Author Archives: Jimmy Reina

About Jimmy Reina

I have been trying to make photographs for about 40 years, and learned the mechanics on a secondhand Kodak Retinette 35mm rangefinder that I bought in London or Paris. It had no light meter, so I learned to judge exposure from the pictograms on the inside of the film box. I upgraded to a Nikkormat FTn with a 50mm lens that I used for the next 35 years. Nikkormat light meters were notoriously fidgety, so most of the time, I used it without a battery. I am mostly self taught by voraciously reading, taking hundreds of photos, and looking at thousands more. Recently, I have been taking a few arty classes at Berkeley City College, and I find that the assignments instill discipline and also force me out of my comfort zone-always a good thing. I am not a thoughtful shooter, but more of a grab shot guy. In my day job, I am a real estate agent in Berkeley California, across the bay from San Francisco. I live in Richmond, and am the only male in a household of six-two Feline, one Canine, one Human, and one Teenager.

Rayko Photo Center provides a stimulus to the Bay Area photography scene that is immeasurable. Aside from providing rental studio, darkroom, and digital printing access, they offer a wide variety of classes and workshops in traditional, digital, and most important (in my view), alternative processes. I just finished a terrific Critique workshop with a very generous instructor-J. John Priola*. This was a very good experience, and if I can muster up enough work, will take it again-John is an excellent facilitator.

During this time, Rayko announced that their Gallery would be closing- a huge blow to our community. San Francisco has always had a vibrant photography scene, and there are a few galleries that are photo specific, but they tend to cater to the Art world, and the “specialness” of that world. In the time I have been going to Rayko, their gallery, under the direction of Ann Jastub, has produced thoughtful and engaging shows, including the current and final exhibit-


Like other Hipster trends, there is an element of the plastic camera movement that is just another form of “coolness consumerism”, but  this is different. This is a juried show, and it isn’t about coolness, it is about creativity.

And it sings.

I asked permission to take note with my phone.

The work ranges from images that are photographically interesting

to being photographically interesting with a dose of plastic camera quirkiness,


and then to more experimental works of conception and process. My favorites were by a pinhole shot by Andy Mattern

and two images where Robert Schneider reversed the lenses on his Brownie Camera



Also on display were images from past years,a Holga panorama by Veronika Lukasova


Aline Smithson, who apparently used this set built from Legos

Robert Holgren printed this starfish in sections on tracing paper, then stitched it together with staples,


and this beautiful print from Michael Borek

The rest of the gallery space is generously devoted to print rack where students can sell their work at very reasonable prices, and a very engaging collection of antique and unique cameras and accessories. The value of this display should not be taken lightly, for inside of every gearhead is an appreciation of all of those knobs, gears, and especially the lenses.

I went through this show twice yesterday, partly because it is so captivating, and also inspiring.

But I also wanted to just hang out, and absorb that great Rayko Photo vibe.






123 Images-Carquinez Bridge at Sunset

There are more images in the 123 series, but this is the last one I am going to talk about here.

San Pablo Avenue pretty much ends where the Freeway entrance to the Carquinez Bridge crosses the Sacramento River. The road itself continues past the Freeway, but the street name is changed as it becomes part of the City of Crockett.

I couldn’t figure out how to take an interesting picture of this bridge. When crossing it, there is something I have always liked the C&H Sugar building, and this caused me to want to include that building in my photo, so I started looking for a vantage point. Just before this bridge/Freeway junction, there is a “scenic view” turnout overlooking the river for at least 180° East and West. This offered possibilities, but in order to get my desired point of view, I had to climb over the parking lot guardrail and then the heavy brush obscured a clear view.

Shortly after, I was reading the user manual for my camera, and the page on shooting panoramic images used a bridge as an example.



I like panoramic images. Because there is so much accumulated information, a lot of detail is brought out, and because the lens position changes during the exposures, there is a perspective shift that can visual interest to even a mundane picture of a bridge. I have attempted a numberof panoramics, with various successes stitching them together.

I drove back out there, and just to the East of that Vista Point is the Dead Fish Seafood Restaurant. As I pulled into their parking lot, I found a small private road that dipped down practically to the riverbank.

I grabbed my tripod, walked down, and started scouting for a good vantage point. I came to a flat spot that presented me with the viewpoint I wanted, and the setting Sun was low enough to light up the C&H building, but rapidly heading towards the horizon. I didn’t have time to think about setting up a tripod or all of the “best practices” for shooting panoramic images. I just started shooting.

I took about 50 images, thinned them down to 35, and loaded them into the stitching software.


Frankly, I didn’t expect much, there was just so many lines and angles to fit together.

Stitching images together accumulates a lot of information (the finished file is 131MB and the final image is 4½ feet long)



so it took a long time for the software to do its thing, but it did it well-surprisingly well. Because the Sun was setting so rapidly, the individual photos got progressively darker by the time I got to the far side of the river, so we had to use some gradient lightening in order to even up the final image from left to right. This too, worked very well. Except for a bit of cropping, there was no other editing done to this image.

