A Short Trip to Los Angeles

A friend of mine was moving from Culver City up to Portland. He’s a well known photographer, best known for his night photography and I was lucky enough to be there when he was cleaning house. I scored a car full of misc. camera crap and some nice meals with him and his wife.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

Unfortunately this wasn’t really a trip for photography and I only got out to shoot a couple times. 

Stalin, Freund, Genosse - Bust of Stalin at the Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Stalin, Freund, Genosse – Bust of Stalin at the Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

Right around the corner from my friends place is the new location of the Wende Museum. It’s a museum about the cold war, a special interest of mine. Wende is German for turn about or so…. My interest was as a young man having visited divided Berlin first in 1987. I ended up with a serious interest (and unusual sympathy, especially as an American) for the former German Democratic Republic*. In German one might say I suffer from “Ostalgie”**.

Hammer and Cicle, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Hammer and Cicle, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

The new museum was kind of short on GDR paraphanalia for my interest. But they had walls of old Soviet books that you could thumb through, busts of Stalin, and a lovely orange Wartburg (the other non-Trabant GDR car.)

Orange Wartburg Car, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Orange Wartburg Car, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

The other subject I did have a chance to photograph that’s also a favorite of mine is cemeteries. I took my pole to Hollywood Forever cemetery for a few unusual angles in addition to shooting from eye level.

Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Film Set at the Hollywood Cemetery
Film Set at the Hollywood Cemetery

I have no idea what was being filmed- but there was a film crew repeating a scene with an old Rolls Royce hearse, a beautiful young actress with roses, and a handsome man. There was a sign on the mosoleum reading the 74th Valentino Memorial- and with further research I found that when I was there it was the 92 anniversary of Valentino’s death. So I guess they were doing some sort of historical reinactment? In any case it was fun to watch despite the heat.

Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Tourists on a bridge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I also visited a childhood friend and his family at Echo Park. Not that I have any photos to show for it yet, but I got a box full of old camera stuff. Some of it was mine that I loaned him a decade or two ago. But they also gave me a cherry Nikon F2 that I look forward to both photographing with and photographing (it’s that pretty!)

To quote Randy Newman: “I Love L.A.”

————-

* German Democratic Republic (shortened to GDR in English, or in German DDR or Deutsche Demokratische Republik- but known to most English speaking people as “East Germany”)

** Ostalgie is two German words mashed together: Ost (East) and Nostalgie (Nostalgia)

 

St Peter’s Chapel on Mare Island in Vallejo

St Peter’s Chapel Mare Island – Vallejo

For family reasons I found myself in Vallejo for a couple days. I wanted to do some photography on Mare Island, an area I spent a lot of time when living in Vallejo a decade ago. 

St Peter’s Chapel Mare Island – Vallejo

While taking a few stock photos of St Peter’s chapel a classic car came up and parked right out front. Looking at the photos it looks like a Buick 8 coupe from the 1940’s in spectacular shape. The owner must be quite a character, he came out in military dress clothes and walked a tiny dog. 

St Peter’s Chapel Mare Island – Vallejo

Stairway To Carmel-by-the-Sea

(with apologies to Led Zepplin)

After a quick detour for coffee and pastry at the Lafayette Bakery at the Barnyard, I headed off to the sea.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

This is another one of those, I know one of my clients is looking for something specific. In this case I saw Carmel on a list and figured it’s time to head back and shoot some stock.

My first stop was Carmel Meadows- a walking path along the sea. My parking spot deadended looking down a steepish stairway to the water below.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Though beautiful, it was a bit barron for what I was looking for. As I walked around, I only encountered one woman walking a dog.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

From there I went into the quaint little town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. There had been some nibbles on a few photos I’d taken previously of the Cypress Inn, so I thought I’d add a few more to the library.

I did a loop around the touristy main drag. One of the more photogenic places is the La Bicyclette- with a prop oldschool bike and French flags.

There’s that hobbit-esque candy shop that somehow I can never resist photographing as well.

From previous trips I have the other main touristy spot, the Mission pretty well covered, so no stops this time (but I’ll post an old pic here none-the-less.)

Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

(As far as I know, nobody reads this, so let me end this blog. So I’m gonna close with a fun closer, albeit in another language…)

To quote the Rosarote Panther: Heut’ ist nicht alle Tage, ich komm’ wieder keine Frage!

