 in 2006. I was using that camera, mounted on a tripod, to help my then-roommate snap some beauty shots of his tricked-out car against the backdrop of the Legion of Honor which is lit beautifully at night. It was very late– about 2 or 3 a.m. in the morning—much later than I am normally up. I was new to the Bay Area and specifically to the Outer Richmond, so the Legion of Honor and the raccoons that apparently congregated there had been unknown to me. I had seen raccoons in the neighborhood previously, climbing over fences and milling about in the streets, or even running together in pairs for long stretches — but never had I expected to see so many at one time. I was right in the middle of the car shots and I saw the bus pull up…a distraction. When the bus arrived, the raccoons came out of the woodwork (or granite work, as the case may be), and I didn’t hesitate…I turned toward them and started shooting on impulse. I had no flash and the light was poor. Fortunately, I was already on my tripod. I may have moved a little closer to them, but made sure not to appear threatening. I think they may have been too hungry to notice me anyway. The process was probably 4 or 5 shots.”
Details: “Night/Light: Bay Area Photographers Take Aim After Dark,” San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco City Hall, Ground Floor, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlet Place, San Francisco. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Gallery closed December 24-27, 2010. Show ends January 14, 2011. Free.