I was so pleased with the results, that I kept the jagged image edges created by the stitching software.


Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

My position that this image is a partnership between the software and me, and the hand of the software needs to be recognized as much as my own.


LA LA Land

Not the movie, but I will address that at the end of this post.

I’m talking about the real LA LA Land-EL AY, The City of Angels, and of course, the city for which L.A. (as well as the movie) is a symbol-



Los Angeles itself is really just like every other big metropolitan city-busy, hectic, and in many places, kind of grimy. But, when you push so many people into such tight space, you also get Art, Beauty, Creativity, and human progress.

I was in LA to both visit my daughter, and attend the opening reception for the street photography show at the Los Angeles Center of Photography.  LACP is located in Hollywood, so I spent some time there for the first time ever. A great deal of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards are devoted to celebrity culture- more than one wall had pictures of Charles Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis, and a room in one low budget Hotel is famous as the last place Jim Morrison lived before moving to Paris.

The Hollywood/celebrity thing is fascinating. Only in LA would a hardware store have autographed movie star pictures on their walls, inscribed with something like, “For my pal Harry. You have the best selection of wall fasteners in town”.

It seems that everybody you meet is one step away from stardom. Once, I was staying with a friend who made us a nice dinner, along with her roommate and her boyfriend. He was a carpenter/handyman, but during the meal he said, “I have this great screenplay that I know would be perfect for DiNiro. If I can just figure out how to get it to him”.

But there is more to LA than Tinseltown.

There are some great museums, and I got to visit one that I have been wanting to see for more than 50 years, the La BreaTar Pits. This may be a simplistic description, but the Tar Pits are an area where natural  asphalt springs ooze up and pool on the Earth’s surface.


When these areas collected rainwater, thirsty animals would wade in, and get trapped by the tar, and over thousands of years, the Tar Pits collected, preserved and fossilized millions of biological and botanical specimens-from insects and ferns to Mastodons and Saber Tooth Tigers. The Tar Pits and the Page Museum are located in a the middle of the city, a great place to see and learn more about this fascinating chapter of Natural History.

The Tar Pit animal that has held my interest for all of these years is the


As powerful and ferocious as our modern big cats are, this critter was a bit larger, and it had those teeth-what a killing machine! I couldn’t wait to stand before one.

Fortunately, the Saber Tooth is one of the most common animals found at the Tar Pits, and I was not disappointed-the skeletons are beautiful to behold, and the exhibit information was fascinating.



We learned that, like other mammals, those saber teeth start out as baby teeth,



and are followed by permanent teeth as the cub matures.





Another interesting thing we learned was how a cat’s claw retracts into the bony toe.




Apparently, the Saber Tooth Tiger is such a common favorite, it has been named the Official California State Fossil (awarded posthumously).

The most visually interesting animals have to be the Mastodons. I love Elephants but these guys are in the Elephant Hall of Fame.

There are two Mastodons here. One appears to be about the size of our modern elephants. This display shows a mother with a developing cub-





But this guy takes the prize, look at those tusks




The tusks are so amazing, we tend to overlook the teeth, which look like big molars






Here are some other animals





Giant Sloth





If you like natural history, paleontology, fossils, etc., this museum has something for everyone, young and old.


Oh yeah, the other LA LA Land

My wife really wanted to see it, so last night, against my better judgement, I agreed to go.

It was a waste of time.

I think Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling did a good job in “Crazy, Stupid Love”, but even their talent couldn’t save this movie.

The cinematography was good, and in two scenes, Emma Stone did a good job, but otherwise it was a big marshmallow- fluffy and sweet, but no substance. Not that much is expected from a movie musical, but I recently heard the director being interviewed, and he said that ever since he was a kid, “Singin’ in the Rain” was one of his favorite movies. “Singin’ in the Rain” is another a behind the scenes movie about Hollywood moviemaking, but it also had real musical performers and the amazing Gene Kelly choreographed and co-directed it.

Watching Donald O’ Connor perform “Make ‘em Laugh” is a musical comedy masterpiece.

I’m sure this director meant well when he invoked “Singin’ in the Rain”, but it is  a disservice to that classic motion picture to mention “LA LA Land” in the same sentence.

123 Images-Liberty Behind Bars and American

I wrote about these two images before, They were both taken on the same July 4th-Indepenence Day in the United States, a day for flag waving, fireworks, and politicians making speeches about freedom and Democracy with a capital “D”.

I shot this image four or five times over the course of a year, and was never satisfied with the results. Because it is inside a building, most attempts would give me enough shadow detail. I needed enough light coming in from the late afternoon Sun to illuminate it for me. But that same afternoon Sun created a ton of glare and reflection off of the window glass. On this day, I think I found the remedy to those problems by pressing the end of my lens directly on to the glass.

