The Sidewalks of Silicon Valley?

BoxBot

Ok, we got the Streets of Silicon Valley covered (I even bought a domain with that name and have a separate blog there.) Then there’s the robot security guards in the parking lots. Well right around the corner from my house out on the sidewalks I’ve also met my robotic overlords.

BoxBot

There’s an outfit called BoxBot testing a delivery robot. They don’t look too far along as far as autonomous-ness, there seems to be a human with a joy stick walking behind the orange small refrigerator on its back looking contraption.

BoxBot

None-the-less it’s fun to see a little of this autonomousness so close to home. Maybe I’ll place an order and see how it works?

Planes, Trains, But not any Automobiles

Another objective I had visiting San Jose was getting a better feeling for my newish Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm lens. I’m using only Sony mirrorless cameras at the moment and along with Sigma’s MC-11 adapter, they’ve filled a gap in Sony’s lens lineup.

Airplane on approach to SJC
Southwest 737 approaching SJC

So my first (and it turns out my last) stop would be photographing aircraft on approach to San Jose’s international airport. That last bit used to make me giggle. That’s because not that long ago, SJC was only an international airport on a few technicalities. There were a couple flights to Mexico a week or something. But now there are regularly scheduled flights to and from Japan, China, Germany, too!

Airplane on approach to SJC
Hainan Air 787 (?) Approaching SJC

So there are more interesting planes flying in and out as well. In addition to the regular 737’s there are Airbus A320’s and Boeing 777’s as well.

Rail Traffic in San Jose at San Jose Diridon Station
Caltrain entering Diridron Station in San Jose (stock photo)

From planes, we move on to trains. I set out to test my lens on some rail traffic coming and going from San Jose’s Diridron (main, central, downtown, whatever train station you wanna call it.)

Rail Traffic in San Jose at San Jose Diridon Station
ACE train entering Diridon Station

It was really toasty, standing in the sunny weather atop the bridge.

Rail Traffic in San Jose at San Jose Diridon Station
Both planes and trains (Southwest 737 flying over Diridon station Caltrain, Amtrak and ACE trains)

After cooling down, I headed downtown and shot the VTA light rail too.

Light Rail in Downtown San Jose
Pedestrians and VTA light rail in Downtown San Jose

Rock Me Beethoven

(with my apologies to the late Falco and the even later Amadeus….)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

San Jose has a wonderful newish Library. I’ve visited the MLK Library a few times already. But until now managed to avoid visiting the Beethoven Center.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

The MLK Library is somewhat unique as I understand it as it is both the City of San Jose’s Public library and is shared as part of San Jose State University. In addition to having some of the best publicly accessible views of the city, it is home to a number of special collections. In addition to the aforementioned Beethoven Center, there’s also a Steinbeck center, California Room various special ethnic collections on the fifth floor.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

As I arrived the Beethoven Center just a few minutes before closing. The gentleman there told me that he plays some of the historical pianos – but he was wrapping up to close so I’d have to come back another day.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, California, USA

And so I will!

Kensington and a couple of Botanical Gardens

Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Berkeley, CA

I knew that on of my clients was looking for photos of Contra Costa Parks so I opted to make a visit to Regional Parks Botanic Garden. Since there’s lots of color elsewhere in the Bay Area at the moment, I assumed there would be there too. Alas, as so often is the case, I was wrong. The Regional Parks Botanic Garden is a native plants garden, and I’m guessing those are on another schedule.

Not far away was the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. I remembered that my reciprocal NARM membership should get me in for free, and so it did. Visually, this garden offered much more. The stock photographer in me kept photographing the signs.

University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley, CA

I remembered a visit I made to the Medicinal Herb Garden in Seattle a couple years ago- this seems even more medicinal. There was a Chinese section that claimed to have herbs for cancer to pretty much everything else. But ironically, there were signs all over the place stating “Many Plants Here are Toxic, DO NOT EAT THEM!” Well so much for Chinese medicine!

University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley, CA

I’ve also been seeking out fountains recently that seem to work particularly well with my slightly aerial view setup. And I managed to check one fountain off my list: Berkeley’s “The Fountain at The Circle”.

The Fountain at The Circle

My next stop was Kensington. I stopped and got a coffee and almond halva at Country Cheese Co. Coffee Market. I have a knack for inserting my foot in my mouth, and while paying the pretty young woman at the cash register noted that she had a shirt just like mine (a dark green plaid) – I said I can’t picture that. What I meant was that she seemed far to chic to wear anything that resembled what I wear, but I’m sure she was left with the impression of what’s wrong with that guy! Not that this has anything to do with my stock photo blog, just getting this off my chest. Sorry miss!

Kensington

I’ve been a fan of Semifreddy’s croutons for some time. And I think they got their start in Kensington, though they now have a big bakery in my town of Alameda. Semifreddy’s has a retail location in Kensington and I stopped in and puzzled what to order. The young lady at the counter asked if I liked olives, (of course I do!) because they accidentally just made a vegetarian Muffaletta – so they made the decision for me (and it was good!)

