Welcome our New Robotic Overlords

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, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO
CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO

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.

CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO
CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO

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!

CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO
CAFE X, ROBOTIC CAFÉ IN SAN FRANCISCO

(and check out this video)

The Legion of Honor

Legion of Honor, Museum in San Francisco, CA

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.

Legion of Honor, Museum in San Francisco, CA

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.

Legion of Honor, Museum in San Francisco, CA

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.

Legion of Honor, Museum in San Francisco, CA

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.

Legion of Honor, Museum in San Francisco, CA

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.

The Merits of Lake Merritt

While working on another stock photo site’s content: VeryHighDPI.com, I managed to get a few “normal” stock photographs of Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

Lake Merritt, Oakland, California

Lake Merritt, Oakland

Lake Merritt, Oakland, California

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.

Oakland, California

Lake Chalet, Oakland, CA

Oakland, California

<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.

In that search were completely useless photos given such a search. There was a little kid flipping of the camera. Another caucasian kid in the snow (I doubt in Oakland as snow here is very rare and light.) Here are some more examples that popped up on Getty’s site for the search Oakland California: kid with gingerbread, Man with Mask, the USS Hornet (not in Oakland!), Iranian woman standing in Garden (?!), a rubber ducky, a slightly blurry closeup of a seagull etc. There’s also a lovely photo of a faux castle – but it’s in Napa an hour or so away. What the hell is going on with the stock photo industry and Getty in particular?! Does nobody curate this stuff at all? Are there absolutely no standards for keywording? </rant>

 

Back to Oakland (Again!)

Downtown Oakland California (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Festival in Downtown Oakland California (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Stay tuned!

Downtown Oakland California (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Festival in Downtown Oakland California (Michael Halberstadt)
Downtown Oakland California (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Festival in Downtown Oakland California (Michael Halberstadt)

Blast from the Past: A Few Silhouttes

Punks in Love (M Halberstadt/Urbantexture.com)
Punks in Love (M Halberstadt/Urbantexture.com)

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.

Woman Silhoutte (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Woman Silhouette (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

 

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)

A few new Self Driving Car Pics

It’s that time of year again. I’m out photographing all things self-driving in Silicon Valley.

Check out the new photos in my Stock Photo library (link to gallery below:

Yet More Models

Portrait (Michael Halberstadt)
Portrait (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Stock photo of a young man (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock photo of a young man (Michael Halberstadt)

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”.

Portrait (Michael Halberstadt)
Portrait (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Portrait (Michael Halberstadt)
Portrait (Michael Halberstadt)

Walmart eCommerce HQ

Walmart eCommerce HQ  (Michael Halberstadt)
Walmart eCommerce HQ (Michael Halberstadt)

On my way back from some other business I opted to take a detour through San Bruno. Searching for the address of YouTube, I stumbled upon a Business Insider article that Walmart’s eCommerce HQ was next door. Two birds HQs, one stone parking spot.

 (Michael Halberstadt)
Walmart eCommerce HQ (Michael Halberstadt)

Once again, not the most interesting subject. But I got the usual logo closeups and the like that tend to sell. Another box checked off, yay!

Walmart eCommerce HQ  (Michael Halberstadt)
Walmart eCommerce HQ (Michael Halberstadt)