Liberty Behind Bars

Copyright 2016 Jimmy Reina













The irony (to me anyway) is that the photo was taken on July 4th and the tablet that Lady Liberty is holding is inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence- July 4, 1776.

Liberty Behind Bars

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina


I got the shot, and as I drove away on San Pablo Avenue, I found this second situation. In order to get the whole image, I had to make a U turn and shoot from across the street. I am an old Alley Cat, and street life generally doesn’t faze me, so normally I would park and wait for a break in traffic so I could walk out into the street  and fill my viewfinder with the image. However, this corner is about as funky as can be, and the small grassy area where I had to park was filled with quite a cast of characters, most of them probably harmless, some of them probably homeless, but there were some bad dudes there (the City of Oakland has since closed it down by fencing it off). I took the easy way out, and just rolled down my window, and clicked off a few frames.


Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

Here’s the inside joke. Aside from the American Flag, the car is a Rambler American, something that may only be obvious to a 1960s motorhead like me.


Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

It has been said that the Statue of Liberty really is the symbol of the beacon of hope the United States represents to immigrants. There is a poem about this hope displayed there, the most famous lines from it are-

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I have to say that “Liberty Behind Bars” seems to take on new meaning with the actions the Trump Administration took this week.





123 Images-Horse Mural and Troy Orvil

I am showing these two images together because not only are they connected geographically, but the attempt to shoot one led to the discovery of the other.

As usual, I was cruising San Pablo Avenue looking for interesting material, when I saw this horse mural.

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

I took several shots of it, but the land was fenced off, and I couldn’t really get the head on, wide angle shot I wanted.

This mural may not look that impressive in the photo, but when you are standing there, it is quite something to see. The fenceposts behind it are 4-6 feet apart, which would make the mural wall over 100 feet long.

Like most of my work, I let this image marinate for awhile, revisiting it from time to time to see if it had staying power. At the time, I was in a camera club, and I knew that if I were to show this image to the members, the first comment would be a criticism that I was just “photographing somebody else’s art”. I couldn’t argue with that position, but that really wasn’t why I liked it. Although it is a bunch of man made unnatural rectangles, to me it fit in with the landscape.

Months later (post rainy season, grass was now Green), I decided to return to the scene, and get the best shot possible. That road in the photo is San Pablo Avenue, and I drove up it to the next driveway, and asked permission to hike down into the gulley in order to get the shot I wanted. The property owners told me that the mural wasn’t on their property, but I was welcome to try. It was pretty steep, and overgrown, and when I made it down to the bottom, there was another fence that prevented me from getting anywhere near close.

My younger, more rebellious self would have just hopped the fence, and kept going, but these days, I try to have more respect for other people’s property, and besides, I pictured some rancher chasing me through that gulley with a camera flapping and a tripod over my shoulder.

I retreated, drove further up the hill, and asked another neighbor who the landowner was. He gave a bit of background on the mural and the local artist who created it, and told me that the property owner lived across the adjacent road.

I drove back around to the end of a secluded, one block long dead end street, wrote a note with my contact info, requesting permission to climb the fence, and asking the property owner to call me.

I put the note in their mailbox, turned around, drove to the end of the block, and saw this other mural at the rear of a back yard. I thought it was a bit of interesting folk art (with the same stretch of San Pablo Avenue in the background), so I took a couple of shots through the open passenger window of my car. This took less than a minute.


Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

It was only when I later looked at the image on my monitor, did I see the body in the foreground.

I can’t look at this photograph without thinking of those American Civil War battlefield photos taken by Mathew Brady.

I am proud to say that this photo was just chosen to be in a Street Photography show at the Los Angeles Center of Photography, running from February 3-March 10th, 2017.

Here is a link for more info—–


I went back to the horse mural, and walked along the fence in front of it, and took a shot that I am pretty pleased with-

Horse Mural

Some days the fish don’t bite, other days, they jump right into your boat.




















I usually don’t discuss my private life here, but my daughter has just completed a training course as a makeup artist for cinema (scars, bullet wounds, monster stuff), and was offered an internship at a prominent studio.

She started work today.

It’s a temporary gig, but she is working in some pretty good  professionalcompany, is quite talented, and a hard worker-this would seem to set the stage for a good future.

So, I want to be a proud papa, and show her off a little.

None of these photos are mine, but at the least are property of the Cinema Makeup School, and may be the specific property of another photographer. Please don’t reproduce them.


A sampling of her work can be seen here-



These two are the same model


This assignment was to make the model up to resemble a celebrity


The real Angelina Jolie is on the bottom left.

She went to a Chameleon show and was inspired to make this mask.

She hand fashioned every scale on this critter

special-effects img_3860-s

Yesterday she made me a gift of the eyes.

Here is another assignment to imitate a China Doll

If you have an interest in this, you can follow her at

Thanks for indulging me, and reading this.