Just to clear things up first, no you will not see any photos on this post of the new rumored Chrysler-Fiat Pacifica Self Driving minivan. It is in the works as I understand it, and have seen some photos online in a Google parking garage. But eventually, they will have to take this thing out for testing, and I’ll be there ASAP snapping away.
However, I did get to sit on a bench on a pleasant fall day and snap some nice photos of other Google autonomous cars passing by. I felt kinda like a fisherman might feel fishing out of a stocked pond.
At one point (while I was on the phone to my friend and fellow photographer Christian 1*) I heard the electric car whirring sound on my left. I excused myself from the phone call, stood up and saw two of those cute 2 seat prototype autonomous cars on my left, then looked to the right and saw another one! It was like I was being surrounded.
Unfortunately for my stock photo luck, there was another interesting scene – that could have been an even better contrast had there been a self driving car there as well. A homeless guy (?) came riding down the slight hill next to the Google X building carrying a bunch of huge bags full of recycling.
I’ll head down soon and see if I can find this rumored vehicle in the wild.
Another stock opportunity? The stack of ballot measures were staring at me for weeks. Before I sent them off I figured I’d be wise to get a few shots of the actual ballot and dropping it off at the ballot box.
This election cycle has been rather news-worthy. So why not get a few closeups of the (evil) Trump as well as Hillary and whatever else?
On my way back from a gig in Monterey- I stopped first at MSP headquarters, then worked my way up the peninsula looking for stock photo ops.
I stopped in Mountain View, hoping to get a few stock photos of the Farmer’s Market but was a bit late. I did notice the 23 and Me building, and thinking it would be a good addition to the Silicon Valley Stock Photo library, took a few boring snaps of it and the area around the train station.
But the highlight was what I happened upon on my way just driving along a street in Palo Alto. Out of nowhere, I saw a carriage, like that you’d see in Amish Country. But instead of a horse in the front, there was some sort of mechanical contraption.
I followed the curious vehicle where it parked in a hardware parking lot and the “driver” went in. I parked and pulled out my new Sony A7Rii and took a few snaps. There were customers from the Mike’s Cafe nextdoor and random passers by also taking snaps. Eventually the gentleman came out and chatted with all the curious folks standing around.
Not that I actually remembered his name, I did a search and figured out that it’s Bob Schneeveis- a mechanical engineer at Stanford who appears to know how to spend his free time.
This is one of those rare occasions in Silicon Valley with some really cool and quirky things actually are to be seen outside the tech-company fortification
There’s been a small stack of magazines sitting on my living room table. I’ve been meaning to setup my desktop shooting station and take a few nicer photos of them for my tearsheet postings for a while but finally got around to it. A friend and (successful) photographer Tom Paiva had brought another magazine he was reading and noticed the photo credit (Bloomberg Businessweek.) There were a couple of Silicon Valley Stock images in the latest Via Magazine (the AAA member magazine,) and Santa Clara University’s magazine too.
Trying to figure out where my images are ending up can be a bit frustrating. But a recent reverse image search came up with my image illustrating a Trump bashing piece on the Guardian, which made me very happy!
The story is ‘Taco trucks on every corner’? That’d really make America great again – John Paul Brammer. Don’t know what it means to show a Chinese food truck in this context but I agree with the message, and it’s one of my favorite food truck shots.
The photo is from an early (2010) Eat Real Festival in Oakland. I’ve covered a few more Eat Real Festivals including this years if anybody is looking to illustrate a story, let me know.
Discussion abounds about the future of driverless cars. Uber is testing self-driving Volvos in Pittsburg, Google has had a program going on for quite some time in Silicon Valley. Rumors of Apple testing a vehicle at Gomentum have abounded for some time (there’s got to be an Apple joke in there, like they couldn’t get it to work because the power plugs kept changing!)
Thing is, these cars can’t really work at present, at least in the US.
Let me elaborate. The technology is amazing, and full of promise. And self driving cars could work with a human to step in. But the United States is a special case as a first world country. We have some pretty strict laws on the books as you’d expect of an advanced democracy. But we don’t enforce lots of those laws, as you would expect from a developing country.
Self driving car manufacturers can not take our chaotic streets in to account. The law as written in the vehicle code says that to proceed a vehicle must wait for the intersection to be clear of pedestrians. Yet anybody who’s been on a busy big city street in the US knows the whole town would shut down if all the laws were actually obeyed. When I drive in San Francisco, say on Market Street wanting to make a right turn on one of the busier intersections, there are literally hours a day where it would not be legally possible.
Some percentage of pedestrians wait for their light to turn green, but many do not, and the intersection at some times of day simply is never completely clear. Cars and trucks routinely double park, making drivers cross over double yellow lines against the law. Posted speed limits are also meant as a legal maximum, yet are treated as a minimum by most drivers.
