Hangar 1 Distillery Tasting and Tour

A couple of friends joined my wife and me to go to Faction Brewery in my fair Island City of Alameda. Unfortunately there was a festival with a $60 per person entry fee. We ditched Faction and our friends were curious about Hangar 1 nearby.

Distillery in Alameda, California
Posing under the Hangar 1 neon sign

We’ve lived in Alameda for a decade, but have never been to Hangar 1. A problem that was soon solved!

Distillery in Alameda, California
Hangar 1 Vodka tasting

I’m not a huge vodka drinker, but was quickly impressed with the variety of flavors.

Here’s what I saw:

Distillery in Alameda, California
Buddha’s Hand in a Jar
Distillery in Alameda, California
Peppercorns used to flavor Hangar 1 Vodka
Distillery in Alameda, California
Sample of the honey used for Hangar 1 vodka
Distillery in Alameda, California
The Hangar 1 Store
Distillery in Alameda, California
Hangar 1 Still and Decoy
Distillery in Alameda, California
Vodka tasting at Hangar 1

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!

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!

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.

Tear Sheet: Conde Nast Traveller (India)

Ever since some changes at Alamy, my sales have really plummeted. But I did find one of my images recently on Conde Nast India about Microbrews recently.

Tear Sheet, Conde Nast story on Microbrews
Tear Sheet, Conde Nast story on Microbrews
Fremont California (Michael Halberstadt)
Microbrews (Michael Halberstadt)

The Death of Marshmallow

Google, Mountain View, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Google, Mountain View, California (Michael Halberstadt)

A while ago I wrote a little piece about the new “Android Graveyard.” Google had a sculpture garden in front of a more prominent building on the Googleplex. They moved all their sculptures (I caught them in pieces getting touch up job in the last post.) Now they are in an out-of-the way corner in a peripheral building near the Google-central.

Google Android Statue Garden, Mountain View, Silicon Valley (Editorial Use Only) (Michael Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Google Android Statue Garden, Mountain View, Silicon Valley (Editorial Use Only) (Michael Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

What Google started doing was unveiling a new sculpture with each OS release. Android operating system releases are named after sweets. Now with the birth of a new OS, there’s a death and a sculpture is added to the Android Graveyard.

Google, Mountain View, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Google, Mountain View, California (Michael Halberstadt)

This time came was the the birth of Nougat, and the death of Marshmallow.

A new statue at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, depicts Android 4.4 nicknamed KitKat with an Android Statue made of KitKat bars (Michael Halberstadt)
A new statue at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, depicts Android 4.4 nicknamed KitKat with an Android Statue made of KitKat bars (Michael Halberstadt)

Here are a few stock photos of a Silicon Valley graveyard.

The new location for all previous Android Mascot Sculptures under renovation (Michael Halberstadt)
The new location for all previous Android Mascot Sculptures under renovation (Michael Halberstadt)

Fremont: The Suburbs Are More Interesting Than You Think

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Centerville Station-Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

From the outside, Fremont is a sleepy suburban city in Silicon Valley. Well, honestly from the inside that’s more or less true too. Though with a few quirks that make Fremont a fun place to explore if you live in the area.

Dotted between the stucco homes and strip malls is a quirky views of America’s past and future.

My journies to the past this time included my first stop: the Pioneer Cemetery of Centerville. Centerville is a neighborhood in Fremont now, but I assume it was a town at one point judging by some of the headstone inscriptions listing place of death as Centerville. Frankly the place was a bit rundown- and there was a major construction site nextdoor preventing too much rest in that final resting spot. One headstone listed a guy who’s year of birth was in the 1700’s- something rarely seen on headstones here in the west.

Pioneer Cemetery, Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Pioneer Cemetery, Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

From the cemetery I noticed what appeared to be an old train station behind me. Finishing up with the cemetery, I dragged my kit along to explore and low-and-behold it was a handsome little station that was converted to a cafe. The platform is still in use for Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor. On the other side of the tracks there’s a lovely little park with a covered historic railway waiting area.

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

All was good, well except for one thing. I was thinking about this- there has to be a series of Murphy’s Laws for photography. The rule in play here was the attraction of dirty, ugly or aesthetically unpleasant stuff to the most interesting landmark. It could be the workers in fluorescent orange jackets cleaning up, traffic cones, the strategically placed utility pole blocking the best view of a facade. However in this case, it was a pile of garbage in a shopping cart underneath the Centerville train shelter. Presumably left by a homeless person, who either abandoned it or was coming back at some point, the cart had a undersized adult bike (popular with the druggies) and most unfortunately a filthy large *RED* sleeping bag partially unfurled.