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

On a Mission

Once again I’m on a mission. On a mission to add photos of the Central Coast to my picture library that is. Wasn’t that punny?

Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

And here are a select few of the Mission Carmel in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Mission Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

 

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>

 

Cornerstone Sonoma

We were on a recon mission for VeryHighDPI.com looking for sweeping Wine Country scenes for Gigapixel photos we’re making. But first there was a pit stop at Cornerstone in Sonoma.

Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Sunset Test Garden, Cornerstone, Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)

Cornerstone is one of those cutesy Whine Country places. There’s a bunch of shops and restaurants and some beautifully manicured landscape architecture. There are also a number of interesting sculptures and the like.

Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Sunset Test Garden, Cornerstone, Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)

More recently, Sunset Magazine moved their test kitchen and Garden to Cornerstone. They used to be headquartered in Menlo Park, but I’m assuming the dot-con craziness got to them. Or at least it’s hard to justify sticking around in a building that’s worth $50 million when you could more easily work out of a $2 million office two hours away.

Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Sunset Test Garden, Cornerstone, Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)

In writing this I remembered that my grandfather had a recipe for salad dressing in one of the Sunset cookbooks or magazines or something back in the 1950’s. So I thought it would be fun if I could find it via Google Books. No luck regarding the recipe, but a couple of hits came up for photo credits. Unfortunately they are in snippet view, so I have no idea what the photos were.

Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Stock Photo: Sunset Test Garden, Cornerstone, Sonoma, California (Michael Halberstadt)

The next stop was Point Reyes and I’ll add another entry for that part of the trip as soon as I can!

 

Oakland: A Few Stock Photos of Tribune Tower

Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

Oakland has been on my radar for a while. The Dot-Com craziness has finally found its way east. Recently news outlets have been going gaga over the previously overlooked Bay Area city, the New York Times even dubbed it Brooklyn by the Bay.

Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

As I recall, Gertrude Stein famously said about Oakland: There is no there there. In researching my present subject, the Tribune Tower in the center of Oakland, I read that they actually put a “There” sign on the tower to make light of Stein’s comments.

In any case, I’d wanted to photograph the tower with some dramatic angles and clouds for a while. In photographing in much of Oakland I find myself somewhat torn between the beauty that is Oakland’s urban core and the chaos and lawlessness it’s known for. Tribune Tower has also been in the news alot lately, I think there’s some sort of bankruptcy issues with the (former) owner.

Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

I had a reasonably good experience in that regard during this shoot. My perch was the spot on Broadway right next to the 12th Street Bart entrance. With my Sony A7r on a tripod I got a few looks: some friendly, some suspicious. I got a few really dumb comments like the usual, “What, are you some kind of terrorist or something?” “Yes”, I replied, “I’m going to blow up that building with this magical camera” hoping in vein the idiot who made the comment might notice how dumb his question was.

I did see my fair share of bad behavior while doing my thing. There was a group of about a dozen people across the street congregating in front of the Burger King for nearly the entire time talking very loudly- occasionally shouting to other people (in a friendly manner) across various street corners. The kid in the bunch was bouncing his basket ball off the transom windows of the historic building.

Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

In that entire couple hours I think I saw one police cruiser despite the fact that the main police HQ is a very short distance down Broadway, the street I was on. At one point there was a guy on a dirt bike, with no license plate. He started doing wheelies in the center of the intersection, then went off the wrong way on a one way street, only to reappear on the sidewalk. Even after dark, he was riding around in violation of most of the vehicle code and with no lights in front or back (not just not on, but there was no light on the bike, period.)

Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Tribune Tower, Oakland, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

But despite all the complete lack of first world order, I managed to photograph without being hurt or seriously threatened. And I got a few good shots too.

Many of the photos I did employed one of my fun tricks: long daylight exposures. The trick is that I put a really dark grey filter in front of the lens, allowing exposures up to about 30 seconds during the daytime. The end result is that stationary objects, like in this case the Tribune Building tower remain stationary (of course) but the clouds move and leave streaky patterns. This is hit or miss- you knever know for sure what’s going to happen in the next half minute or so.

Another thing I’ve been trying to do is frame for book covers. I thought of this as a potential book cover project. For a complete book jacket, the subject has to be on the far right and have room on the left for a spine and the back. Seems at some point somebody’s going to be writing another book on Oakland and need a cover.

But you be the judge. I think some of these came out quite well. What do you think?