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Berlin, Berlin Keine Masken Keine Mauern Pt. 1

It was about a year ago, we returned from our family trip to Europe. I’m still working my way through the photos. Berlin holds a special place in my heart.

My Doc Martins, Berlin, Germany
My Doc Martins, Berlin, Germany

I had visited a divided Berlin for the first time in 1987. In fact, I took an old pair of Doc Martins that might have been on my feet on some of the very same streets in the 1980’s.

Ambulance, Berlin, Germany
Ambulance, Berlin, Germany

Though it was a family trip, I still try to shoot stock. Many of my photos would seem rather odd without taking stock photography into account.

Fashionable Hat Shop, Berlin, Germany
Fashionable Hat Shop, Berlin, Germany

Across from our crappy hotel (Hotel Alper, don’t go there) was this hip hats shop that made for some nice photos.

Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany
Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

One of the first places I remember visiting in 1987 was this Soviet WWII memorial. One ironic twist was though the USSR occupied the Eastern part of Berlin, they controlled a few little spots in the west where this memorial in the Tiergarten lies.

To (not Live and) Die in L.A.

(with my apologies to Wang Chung)

In my brief trip to Los Angeles, I did manage to find time to visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I’d visited with my old friends long ago back in the stock photo days of slide film.

27feb2003015_15

27feb2003014_15Do those photos look dated or what?! That’s what plain old slide film taken in the middle of the day looked like back in the 1990’s.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Well this time I brought my digital camera. First thing I noticed that there was some sort of filming going on in front of the mosoleum. They would take and retake a scene with an old Rolls Royce hearse pulling up along side a beautiful actress and handsome man. There was some sort of signage marking the 74th anniversary of Valentino- some actor I’d never heard of ….

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

My main goal at the cemetery was to try and do some slightly different shots- of an aerial sort.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Where possible I tried to get something interesting in the foreground.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Hollywood Forever Cemetery

But I had limited time. Like so many of these excursions, I hope to return and finish what I started sometime soon.

Welcome to our Museum, Comrades

The World Clock in Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Capital of the GDR 1987
The World Clock in Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Capital of the GDR 1989

Visiting a friend down in the Los Angeles area, Culver City to be exact I had another opportunity to visit the Wende Museum. The Wende Museum is focused on the Cold War, a particular interest to me.

Barren Avenue in Berlin, Capital of the German Democratic Republic, 1989
Barren Avenue in Berlin, Capital of the German Democratic Republic, 1989

Back in 1986/87 I was an exchange student in Southwestern Germany (technically the Federal Republic of Germany or as most English speakers referred to it “West Germany”.) It seems like ancient history now, but in the wake of WWII, Germany was occupied by the major victors divided into zones amongst them.

Intra-German frontier, Berlin 1987
Intra-German frontier, Berlin 1987

Where I lived in Immenstaad, and went to school, (now Bad) Saulgau was in the French occupied zone. I have no idea if the French really “occupied” this area though they did have a Garrison in nearby Friedrichshafen where you’d occasionally see French soldiers and military equipment.

Portrait of Michael Halberstadt on the Spree River, Berlin, 1987
Portrait of Michael Halberstadt on the Spree River, Berlin, 1987

In any case the “democratic” powers of France, United Kingdom, and United States got on pretty well. However the USSR…. not so much. The Soviet occupied Eastern portion of Germany became its own country in 1948. Except the western portion of Berlin and some other quirks, like a few spots in West Berlin that were run by the USSR (like the Soviet Memorials at Treptow and at Tiergarten.)

Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany
Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

So, my first visit to the GDR was with a friend and classmate from the Gewerbliche Berufsschule Saulgau who had a sister who lived and worked in West Berlin.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

Whew, this is getting longer than I planned. Short story, I visited Berlin, Hauptstadt der DDR in the summer of 1987 and was fascinated.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

So just a couple blocks from my friends house lies the new location for a museum dedicated to my interest.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Vintage Wartburg, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

There were a bunch of busts of Lenin. I had a good time framing them with my new camera setup, I thought it worked well using the new Sigma Art 18-35mm f1.8 (hey, that’s sounding rather capitalistic- a product placement?) I liked the ability to get a shallow DOF with one little Lenin in front of a big Lenin.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Busts of Lenin, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Busts of Lenin, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

I’m kinda bummed my friend is moving. I’d love to go back and spend some more time exploring Ostalgie.

