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Moody fog may be a San Francisco trademark, but the city’s most dramatically photogenic asset is its light. When the mist rolls back, the sun falls with a grainy intensity that can give the landscape the odd clarity of a dream. The city’s dizzying topography only adds to the sense of dislocation; angled sidewalks draw out shadows like taffy, as in Arthur Tress’s image (above) of two men at watchful rest on Myrtle Street—one of 64 hypnotic pictures collected in ‘San Francisco 1964′ (DelMonico Books, 112 pages, $39.95). Mr. Tress, then only 23, spent the summer of 1964 documenting the people who turned out for the Republican National Convention, the launch of a Beatles tour and civil-rights protests. Despite their eventful surroundings, his subjects often seem to have fallen into an unsmiling trance. Even the shouting abandon of a group of ‘Ringo for President’ campaigners is neutralized by the glum-faced portrait on their banner. Mr. Tress, whose more recent work tends toward fully staged tableaux, also sought out moments of the everyday surreal. A horse-mounted police officer on the sand at Ocean Beach is paired with a tiny, riderless tricycle. A demure young woman at a soda fountain seems to be crowned by a Corinthian column behind her, her white-gloved wrist crooked like a tyrannosaur’s foreleg. A similar strain of bone-dry comedy runs through a shot of a woman turning away in seeming fatigue from a brassy notice that reads: ‘This Store Open 24 Hours Every Day Of The Year.’ Mr. Tress often frames his subjects to exclude the focus of their attention, as on Myrtle Street, where the arrow subtly suggests that the real action is elsewhere.

-The Books Editors

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