I posted this on my “Streets of Silicon Valley” blog, but forgot to put here. I usually write a separate post for each blog, but this time I’m going to be lazy and just paste here:
Finally! I’d been hoping to track down the Apple self driving car project for a while now. I staked out one facility where I believe Apple is doing their research into self driving cars. There was some strange activity, notably every couple minutes a new white Lexus SUV would arrive. Some had plates, some didn’t. I suspected they were being prepped for autonomous conversion, but saw no Lidar.
And low-and-behold I came across one of those Lexus SUV’s rigged up with Lidar driving into an Apple property!
As always, a big thanks to Mario Herger, and the friendly folks at Reddit’s Self Driving Car stub for all their support! All images and text are (c) Michael Halberstadt and be sure to ask if you wish to use.
You can find more of my self driving car photos here: LINK
A robot just made my espresso! A quick stock photo excursion brought me to the newish Robo-cafe in San Francisco’s Metreon.
Cafe X is clearly intended as a prototype or a publicity stunt. There’s actually a human watching over the entire operation. And there’s no way I can see that they’re even able to cover rent at San Francisco’s Metreon selling a couple hundred espresso drinks at ca. $3/ea.
But it was fun watching the “Barista” nick-named Gordon at work making my espresso and cappuccino. Best of all he doesn’t accept tips!
After purchasing a lens, I found myself in San Francisco wondering what to do before going home. I pulled up my Google My Maps – and I have a map of stock photo related stuff to photograph in SF.
Not too far away was The Legion of Honor. I have fond memories of the place. My soon-to-be girlfriend and later wife Bridget and I flirted there on a field trip. My step dad and mom took us kids there for a visit to the museum and we picnicked out front.
This time I intended to make this a short trip. Traffic in the Bay Area is insane now, and I try to avoid driving over the Bay Bridge after 3pm or before 7pm. Fortunately I have reciprocal membership from the San Jose Museum of Art, allowing me to rush in-and-out of museums without trying to squeeze the last $15 out of the entry fee.
In any case I got a few good shots inside and out I think. But hope to return soon and spend a bit more time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These are some recent photos, but I was perusing my Lake Merritt gallery and found a few more I’m pretty happy with. I plug a few of those below too.
<rant> On a related note, I’m gonna get on my stock photo soapbox and trash a competitor. I was researching locations, keywords and such and stumbled upon Getty Images. They are the 800 pound gorilla of the stock photo market.
I did a search for Oakland California and was shocked at what I found. For one, there was some professional looking content. But many of the photos looked way over processed, HDR’d and generally of the “b” grade material found on Flickr.
Surprise number two was how shallow their selection was. The search was for Oakland California – a very picturesque and newsworthy city half the size of and right across the bay from San Francisco. The New York Times was calling it Brooklyn West or something as I recall- I’m assuming because of the increase in hipsters. Their “creative” content only had about 3,500 hits, and including news just shy of 7,000.
Before working a gig I had a little while to get some stock photo shooting in. I don’t even remember the name of the event, it was a pre-party for a half marathon taking place the next day. In any case I had a few minutes to get some of those slightly aerial views I like doing so much. Not quite drone or quadcopter height, just a little higher than the human eye.
Just a medium turnout in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, right in front of City Hall. In some of the shots you can see the Tribune Tower or the City Hall from the other.
Since Oakland appears to be finally sick with Dot-com fever, I’ve got the sense there’s going to be more need for stock photos.
Here’s another project I hope to bring back to life. Almost a decade ago I managed to get some people from Craigslist to stand in front of my camera. I had this idea, using the 1000mm lens my dad gave me (a Sigma 1000mm f8 APO vintage 1990’s) to photograph people around sunset to make silhouettes.
I put out a call for people that looked interesting in profile. For example, mohawks, big afros, shapely people etc. I got a really pretty woman and her daughter, and a couple of punks the guy had an awesome mohawk.
Technically I found this more challenging than I expected. The use of the 1000mm lens is very tricky. It’s about a meter long (as implied by its focal length.) That’s not including the lens hood. And I was using this Nikon mount lens on a Canon camera with manual focus. But manual focus wasn’t much of an obstacle. It was trying to point this lens where I wanted it- and to avoid showing anything behind the models. Also, being maybe 30 meters away made communicating with the models tricky. That and the fact that the waterfront path lied between me and my camera and the subject- so I had to pause as cyclists and pedestrians walked through the scene.
That having been said, I’m very happy with the results. The punks looked great from profile. The young woman had a really nice figure and the guy’s mohawk was as the best I could imagine. And you can tell they were genuinely in love.
The other set of models were very different. A lovely young mother brought her daughter along. She told me her daughter had a great day- I wish I asked them to come back for another couple shoots. I particularly liked the shots of her with camera in hand.
I post this now as a reminder to repeat this idea. I’ve got some better gear for the task. I’ve got some other silhouette ideas. It’s time to open up this project again!
(note the Mohawk couple is not model released for whatever that’s worth)
Yet another day of stock portrait shoots to report. I had a busy day of three different models: Yami, Martin and Josh. It occurred to me that I hadn’t mentioned another model I worked with too…Tre.
The stock photography model shooting has been pretty intense. I’m not used to working with people like this. And I’ve never met anybody prior to our shoots so it’s kind of like getting to know somebody and only having an hour or two to get a sense of their “look”.
In the end I feel like I’m learning something. This hasn’t been a particularly lucrative endeavor, at least yet. But while learning to work with models I hope to improve my skills and find what stock photography does sell.