Yesterday I hit the jackpot doing the Silicon Valley paparazzi thing. First off, I visited Intel’s “Garage” for their self driving car project. I read there was a media event there the day before. When I arrived it looked like the event was still in swing. Delphi’s self driving Audi was being demonstrated and another white vehicle with the give away Lidar setup on the roof was visible in the distance. Walking up the rather terse security guard asked if I had a badge. “No” – well than you can’t come in!
But alas, I had my new Sigma 150-600mm contemporary I purchased with this sort of thing in mind. Fortunately, Delphi’s “Intel Inside” Audi Q5s is plastered with logos of the various suppliers to the project, Intel, MobilEye, Vehicle 2 Everything, Ottomatika, and a big “Self-Driving Vehicle” notice on the back. Why that’s fortunate, is that unlike most other Self driving cars I’ve stalked, Delphi’s doesn’t have the big Lidar bucket atop. Instead, If you look closely at the full resolution photos, you can see cameras and sensors all over. Not only the more obvious ones in the rear view mirror assembly, but also in various subtle spots I would likely miss walking past this vehicle under normal circumstances.
After my parking spot expired, I moved on to Google in search of the ever illusive new Waymo Chrysler self driving minivan. And this time I found them! In fact, the new Pacifica minivans were so common- it’s my guess that was the reason I didn’t see a single one of those super-cute “pod cars”, perhaps all the “drivers” are busy testing the Chryslers?
And last but not least, I stumbled upon the robot security guard at Microsoft’s Mountain View Campus.
The Knightscope robot is a bit overly cute, it even has a soundtrack with a futuristic sound.
April 2017 Stock Photos in Revue- here’s a gallery of stock from April 2017. It includes my personal project of obsolete tech: vintage audio cassettes, micro cassettes, floppy discs, 16mm film reels etc.
The gallery also includes San Jose under construction, Japan Town, train traffic at Diridon Station, UC Berkeley’s Botanical Garden and some other stuff. And don’t let me forget that there’s also a few of Stanford’s Dish, Vallejo’s Mare Island and much more.
I also included more Silicon Valley maps that have been very popular.
(with my apologies to the late Falco and the even later Amadeus….)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All in all, it was a nice visit. I do know the way to San Jose, and enjoy taking that route.
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.
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.
These and most of the photos you see on my site are available for license: email or call me, or outside the USA/UKyou can search and license here.
I’ve been plotting and scheming – trying to showcase stock photographs I have that are unique in one way or another.
So I’ve put together a few new galleries. There are a couple of topics to disseminate:
Unique Technique: Unique slightly aerial perspective This is looking slightly down using a special secret technique) I’m calling that Looking down at ______. I’ve got a gallery setup in that category for Silicon Valley and Seattle (and environs.)
Unique Technique: Very, Very large files I’ve been working on expanding my really large files library. I can also do custom shots as needed. I’ve got a few photos that are in the gigapixel range.
I’m tempted to overdramatize this process as I found here with this Bentley ad. Basically it’s a bunch of bullshit, here’s a snippet of how they make their technique sound interesting:
Impressive, eh? Bentley created the massive photo by stitching together 700 separate photos using NASA’s panorama stitching technology — the same kind used to create panoramas of Mars shot by the Curiosity rover. In all, the project took 6 months to plan, 6 days to shoot, and 2.5 months to retouch.
“An incredible 4,425 times larger than a typical smartphone image, this extraordinary photograph is made up of approximately 53 billion pixels (or 53,000 megapixels),” Bentley writes. “The result, if reproduced in standard print format, would be the size of a football field.”
But this is using the same gear I’ve got. Plus it’s not sharp, except the car. And the car shot has so much detail it has to be fake. If the photo was made as they claimed almost a kilometer away in an area where there’s also always wind, this just isn’t possible. The photographer here was Simon Stock (the photographer equivalent of a “porn name”- a surname “stock.”) I guess the lesson to learn here is that gross exaggeration (or worse) is how to sell yourself and product.
Unique Technique: Long Exposure My setup allows me to take really long exposures, even during the day. This can make for a really unusual look- especially when the main subject is stationary: architecture, landscape etc and also includes motion: water, clouds, etc.
Unique Access: This is where I’ve been able to photograph with special access. For example I managed to gain access to some high rises in San Jose and Oakland and get some really unique shots, or the San Francisco Bay Bridge during construction and BART with a tripod.
And of course there’s all the usual stock photo stuff. Let me know if you don’t find what you’re looking for. I added a new item to the SiliconValleyStock webpage to make photo requests. Due to some changes at my old stock photo library to which I contributed, I’m gonna have to be much more proactive about selling my own work.
Well, actually San Jose promises you a rose garden. They have several- this is the Heritage Rose Garden in the path of San Jose International Airport (yes, it really is International as opposed to back in the day when there were just a few flights to Mexico!) I’m assuming due to the heat and the ongoing drought the garden isn’t looking too great at the moment.
I also promise you other gardens, parks and agriculture related stock photos. First stop was actually to get a quick snap over the Guadalupe Community Garden right across the street from the Heritage Rose Garden. It was closed but I can easily see above the fence and the sunflowers caught my eye 😉
After a few shots of the HRG I swung by the Historic Orchard next door. All of this is somehow tied into the Guadalupe River Park. My favorite part of the park I did not photograph this time is the mound that’s right at the base of the approach to SJC. You can see all the planes stacked up on their way in on a busy day, and they get so close it’s scary!