Oh well.

This really was a beautifully done park however aside from the crap and few druggies hanging out there. Wisteria draped off to the left and right of the shelter, and the old station was just across the way with a handful of waiting passengers. The sign atop the station and shelter reads: “Centerville – to San Francisco 40 1/10 m. – to Ogden 799 4/10 m. – Elevation 57 feet.“*

Otherwise the space was beautiful. I stopped in the cafe and got coffee and a snack. The lady inside said she recently bought the business. It was really cute inside as well, though empty- perhaps because the time of day- it was about noon on a workday. The coffee was really good, I’d definitely go back.

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

 

Next stop was the Shinn Park & Arboretum. My timing was off, this would have been much better had I arrived earlier when the sun was less harsh. This looks like a grand old farmhouse that lost its farm to suburban sprawl, but gained some gorgeous gardens. I was presented with the Murphy’s Law of Photography again when a city of Fremont truck drove up and the dude in the fluorescent orange jacket ran around cleaning up. I’m keeping the Shinn park in the back of my mind for a place to photograph again and maybe get a picnic in on one of the pleasantly shaded tables.

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Mission San Jose-Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

I headed back to familiar territory- Mission San Jose. Though I already have plenty in my photo library, I wanted to apply a few new techniques.

 

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Wine on tap- The Vine – Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

I headed back to Niles- more familiar territory and after a few snaps managed to find a happy hour sign. The restaurant- The Vine had a $2 off drinks on tap, and they had not just beer but wine on tap. I couldn’t resist. I walked in only to find a surprisingly empty restaurant. However continuing to the back I found a bustling patio and enjoyed a chat with a couple of locals with a glass.

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

My next journey was only a couple miles in distance but a huge cultural shift. If Fremont is known for anything it’s its South Asian population. There’s a substantial number of Afghanis and lots of Indians, Pakistanis and other nationalities and those with roots in the Subcontinent. I’d visited San Jose’s Gurdwara a number of times. In addition to being really interesting to look at and a pleasant variation from the middle American ‘burbs- the Sikh places of worship are great to visit. One major reason is that people are super-duper nice! And they are not camera phobic. Guys with turbans typically come up and say hi and tell me to feel free to photograph.

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Fremont Gurdwara, Fremont California (Michael Halberstadt)

But in this case in the Fremont Gurdwara in addition to all this- a gentleman introduced me as Sing came up and asked me if I wanted to see inside and have a meal? Well why not? He put a head covering on and handed me a dollar bill to drop into the offering inside. We chatted while sitting on the floor while I asked all the dumb questions about Sikhism and he did his best to answer. He then took me to the cafeteria and we drank chai and he gave me a few Indian sweets balls of sweetened ground chickpeas. I was a bit shy about taking any photos inside and don’t have a lot to show for this photographically, but it was an experience I really enjoyed.

California Nursery Historical Park, Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
California Nursery Historical Park, Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

Next stop I stumbled upon the California Nursery Historical Park- I believe this is a city park still in progress. On the site was a rose garden, not in the best of shape with an old faux windmill themed storage closet at the center. A bunch of fenced off delipidated greenhouses were off in another corner. There was also the a Vallejo Adobe off in the corner. The adobe building was fenced off and locked (as was the restroom next door unfortunately as I would have liked to have visited both.)

Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Fremont, California (Michael Halberstadt)

I’d hoped to get some of the neon Niles signs but they weren’t on- so last stop was the big Niles gate sign and I packed up and went home. But I’ll be back – no question!

*This just reminded me, the presumably old train station sign gives the elevation- relevant to my previous post. The centerville sign reads 57 feet- and I checked with the tool from my previous post: 57.126 feet. Not a whole lot of sinking below sea level.

 

—– further reading: ——

Pioneer Cemetery
Centerville Station
Shinn Estate

—- silly lines I hoped to use but didn’t —-

I can see for Niles and Niles

Sunburned in Seattle (August 2015 Update)

 

This year our family vacation involved a trip to the Pacific Northwest. To give me a little flexibility to do some work too, I drove up and met my family at the airport a couple days after my departure. Though Seattle is a pretty public transit friendly place, having a car really afforded me the flexibility to venture out where ever I wanted and to take the pole along with me.

Jimi Hendrix Memorial, Renton, WA (Michael Halberstadt)
Jimi Hendrix Memorial, Renton, WA (Michael Halberstadt)

I’ve often heard that it is cold and rainy in Seattle. I’ve only been there a couple of times, but once again that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I think it’s just a ploy from Seattleites to keep us out of their beautiful city. My two weeks there were not only nearly entirely sunny, but hot, hot, hot! I even managed to get a nice sunburn swimming out on Lake Desire.

