Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Phil Bond

Addendum- Phil Bond has left the building. Or perhaps his entry was a misunderstanding and never happened, I’m not sure.


(with apologies to the Film Board of Canada and Leonard Cohen)

Photographer Phil Bond
Photographer Phil Bond

A lot has been brewing here at tower (ironically located slightly outside the bounds of Silicon Valley no less- nevermind the lack of any sort of tower.) My friend and very talented photographer Phil Bond is also contributing to as of today. He’s added a few images already, but together we intend to tackle the whole of Silicon Valley and environs: cities and towns, tech companies, institutions, points of interest…. you name it.

So without further adieu, welcome Phil Bond!

So stay tuned. And feel free to send in any queries or requests our way.

More Time of the Signs

Skype's North American Headquarters Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, California, USA (Michael Halberstadt)Soon to be contributor Phil and I went on a small photo trek Sunday. We managed to walk past and photograph Lockheed Martin’s building, something that several years ago got me detained by Palo Alto police. But there were more enigmatic Silicon Valley company offices to be photographed. Household names like Skype, HP, dot the not-so-visitor-friendly office parks along side what are likely to be the next big names.

You can follow this link to our ever expanding Silicon Valley company library.


California is Full of Beans!

Warning: This post actually has nothing really to do with Silicon Valley!

Outline of the State of California (Michael Halberstadt)

Some time ago I ordered some cookie cutters with the intention of making some stock photo artwork. The idea was to shape other objects into the shape of states.  I had a list of things I thought would make for a cool juxtaposition, but not all really worked as planned.  My studio lighting setup is less than ideal, and our studio is a bit of a mess much of the time, which also kept me from finishing up this idea.

Recently my studio mate needed to darken our windows for one of his projects and it so happened that I just got an LED video light. So “painting with light” seemed like a good way to approach this subject.  If you aren’t familiar with the concept, you can take a long exposure and move a constant light source around your object for a unique result. I’m pretty happy with the lighting, though I hadn’t factored in the reflections from the metallic sides.

What did seem to work easily were a few agricultural products that fit nicely in the state frames. I poured a few different types of beans with varying success- coffee and pinto seemed to work best.

I have a list of other ideas what to stuff to frame up in the shape of California, and other geographic boundaries. But until you see them here, I’m gonna keep ’em secret.

From the Archive: San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge From the Middle Lane

Almost Impossible: Long Exposure from the Center Lane of the Bay Bridge
Almost Impossible: Long Exposure from the Center Lane of the Bay Bridge

I still have to pinch myself. Did this really happen? Right before the official opening of the new Eastern Span of the Oakland – San Francisco Bay Bridge a friend let me in with his special access.

Bay Bridge Stock Photo

We drove around on an almost empty bridge free of all but construction and CHP traffic. We stopped pretty much wherever we wanted. Nights we could even set up our tripods right in the middle lane of the bridge and make long exposures.

Bay Bridge Stock Photo

My friends at Oakland Magazine previously got me press access onto the Bay Bridge on a wet and windy night to document the LED art installation. We could setup our tripods for this access, which was nice. But since there was still auto traffic, the bridge shook and long exposures were fruitless.

San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt/Michael Halberstadt)
San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge Press Event for LED Light Installtion (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt/Michael Halberstadt)

I could have kept shooting there for weeks if they let us. These are the views photographers like me find so beautifully frustrating: so beautiful, yet unattainable. It’s what we see stuck in traffic and think if only I could just park my car and pull out my camera.

Bay Bridge Stock Photo

My parting shot was a long exposure disturbed by a CHP call to “leave now” minutes before the official opening.

The CHP came by and said get off now- we're about to open to the public. I picked up my tripod and headed to the car while still exposing. (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)
Parting Shot: The CHP came by and said get off now- we’re about to open to the public. I picked up my tripod and headed to the car while still exposing. (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt) Sightings: The Internet Is Not the Answer Book Review

 Google Search Result with two images (Michael Halberstadt)
Google Search Result with two images

I was scratching my head wondering what was going on. I just wrote a blog entry showing the use of one of my stock photos of Silicon Valley’s skyline in the Guardian. Then I noticed that the search results contained two different stories using two very slightly different photos of mine.

The other use of a very subtly different photo was to illustrate Silicon Valley for a book review. Andrew Keen has written a book critical of the Internet’s effect on global inequity.

