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?! Hotels.com 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)

 

Faux Chateau & The Cats

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

Probably not fair to call Villa Montalvo a Faux Chateau, it really is a beautiful place. This formerly second home to three term San Francisco mayor  James Duval Phelan was transformed into a public park and center for the arts. I’ve been here a few times in the past- but I was intimidated by the “NO COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY” sign displayed very prominently in front of the building. Of course this isn’t “commercial” photography. But it’s been my experience that the way such rules are enforced are by somebody who knows nothing about photography looking at how big a camera I have. It’s one reason I sometimes still prefer to use my little Sony NEX cameras which have “professional” image quality and are tiny enough to fit in a pocket. I don’t think I’d get far trying to explain the difference between editorial and commercial with most folks.

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

In any case the grounds are beautiful. It so happened that they were hosting a private breakfast for Netapp, so I took a quick walk around a very short trail and explored behind the mansion for a while. The wisteria was in full bloom and the weather really cooperated undulating between lightly cloudy and sunny.

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

Some fellow and I came upon the gate surrounding, what later research is being referred to as the “Love Temple” and gardens. It wasn’t clear to either of us why there was a gate, I let him go in first and test the waters.  When no alarm sounded or crazed employees chased him, I followed suit. As I guess what now is obvious, I’ve really been harassed by security enough to be very self conscious!

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Creepy Statues at the “Love Temple”, Villa Montalvo, Saratoga California (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

The garden does a good job at what I assume was its intention: mimicking those of wealthy Italian estates. The fountain in the “Love Temple” was off, as we are in a serious drought condition right now. But I’d have to say it displayed some of the creepiest statues I’d seen in some time. Behind the temple was a small cactus garden and some sort of woodcutting exhibit in progress.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
La Cañada Building at night, Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

From Villa Montalva in Saratoga I meandered to Los Gatos. Strange for a town named after them, I don’t recall having seen any real cats. There were a couple architectural ornaments if you look really closely at the Deco facade of the Los Gatos Theater but that’s all I saw.

Los Gatos has been on my stock photo radar for a while.  The theater came up as a request on one of the stock photo sites: Image Brief or Photographers Direct I think not too long ago. It’s also one of those very affluent areas that needs illustration in various publications regularly. It’s even more affluent than I remember, they even have a Bently dealer in town.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Apparent scene of an early wheel theft ring, outside the former Forbes Mill Museum, Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

My primary goal was to get a few good shots of the theater and the Old Town sign. I waited a long time for the light to get where I wanted it. While I waited in addition to having coffee and cake at a local coffee shop, I did a little walking around town. I went looking for the Forbes Mill Museum. I was thrown off by the fact that the sign led me down a private road and part of a condo association. But walking down the hill and around the corner a handsome stone historic building appeared. But it was closed permanently.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Lone Jogger on a bridge along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

The shuttered museum did lead to another POI: an overpass that promised to connect to the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Why not, I had time to kill. So I wandered looking for a some good views. I try to get people in the photos without looking too creepy. That can be a balancing act, I don’t want closeups of people but more like the lone jogger above to give a sense of scale and not make the place look too abandoned.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Los Gatos Theater, Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)

Eventually the theater got where I wanted it. You know where interior building lights and neon were about as bright as the sky above it- “golden hour” ish.

Los Gatos, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Los Gatos Old Town Sign (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

The Old Town sign wasn’t as cooperative. It’s rusted brown, with tall trees behind it. I was counting on the “christmas lights” separating the sign from the background, but I didn’t notice that they only covered the decorative metal above the letters. Oh well.

With a few more destinations check off the list, I feel like I’m making progress.