July 2015 Update

It’s been a while and July is almost over.

Japanese Friendship Garden, Kelley Park, San Jose, California

So since the last posting what have I been up to….? A lot of new aerial pole stock photos for one. That includes some old territory reshot under different conditions like Ainsley House, Heritage offices and the Vintage Theater in Campbell. I spent a little time dangling my pole in San Jose including at the Japanese Friendship Gardens and History San Jose.

History Park at Kelley Park, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
History Park at Kelley Park, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

I even went to Overfelt park next to my old High School (Independence in East San Jose) which was an interesting experience. It was crazy hot- and there were people apparently living in their cars in the park’s parking lot. I walked around the main pond which was completely empty, the mud had dried into that pattern you see in photos of the desert. Unfortunately for aesthetic reasons, that meant lots of dry grass. Overfelt has some Chinese monuments and one of the main ones was cordoned off in a particularly unattractive way. And the pond that surrounded the statue of Confucius was completely empty- so I just walked right into the middle and got a few pics.

Overfelt Gardens Park, San Jose, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Empty pond at Overfelt Gardens Park, San Jose, California (Michael Halberstadt)

I also spent a warm Sunday afternoon at Jack London Square in Oakland getting some aerial views for stock photographs. The place was teeming with people seeking respite from the heat near the water at various watering holes. Some time ago I licensed a few photos of Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon and figured with all the people out, it was time to update the library.

Heinhold’s Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Sather Gate Entrance to the University of California Berkeley

Same goes for the Sather Gate in Berkeley. I got really lucky and droves of students walked right underneath. On issue with the pole aerial stick shtick is that I often get lots of shots of curious or puzzled people looking up at the camera. But in this case these college kids wandered right by me without a second glance. My courage has been improving, and despite my general shyness photographing- the pole thing really seems to disarm people. In photographing the Sather Gate, there was even a motorcycle cop sitting right next to me. I’m so used to being harassed by security guards and occasionally police – this is quite the change.

Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California (Michael Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California (Michael Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

While in Berkeley I also stopped leaving family in the car to add a few exterior shots of Chez Panisse restaurant.

Father and Son (Michael Halberstadt)
Father and Son (Michael Halberstadt)

Another subject I’ve been trying to add to my stock photo library is model released people. It’s been slow going, trying to find models, figure out if they’d work well, then see if it’s possible to schedule them at a time that works for me too. In any case I got one such shoot done last month- a guy and his son. That seemed to work out reasonably well aside from a typo in an email I sent them that should have read “no big logos” but read “big logos”. None-the-less I was happy with some of the shots. The light was nice in downtown San Jose and I think some of the technology in use with father and child are saleable. We’ll see.

Monterey California (Michael Halberstadt)
Monterey California (Michael Halberstadt)

There are some family issues I have to take care of in Monterey and try and use that as an excuse to photograph there or along the way as well. In this case I added a few snaps of the Wharf Marketplace, one of my favorite stops in the area for coffee or beer depending on what time of day. They are located in a renovated old train stop and have a vintage delivery truck and tractor on display. I also moseyed over to the historical area for a few more shots.

Golden Gate Park Conservatory, San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Golden Gate Park Conservatory, San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

Another place I thought would be fun to put the pole in action was in San Francisco. On returning from Monterey, I stopped at Golden Gate Park. The weather there in the mornings and afternoons is often magical- when the clouds are coming or going and the Conservatory of Flowers is under soft warm light and the sky behind undulated between blue and cloudy. The dahlia garden was nearly at peak bloom as well.

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

Though the Japanese Tea Garden had closed, I could still see over the gate from 15’ above 😉

Twilight at the Presidio, San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Twilight at the Presidio, San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

After Golden Gate Park I headed to the Presidio to tick off another tick box on my stock photo list. There’s a food truck event called Off the Grid that moves around the bay area. Food trucks have been good sellers in the past. And this venue seemed especially promising aesthetically.

San Pedro Square, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

This whole entry’s chronology is discombobulated, and I forgot to add yet another stop last month. San Pedro Square and its market have been good stock photo sales in the past. I just renewed a license including a photo from there. So it seemed like time to freshen up that part of the library.

 (Michael Halberstadt)
Computer Concept- (Michael Halberstadt)

Another project I’ve been working on that doesn’t fit here chronologically or categorically is computer still lifes. A buddy and I share a studio space in town, but mostly it’s used to do image editing and store gear, not a lot of shooting. But I finally got around to using an old mannequin hand and a laptop. I was impressed to see it had been “zoomed” a stock photo site I contribute to just a day or so after uploading.

