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Friday Slide Show: San Francisco State University Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

22 August 2014

Just up the road from the duel site we featured two weeks ago, the campus of San Francisco State University rests on a grassy hill overlooking Lake Merced. You can't see the lake from campus, but you acquire the knowledge of its existence shortly after arriving.

Stone Circle. We'd hold class here if we were a professor.

Whether we were going back to college or starting a new year in high school or just returning to grammar school, this was always an exciting time of year for us. We were about to learn something. That's always been enough to get our engine revving.

So the other day we took a walk over to San Francisco State University to recapture the mood. It was still pretty quiet on campus as we walked around on a foggy day. That only heightened our anticipation.

The campus is a surprisingly pleasant place with lush, rolling lawns and old but well-maintained buildings featuring nothing more than the name of a subject on them. Blink and it looks the same as it did in 1953 when it opened.

There is a wealth of exotic plant life to appreciate, interrupted by sculpture that amuses. You have to look closely for both or you'll walk right by them. Even the benches are worth a photo.

It's a short walk west to Cox Stadium, which sits in a natural bowl with old wooden stands running down two sides. Football is no longer played here but the track is in good shape and the field chalked for soccer. The athletic program here is for the students, refreshingly.

The library is new and, as such, sports a sponsor's name. Only a little while ago everyone working at State had to take a furlough to balance the state budget. Now the campus is hiring again.

It's always been a very busy campus. Over 30,000 attend today. It was established as a two-year college for teachers in 1899 and now offers 26 teaching credentials, 118 Bachelor's degrees, 94 Master's degrees and five doctoral degrees. Just walking around a bit, you feel smarter.

We took our walk with a Canon Rebel XTi and the 18-55mm kit lens it came with. Nothing special. It's lightweight, though, so it makes a good companion for our longer walks. On our way to campus, the gent who sells the Sunday paper by the village parking lot remarked, "Canon! That's a good camera. One of the best."

We shot Raw only at ISO 400 in Aperture Priority mode to control depth of field. In Lightroom we set the white balance to Cloudy and took it from there. But it wasn't easy. Or maybe it was too easy.

We worked bottom up in the Develop module, enabling the lens profile, removing chromatic aberration and often correcting perspective (those 1950s buildings were meant to be square). Then we added Clarity, opened the Shadows and recovered the Highlights. Not always, but usually.

It remains a very pleasant way to work through a shoot.

The big headache was paring the selection down from over 40 images. There's a lot to see on the campus and this is just a taste. You could spend four or five years there.

As we were leaving, an excited young woman came up to us and asked, "Do you know where I go to pay tuition? This is the first time I've been on campus!" We pointed her to the Administration building behind us and wished her good luck.

And we extend that wish to every student returning to school this fall. Good luck -- we need you!

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