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

Ironic Aethist

Old Saint Mary's Church of Nicasio Valley (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Old Saint Mary’s Church of Nicasio Valley (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

Not sure if it’s irony or hypocrisy- but it didn’t go unnoticed that I’ve taken a lot of photos of churches in the last few days. I am in fact a member of what I’m told is the most disliked faith group in the US- the atheists, freethinkers, non-believers or whatever label you prefer.

Tomales Presbyterian Church, Tomales, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Tomales Presbyterian Church, Tomales, CA (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

Every once in a while I hear a peep from those other groups – implying irony that I would choose their institutions to photograph. I do in fact find churches and other such institutions to be one of my favorite subjects to photograph. They are often the most beautiful or interesting parts of a built environment.

Saint Joseph's, San Jose, California (Michael Halberstadt)
Saint Joseph’s, San Jose, California (Michael Halberstadt)

That having been said, if I were to take a Christian to Pyongyang* and show them their metro station they’d be hard pressed to say that its not more beautiful than their local church. Or to some of the more modern buildings built after religion took a back seat to people- city halls, factories, train stations and the like I’m sure they’d also appreciate the beauty of secular architecture.

Just a thought!

Old Saint Mary's Church of Nicasio Valley (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)
Old Saint Mary’s Church of Nicasio Valley (M. Halberstadt / SiliconValleyStock.com)

*I consider societies like the DPRK to effectively worship their leaders in a similar way that conventional religious people worship their deities.

Looking Down on Religion & Multiculturalism

Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.

Looking Down on Religion & Multiculturalism

It’s true I am an atheist. Most folks who know me realize that I hold a rather negative view of religion in general. But don’t get your panties in a bunch yet. This is yet another intentionally provocative title desperately trying to get attention. And if you read this and you’re not my dad (hey pop!) it worked!

The looking down is referring to the use of the 15’ (4.5m) pole I used for the photos. In the interest of a unifying theme I chose to combine a few photos of temples in Silicon Valley.

The suburbs can be more interesting than folks think. Particularly in Silicon Valley. Large waves of immigrants have left a colourful mark on the otherwise beige stucco and cement that makes up most of the area between urban and rural in North America. Exhibit A is Wat Buddashorn in Fremont. It’s a Buddhist temple wedged between otherwise indistinguishable tract houses near Niles, a surprisingly interesting district in its own right. Another plus of hanging out around Buddhist temples in my experience is that people tend to be quite nice and photo friendly. A 6’2” white guy dangling a little camera 15’ over their temple didn’t prompt any reaction.

Exhibit B the Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose. San Jose is unique in having one of the few remaining Japantowns in North America. They also sport a nice garden next door. Unfortunately they store their orange cones and no parking sign in the front, so head on shots are kinda not so pretty. But it’s a handsome structure none-the-less.

Having dealt with a stock request for Japantown last month I figured I’d see what I could do with the two block commercial street too. I really love the place. I eat semi-regularly at Kazoo and grab coffee and pastries at Roy’s Station. But it’s visually not the most interesting of places. The elevated perspective did add something, but only so much. Another akweird side to the pole aerial photo shtick is catching lots of people looking at me or the camera with a  WTF look on their faces.

Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley

Pao Hua buddhist temple in San Jose

Buddhist Temple in East Side San Jose, California (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)
Buddhist Temple in East Side San Jose, California (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)

The suburbs can be more interesting than we give them credit. One of my favorite photo locations in San Jose is near where I spent much of my youth in the eastern suburbs of San Jose.

Surrounded by beige stucco houses and strip malls full of familiar chain stores is the Pao Hua buddhist temple.  Typically there are a monks around in orange robes sweeping. And unlike much of Silicon Valley, this is a photo friendly spot, they encourage photography!