Rua Augusta Arch, Lisbon, Portugal (Michael Halberstadt)
Rua Augusta Arch, Lisbon, Portugal (Michael Halberstadt)

I guess the big news as far as stock photo sales last month was a photo that is being used for the cover of the book This Gulf of Fire. For one, it’s an image I made for fun. Many of the photos you see here that are solely intended for use as stock photos to help somebody else tell their story. Also book cover has some prestige to it as well as paying well. And like so many other photographers, I dream of traveling. And though this photo was taken on a family vacation in Lisbon, Portugal– perhaps I can justify a few photo trips abroad now …. Or at least that’s what I’m dreaming about. Lastly the photo was made using a technique I enjoy playing with, long daylight exposures. With a dark enough filter, it’s possible to make an exposure for many seconds in broad daylight. Though in this case, it was already getting dark- the neutral density filter allowed for the clouds to smear yet the arch remained sharp.

(note fixed broken images 8/2018)

Wardrobe Malfunction Caught on Camera in Sacramento

See inset for area of resolution sample
See inset for area of resolution sample (this file is not at final size but downresed to display on your computer)
Resolution sample comparison
Resolution sample comparison: 

Quick, somebody call the FCC! Much like Janet Jackson, there is in fact a bare breast exposed on this photograph of the California State Capitol. The woman is over 140 years old.

You’d be forgiven for not having noticed it. With the naked eye or an ordinary camera it’s barely visible. Hopefully you’ll forgive me for my theatrical blog post as well. But it gives me a chance to show the differences between the detail in an ordinary photograph and what’s possible with a super high resolution stock photo like the examples here.

Exhibit A: the whole field of view highlighting the inset shown in Exhibit B. This photo would print natively (without upresing in Photoshop) at ca. 250” x 165” @ 100ppi (or ca. 20 x 14 feet!)

Exhibit B: The image on the left is what a print would look like at 100 ppi at size. The middle image is a simulation of the resolution of a 80 megapixel image (like that from the medium format Hasselblad back that costs over $30,000). The image on the right simulates the resolution of a 36 megapixel image like that of the Sony A7r, or the Nikon D800 family of cameras.

 

Go Ahead…. Call It Frisko

With my apologies to Herb Caen

Ultra High Resolution Panoramic Stock Photograph of San Francisco from Above (prints at ca. 15' x 5' @100ppi un-upresed) (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Ultra High Resolution Panoramic Stock Photograph of San Francisco from Above (prints at ca. 15′ x 5′ or 5 x 2.5 meters  @100ppi un-upresed) (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

After a previous engagement in The City I pulled out my pano machine and got to work. Requests for extra high resolutions stock photos of the City by the Bay are common and it was a clearer than average day in the Bay Area.

Originally I planned to head over to the Golden Gate Bridge and shoot from both the Marin and San Francisco sides. But as I saw traffic building up in front of me, and coincidentally looked up to the iconic Sutro Tower I changed my mind. And off to Twin Peaks I drove.

The top of Twin Peaks wasn’t the only thing that was high up top. As I did a quick site and wind survey the pot smell was as strong as I’d guess one would smell on the set of a Cheech and Chong movie. But my real problem was the wind. Gusts rip over the peak from the Pacific Ocean behind me. My pano machine is pretty sturdy, but not enough to stay still for the one second exposures I anticipated making when the winds approached hurricane speeds.

A short time after the sun set, the light got really nice. I hunkered down right below the parking area below seeking a spot that was partially sheltered from the wind. In addition to the benefits of reduction in wind, I found myself about three feet below the tourists posing with the city in the background right behind me. At one point I turned around to find myself only inches from the bum of a very attractive gal 😉 My method of protecting my rig from wind gusts did work, but must have looked quite awkweird. I opened my jacket, and stood as close as I could to the setup without obscuring the lens. I look weird enough without all my camera kit. But this must have appeared especially odd if viewed from the wrong angle, reminiscent of this poster that was pinned up in Mr Bernucci’s photo class at my old high school.

But then again, Frisko is full of all sorts of strange characters. I might just fit in!

 

 

 

Alameda Naval Air Station

Former Alameda Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Former Alameda Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

A few years ago I was out on Alameda Point, testing a few lenses to share on a large format photography discussion group. And as luck would have it, a security guard told me I couldn’t photograph there.  Our local paper, the Alameda Sun did a little story titled “Free to Pursue His Craft“.

