After doing some homework, I found GM’s Cruise Automation garage in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. Two decades ago I worked not too far from the garage at Faulkner Color Lab. I think Faulkner collapsed in the first wave of the Dot Com hysteria of the late 1990’s and was leased to a pet food website.
In fact it was in this very neighborhood that I first experienced the graphical internet in the mid 1990’s at Icon Byte Bar and Grill. Prior to seeing the new W3 (World Wide Web) on Icon’s projection screen I got email on a command line browser over the phone line with a modem and a program called Pine, downloaded files with Gopher and Telnet. That was a long time ago!
Now SOMA is again at the forefront of technology. Here you can see GM’s Cruise Automation Bolts driving by. As is typical with these garages, they make a point of laying low. At least as best they can when trying to test out a billion dollar car research project in the middle of San Francisco! The garage still has the name of the previous company over the entrance.
As a photographer, I know I’m doing something good when the corporate lawyer walks across the street to talk to you 😉 A gentleman (after later researching I believe to be Matt Gipple,) asked if I minded letting him know what I was photographing. This happens a lot to me, and I really find it strange…. like you are in public, driving a car that is in dozens of news stories every day for a multi-billion dollar company working on a billion dollar project….. why wouldn’t you expect people photographing you???
In any case, here are the photos. I’ll be back to try and get some variety of locations and include the actual garage and any other relevant photos next time.
A robot just made my espresso! A quick stock photo excursion brought me to the newish Robo-cafe in San Francisco’s Metreon.
Cafe X is clearly intended as a prototype or a publicity stunt. There’s actually a human watching over the entire operation. And there’s no way I can see that they’re even able to cover rent at San Francisco’s Metreon selling a couple hundred espresso drinks at ca. $3/ea.
But it was fun watching the “Barista” nick-named Gordon at work making my espresso and cappuccino. Best of all he doesn’t accept tips!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’d been meaning to get out and do something productive. This time I opted to head over to San Francisco. It was an overcast Sunday morning and I figured at least there’d be plenty of free parking. And in fact I found a decent spot right around from Google’s SF HQ (and Firefox that I actually photographed.)
From the Embarcadero I headed toward the San Francisco Ferry Building. I think that’s still a popular spot and thought a few aerial shots were in order. I got a few verticals in – even managing to get a bunch of patrons at the Market Bar to comment on my rig.
From there I headed for a straight on view. I got a few good shots in – I think at least. But I noticed something odd. Off to my left I saw a few people in military garb and Soviet flags flying. At first I thought it was some hipster kids who think Communism is cool, yet know nothing about the subject at all. Boy was I wrong. On arriving I heard one of my favorite old pinko tunes: Katjuscha (I know the DDR version.) In addition to the Soviet red flag with hammer and sickle, there were modern red, white and blue Russian flags and a our very own stars and stripes in the mix as well. I asked one of the ladies what the occasion was. Turns out they were celebrating Victory in Europe day (a day early- not sure if it was because they could have the day off or that’s how Russia celebrates their victory.) It was cool none-the-less.
The next aerial views I decided to try were the City Hall area. There was a movie being filmed there- adding lots of clutter and parking issues. But I did my best to hid that. There was also the Asian Art Museum and Library behind me that seemed stock photo worthy. And it turned out to be Farmer’s Market day at the United Nations Plaza. I got what I could.
For some reason I thought it was closer than it was, but I also thought the turn around for the cable cars area would be a good “from above” spot. And it was. I think these will sell- it’s a very common stock photo subject, but the aerial view is different enough I think to make my shots unique.
(this last photo is a link to my San Francisco gallery)
So since the last posting what have I been up to….? A lot of new aerial pole stock photos for one. That includes some old territory reshot under different conditions like Ainsley House, Heritage offices and the Vintage Theater in Campbell. I spent a little time dangling my pole in San Jose including at the Japanese Friendship Gardens and History San Jose.
I even went to Overfelt park next to my old High School (Independence in East San Jose) which was an interesting experience. It was crazy hot- and there were people apparently living in their cars in the park’s parking lot. I walked around the main pond which was completely empty, the mud had dried into that pattern you see in photos of the desert. Unfortunately for aesthetic reasons, that meant lots of dry grass. Overfelt has some Chinese monuments and one of the main ones was cordoned off in a particularly unattractive way. And the pond that surrounded the statue of Confucius was completely empty- so I just walked right into the middle and got a few pics.
I also spent a warm Sunday afternoon at Jack London Square in Oakland getting some aerial views for stock photographs. The place was teeming with people seeking respite from the heat near the water at various watering holes. Some time ago I licensed a few photos of Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon and figured with all the people out, it was time to update the library.
Same goes for the Sather Gate in Berkeley. I got really lucky and droves of students walked right underneath. On issue with the pole aerial stick shtick is that I often get lots of shots of curious or puzzled people looking up at the camera. But in this case these college kids wandered right by me without a second glance. My courage has been improving, and despite my general shyness photographing- the pole thing really seems to disarm people. In photographing the Sather Gate, there was even a motorcycle cop sitting right next to me. I’m so used to being harassed by security guards and occasionally police – this is quite the change.
