New Unique Stock Photo Galleries added to the Library

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:

San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo of Slightly Elevated view of Cable Car turnabout – San Francisco, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

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.)

Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Slightly Elevated view of the Original Starbucks, Seattle (Michael Halberstadt)
Extremely High Resolution Stock Photograph Landscape with Lone Oak Tree (printable at ca. 20' x 10' @ 100 ppi un-upresed) (Michael Halberstadt)
Extremely High Resolution Stock Photograph Landscape with Lone Oak Tree (printable at ca. 20′ x 10′ @ 100 ppi un-upresed) (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

 (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Silicon Valley Skyline (prints about 5’x11′ @100ppi uninterpolated) (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Oakland (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo of the 9th Ave. Terminal (Brooklyn Basin) Oakland (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Bay Bridge Stock Photo (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)
You Can’t Take this Photo anymore (taken from the demolished old section)Bay Bridge Stock Photo (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)

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.

 (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)
Bank of America (former Bank of Italy) Landmark Historic Building in downtown San Jose (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)
Embarcadero BART Station (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Embarcadero BART Station (Michael Halberstadt)

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.

Wish me luck!

Wardrobe Malfunction Caught on Camera in Sacramento

See inset for area of resolution sample
See inset for area of resolution sample (this file is not at final size but downresed to display on your computer)
Resolution sample comparison
Resolution sample comparison: 

Quick, somebody call the FCC! Much like Janet Jackson, there is in fact a bare breast exposed on this photograph of the California State Capitol. The woman is over 140 years old.

You’d be forgiven for not having noticed it. With the naked eye or an ordinary camera it’s barely visible. Hopefully you’ll forgive me for my theatrical blog post as well. But it gives me a chance to show the differences between the detail in an ordinary photograph and what’s possible with a super high resolution stock photo like the examples here.

Exhibit A: the whole field of view highlighting the inset shown in Exhibit B. This photo would print natively (without upresing in Photoshop) at ca. 250” x 165” @ 100ppi (or ca. 20 x 14 feet!)

Exhibit B: The image on the left is what a print would look like at 100 ppi at size. The middle image is a simulation of the resolution of a 80 megapixel image (like that from the medium format Hasselblad back that costs over $30,000). The image on the right simulates the resolution of a 36 megapixel image like that of the Sony A7r, or the Nikon D800 family of cameras.


Blowing off Steam in Sacramento


Granite Rock no. 10 Steam Engine Travels near the Waterfront in Sacramento (Michael Halberstadt)
Granite Rock no. 10 Steam Engine Travels near the Waterfront in Sacramento (Michael Halberstadt)

An email came out of the blue, a photo request from a previous client. They were looking for a specific train at the State Railway Museum in Sacramento. I wasn’t by my computer at the time and knew I had a few photos of trains in Oldtown Sacramento where the museum offers excursions on historic trains along the Sacramento River. I sent her a note that I’d have a look.

Granite Rock no. 10 Steam Engine passing through Old Sacramento State Historic Park (Michael Halberstadt)
Granite Rock no. 10 Steam Engine passing through Old Sacramento State Historic Park  with the Iconic Tower Bridge in the Background (Michael Halberstadt)

Further research that the train in question, the Granite Rock Number 10 just arrived at the Museum. What to do? How about a weekend in Sacramento?! screwed up our hotel royally in Athens last summer and gave us a voucher for $100 that was soon to expire. So I booked room at the Rodeway Inn in West Sacramento within easy walking distance of the Museum and the train’s likely path.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacramento, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacramento, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

That Friday I got started. After checking at the hotel I went over to the museum to ask about where to find the train. The young man told me I was in luck if I was here over the weekend, since the Granite Rock Number 10 Steam Engine would be escorting rail fans on a short trip along the Sacramento Riverfront.

Sacramento, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Gigapixel stitched Panorama of the State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA prints at ca. 36×12 feet at 100ppi  (Michael Halberstadt)

Great- so I went on to shoot some more stock. I’ve been honing my stitched panorama skills. The State Capitol building would make a great subject. After all, shooting panos requires a few things besides my $1000 pano machine, arguably skill but also patience, lots of time and memory cards. Whenever anybody sees my setup they assume (incorrectly) that I know what I’m doing. So it was particularly fun to see a pair of nuns ask me to take their picture with an iPhone. The younger nun was so pleased with her photo she prompted me for a “high five.” Despite my strongly held view of atheism, neither she nor I were struck by lightning nor caught fire 😉

Tower Bridge in Sacramento, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Tower Bridge in Sacramento, California (Michael Halberstadt)

I walked around Sacramento’s downtown. Aside from the heat, seems like it would be a nice place to live. Over the course of my stay I got quite a few useable panos, stock photos of Sacramento and hopefully my client will be impressed with my image library’s newly added train photos.

Sacramento, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Crest Theater, Sacramento, CA (Michael Halberstadt)


One Tree Hill

(play this in the background if you like)

Extremely High Resolution Stock Photograph Landscape with Lone Oak Tree (ca. 20' x 12' @ 100 un-upresed) (Michael Halberstadt)
Extremely High Resolution Stock Photograph Landscape with Lone Oak Tree (ca. 20′ x 12′ @ 100 un-upresed) (Michael Halberstadt)

Past the Mc Mansions, the few remaining horse and cattle pastures, way up in the Eastern Foothills above the City of San Jose and Silicon Valley is an Open Space Preserve.  The Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve affords fantastic views in two directions.

Looking down to Silicon Valley there’s a panoramic view only obstructed by what for a brief moment in this drought are emerald green hills. Look the other direction and you’ll see some what much of California looks like, or at least looked like before urban sprawl- rolling hills dotted with oaks.

I’ve been up here a few times, and have really fallen in love with the place. And as it happens it’s the perfect location for making extra-large stitched panoramas. For example, one of the images in the group is stitched from 48x21 megapixel photos. Opened up in Photoshop as 8bit that’s about 5 gigabytes of data. Of course much of that is honed down – overlap is required to successfully stitch all those images together.

Making these photos requires a few things. Patience, time, a subject that doesn’t move and lots of memory on my cards.  Fortunately I had all four of those. The end result are images that could be enlarged to extremes. One file would print interpolated (not upresed) to 36’ x 8’ (ca. 10 x 2.5 meters) @100 ppi.

Now all I have to do is find a client that needs to make a really really big print.



Coming Soon: Really Big Files


 (Michael Halberstadt)
(Screen Capture showing resolution-Michael Halberstadt)

Some time ago, I purchased a software/hardware integrated device that is capable of creating huge images. It can be tricky to use, and is always cumbersome and takes a fair amount of time. However it’s possible to make very large files.

People typically talk about billboards when discussing really large files. But I think billboards actually don’t need such high resolution since they are typically viewed from a distance. These images would be suitable for covering walls in stores or offices and the like. Situations where viewers could see the whole image from a great distance, yet walk right up and see a nice clear picture.

Some photographers simply up interpolate a smaller image, meaning they just add pixels- and that won’t help much in an extreme enlargement. For a huge print to look good close up, the minimum native resolution should be 100, maybe even 72 ppi. That’s about the same as your typical computer monitor. That wouldn’t be appropriate for “fine art” type prints, but would be more than acceptable for a ca. 8×20′ (2.5×6 meter) wall.

Creating such large photos and prepping them takes a lot of time, but I’m gradually adding them here.  At present the finals I’ve created are layered tif files, and through a quirk with Photoshelter they display strangely. I’ll have to sort that out, but there’s also a screen capture with the resolution open in Photoshop.