Vintage Technology as Art?

Obsolete Technology: 16mm Movie Film
Obsolete Technology: 16mm Movie Film

All this stock photo stuff can get to you….. most of it is well worn cliches. I guess not all of my stock photography is very cliche- but none-the-less I’ve been itching to do something related to my niche “Silicon Valley” theme.

35mm Movie Film Canister

As such, I’ve started a theme: obsolete technology.

Of late I’ve been photographing movie film ephemera. I picked up a few rolls canisters of movie film from Last Chance Mercantile in the Monterey Bay area. Basically it’s a thrift store at a garbage dump. They just pull the interesting stuff out of the trash and sell it.

16mm Movie Film Canister

At one point LCM had a stack of films, complete with the chrome film canisters in green cardboard carrying cases. At the time I wasn’t sure what I would do with them. But they were interesting. Interesting in an analog sort of way. Like the cases had a patina, the chrome had scrapped off the edges of the canisters. And most interestingly they had lots of handwriting and labels.

This is an ongoing project- I’ll report back with more work.

 

 

Zoox’s VH5

I just read that Zoox’s CEO was unexpectedly ousted. I also noticed the name of that Bi-directional car I caught being tested on the runway near my house. Guess it’s time to update my Keywords. 

That funky car is dubbed the VH5. Reminds me of a cable TV music station: like there was VH1, then they added a bunch of variations up to VH5. 

Autonomous Lincoln MK Z Spottings

I got a reader of this blog trying to help me discern the provenance of an unmarked Lincoln MK Z (in the photo below.) I took the photo in the parking lot of NIO in San Jose. Teague (the reader) mentioned they thought it might be aurora.tech.

Unidentified Self Driving Vehicle near Nio offices in San Jose

Then it occurred to me, I had just gotten a request from Bloomberg for another Lincoln MK Z to use in a story. 

Roadstar.ai Self Driving CarRoadstar.ai Self Driving Car on the Streets of Silicon Valley

I believe some of the Baidu autonomous cars I found in this Silicon Valley parking lot are also MK Zs.

Baidu Self Driving Vehicles, Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley
Baidu Self Driving Vehicles, Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley

Then my most recent paparazzi attempt I spotted this MK Z a block from Zoox’s secret lair.

Zoox Self Driving Lincoln MK Z
Zoox Self Driving Lincoln MK Z

I have no idea what the appeal of a Lincoln MK Z is over, say a Honda Civic, or any other car is. But it seems to be one of the most popular choices for self driving vehicle startups.

Zoox Autonomous Vehicle Testing San Francisco

I went out in search of Zoox’s “secret lair” the other day. I read an article in Forbes that gave me some clues where to look:

A block from San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront is a place you’re not supposed to notice. The little two-story building has no sign out front. Not even a street number affixed to its gray brick walls. Every window and door contains shaded glass, and a black, razor-wire-topped fence obscures its parking lot.

Welcome to the San Francisco testing site of Zoox, one of the most secretive startups in the booming world of autonomous driving.

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)

Hmmm, a block from San Francisco’s Embarcadero, a gray two story building with a black fence with razor wire…. could this be it? 

I think the matte black Toyota Highlanders with Lidar racks might be a hint, don’t you?

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)

Once I found Zoox’s hiding spot, it was like shooting ducks in a barrel or however that metaphor works.

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (copyright M Halberstadt)

Unlike Google Alphabet Waymo out in the ‘burbs they get some real world problems in an urban environment of San Francisco, like lots of double parked delivery vehicles. 

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)

I’m assuming the Lincoln MK Z I caught in my autonomous paparazzi sting was also from Zoox- but who knows. There aren’t many other self driving car projects in San Francisco.

Here are a few more stock photos from my library:

Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)
Zoox Self Driving Car testing on the Streets of San Francisco (stock photo copyright M Halberstadt)

A Short Trip to Los Angeles

A friend of mine was moving from Culver City up to Portland. He’s a well known photographer, best known for his night photography and I was lucky enough to be there when he was cleaning house. I scored a car full of misc. camera crap and some nice meals with him and his wife.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

Unfortunately this wasn’t really a trip for photography and I only got out to shoot a couple times. 

