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.
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!
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.
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.)
It was really toasty, standing in the sunny weather atop the bridge.
After cooling down, I headed downtown and shot the VTA light rail too.
Years, make that decades ago while shopping at Streetlight Records in San Jose, I recall a punk album spoofing the “San Jose is Growing Up” theme title “San Jose is Throwing UP.” That reminded me of the original slogan- which rings more true than then. San Jose is finally getting some real big developments downtown.
This became especially evident as I was walking around Saint James Park in Downtown San Jose. A giant crane (apparently operated by the company Bigge based on the signage) was setting up a huge crane.
I saw an opportunity to get some nice silhouettes of the base of the crane being assembled. First I whipped out my 100mm lens, the longest lens I had in my bag. It so happened that I had my newish Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm in the car so I headed to go grab it.
On my return I noticed a unique juxtaposition with the steel base of the frame of the crane assembly and the iconic Bank of Italy (or as the kids now call it Bank of America) building. Depending on the framing, it looked as though the crane was dwarfing the tower of the BOA building, but that’s only an illusion based on my location.
I did a little research, but am not sure what’s being built on the spot. But it looks like it’s gonna be tall whatever it is!
My dad Hans Halberstadt was kind enough to loan me his fancy scanner. And I’ve been going through some old negatives. I found a whole roll of 120 of the old Lou’s Donuts original location at 772 East Santa Clara (across from the old hospital building) soon after it shuttered.
Growing up in downtown San Jose in the 1970’s and 1980’s Lou’s Donuts was a staple.
As I recall they moved to make way for the Walgreen’s that now fills that space. Briefly there was a Lou’s Donut “Museum” as I recall, presumably at the location noted on the window (1261 East Santa Clara.)
(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.
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.
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.
So since the last posting what have I been up to….? A lot of new aerial pole stock photos for one. That includes some old territory reshot under different conditions like Ainsley House, Heritage offices and the Vintage Theater in Campbell. I spent a little time dangling my pole in San Jose including at the Japanese Friendship Gardens and History San Jose.
I even went to Overfelt park next to my old High School (Independence in East San Jose) which was an interesting experience. It was crazy hot- and there were people apparently living in their cars in the park’s parking lot. I walked around the main pond which was completely empty, the mud had dried into that pattern you see in photos of the desert. Unfortunately for aesthetic reasons, that meant lots of dry grass. Overfelt has some Chinese monuments and one of the main ones was cordoned off in a particularly unattractive way. And the pond that surrounded the statue of Confucius was completely empty- so I just walked right into the middle and got a few pics.
I also spent a warm Sunday afternoon at Jack London Square in Oakland getting some aerial views for stock photographs. The place was teeming with people seeking respite from the heat near the water at various watering holes. Some time ago I licensed a few photos of Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon and figured with all the people out, it was time to update the library.
Previously I’ve also licensed a bunch of photos of Pixar and their gate in Emeryville. I figured it was time to update with elevated views for my stock photo library (in writing this I’m reminded that I have yet to upload those photos to PhotoShelter.)
Same goes for the Sather Gate in Berkeley. I got really lucky and droves of students walked right underneath. On issue with the pole aerial stick shtick is that I often get lots of shots of curious or puzzled people looking up at the camera. But in this case these college kids wandered right by me without a second glance. My courage has been improving, and despite my general shyness photographing- the pole thing really seems to disarm people. In photographing the Sather Gate, there was even a motorcycle cop sitting right next to me. I’m so used to being harassed by security guards and occasionally police – this is quite the change.
While in Berkeley I also stopped leaving family in the car to add a few exterior shots of Chez Panisse restaurant.
Another subject I’ve been trying to add to my stock photo library is model released people. It’s been slow going, trying to find models, figure out if they’d work well, then see if it’s possible to schedule them at a time that works for me too. In any case I got one such shoot done last month- a guy and his son. That seemed to work out reasonably well aside from a typo in an email I sent them that should have read “no big logos” but read “big logos”. None-the-less I was happy with some of the shots. The light was nice in downtown San Jose and I think some of the technology in use with father and child are saleable. We’ll see.
There are some family issues I have to take care of in Monterey and try and use that as an excuse to photograph there or along the way as well. In this case I added a few snaps of the Wharf Marketplace, one of my favorite stops in the area for coffee or beer depending on what time of day. They are located in a renovated old train stop and have a vintage delivery truck and tractor on display. I also moseyed over to the historical area for a few more shots.
Another place I thought would be fun to put the pole in action was in San Francisco. On returning from Monterey, I stopped at Golden Gate Park. The weather there in the mornings and afternoons is often magical- when the clouds are coming or going and the Conservatory of Flowers is under soft warm light and the sky behind undulated between blue and cloudy. The dahlia garden was nearly at peak bloom as well.
Though the Japanese Tea Garden had closed, I could still see over the gate from 15’ above 😉
After Golden Gate Park I headed to the Presidio to tick off another tick box on my stock photo list. There’s a food truck event called Off the Grid that moves around the bay area. Food trucks have been good sellers in the past. And this venue seemed especially promising aesthetically.
This whole entry’s chronology is discombobulated, and I forgot to add yet another stop last month. San Pedro Square and its market have been good stock photo sales in the past. I just renewed a license including a photo from there. So it seemed like time to freshen up that part of the library.
Another project I’ve been working on that doesn’t fit here chronologically or categorically is computer still lifes. A buddy and I share a studio space in town, but mostly it’s used to do image editing and store gear, not a lot of shooting. But I finally got around to using an old mannequin hand and a laptop. I was impressed to see it had been “zoomed” a stock photo site I contribute to just a day or so after uploading.
I guess the big news as far as stock photo sales last month was a photo that is being used for the cover of the book This Gulf of Fire. For one, it’s an image I made for fun. Many of the photos you see here that are solely intended for use as stock photos to help somebody else tell their story. Also book cover has some prestige to it as well as paying well. And like so many other photographers, I dream of traveling. And though this photo was taken on a family vacation in Lisbon, Portugal– perhaps I can justify a few photo trips abroad now …. Or at least that’s what I’m dreaming about. Lastly the photo was made using a technique I enjoy playing with, long daylight exposures. With a dark enough filter, it’s possible to make an exposure for many seconds in broad daylight. Though in this case, it was already getting dark- the neutral density filter allowed for the clouds to smear yet the arch remained sharp.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
….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.)