I Promise You a Rose Garden

I don’t know how I get away with such dumb jokes. But alas, here’s a few photos of the Morcom Rose Garden in Oakland. It really exudes that WPA feeling – a public space with a late 1930’s feel to it. Not forgetting the all too common Mission Style architecture of the cluster of buildings on the site.

Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California
Morcom Municipal Rose Garden, Oakland, California

Catching up with Copenhagen p1

Last summer my family and I flew into Copenhagen Denmark, traveled through Germany and flew out of Berlin.

Bike Friendly Copenhagen
Bike Friendly Copenhagen

Copenhagen was rich in urban texture. Bikes and bricks were everywhere.

Bike Friendly Copenhagen
Bike Friendly Copenhagen

Since there was a substantial time shift- I woke up very early one morning and opted to go photograph.

CopenhagenThe wet streets and gray skies lent themselves to the colorful lights of a closed Tivoli amusement park.

Copenhagen

Robotic Sightings in Silicon Valley

I went down to my home town of San Jose after reading about Intel’s new “Garage” for their aspiring self driving car chip business.

Intel Campus San Jose
Intel Campus San Jose

In any case after some unpleasantries from the security guard, I managed to get some good shots from outside.

Self Driving Car
Delphi Self Driving Car
Self Driving Car
Delphi Self Driving Car

From there I headed to Mountain View and ran into the new Self Driving Fiat-Chrysler Self Driving Pacifica Minivan I’d been on the lookout for for a while.

Waymo's Autonomous Chrysler minivan on the Streets of Silicon Valley
Waymo’s Autonomous Chrysler minivan on the Streets of Silicon Valley

And if that’s not enough robotic action for ya, I managed to come “face to face” with a robotic security guard at Microsoft’s Mountain View campus.

Autonomous Campus Patrol, Microsoft Campus, Silicon Valley
Autonomous Campus Patrol, Microsoft Campus, Silicon Valley

Yup, you guessed it…..

Yup. You guessed it. It’s time for more photos of those adorable Google Self Driving Cars as seen on the streets of Silicon Valley.

Self Driving Car
Self Driving Car

Not that this has too much to do with things urban or texture. But I can’t help myself.

Self Driving Car
Self Driving Car

These are the latest (well, not the Chrysler hybrid minivan that’s been announced) two seat electric vehicles. Though they are, so far as I’ve read autonomous – California law forbids them from being driven without a driver who can hit the breaks if anything goes wrong.

Self Driving Car
Self Driving Car
Self Driving Car
Self Driving Car

Enjoy the photos (but please don’t steal them!)

Self Driving Car
Self Driving Car

A Day in 2008

Freeway Traffic
Traffic on 580/80 split

Here I am going through my old hard drive, uploading to cloud servers and doing general stock photo sorting. It’s kind of fun revisiting old memories- that and finding new value in old photos. Turns out that the folder I’m working on – a single day in 2008 was particularly productive.

I started out in the clear early morning with my Sigma 1000mm f8 APO up in the Berkeley hills photographing the texture of the city below. With the crop factor, that lens may well have been too long for its own good. There are some nice tight shots of Downtown Oakland around sunrise.

Years later, I don’t remember the exact chronology, but I can patch together pieces with photos. Looks like I discovered the Chabot observatory during the day and saw it was open to the public that night. I’m interested in all things German- and Altenheim is an interesting cultural relic of when Germans were an important cultural group in the Bay Area. Then (I appear to have gotten) a few stock shots of random people jogging along Lake Merritt and gone to the then quite new Oakland Cathederal. I returned to Skyline boulevard and got some crazy long shots of San Francisco and then on to Chabot observatory for some star gazing.

All in all, 17 November 2008 was a productive day.

 

That Damn Self Driving Car Again

Whenever I’m in the neighborhood of the Googleplex, I check out all the regular hangouts for Google’s new two seater electric self driving car. As luck would have it this time they were testing it out, apparently seeing how it works with bicyclists and pedestrians this time.

Autonomous car being tested in Silicon Valley parking lot (Michael Halberstadt)
Autonomous car being tested in Silicon Valley parking lot (Michael Halberstadt)

Prison Texture

Recently I got a quick most-expenses-paid trip to prison. I’m a pretty law abiding type of guy, so it’s not what you think. My brother and his wife purchased tickets to the Ai Weiwei exhibit on Alcatraz. Not a big surprise, but there’s some nice urban texture to be found there!

And it so happens that the Ai Weiwei exhibit was on at the time. That added a little color to the otherwise muted palette of the former prison.