My brother who we were staying with lives in Renton, a suburb of Seattle. Turns out there is one stock photo worthy spot in town. The final resting place of Jimi Hendrix is located in town at the Greenwood Memorial Cemetery. I was a big fan as a young man, but guess I’ve heard the his popular songs too many times. As it happened there was a funeral in progress as we arrived right across from the memorial. That made it a bit akweird to photograph. But we waited a half hour or so and I managed to even get some pole shots in there too.

Point Robinson Light, Vashon (Michael Halberstadt)
Point Robinson Light, Vashon (Michael Halberstadt)

I’ll spare you the boring family vacation details as best as I can. But part of our trip was spent on Vashon Island. It was a pleasant enough, and a good reason not to do a lot of photography. I did manage to get a few shots in. Mainly of the Bicycle tree (an old bike that a tree grew around,) and the Point Robinson Light House. I also managed to score at a local thrift store on Vashon and among other lenses came home with a 500mm mirror lens for $22. I’ll be doing a little piece on that on my Lensbusters.com site.

Bicycle Tree, Vashon (Michael Halberstadt)
Bicycle Tree, Vashon (Michael Halberstadt)
Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)

Later while my two gals went to visit the Pacific Science Center I trolled around the Seattle Center neighborhood for photo ops. The Frank Gehry designed EMP museum, the Armory, Chihuly garden, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Space Needle were all in my radar. I stumbled upon an awesome playground: the Artists at Play Playground with the Gehry curved metal building in the background. The pole made for some unusual views not only of the playground, but I could peer over the hedges blocking clear views of the Chihuly garden and view over like a periscope. Also on our trip we did a walk around the Olympic Sculpture Garden. There was a giant white head (besides mine of course) looking out on the waterfront that made for a few good shots.

Echo, by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, Seattle, Washington (Michael Halberstadt)
Echo, by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa

When I dropped my girls off at the airport I got a couple productive days of shooting stock as well. I spent a day covering some landmarks in the Fremont neighborhood. I originally wanted to employ the pole to look down at the Lenin statue. But when I arrived it was half in sun, half in shade and was the target of vandalism.

Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
 (Michael Halberstadt)
Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)

In Seattle, I managed to cover some other landmarks when I wasn’t on family duty. A couple years ago my sister-in-law who’d already lived in Seattle for a decade or so showed me some of the awesome sites. I returned to a few of them like Volunteer park to photograph the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Arboratorium. And still on a plant kick, I found the Medicinal Herb Garden listed on Google Maps- now that sounded like a stock-op if I’d ever heard of one. Turns out that was on the gorgeous University of Washington Campus that also served well as a stock photo location of interest.

FREMONT SUNDAY MARKET, Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
FREMONT SUNDAY MARKET, Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Google “Silicon Canal” Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)

I managed to get a little of the Silicon Valley Stock shtick in too. Turns out that in the Fremont area there’s what’s dubbed “Silicon Canal”. Google has their “waterside” campus and there’s a heavy presence of Adobe Systems as well. It so happened that was a Sunday and I got some aerial views of the famous Fremont Sunday Market- celebrating its 20th anniversary this year I read somewhere.  I also tried to get some photos of the Amazon Headquarters- actually I did. But there’s no signs to make the photos look interesting. Maybe being anonymous was the point, Amazon was in the international news for their controversial treatment of workers at the time.

Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)

Another stock photo highlight of the trip post family was the Center for Wooden Boats and the other attractions nearby. There’s a handsome MOHAI museum building, a few historic ships on display and a Seaplane port all in the same vicinity of Lake Union. At one point I was working on doing a book on tugboats that I left dangling, but there was an important tug Arthur Foss on display as well.

Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)

What else did I forget? There was the Frye Museum, that was fun and free (with free parking to boot.) I should have also mentioned the Bolton Locks- fish ladders and all. Somehow I forgot to mention the fun and quirky Georgetown neighborhood as well. I also omitted the original Starbucks and the Bubblegum Wall near the Pike’s Market.

Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)

Unrelated to my Pacific Northwest journey I photographed a model, Taylor right before leaving. Some of those photos turned out quite well and we’ll see if they’re saleable. I also stumbled upon a Google Street View car while running errands.

Young Woman (Michael Halberstadt)
Young Woman (Michael Halberstadt)
Google Street View Car (Michael Halberstadt)
Google Street View Car (Michael Halberstadt)

If you read this far I’m amazed you’re still awake. Thanks for visiting!