 (Michael Halberstadt)
The Internet is Not the Answer Review on the Guardian (photo by Michael Halberstadt)
Silicon Valley, San Jose and the South San Francisco Bay Area as seen from the East Foothills (Michael Halberstadt /
Silicon Valley, San Jose and the South San Francisco Bay Area as seen from the East Foothills (Michael Halberstadt / Sightings: The Guardian – Silicon Valley is still the best place for your startup

 (Michael Halberstadt)

Here is a photo from used in the Guardian. It’s a piece by Mikkel Svane chief executive of Zendesk pointing out Silicon Valley’s strengths in tech start ups over his native Europe.

Silicon Valley, San Jose and the South San Francisco Bay Area as seen from the East Foothills (Michael Halberstadt /


Another Really Big File: San Francisco

 (Michael Halberstadt)

We here at have been busy again making big files. Here’s a panorama cityscape of San Francisco. At 72dpi this image could be enlarged to about 10×40′ and still look good.

 (Michael Halberstadt)
Panorama of San Francisco measuring ca. 35,000×9,000 pixels (Michael Halberstadt)

Amazon Goes Retail

Amazon Pop Up Store at the Westfield Shopping Center in San Francisco (Michael Halberstadt)
Amazon Pop Up Store at the Westfield Shopping Center in San Francisco (Michael Halberstadt)

At this point, pretty much everybody has ordered from by now. But after growing by leaps and bounds they’ve been adding other services. They have grocery delivery in some US Markets now. What I didn’t realize until stumbling upon it the other day, is that Amazon also has pop up stores in malls. Not that I spend much time in malls, or I would have known it. But after a stop at Westfield in San Francisco I got a few photos for my stock photo library. Nothing fancy, but likely to be used to illustrate a news story judging by what else sells.

AmazonFresh delivery, San Francisco (Michael Halberstadt)
AmazonFresh delivery, San Francisco (Michael Halberstadt)

Coming Soon: Really Big Files


 (Michael Halberstadt)
(Screen Capture showing resolution-Michael Halberstadt)

Some time ago, I purchased a software/hardware integrated device that is capable of creating huge images. It can be tricky to use, and is always cumbersome and takes a fair amount of time. However it’s possible to make very large files.

People typically talk about billboards when discussing really large files. But I think billboards actually don’t need such high resolution since they are typically viewed from a distance. These images would be suitable for covering walls in stores or offices and the like. Situations where viewers could see the whole image from a great distance, yet walk right up and see a nice clear picture.

Some photographers simply up interpolate a smaller image, meaning they just add pixels- and that won’t help much in an extreme enlargement. For a huge print to look good close up, the minimum native resolution should be 100, maybe even 72 ppi. That’s about the same as your typical computer monitor. That wouldn’t be appropriate for “fine art” type prints, but would be more than acceptable for a ca. 8×20′ (2.5×6 meter) wall.

Creating such large photos and prepping them takes a lot of time, but I’m gradually adding them here.  At present the finals I’ve created are layered tif files, and through a quirk with Photoshelter they display strangely. I’ll have to sort that out, but there’s also a screen capture with the resolution open in Photoshop.

More Silicon Valley Shtick

Autonomous car being tested in Silicon Valley parking lot (Michael Halberstadt)
Autonomous car being tested in Silicon Valley parking lot (Michael Halberstadt)

After a gig in the South Bay I made a few stops to the regular hotspots today. First stop was Intel in Santa Clara. They’re basically the visitor friendliest tech company in Silicon Valley. Just happened I was driving past and thought for lighting reasons and to test out one of my lenses it might make a good stop.

My day started out a bit earlier than usual, and due to the angle of the sun and slight overcast, I thought it would be a good day to revisit the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley”, the HP Garage in Palo Alto. And once again I looped by the Googleplex, and found the cute little autonomous car nearby. And as usual they didn’t like me photographing/filming. I find that whole bit kinda funny- one of the world’s richest companies, testing their new product in a public parking lot. And not just any product, but a self driving car, news about which would interest a substantial portion of the world’s readership. Ironically given all the controversy of the Google Buses, there was a sign (I wish I photographed) prohibiting them. And Imagine if you or I were to drive a car with no plates in a public lot to test out ____?! Guess if you have billions of dollars you can close off a disused public parking lot and do pretty much anything 😉

In any case (and pardon my rant), it seemed today they were testing the new Google X car for bike and pedestrian safety. A couple of young women were apparently pretending to text and ride a Gbike in the path of the car. Another young lady appeared to pretend to be texting as she crossed an imaginary intersection. I’d be very curious to hear how all that works, not that they’ll discuss any of it with me. Like how can the car can figure out how fast a bike’s trajectory could enter the path of the self driving car.

Next stop was Facebook. I wanted to get a few shots of the sign from a few different angles. Not too exiting, but that’s my life.

Cheers from Silicon Valley….