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

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.

 

Oranges and Dinosaurs

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.

Dinosaurs at Cabazon, Riverside County, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Dinosaurs at Cabazon, Riverside County, California (Michael Halberstadt)

In both cases, I used props, something I seldom do with stock photography.

Dinosaurs at Cabazon, Riverside County, California (Michael Halberstadt)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.

Dinosaurs at Cabazon, Riverside County, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Dinosaurs at Cabazon, Riverside County, California (Michael Halberstadt)

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!

Oranges and the Orange Baloon, Great Park, Irvine, Orange County, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Oranges and the Orange Baloon, Great Park, Irvine, Orange County, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Oranges and the Orange Baloon, Great Park, Irvine, Orange County, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Oranges and the Orange Baloon, Great Park, Irvine, Orange County, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

 (Michael Halberstadt)
(Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Fun!