 

 

 

Catching up with San Jose

Toyota Prius hits the 100,000 mile mark (Michael Halberstadt)
Toyota Prius hits the 100,000 mile mark (Michael Halberstadt)

To be honest, I’m having a hard time keeping up. When I drive around shooting stock photos, there’s the not so glamorous side you don’t see. Keeping track of mileage, bookkeeping, image editing, keywording, uploading, downloading etc.

Sometimes things fall through the cracks. This blog is fun and cathartic for me at times. But its primary goal is to get images out on the Internet to be searched and found by picture editors. Looking at my Photoshelter account I realized that a few photos I wanted to get out there recently weren’t….

Close-up of map of Silicon Valley
Close-up of map of Silicon Valley

In any case I went down to San Jose to shoot stock recently. Actually a few times in the past couple weeks. Hopefully this shtick isn’t getting to stale, but my two new techniques were put to use. Both “pole aerial photos” from what I have been referring to my “selfie stick for ugly people” and my pano machine were put to task.

McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, Silicon Valley (Michael Halberstadt)
Fanimecon 2015, McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, Silicon Valley (Michael Halberstadt)

One client I want to keep happy is Team San Jose. My contact there occasionally will give me a heads up when something interesting is going on in town. She mentioned that Fanimecon was coming to town again. Last year, I stumbled upon the event unwittingly. For those not familiar with Fanimecon, it’s some sort of gathering of people dressed up as Japanese Anime like characters. They run the full gamut from sexy Asian schoolgirl costumes to superheros I don’t recognize.

Fanimecon 2015, McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, Silicon Valley (Michael Halberstadt)
Fanimecon 2015, McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, Silicon Valley (Michael Halberstadt)

My peeps met me down at my dad’s and we had some time to do some fun things and reminisce about our growing up in San Jose. When I was growing up we used to go to the back door at the Treat Icecream factory and get “pop tops” which is what they called the factory seconds where the lid didn’t seal properly. You can still get Icecream at the same spot, though they no longer offer the factory seconds. We didn’t visit treat’s factory, but did manage to get some Treat icecream from Treat Bot, a hipper icecream truck that offers Karaoke in lieu of Greensleves.

Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant in Downtown San Jose
Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant in Downtown San Jose

Somehow this whole story is out of chronological order, but we made it to one of my other favorite young adult spots, Gordon Biersch. When I was a lad way back in the 80’s I left for Germany as an exchange student. Before I left at age 17, you would have most likely seen me drinking a Big Gulp from 7-11. But when I came back a young man of 18, I had a taste for Hefeweizen (like we used to drink on our school lunch breaks) not for sugary sodas.  For those not old enough to remember, American beer in the late 1980’s tasted like slightly bitter mineral water. But this was just as  the wave of Craft Breweries was fermenting in the US. Gordon Biersch back then had fantastic German-style beers and great food. The food is no longer very good unfortunately, but their beer is still top notch. We had a rather strange experience with the service this time too. We wanted to sit and enjoy a beer in their courtyard. But the lady at the entrance was adamant that if we wanted only drinks, we’d have to go to the bar and sit out in a peripheral corner. There would be no table service for us! Jawohl! When we went to the bar we told the bartender we just wanted to order beers and we’d be bringing them to our table outside: he looked puzzled and said, why didn’t you order out there, I’ll just bring them out to you. Then a lovely waitress came by and ever so nicely asked us if she could do anything for us. But I thought there’d be no service, the lady out front was so strict… in any case. The beer is still excellent, the seating outside is great on a sunny day, and there are some strange folks running the place I guess.

Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant in Downtown San Jose
Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant in Downtown San Jose

….and getting back on the topic of photography and being way off in chronology again, I shot some panos. Thanks to my contact at Team San Jose I was reminded of a few good places for views of San Jose and Silicon Valley from above. I stopped at a pullout and waited for good light on a rare day with clear air and puffy clouds. Again the post processing is the painful part of photography that people don’t think of. And for panos the time and effort involved increases exponentially. To get these huge final images, I take anywhere from a dozen to 50 or so photos. The stitching software is amazing. But there are problems you’d never think of. Like where does one panorama end and the next one begin. Seems like it’d be obvious- in most cases it’s always gonna start with blue sky in the upper left. But the cell to the right of that and the one after that and after that all have blue sky.

(Please note I’m struggling with the best way to display large panoramas. The links below will take you to my Onedrive – which still won’t let me display full size.)