I honestly thought after that my right to photograph on public sidewalks in my lovely little town was resolved. But recently as I tried to go out and shoot some more I’ve run into the same problem. I don’t know where  the PM Real Estate Group hail from. They seem to think they have powers that companies in China, Zimbabwe or other third world dictatorship command. These folks claim I need a permit to photograph anywhere on the point, even in front of the City Hall Building or on a sidewalk next to a bus stop.

Former Alameda Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Former Alameda Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

As a matter of principal I’ve resolved to make documenting Alameda’s former Naval Air Station a personal project. And I went out recently and got started. The gallery I’ve started is here.  When the security guard gives me grief, I just tell him to call the police.  In the unlikely event the police actually show up, I’ve got a copy of Bert Krages II The Photographer’s Right printed along with a copy of that Alameda Sun article with me on the cover.

Alameda Naval Air Station Gallery

I plan to keep adding to the gallery. Years ago when I lived in Vallejo I ran into similar problems. Eventually we got the security guard situation sorted  out. Later some local photographers, my friend Tom Paiva and I even managed to have a show from the results.

Faux Chateau & The Cats

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

Probably not fair to call Villa Montalvo a Faux Chateau, it really is a beautiful place. This formerly second home to three term San Francisco mayor  James Duval Phelan was transformed into a public park and center for the arts. I’ve been here a few times in the past- but I was intimidated by the “NO COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY” sign displayed very prominently in front of the building. Of course this isn’t “commercial” photography. But it’s been my experience that the way such rules are enforced are by somebody who knows nothing about photography looking at how big a camera I have. It’s one reason I sometimes still prefer to use my little Sony NEX cameras which have “professional” image quality and are tiny enough to fit in a pocket. I don’t think I’d get far trying to explain the difference between editorial and commercial with most folks.

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

In any case the grounds are beautiful. It so happened that they were hosting a private breakfast for Netapp, so I took a quick walk around a very short trail and explored behind the mansion for a while. The wisteria was in full bloom and the weather really cooperated undulating between lightly cloudy and sunny.

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

Some fellow and I came upon the gate surrounding, what later research is being referred to as the “Love Temple” and gardens. It wasn’t clear to either of us why there was a gate, I let him go in first and test the waters.  When no alarm sounded or crazed employees chased him, I followed suit. As I guess what now is obvious, I’ve really been harassed by security enough to be very self conscious!

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Creepy Statues at the “Love Temple”, Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

The garden does a good job at what I assume was its intention: mimicking those of wealthy Italian estates. The fountain in the “Love Temple” was off, as we are in a serious drought condition right now. But I’d have to say it displayed some of the creepiest statues I’d seen in some time. Behind the temple was a small cactus garden and some sort of woodcutting exhibit in progress.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
La Cañada Building at night, Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

From Villa Montalva in Saratoga I meandered to Los Gatos. Strange for a town named after them, I don’t recall having seen any real cats. There were a couple architectural ornaments if you look really closely at the Deco facade of the Los Gatos Theater but that’s all I saw.

Los Gatos has been on my stock photo radar for a while.  The theater came up as a request on one of the stock photo sites: Image Brief or Photographers Direct I think not too long ago. It’s also one of those very affluent areas that needs illustration in various publications regularly. It’s even more affluent than I remember, they even have a Bently dealer in town.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Apparent scene of an early wheel theft ring, outside the former Forbes Mill Museum, Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

My primary goal was to get a few good shots of the theater and the Old Town sign. I waited a long time for the light to get where I wanted it. While I waited in addition to having coffee and cake at a local coffee shop, I did a little walking around town. I went looking for the Forbes Mill Museum. I was thrown off by the fact that the sign led me down a private road and part of a condo association. But walking down the hill and around the corner a handsome stone historic building appeared. But it was closed permanently.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Lone Jogger on a bridge along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

The shuttered museum did lead to another POI: an overpass that promised to connect to the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Why not, I had time to kill. So I wandered looking for a some good views. I try to get people in the photos without looking too creepy. That can be a balancing act, I don’t want closeups of people but more like the lone jogger above to give a sense of scale and not make the place look too abandoned.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Los Gatos Theater, Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

Eventually the theater got where I wanted it. You know where interior building lights and neon were about as bright as the sky above it- “golden hour” ish.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Los Gatos Old Town Sign (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

The Old Town sign wasn’t as cooperative. It’s rusted brown, with tall trees behind it. I was counting on the “christmas lights” separating the sign from the background, but I didn’t notice that they only covered the decorative metal above the letters. Oh well.

With a few more destinations check off the list, I feel like I’m making progress.