A Few More Self Driving Vehicle Pics

To keep current, I made a loop around a few self driving car projects. First two stops were a cluster of companies in Santa Clara: SF Motors and Voyage.

SF Motors

Regrettably, not much to see there. Nothing I could see in the parking lots, no interesting traffic in or out of their office parks or buildings. But for the stock photo library I made a couple of photos anyhow. 

Waymo Road Testing a Peterbilt Class 8 truck in Silicon Valley
Waymo Road Testing a Peterbilt Class 8 truck in Silicon Valley

So I went to a surefire location where I’d see more Lidars than anywhere else in Silicon Valley- the Google X building in Mountain View. Maybe they’d be testing something new there. 

Waymo Road Testing a Peterbilt Class 8 truck in Silicon Valley

Turns out Waymo was. At first it didn’t even register. At the stop sign in front of me I saw a blue big rig. I was in fact just standing there with my Sony A6500 slung over my shoulder ready to capture any self driving car to come my way. But this wasn’t a car, it was a semi-truck. And in looking up I saw it had a Lidar assembly on top. I got fewer photos than I should have. But I got a few. In researching I found out that Google is putting together a few Peterbilt autonomous trucks. Guess they’re trying to compete with OTTO/Uber freight?

And another unlikely autonomous vehicle poked its head out unexpectedly in front of me. I barely caught it, but while scanning the road for Lidar, a Toyota Research Lexus drove right past Google X’s building. 

“Special” stop signs

One new thing that caught my eye was the flags atop the new stop signs. I’m guessing that Waymo’s autonomous vehicles have trouble seeing such signs occasionally. Presumably they figure that out over time. Previously I noticed that there’s a cone permanently placed on an odd stretch of curb near Google X that I assumed was for the same reason.

Well that’s my report from another day in Silicon Valley.

Bi-Polar Santa Clara

At least I had one pole- this is a somewhat unique view of Santa Clara’s Civic Center Park and Fountain. With the drought over, there’s water in the fountain unlike last time I came here. While I came here with a pole (mono-polar?) There was a guy in the corner of the park shouting insults at me as I photographed. I was a bit worried but he never came too close. Eventually another vagrant came buy and the had a shouting match beneath the gaze of Saint Claire and my new Sony A6500.

Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA
Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA

Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA
Civic Center Park, Santa Clara, California, USA

 

Yahoo!, Youtube, Cruise Automation and the Golden Gate Bridge

Finally! I had a day to run around and shoot some stock.

Yahoo offices in Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley

I chose to head down to Sunnyvale to visit the Yahoo HQ.  Not that too much has changed, but I wanted an excuse to visit Weird Stuff Warehouse. Plus I wanted to do a little recon to see if there was any activity over at the Baidu and Renault/Nissan research centers. The only real difference notable at the Yahoo building was the flag up with “Oath, a Verizon Company” on it. BTW, weird name for a company…but whatever.

Yahoo offices in Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley

Now, on to San Bruno to YouTube HQ…. once again this was on my list to flesh out my stock photo archive of tech companies. Note to self, return in the morning when the light on the front will be better.

YouTube in San Bruno

Next stop was Cruise Automation in San Francisco. They’re GM’s self driving car research center. It’s funny- they try to make this a secret- the building is still labelled “Borden Decal Co.” But it’s hard to miss the Chevy Bolt EVs coming and going every few minutes with the funky Lidar antennae. 

Self Driving Car Testing on the Streets of San Francisco

And once I got more boring autonomous car testing pics, I headed to Crissy Field hoping to get some nice Golden Gate Bridge photos. I’ve posted a few here, but I did also shoot some medium format film too. Those won’t be ready for a while if they do turn out well. 

Cruise Automation Autos

After doing some homework, I found GM’s Cruise Automation garage in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. Two decades ago I worked not too far from the garage at Faulkner Color Lab. I think Faulkner collapsed in the first wave of the Dot Com hysteria of the late 1990’s and was leased to a pet food website.

Cruise Automation Self Driving Car (Chevy Bolt) Spotted on the Streets of San Francisco

In fact it was in this very neighborhood that I first experienced the graphical internet in the mid 1990’s at Icon Byte Bar and Grill. Prior to seeing the new W3 (World Wide Web) on Icon’s projection screen I got email on a command line browser over the phone line with a modem and a program called Pine, downloaded files with Gopher and Telnet. That was a long time ago!

Cruise Automation Self Driving Car (Chevy Bolt) Spotted on the Streets of San Francisco

Now SOMA is again at the forefront of technology. Here you can see GM’s Cruise Automation Bolts driving by. As is typical with these garages, they make a point of laying low. At least as best they can when trying to test out a billion dollar car research project in the middle of San Francisco! The garage still has the name of the previous company over the entrance.