Kensington

A Very Asian Day in San Jose……

A Very Asian Day in San Jose……

Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley

Not that I planned it that way… I did start looking (for cherry blossoms) in two of San Jose’s Japanese landmarks, Japantown and the Japanese Friendship Garden. But the Japanese Friendship garden turned out to be closed, perhaps due to the recent flooding. And turns out the beautiful pink blossoms that are blooming in my neighborhood were plum trees, not cherry. I’ll have to return in a month or two.

Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley

So I walked around San Jose’s Japantown looking for stuff to photograph. I’d been meaning to add a few photos of the newish Japanese Museum. And I couldn’t help but get a few shots of the already well covered Buddhist Church. And as I do whenever I can, I stopped at an old familiar restaurant I’ve visited since my childhood: Kazoo.

And while thinking of gardens and trees in bloom, I thought of another place from my childhood. Right next to my high school, Independence HS on the East Side, there’s a park. I took a few photos there a few months ago, and it was really, really brown and dry due to the drought. Now it’s flooding in SJ, so I figured it would look a bit different, perhaps with some plum trees in blossom if I was lucky.

Overfelt Gardens Park, San Jose, Silicon Valley

Well I was lucky- to some degree at least. There were a few pink blossoming trees next to an arch commemorating the Chinese Garden. The gardens themselves seemed kinda shabby. The main pavilion was still barricaded like the last time I visited months ago. And one big surprise for me was that the pond around the Confucius statue was completely empty. I assumed the last time I visited it was because of the drought, but alas there must be another reason.

Overfelt Gardens Park, San Jose, Silicon Valley

Onward on my Asian journey, I made a stop to a favorite suburban gem that was built when I was growing up in the neighborhood: the Pao-Hua Buddhist Temple. I think this is mainly used by ethnic Chinese Vietnamese folks. I really like the walls of Buddhas especially. And the people there are so nice, a monk came up to me and encouraged me to continue photographing pointing out some details I should pay closer attention to.

Buddhist Temple in East San Jose, California

Buddhist Temple in East San Jose, California

Buddhist Temple in East San Jose, California

All in all, it was a nice visit. I do know the way to San Jose, and enjoy taking that route.

 

I Did Promise You a Rose Garden & Ringin’ Muir’s Bell

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.

the Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
the Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

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.

the Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
the Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

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.

the Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
the Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

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.

John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

Ces’t la vie.

John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

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.

John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

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.

John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

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.

John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

And then moved on to Concord, still hungry.

Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Martinez, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

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.

 

Eat Real 2016, Everything is Better on a Stick (or Hipsters Ruin Everything)

Oakland - Eat Real Festival 2010 (Michael Halberstadt/www.siliconvalleystock.com)
Oakland – Eat Real Festival 2010 (Michael Halberstadt/www.siliconvalleystock.com)

Food trucks have been one of my go to subjects for stock photography. I’m quite fond of food for one.

Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

So, I headed out to Eat Real again for the 2016 festivities. You can see the photos here.

Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

I spend waste a lot of time trying to come up with witty remarks to post on this unread blog. So the line I came up that applies to this style of photography is: “Everything is Better on a Stick.” Get it? I’m trying to get photos that are different than everybody else’s. So I don’t have the closeups here, just overviews from above.

Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

Another thought has been brewing in my tiny little noggin about food trucks I thought I’d try and develop my thoughts here.

The summary goes something like this: “Hipsters ruin everything”

Are you old enough to remember when live-work lofts were not trendy? The whole idea behind this concept was taking property that nobody wanted and developing cheap housing largely for artists and creatives. All of a sudden, wealthy hipsters with tech jobs saw lofts on TV and moved in from the suburbs to drive up the cost of artists’ residences so creatives could no longer afford them.

Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

This “hipsters ruin everything” concept has moved on to food trucks. Or that’s how I’m seeing it. This idea came to me as I was over by San Pedro Square in San Jose on farmers’ market day. There was a line of food trucks in amongst the fruit and veg. I was hungry and passed a falafel truck. There I noticed that a falafel- in my view a good, but very working class sort of food- and as I recall the (sandwich, pocket, or whatever) cost about $10.

Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Eat Real 2016, Jack London Square, Oakland (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

Yet within just a few feet were at least two brick-and-mortar restaurants that also served falafel- for less money too! There’s Robee’s Falafel in the San Pedro Square Marketplace that’s pretty good as I recall. And right around the corner there’s Nick the Greek. Then there’s the mothership of all Bay Area falafel joints Falafel’s Drive in about 10 minutes away with areguably the best falafel for many miles and it’s just $5/6.75 (small/large.)

 

San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Falafel’s Drive In, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

Now admittedly, I didn’t try all of these options. Maybe the food truck is by far the best.