While in Berkeley I also stopped leaving family in the car to add a few exterior shots of Chez Panisse restaurant.
Another subject I’ve been trying to add to my stock photo library is model released people. It’s been slow going, trying to find models, figure out if they’d work well, then see if it’s possible to schedule them at a time that works for me too. In any case I got one such shoot done last month- a guy and his son. That seemed to work out reasonably well aside from a typo in an email I sent them that should have read “no big logos” but read “big logos”. None-the-less I was happy with some of the shots. The light was nice in downtown San Jose and I think some of the technology in use with father and child are saleable. We’ll see.
There are some family issues I have to take care of in Monterey and try and use that as an excuse to photograph there or along the way as well. In this case I added a few snaps of the Wharf Marketplace, one of my favorite stops in the area for coffee or beer depending on what time of day. They are located in a renovated old train stop and have a vintage delivery truck and tractor on display. I also moseyed over to the historical area for a few more shots.
Another place I thought would be fun to put the pole in action was in San Francisco. On returning from Monterey, I stopped at Golden Gate Park. The weather there in the mornings and afternoons is often magical- when the clouds are coming or going and the Conservatory of Flowers is under soft warm light and the sky behind undulated between blue and cloudy. The dahlia garden was nearly at peak bloom as well.
Though the Japanese Tea Garden had closed, I could still see over the gate from 15’ above 😉
After Golden Gate Park I headed to the Presidio to tick off another tick box on my stock photo list. There’s a food truck event called Off the Grid that moves around the bay area. Food trucks have been good sellers in the past. And this venue seemed especially promising aesthetically.
This whole entry’s chronology is discombobulated, and I forgot to add yet another stop last month. San Pedro Square and its market have been good stock photo sales in the past. I just renewed a license including a photo from there. So it seemed like time to freshen up that part of the library.
Another project I’ve been working on that doesn’t fit here chronologically or categorically is computer still lifes. A buddy and I share a studio space in town, but mostly it’s used to do image editing and store gear, not a lot of shooting. But I finally got around to using an old mannequin hand and a laptop. I was impressed to see it had been “zoomed” a stock photo site I contribute to just a day or so after uploading.
I guess the big news as far as stock photo sales last month was a photo that is being used for the cover of the book This Gulf of Fire. For one, it’s an image I made for fun. Many of the photos you see here that are solely intended for use as stock photos to help somebody else tell their story. Also book cover has some prestige to it as well as paying well. And like so many other photographers, I dream of traveling. And though this photo was taken on a family vacation in Lisbon, Portugal– perhaps I can justify a few photo trips abroad now …. Or at least that’s what I’m dreaming about. Lastly the photo was made using a technique I enjoy playing with, long daylight exposures. With a dark enough filter, it’s possible to make an exposure for many seconds in broad daylight. Though in this case, it was already getting dark- the neutral density filter allowed for the clouds to smear yet the arch remained sharp.
After a previous engagement in The City I pulled out my pano machine and got to work. Requests for extra high resolutions stock photos of the City by the Bay are common and it was a clearer than average day in the Bay Area.
Originally I planned to head over to the Golden Gate Bridge and shoot from both the Marin and San Francisco sides. But as I saw traffic building up in front of me, and coincidentally looked up to the iconic Sutro Tower I changed my mind. And off to Twin Peaks I drove.
The top of Twin Peaks wasn’t the only thing that was high up top. As I did a quick site and wind survey the pot smell was as strong as I’d guess one would smell on the set of a Cheech and Chong movie. But my real problem was the wind. Gusts rip over the peak from the Pacific Ocean behind me. My pano machine is pretty sturdy, but not enough to stay still for the one second exposures I anticipated making when the winds approached hurricane speeds.
A short time after the sun set, the light got really nice. I hunkered down right below the parking area below seeking a spot that was partially sheltered from the wind. In addition to the benefits of reduction in wind, I found myself about three feet below the tourists posing with the city in the background right behind me. At one point I turned around to find myself only inches from the bum of a very attractive gal 😉 My method of protecting my rig from wind gusts did work, but must have looked quite awkweird. I opened my jacket, and stood as close as I could to the setup without obscuring the lens. I look weird enough without all my camera kit. But this must have appeared especially odd if viewed from the wrong angle, reminiscent of this poster that was pinned up in Mr Bernucci’s photo class at my old high school.
But then again, Frisko is full of all sorts of strange characters. I might just fit in!
At this point, pretty much everybody has ordered from Amazon.com by now. But after growing by leaps and bounds they’ve been adding other services. They have grocery delivery in some US Markets now. What I didn’t realize until stumbling upon it the other day, is that Amazon also has pop up stores in malls. Not that I spend much time in malls, or I would have known it. But after a stop at Westfield in San Francisco I got a few photos for my stock photo library. Nothing fancy, but likely to be used to illustrate a news story judging by what else sells.