Crime in the US is also another issue making the use of a truly autonomous car dangerous in many parts of the US. Just imagine that cute little google car, with the plastic windows driving in a bad part of any big city in America. Remember, this car has to obey the law, and the rest of the world does not. And they’re talking about not even having a steering wheel for a manual override. So two people could easily completely stop a true autonomous vehicle, simply by stepping in front and behind it. This could be done just to be a jerk because they think it’s funny- it could be used to intimidate the driver occupant, or presumably a third thug could remove the driver occupant(s) from the vehicle with little difficulty rob, plunder or do whatever criminals do.
While I can see a fully autonomous vehicle actually working in Japan, Korea, certain parts of northern Europe and a few other spots, I can’t imagine a vehicle sans-steering wheel succeeding here. Like so many other brilliant inventions that started here (think of the Bullet Trains, or fast internet for example) our culture of chaos is great at creating ideas- then letting other cultures apply those ideas to daily life.
I thought it’d be fun and go out and photograph a few versions of the same thing, like on a theme. I’ve also been exploring Oakland a bit more for the stock photo biz. So I opted to check out something new to me in Oakland. The theme I intended to follow was Rose Gardens from Oakland to Walnut Creek. But plans don’t always work out. My intended reconnaissance mission was then to see what I could of the secretive GoMentum automated car testing grounds in nearby Concord.
There are so many cool and hidden pockets of Oakland to surprise even those of us who’ve lived nearby for ages. The Morcom Rose Garden was yet another surprise for me. It was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project, which I find particularly cool. If it weren’t for Republican resistance, I think we could have had a modern wave of building innovation after the economic collapse that started under the Bush administration a decade or so ago.
In any case, Morcom has that WPA look. The buildings have that sort of Mission Revival ? style and the gardens are terraced in nicely symmetrical. Though I’m reasonably happy with some of the photos I took, this wasn’t the ideal time of year- I should come back in summer next year.
So, on to the next rose garden on the list. This was in Berkeley. Unfortunately for photographic purposes this was something of a bust. The lighting was less than ideal when I arrived. But more importantly some renovation was underway, so there were vehicles and orange plastic fencing etc ruining the aesthetic.
Ces’t la vie.
So next stop I had planned was Walnut Creek or Concord- I didn’t care what order. But as is often the case, I got sidetracked. From highway 4 I saw the signs for the John Muir National Historic Site. I was relieved to see a “free entry” sign at the front and went on in. Again, the lighting for the exterior was far from ideal.
Inside however there were a few fun finds. The ranger inside said to go on up to the top bell tower and ring away if I wanted. And I did. I got a bunch of bell photos thinking that they would be a good geo quiz type image. And though I had no tripod, I couldn’t help but shooting a few interiors.
It was late afternoon and I hadn’t had lunch or much of a breakfast, so I tried finding something in Martinez. But instead I found the handsome buildings downtown including a historic courthouse and post office and photographed them.
And then moved on to Concord, still hungry.
I drove around the Gomentum/old military base but didn’t see many gaps or any self driving cars. I’ll have to do more research. And I never made it to the rose garden in Walnut Creek. Guess that’s for another day.
In researching a client’s stock photo needs, I remembered a few photos from years ago. They are looking for weird western photos and a trip to southern California came to mind.
In both cases, I used props, something I seldom do with stock photography.
Back in 2010, (btw, it’s weird to say that, like shouldn’t we be on a moon colony for the last 10 years already?!) I had a gig down in Orange County. I drove down for that gig and had some time to travel around, including meet some friends on the way back in Beaumont.
My fun Orange County stock photos were taken at the (newish then?) Great County Park. I seem to recall having read something about a balloon ride on a giant orange balloon. What a cool idea! Especially in a city called “Orange” after all!
When I got there I found a nice tidy new park. But the balloon ride was shut down due to high winds. Bummer, I thought, it was soooo clear. Turns out they had a farmers’ market day at the park and I put 2 and 2 together. Wouldn’t it be fun to put a real orange in the foreground with the giant orange balloon in the background? I’m sure there’s a word for this sort of thing.
Later on my trip on my visit to friends at Beaumont I made a side trip to Cabazon. They have these life sized dinosaurs off the highway. I think this was originally a touristic distraction meant to get people to pull off the highway on their way to Palm Springs.
But if I remember correctly at some point it got bought out by some religious nuts who try and brainwash kids and dissuade them from science and learning evolution. In any case they make for some fun photos on their own. But I also bought a few little dinosaurs in the gift shop as props and once again placed them in the foreground with the full sized dinos in the back.