But my point here is that the idea behind “roach coaches” or the fancier offspring was to provide food on a budget for industrial parks and other underserved areas. Their raison d’être has been destroyed by the food truck trend. As a rule, food trucks shouldn’t be parked next to perfectly good established restaurants and charging even more for their produce.

Please pardon this slightly off topic rant and if you’re looking for photos – let me know.

I Wanted to Mansion Something

Continuing my Oakland focus (and seeking appropriate subjects that also work for VeryHighDPI.com) I headed out to the historic Dunsmuir Mansion. To be honest, I knew almost nothing about it other than having seen photos of the building and thought it looked nice.

Dunsmuir House, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Dunsmuir House, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

So I drove out there – turns out there is further away than I thought out in the outer reaches of Oakland near the zoo and near the San Leandro border. When I arrived, the gate was closed and I went online only to find that the place didn’t open until 11am- another half hour or so.

Dunsmuir House, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Dunsmuir House, Oakland, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

I sat in the car and perused maps, a travel app TravelWithMe which came with my Maps.Me app and Foursquare. I figured I’d use the time to see what else is out there. And low-and-behold I found another location deeper in the burbs. There’s a beautiful mansion in Hayweird I’d never even heard of: Meeks Mansion.

Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

Well, my time had come, it was 11am and I drove to the gate which was still closed. And I waited 10 minutes or so assuming the gate would open. But it didn’t. So I called the number on the webpage and a lady informed me that there are two gates. Alright, problem solved I guess- though I’m not sure why there’d be a gate with a big sign reading Dunsmuir Mansion on it that stays closed and an entrance that says Dinkelspiel House that’s the actual entrance, but hey, whatever.

Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

This is yet another unexpected Oakland experience. The Dunsmuir Mansion is a handsome bit of architecture. And it’s about as un-urban as you could imagine- on a quiet and lush ground with only the hum of the freeway in the background.

Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

So I got a few shots and panos in of the Dunsmuir mansion and booked it over to the Meeks Mansion about 20 minutes away in Hayward. I’d add that hashtag that I’ve been playing around with: #thesuburbsaremoreinterestingyouthink.

Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com) p.s. Graphic Designers, look – room for type

Sure, San Francisco has the bulk of the attractions in the Bay Area. But it has far more than its share of tourists. For those seeking a slight detour from the beaten path, some of these suburban gems might make more sense than being trampled by camera wielding outsiders.

Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Meek Mansion (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

San Pedro Square Market’s Fifth

Reading my email this morning, I got an update from San Pedro Square Market mentioning festivities for their 5th Anniversary. Maybe it’s time for me to put up a few photos in their honor.

San Pedro Square, Downtown San Jose (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square, Downtown San Jose (Michael Halberstadt)
Downtown San Jose (Michael Halberstadt)
Downtown San Jose (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square Market, San Jose, California, USA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square Market, San Jose, California, USA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square Market, Downtown San Jose, California (Michael Halberstadt)
How do you like ‘them tacos? San Pedro Square Market, Downtown San Jose, California (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Pedro Square with the new Centerra Apt in the background, San Jose, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

I was really glad to see the San Pedro Square Market completed. Having grown up in San Jose, I find myself defending its virtues to other Bay Area residents. San Francisco had made a marvelous transformation of the Ferry Terminal some years earlier. It seemed as usual that in the cultural department San Jose was in catch-up mode.

San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Ferry Terminal, San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Ferry Terminal – San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
 (M Halberstadt/Urbantexture.com, Michael Halberstadt)
Cowgirl Creamery at the SF Ferry Terminal (M Halberstadt/Urbantexture.com, Michael Halberstadt)
 (M Halberstadt/Urbantexture.com, Michael Halberstadt)
Ferry Terminal Market, San Francisco (M Halberstadt/Urbantexture.com, Michael Halberstadt)

These and most of the photos you see on my site are available for license: email or call me, or outside the USA/UK you can search and license here.

The Answer is Blowin’ in the Wind: Makani

I was headed out the door of my place in West Alameda planning to head off and photograph a nearby building. But I heard a mysterious humming sound, a sound I’d struggled to figure out what it was for some time in the past.

Makani Energy Kite

Heading over to Rockwall one day not long ago the mystery was revealed. Right across from the USS Hornet Museum I stumbled upon a small plane or large prop driven drone looking device.

Makani Energy Kite

Some research later and I found that that “drone” was actually a Google X project (or Alphabet, or the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, or whatever they are calling themselves now-a-days.)

Makani Energy Kite

Google bought this oddball alternative energy company in Alameda called Makani. Their project is what they dub an “energy kite” and it looks alot like a prop plane and blows around in windy areas and generates energy. Or that’s how I understand it.

Makani Energy Kite

But once again I wanted to get a little stock photography and video of the thing actually running. Unfortunately it seemed they were winding down as I got there, but it was a different looking “kite” this time.