Moving on I stopped by another branch of the Guadalupe River Park- I think it’s called “The Meadows” where there’s the world’s largest Monopoly board, a nice modern pedestrian bridge over the “river” (usually it’s more of a creek looking area.) There’s also the Children’s Disco Museum. One thing that’s nice this time of year is the unique light purple color of the museum is matched by the blooming Jacaranda trees blumes…
I’d been reading that there’s a shortage of material of East San Jose (where I grew up) and figured I’d explore some to-me uncharted territory. I don’t know how I managed to never visit the Emma Prusch Farm Park in the decades I lived within walking distance. But I did. It’s kinda interesting- but weird too. I heard a weird noise from underneath the brush in the Rare Fruit Orchard and looked in the shadows to see what I think was a homeless guy camping. There was some other weird activity in the parking lot which made me feel this was a bit sketchy. To add insult to injury I got the feeling I was being watched by staff while photographing. While especially due to the unusual nature of my gear it’s not uncommon to get a second look- I usually get a smile or a thumbs up.
After bailing out of Emma Prusch I stumbled upon a sign of something interesting and unexpected. A little sign in a nearby neighborhood pointed to the home of the late labor leader Cesar Chavez. I passed it several times before going to my phone to find the actual address. To put it politely it’s a very modest place. I guess that’s kind of what you’d expect from a migrant farm worker in the 1960’s but I figured it would have at least been kept up a bit better. How do you say Ces’t la vie in Spanish?
For a decade or so in my life, the Berryessa Flea Market was a big thing. I lived very briefly a couple blocks away. My (still good friends) Jeong and Seong lived nearby for decades and gave a good excuse to visit the flea market (and a free parking space.) Part of it is now home to the new Berryessa BART station that’s presently under construction. The fleamarket website claims to be the US’s largest outdoor market- but I’m dubious given what I saw. It looked more like a ghost town- though admittedly this was on a Wednesday afternoon.
More research on interesting goings on in San Jose brought me to the Taylor Street Farm. This was another hard-to-find place- and there was nothing but what I could see from the gate to photograph. And photograph I did.
After a while I got hungry. For those who know me, where I went out of my way- even passing a truck promising Mexico City style Al Pastor for a big chain…. But there was a reason. In my research, the Evil Arches, (a.k.a. McDonald’s) was experimenting with “Gilroy Garlic Fries.” There are only four restaurants serving them, three in San Jose. I went to the “Midtown” McDonalds. It looks pretty nice and modern from the outside, but was a little gross up close – as you might expect from Micky-D’s (sticky floor inside, sticky tables and remnants of old drinks outside.) The garlic fries, ostensibly made with “bounty of the county” garlic from Gilroy minutes away were pretty good however. Hard to imagine McDonald’s cooking anything with olive oil- but I guess they’re struggling to find a new customer base.
Heading back downtown I found a good parking space and meandered. I ended up at San Jose State. The light was nice. Frankly I’m not too keen on those gates they have at the entrances aesthetically but I photographed one. Further in I was reminded of another subject I was supposed to be working on. My step-mother April is working on a book about Germans in Silicon Valley. On the list (I’m not sure how it’s connected) is the historic Scheller house on campus. Check that off my list 😉 The light was nice on the front of the Event Center Arena too- so why not add that to the library?
The last shots I got were a few of the Team San Jose venues before I gave in, called it a night, and grabbed a beer. Actually I was pretty peeved because I wanted to grab that beer AND get some shots from Scott’s Seafood outdoor patio but there was some tech event that bought up all the seating! Argh!
It may have been a bit late, but I finally managed to get a few shots of San Jose’s Christmas in the Park. Despite my status as a warrior against Christmas (I like those plain red Starbucks cups, thank you very much) I’d been meaning to add a few aerial views of the display in the center of Downtown San Jose.
Fortunately the displays were still up and the sun co-operated. Maybe next year I’ll get some more next year, but Christmas in the park being the draw that it is, I’ll get some good crowd shots next time.
A few years ago, I managed to get access to a few tall buildings in Downtown San Jose. In migrating my images from my old Zenfolio account to my present Photoshelter site, I managed to miss most of the “from above” photos taken in 2010.
I don’t know how I managed to miss them, but I was searching for a few of them for another project and their absence came to my attention. On the plus side, reprocessing the same images has some benefits. My Lightroom skills have improved over the last half decade as has Lightroom.
Looking at these images also reminded me I have to update my library. The winter solstice is coming up – perhaps the best time of year to arrange for more such shoots. Usually photographing from somebody else’s building requires a representative to be with me while I work. That’s a bit of a hassle in the summer when twilight is almost bedtime. Plus the smog that typically envelopes the south bay gets washed away semi-regularly in winter.
So no I need to figure out how I can update my picture library. San Jose has been growing and the skyline has changed a lot in the interim. If you know of any residents or property managers at any of the high rises in or around downtown, please hook me up!
To see some of the photos in the Above San Jose series, follow this link: HERE.