Cruise Automation Self Driving Car (Chevy Bolt) Spotted on the Streets of San Francisco

As a photographer, I know I’m doing something good when the corporate lawyer walks across the street to talk to you 😉 A gentleman (after later researching I believe to be Matt Gipple,) asked if I minded letting him know what I was photographing. This happens a lot to me, and I really find it strange…. like you are in public, driving a car that is in dozens of news stories every day for a multi-billion dollar company working on a billion dollar project….. why wouldn’t you expect people photographing you???

In any case, here are the photos. I’ll be back to try and get some variety of locations and include the actual garage and any other relevant photos next time.

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

Stairway To Carmel-by-the-Sea

(with apologies to Led Zepplin)

After a quick detour for coffee and pastry at the Lafayette Bakery at the Barnyard, I headed off to the sea.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

This is another one of those, I know one of my clients is looking for something specific. In this case I saw Carmel on a list and figured it’s time to head back and shoot some stock.

My first stop was Carmel Meadows- a walking path along the sea. My parking spot deadended looking down a steepish stairway to the water below.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Though beautiful, it was a bit barron for what I was looking for. As I walked around, I only encountered one woman walking a dog.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

From there I went into the quaint little town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. There had been some nibbles on a few photos I’d taken previously of the Cypress Inn, so I thought I’d add a few more to the library.

I did a loop around the touristy main drag. One of the more photogenic places is the La Bicyclette- with a prop oldschool bike and French flags.

There’s that hobbit-esque candy shop that somehow I can never resist photographing as well.

From previous trips I have the other main touristy spot, the Mission pretty well covered, so no stops this time (but I’ll post an old pic here none-the-less.)

Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

(As far as I know, nobody reads this, so let me end this blog. So I’m gonna close with a fun closer, albeit in another language…)

To quote the Rosarote Panther: Heut’ ist nicht alle Tage, ich komm’ wieder keine Frage!

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!

Salinas and Steinbeck

Salinas, California
Salinas Train Station

Returning from the Monterey Peninsula, I opted to go straight inland this time. All I ever hear on the news when I’m down in the Monterey Area is crime dramas from Salinas. Yet there had to be more.

Salinas, California
Salinas Rail Station

And I was pleasantly surprised!

Salinas, California
Downtown Salinas Stock Photo

The small tiny core of downtown Salinas was nice and tidy. The built environment was rich in architectural details. Regrettably I didn’t have too much time, but it looked like there were a number of nice eating (and drinking) establishments.

Salinas, California
Antique Salinas Soda Bottles

The main road runs right in to the National Steinbeck Center. Salinas was Steinbeck’s home town and a major influence on his writings (or so I have read.)

Salinas, California
National Steinbeck Center (stock photo)

A historic Bank of America building is being given a new life as a giant antiques shop. Like many small towns, the people seemed particularly nice and had time for small talk, like the lady at the antiques shop. Photographically, I really like the glass in the window thing. I took a few other snaps inside the shop. One thing that freaked me out as I sorted my photos and looked a bit closer was that the military garb I had taken photos of had swastikas. I’m surprised and freaked out as to how many Americans have a fascination with the NAZI’s!

Salinas, California
Nazi hat in antique store

 

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

It was Snowing in the Central Valley in Spring….

It was Snowing in the Central Valley in Spring…. Or at least that’s how it looked. I was “Somewhere near Paterson”* on a photoshoot and driving along Interstate 5 to a ranch not far from Mercy Hot Springs. The photoshoot is not relevant to Silicon Valley Stock, but I did have a bit of time to take a few photos along the way back.

Trees in Bloom
Trees in Bloom

The weather here in California has been a bit unusual. There’s been tons of rain, and our drought is finally over. I don’t know if that has influenced the time of year the almond trees are blooming, but it’s made the scenery gorgeous! The sky is blue with puffy white clouds, the grass is green. And the blossoms of the almond trees are so prevalent as to coat the dirt below with enough white to look almost like snow.

Blossoming trees and boxes of bees
Blossoming trees and boxes of bees

Knowing almost nothing about agriculture, I figure it must make sense – but beneath the unending rows of trees and their falling white blossoms where colorful boxes. Those boxes, as I found out as I came closer were full of honey bees. Guess it’s pollination time in The Valley.

Trees in Bloom
Trees in Bloom

For the stock photo shtick, I got a few photos of “our” Northern California water being sent south via the California Aqueduct. I usually find the farmer’s signs bemoaning the “Congress Created Dust Bowl” ironic, given that I think generally speaking these folks claim to be against big government, yet somehow don’t notice the contradiction that their fortunes are rooted in several giant “big government” programs including the delivery of subsidized water. The big irony (and I wish I got a few photos of it) was that they signs decrying the “dust bowl” were soaked and soon to be covered in high green grass!

California Aqueduct
California Aqueduct