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!
For decades now, I’ve been photographing Silicon Valley. In fact before it was commonly referred to by that name. Though this contact sheet is fairly boring on its surface, I thought what’s missing is interesting. Looking at the empty parking lots, I struggle to remember what is there now. In the spot where I took the photo where the St Joseph’s church is, I think is now the San Jose Museum of Art (?) The big parking lot might be where the 88 is now (?) The pawn shop is still there I think. And I forgot how bad graffiti was even back then!
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.
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!