Stalin, Freund, Genosse - Bust of Stalin at the Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Stalin, Freund, Genosse – Bust of Stalin at the Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

Right around the corner from my friends place is the new location of the Wende Museum. It’s a museum about the cold war, a special interest of mine. Wende is German for turn about or so…. My interest was as a young man having visited divided Berlin first in 1987. I ended up with a serious interest (and unusual sympathy, especially as an American) for the former German Democratic Republic*. In German one might say I suffer from “Ostalgie”**.

Hammer and Cicle, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Hammer and Cicle, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

The new museum was kind of short on GDR paraphanalia for my interest. But they had walls of old Soviet books that you could thumb through, busts of Stalin, and a lovely orange Wartburg (the other non-Trabant GDR car.)

Orange Wartburg Car, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Orange Wartburg Car, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

The other subject I did have a chance to photograph that’s also a favorite of mine is cemeteries. I took my pole to Hollywood Forever cemetery for a few unusual angles in addition to shooting from eye level.

Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Film Set at the Hollywood Cemetery
Film Set at the Hollywood Cemetery

I have no idea what was being filmed- but there was a film crew repeating a scene with an old Rolls Royce hearse, a beautiful young actress with roses, and a handsome man. There was a sign on the mosoleum reading the 74th Valentino Memorial- and with further research I found that when I was there it was the 92 anniversary of Valentino’s death. So I guess they were doing some sort of historical reinactment? In any case it was fun to watch despite the heat.

Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I also visited a childhood friend and his family at Echo Park. Not that I have any photos to show for it yet, but I got a box full of old camera stuff. Some of it was mine that I loaned him a decade or two ago. But they also gave me a cherry Nikon F2 that I look forward to both photographing with and photographing (it’s that pretty!)

To quote Randy Newman: “I Love L.A.”

————-

* German Democratic Republic (shortened to GDR in English, or in German DDR or Deutsche Demokratische Republik- but known to most English speaking people as “East Germany”)

** Ostalgie is two German words mashed together: Ost (East) and Nostalgie (Nostalgia)

 

Autonomous Island (from StreetsofSiliconValley.com)

Ok, I’m feeling lazy today … I’m just going to copy and paste a post from my other blog “The Streets of Silicon Valley.”

here goes:

My adopted city of Alameda is a lovely little island in the bay between Oakland and San Francisco. Until recently doing my shtick as paparazzi to the self driving cars I had to drive down to San Jose/Mountain View/Palo Alto or San Francisco.

But now it looks like there’s plenty going on here on my island.

I already knew about Saildrone. They have a nice big sign on their hangar on the old former Naval Air Station.

But while drinking a glass of wine at Rockwall the other day, my wife Bridget pointed out a strange vehicle that drove out of another nearby hangar. Turns out it was a project I hadn’t heard of called “Robomart.” It’s some sort of adorable little van that is supposed to be hailed by a consumer, pop open and let them shop for groceries. An interesting idea, but it looks like so many of the Silicon Valley projects throwing stuff at a wall and hoping something will stick.

Then, yet another sighting – Zoox. Zoox was in the news recently and I saw their promo video. Zoox bills itself as a “Robo Taxi” seeming to set their target market at teenage boys. Their promo video (ad? advertorial?) was shot on the former runway facing San Francisco. I went over the morning after seeing the video, and as luck would have it, they were testing.

What should I call this- not a “staycation” maybe “workstay”?

All photos are copyright Michael Halberstadt (and the crappy text too 😉 And I have lots more photos 

Here’s what I saw last time I chased the Apple Autonomous Cars

 

With some detective work, I found where Apple is doing their modifications to their “Project Titan” vehicles. I did a “stake out” recently and here’s what I saw (photos below.) In addition to the “Project Titan” Lexuses (Lexi?) I came across mapping vans being tested nearby.

Unmarked Self Driving Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)
Unmarked Mapping Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)
Unmarked Self Driving Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley

Joshua Hendy Iron Works Museum

Toyota Research Institute Lexus being tested on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Unmarked Mapping Vehicle in Silicon Valley (believed to be Apple)